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What a difference a rebate makes

By early July, the IRS had received more than 145 million tax returns. At that same point last year, 131 million folks had filed.

That filing increase of almost 12 percent is no doubt almost totally attributable to the economic stimulus payments.

The only way to get a rebate this year is to file a 2007 return. And the numbers will continue to climb as the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline nears.

By the numbers: Unfortunately, the IRS wasn't able to provide dollar amounts in connection with returns processed by the week ending July 5 (Excel format) due to "technical problems with the reporting system."

The agency could tell, however, that e-filings were way up over last year. By early July 2007, almost 78 million returns were submitted electronically. This year, e-filed forms exceeded 87 million.

Taxpayers using their home computers to e-file took a corresponding jump, up 19.25 percent, or 26.6 million taxpayers who did the job themselves.

And the IRS no doubt is thrilled with a substantial increase in the number of users of its Free File program. Use of the government-public partnership that enables some filers (this year, it was available to folks earning $54,000 or less) to file electronically at no cost had been lagging the last few years.

Through this July 5, though, Free File visitors were up almost 23 percent, from 3.8 million in 2007 to 4.7 million this year.

The free-filing option is still available through Oct. 15 for eligible folks seeking their rebates.

Stimulus_rebate_2 Retirees and veterans still wanted: The IRS isn't content with either its record-setting filing numbers or the amount of taxpayers simply seeking a rebate check.

As IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress last month, and blogged about here, the agency is aggressively seeking out rebate-eligible retirees and veterans. In addition to putting out the word on, the agency has produced a public service announcement (audio clip; text transcript).

And this week the agency started sending out another economic stimulus payment information mailing to the 5.2 million it believes make up this group.

The packages contain information for individuals who normally do not have a filing requirement, but who must do so this year in order to get a rebate check. The packet has instructions, an example Form 1040A return showing the few lines that need to be completed, and a blank Form 1040A.

If you or an older friend or relative didn't get a packet this week, don't worry. The IRS says it will take three weeks to complete the mailing.

And if you don't want to wait, you can get that info in this special IRS publication and additional, general rebate guidance at the IRS' special stimulus payment Web page.


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