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Proper forms must be filed for tax rebates

February 23, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Internal Revenue Service last week announced that most people won't have to do anything different this year to receive tax rebate checks under a recently approved federal economic stimulus package.

"If you are eligible for a payment, all you have to do is file a 2007 tax return and the IRS will do the rest," IRS spokesman James Dupree said in a press release.

But what about people who don't file tax returns?

Some low-income workers, Social Security recipients, veterans and retired railroad workers who don't normally earn enough to file federal tax returns still are eligible for this year's rebate checks, which in most cases will range from $300 to $600 per person, Dupree said.

Anyone who can show at least $3,000 in qualifying income for 2007 can receive a check.

That amount can include certain benefits that are not subject to income tax, Dupree said.

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The following benefits can be used to qualify for a rebate check, according to the IRS Web site:

  • Social Security (Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, does not qualify)

  • Tier 1 Railroad Retirement

  • Veterans' disability, pension or survivors' benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs

    In other words, even if you don't normally file tax returns, if you earned at least $3,000 in income and/or the above benefits in 2007, you are eligible for a rebate check.

    For example, if someone earned $1,000 in income in 2007 and another $2,000 in the benefits described above, that person can combine those earnings to qualify for a rebate check.

    In order to receive a check, people will have to file a 2007 tax return this year, even if they don't normally do so, Dupree said.

    The forms that need to be filed are either Form 1040 or the shorter Form 1040A.

    If you use Form 1040, add your benefits to Line 20a. If you use Form 1040A, report your benefits on Line 14a.

    Even though these lines are designated for Social Security, they also should be used to report railroad or veterans benefits as well.

    No matter what form you use, be sure to write "Stimulus Payment" across the top, Dupree said.

    To see an example of how to fill out Form 1040A for the tax rebate check, go to www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/1040a.pdf.

    Dupree said even though people must fill out a tax return to receive a rebate check, the benefits described above will not be taxed.

    "People are not going to owe money because of this stimulus payment," Dupree said.

    Tax return forms can be picked up at U.S. post offices or at the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center at 1260 Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    They also are available online at www.irs.gov or by calling 1-800-829-3676.

    Dupree said tax returns are due by April 15, and the government will start mailing checks in May.

    People with questions can call 1-800-829-1040 or visit the Taxpayer Assistance Center in Hagerstown.

    If you are not accustomed to filing tax returns, the IRS offers two free programs to help.

    The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help for low- to middle-income residents. People can call 1-800-906-9887 to find the nearest VITA site.

    The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, with assistance from AARP, offers help for people ages 60 and older. To find a TCE site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit the AARP Web site at www.aarp.org.




    Q: What is a tax rebate check?

    A: Starting in May, the federal government will start sending rebate checks to more than 130 million people as part of its economic stimulus package, which was created to help the stagnant economy.

    Q: How much will I get?

    A: In most cases, the checks will be between $300 and $600 per person for individuals and $600 to $1,200 for joint filers.

    Q: What do I have to do to get a rebate check?

    A: If you filed or are planning to file a 2007 income tax return, you don't have to do anything. The IRS will automatically determine if you are eligible, figure out the amount and mail you a payment.

    Q: What if I don't file tax returns?

    A: People who don't normally file income tax returns still are eligible for the tax rebate checks as long as they can show at least $3,000 in qualifying income.

    Social Security benefits as well as some railroad retirement and veterans benefits will count as qualifying income.

    Q: How do I show the IRS that I qualify if I don't normally file a tax return?

    A: If you earned at least $3,000 in qualifying income, which can include the benefits described above, you will have to fill out a 2007 income tax return to receive a payment.

    Q: What forms do I need to fill out?

    A: To receive a check, you must fill out either Form 1040 or the shorter Form 1040A.

    If you fill out Form 1040, write your benefits in Line 20a.

    If you use Form 1040A, report your benefits in Line 14a.

    Q: Where can I get these tax forms?

    A: Income tax forms are available at U.S. post offices, the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center at 1260 Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown, by phone at 1-800-829-3676 or online at www.irs.gov.

    Q: When are the forms due?

    A: You must file a 2007 income tax return by April 15 in order to receive a rebate check.

    Q: What if I'm not used to filling out tax forms?

    A: The IRS offers several options for people who are not accustomed to filing tax returns.

    People with questions can call 1-800-829-1040 or visit the Taxpayer Assistance Center in Hagerstown.

    In addition, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers help for low- to middle-income residents. Call 1-800-906-9887 to find the nearest location.

    People ages 60 and older can use the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, which has sites to help elderly people with their taxes. Call 1-888-227-7669 to find the closest site.

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