The hubby and I got back home last night from a three-day weekend trip to find our economic stimulus payment had arrived. The mail bonus capped off three great days in the the Dallas area where we took a break from work, ate good food, saw a cool King Tut exhibit and cheered the Cowboys to a win!
Our IRS money's arrival is one advantage to filing in October instead of April: The rebate check arrived just in time for holiday shopping!
But if you filed earlier than the hubby and I and still haven't received either your expected refund or your additional rebate money, you need to quit just waiting by the snail-mail box. You probably need to take some action because your tax check might have been sent back to the IRS as undeliverable.
As I noted in this blog post last month, you can still get the money simply by letting the IRS know your correct delivery address. But if it's a stimulus rebate check you're missing, you are running out of time!
The law that created the rebates says they must be delivered by Dec. 31. In order to make the changes and get the checks out in time, the IRS says it' has to have your correct address by this Friday, Nov. 28.
Yes, I know you plan to hit the stores bright and early that day. But you'll likely need the rebate money to pay off the credit card charges you'll rack up then.
So take a few minutes between stuffing your turkey, baking pies and making your Black Friday shopping lists (in case you're interested, Web pages here and here consolidate ads for this special day of consumer frenzy) to let the IRS know where to send your money.
How to update your address info: The easiest way to update your address is to use the IRS' online money tracking tools.
With the Where's My Stimulus Payment? tool, you can check the status of your stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update your address.
If you have friends or family still waiting for their rebates and
If it's a regular refund you're awaiting,
The tool then will provide the status of your refund and, in some cases, provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems. You'll also be given instructions on how to update your address.
Folks who must or prefer to use the phone can call the IRS at
In both rebate and regular refund cases, once the IRS gets the correct
data, the checks will be sent. Remember, though, you must inform the IRS by the Nov. 28 deadline to get your rebate money this year.
Money now vs. credit later: I really don't mean to be a nag about this, but if you put off letting the IRS know your correct address, you might be in for an unhappy tax surprise next year.
True, the stimulus payment is money that was distributed this year for what is technically a 2008 tax credit. It is officially known as the Recovery Rebate Credit and you'll find it on next year's Form 1040, Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ.
But claiming it as a 2008 credit could raise some different tax issues.
For example, if you have a child that qualified on your 2007 return for the child tax credit, you were eligible for an extra $300 paid out this year based on that data. However, if in 2008 that child does not meet the tax credit requirements, you won't get that added economic stimulus money on next year's return.
Also, since it will be accounted for your 2008 return, the Recovery Rebate Credit will first count toward any tax you owe. This means, for example, if you qualify for a $600 economic stimulus amount on your 2008 return and owe $1,000 in taxes, that $600 will be used to reduce your tax bill. In this case, then, you'll owe only $400. That's nice, but not quite the same thing as getting the $600 directly.
The good news is that the Recovery Rebate Credit is a refundable credit. In this case, if total your withheld taxes and the credit amount (plus any other payments) are more than your 2008 tax bill, you will get the overpayment as a refund.
So, technically, you still could get your hands on rebate money next year. But it will depend on your overall tax situation, which could help or hurt your stimulus amounts.
The smartest thing to do is to get the money this year, especially in these tough times when all of us can use a little extra cash.
So if you haven't received your stimulus check yet, contact the IRS, either via the online rebate tracking tool or by phone, as soon as possible.
And definitely do so by the Nov. 28 deadline. That's the only way you'll get your rebate money this year.