Money, Tax

You Must File a 2007 Federal Income Tax Return to get your Stimulus Payment

Congress recently passed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which President Bush signed on Feb. 13, 2008. If you normally file your income tax return, then there is nothing that you need to do, but for those that don’t normally file, especially our elders that receive social security payments, to be able to receive this payment of $600 they must file a 2007 Federal Income Tax Return. Most people will not know this, and If you know of anyone that would qualify, please pass this information to them. Below is information from IRS.gov.

Even if you aren’t normally required to file a federal income tax return, you must file one if you want to be among the 130 million individuals who will receive a check from Treasury beginning in May of this year. The IRS will use information on the 2007 tax return filed by the taxpayer to determine eligibility and calculate the amount of the stimulus payment.

In most cases, payments will range from $300 to $600 for individuals and $600 to $1200 for joint filers. Parents and anyone else eligible for a stimulus payment will also receive an additional $300 for each qualifying child (subject to income phase-outs).

“We want to make sure everyone who is eligible for these payments receives them,” says IRS Executive Julie Rushin. “Most eligible taxpayers do not need to take any extra steps to receive the payment. All they have to do is file a 2007 federal tax return and the IRS will automatically do the rest. No other action, extra form or call is necessary.”

You Must Have a Valid Social Security Number

Taxpayers must have a valid Social Security Number to qualify for the stimulus payment. If married filing jointly, both taxpayers must have a valid Social Security Number. Children must be eligible under the Child Tax Credit and must also have a valid Social Security Number to be eligible as qualifying children.

You Must File a 2007 Federal Income Tax Return, Even if You Normally Would Not

Low-income workers who had at least $3,000 in earned income (such as wages) and other qualifying income in 2007 but do not otherwise earn enough to be required to file a federal tax return need to file a return to qualify for the stimulus payment. Other qualifying income includes Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, or certain veterans’ benefits.

Certain Benefits Count toward Your Qualifying Income

Normally, Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits and veterans’ disability compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs are not subject to income tax. However, the economic stimulus law passed in February contains special provisions allowing recipients of these non-taxable benefits to count them toward the qualifying income requirement of $3,000 and thereby qualify for the stimulus payment.

However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.

This means if you had, for example, $500 in wages and $2,500 in any combination of the benefits described above, you can add these together to reach the $3,000 qualifying income requirement.

For purposes of meeting the qualifying income requirement, the following benefits need to be reported in any combination on line 20a of U.S. Individual Income Tax Return Form 1040 or Line 14a of the Form 1040A:
Social Security benefits reported in box 5 of the 2007 Form 1099-SSA, which people should have received in January. Taxpayers who do not have a Form 1099 may also estimate their annual Social Security benefit by taking their monthly benefit, multiplying it by the number of months during the year they received the benefits, and entering the number on line 20a of Form 1040 or Line 14a of the Form 1040A.

Certain Railroad Retirement benefits reported in box 5 of the 2007 Form 1099-RRB, which recipients would have received in January.

The sum of certain veterans’ disability benefits received in 2007, including veterans’ disability compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Taxpayers who weren’t required to file a tax return can estimate their annual veterans’ benefits by taking their monthly benefit, multiplying it by the number of months during the year they received payments, and entering the number on line 20a of Form 1040 or Line 14a of the Form 1040A.

Have You Already Filed Your 2007 Federal Income Tax Return?

If you are a recipient of the benefits described above and have already filed your 2007 tax return reporting at least $3,000 in qualifying income, you do not need to do anything else. The Treasury will automatically begin sending taxpayers their payments in early May.

Otherwise you may need to amend a previously filed tax return to include benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level. You can use IRS Form 1040X to amend a tax return in order to qualify for the stimulus payment. Adding these benefits on an amended tax return will not increase your tax liability but will establish eligibility for the stimulus payment.

Stimulus payments will be direct deposited for taxpayers selecting that option when filing their 2007 tax returns. Taxpayers who have already filed with direct deposit won’t need to do anything else to receive the stimulus payment. For taxpayers who haven’t filed their 2007 returns yet, the IRS reminds them that direct deposit is the fastest way to get both regular refunds and stimulus payments.

Some are Not Eligible for Stimulus Payments

Anyone who does not have a valid Social Security Number including those who file using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) or any other identification number issued by the IRS is not eligible for this payment. Also ineligible are individuals who can be claimed as dependents on someone else’s return, or taxpayers who file Form 1040-NR, 1040-PR or 1040-SS.

Stimulus Payments: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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