The recovery rebate credit is a one-time benefit for people who didn't receive the full economic stimulus payment last year and whose circumstances may have changed, making them eligible now for some or all of the unpaid portion.
Generally, a credit adds to the amount of a tax refund or decreases the amount of taxes owed. Therefore, the amount you receive for the recovery rebate credit will be included as part of your refund, as shown on your tax return. Unlike the 2008 economic stimulus payment, it will not be issued as a separate check.
You May Be Eligible
People who fall into the categories described below may be eligible for the recovery rebate credit this year:
Individuals who did not receive an economic stimulus payment.
Those who received less than the maximum economic stimulus payment in 2008 — $600 per taxpayer; $1,200 if married filing jointly — because their qualifying or gross income was either too high or too low.
Families who gained an additional qualifying child in 2008.
Individuals who could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2007, but who cannot be claimed as a dependent on another return in 2008.
Individuals who did not have a valid Social Security number in 2007 but who did receive one in 2008.
How to Get the Recovery Rebate Credit
You need to claim the recovery rebate credit on Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The instructions for these forms will show you which lines to use. Unlike the economic stimulus payment, the recovery rebate credit will be included in your tax refund for 2008 and will not be issued as a separate payment.
The IRS Will Figure the Credit for You in Most Cases
You can choose to let the IRS do the work when you file your 2008 Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. If you're filing on paper, simply follow the line-by-line instructions to choose this option. If you're filing electronically, the software will figure the credit for you.
Or You Can Figure It Yourself
Likewise, you can figure and claim the recovery rebate credit on your 2008 Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Two interactive online tools will be available to help you with the calculation, the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator and How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment?
The Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator will help you figure the amount you should claim on your 2008 tax return. Or, you can use the worksheet in the Form 1040 instruction booklet to help you figure your credit by hand. To use the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator or complete the worksheet, you'll need the amount of the economic stimulus payment you received in 2008, if any. This amount was provided on Notice 1378, Economic Stimulus Payment Notice, sent by the IRS to taxpayers who received a payment.
You can use How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment? to determine the amount you already received, if you don’t have or didn't receive Notice 1378.
If you still have some questions you can try the question and answer page.
For more information check out the Economic Stimulus Payment Information Center.
For help with tax liabilities check out this web site.