Claiming the economic stimulus payment

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Dear Tax Talk,
I didn’t receive my full economic stimulus payment in 2008. What do I have to do on my 2008 1040 to get the difference?
— Sloan

Dear Sloan,
The recovery rebate credit is a special one-time benefit that most people received last year in the form of an economic stimulus payment. But people who did not receive the maximum amount of the payment, and whose circumstances have changed, may be eligible now.

Last year’s economic stimulus payments were based on 2007 tax return information, while the recovery rebate credit will be based on 2008 return information. Since many individual taxpayer situations may change from year to year, some people who were not eligible last year will be eligible now.

The following are some factors that may affect eligibility for the recovery rebate credit.

Income change: Some people may have received less than the full economic stimulus payment in 2008 ($600 for single filers or $1,200 for married filers) because their qualifying or gross incomes were either too high or too low. A change in income could make a filer eligible for more of the credit in 2009.

Addition of a child: Filers could get an additional $300 for the birth or adoption of a child in 2008.

Social Security and veterans’ benefits recipients: If a retiree or veteran did not receive at least $3,000 in qualifying benefits in 2007 but did collect at least that amount in 2008, he or she may be eligible.

No longer a dependent: Individuals who were claimed or could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2007 but who cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return in 2008 may now be eligible.

Social Security Number: Individuals who did not have a valid Social Security Number in 2007 but received one in 2008 may now be eligible.

There is a section on the IRS website that will guide you through the process of determining if you are eligible for an additional payment. You can go to the Recovery Rebate Credit Information Center to access these interactive tools.

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Taxpayers should seek professional advice based on their particular circumstances.