Bankrate's 2009 Tax Guide
Capital gains
Second chance for tax rebate

Several situations where the additional money might be warranted:
  • You adopted or gave birth to a child last year. That youngster now could get you $300.
  • You are a retiree or veteran who did not receive at least $3,000 in qualifying veterans or Social Security benefits in 2007, but did collect at least that amount in 2008. You now might be eligible for rebate money.
  • You were claimed as a dependent on a 2007 return, so you weren't eligible last year to claim your own rebate last year even though you earned money. In 2008, however, you were no longer a dependent. You now might be eligible.
  • You did not have a valid Social Security Number in 2007 but received one in 2008, possibly making you eligible.
  • Your income level changed last year.

The income change situation works for folks who either got more or less money in 2008 compared to 2007.

For example, you received less than the full stimulus payment last year because your 2007 earnings exceeded the threshold limits of $75,000 for single filers or twice that for married filing jointly taxpayers. But in 2008, as the economy soured, you took a pay cut or were laid off. You now might qualify for additional rebate money based on your reduced 2008 income level.

At the other end of the earnings scale, perhaps you didn't earn enough in 2007 to qualify for a rebate. However, in 2008 you did make the required $3,000. You now might be able to collect the minimum payment of $300 by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Extra payout, added problems

In some cases, the work sheets and calculators might show that, by 2008 standards, your initial payment was too much. You obviously won't get more rebate money this year. But neither do you have to worry about that overpayment.

For example, a couple had a 17-year-old child they claimed on their 2007 return. That entitled them to an extra $300 rebate last year. But in 2008, that now 18-year-old youth is too old for the per-child rebate bonus.

"Did they get too much? Yes. Do they have to pay it back? No," says McFarland.

Such variables and considerations might discourage some folks from applying for the Recovery Rebate Credit on 2008 returns. McFarland says that's not a good idea. "Don't be frightened by it," he says. "It's really a pretty simple credit."

Still, says Flach, don't be surprised to see not only taxpayers, but also the IRS have problems with Recovery Rebate Credit claims.

"The last set of rebates resulted in millions and millions of errors on 2001 tax returns," Flach says. "I anticipate the IRS will have to deal with even more rebate-related errors on the 2008 federal tax returns."


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