A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Economic Stimulus Now, Redux

A fact you may not be aware of is that if you get legally married late in the year...say, the day after Christmas - you're required to file your taxes as though you were married for the entire year. Even if you get married at 11:59 pm on Dec 31st, the IRS considers you to have been married for the entire year.

2008 is a particularly useful year for this. Remember the Economic Stimulus rebate? Single folks got somewhere between $300-600? Married folks got $1200? The amount of your economic stimulus rebate was based on your 2007 taxes, because you hadn't filed your 2008 taxes yet because the year wasn't over. You 2008 self was getting money based on what your 2007 tax return indicated about your 2008 return which would be filed by your 2009 self. Sort of. Anyway, that's part's boring. (Though there may be DeLorean joke in there somewhere.)

Point is, if you received a $373 rebate check as a single person in 2008, and then got married later in the year to a spouse who got a $600 check, the government owes you $227 - because the IRS considers you to have been married during the handout. $1200-($373+$600) = $227, for those of you who hate 'rithmetic.

If someone claimed you as a dependent on their 2007 taxes, exempting you from the rebates at the time, but no one can claim you in 2008 - the government owes you a stimulus check.

If you had a baby in 2008, you also qualify for more money.

Basically if your life changed at all in 2008, you might qualify for more money.

Where do you claim the credit, you may ask? Good thing I read the IRS website, so you don't have to:

Form 1040 - Line 70
Form 1040A - Line 42
Form 1040EZ (the one most of you will likely use) - Line 9

All of the tax forms will come with an instruction worksheet on how to calculate your stimulus credit. So if you're doing your taxes on paper using pen and ink by the light of a gas lamp, knock yourself out calculating that. Or enter "RRC" on the appropriate line and the IRS will calculate the stimulus credit for you.

If you're filing online, most online tax preparation programs will calculate this for you.

Most folks reading this blog, except maybe my mom (hi mom), qualify to free file. So please, PLEASE, don't hand a tax prep firm your hard earned money to file your probably very uncomplicated taxes for you. Don't give them money to give you a refund anticipation loan at a ridiculously high interest rate when the government will direct deposit your refund in a week or two if you file early. Seriously, you may as well - well, you know.

1 comment:

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