You may recall that at the outset of the financial crisis, a time that now seems relatively calm, Congress provided for an Economic Stimulus Payment.  Many married couples and single individuals received $1,200 and $600, respectively, as a result of this program.  Although there has been talk for months about a second stimulus payment nothing yet has passed.

However, recovery rebate credits are already in place.

You: What are those?

The Recovery Rebate Credit exists to allow those who didn’t qualify to receive the maximum Economic Stimulus Payment in 2008 a second shot at the federal government’s coffers in 2009.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC)

You: Who gets the RRC?

Basically, only people who fall into one or more of the following categories are eligible for the RRC:

  • Your income dropped from 2007 to 2008 so that you now qualify for a larger payment
  • You had more eligible children at the end of 2008 than you did at the end of 2007
  • You could have been claimed as a dependent in 2007 but could not for 2008

You: How do I get the money?

Unlike last year’s economic stimulus payment, the RRC will not be paid via a separate check.  Instead, the amount of the RRC will increase your 2008 income tax refund (or decrease the amount you owe).  You simply enter the amount on line 70 of Form 1040, should you qualify.

You: How much will I get?

A calculator is being created by the IRS to help with this calculation and will be available in February, 2009.

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Anyone else out there expecting a payment – why?  Birth/adoption of a child or is there a silver lining in a lower income year?

Is anybody still waiting to receive their stimulus payment from last year?  What’s the latest “they’ve” told you?

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30 Comments to “Economic Stimulus Payments are now Recovery Rebate Credits – will you get yours?”

  1. Brian says:

    I’m hoping I can get one. I’m pretty sure I have been claimed as a dependent on my mom’s tax return last year. But this year I’m doing my own taxes. I’ll try for it.

  2. Tonia says:

    Those who had income less than 3,000 were not eligible for a stimulus in 2007, however if they have qualifying income in 2008, they may be eligible for the recovery rebate.

  3. Michael says:

    @Tonia: Exactly. It’s like you get another shot at the money,

  4. lani says:

    last yearm I was claim as my husband dependent so I didn’t get the 600. for me. This year I had a income and do you think that I will get the recovery stimulus rebate for last year? I just filed my taxes on the 26th joint it my hubby. Will it just come with my refund?

  5. Michael says:

    @Lani: I’ll do my best to answer you. It’s not possible for a spouse to claim another spouse as a dependent. Here’s what I think you need to know. If you qualify based on your tax situation for 2008 (the return you just filed) and didn’t last year (2007), you’ll get the credit as part of your refund if you completed your return correctly. If not, you won’t.

    There is no separate check.

  6. Ben says:

    Last year my dad claimed me and my 3 kids as dependents.

    This year I am filing with my wife and listing my 3 kids as my own dependents.

    As I understand it, I qualify now for the rebate but my question is whether my 3 kids make me eligible for the additional 300 if my dad already got a rebate for them last year (I’m not even sure if he did or not). I know _I_ didn’t get any rebate from them as I didn’t even file but I’m not sure about my dad.

  7. Michael says:

    @Ben – As I understand it, if your father received the rebate for your three children, you cannot also get the credit for the same three children (even though it is a year later).

    On the other hand and as you said, you can get the credit for yourself if you are not being claimed by your father.

  8. Mike V says:

    In 2008 I made too much as a single filer to qualify, I got married in Dec 2008, and my wife had no income and is new to this country, we got her SSN, and will be filing married jointly, will I now qualify for this rebate, our combined income is under 150,000

  9. Michael says:

    @Mike V: Yes! Here’s why: Your prior year stimulus payment was zero. So was your wife’s.

    Your wife has a SSN (I can’t find citizenship as a requirement anywhere, just SSN).

    Your marital status is determined as of the last day of the tax year, so since you were married on 12/31/08, you’re considered married for the same year.

    You’ve decided to file MFJ.

    You’re eligible for the $1,200 RRC less what each of you received last year ($0), meaning you’ll get the full credit. Enjoy.

  10. sudeep says:

    I came to the US on 27 th December 2007 as a Graduate student. I did not file any tax form in 2008 as I did have any income in 2007. So, I did not file the Economic Stimulus Plan. But now, I have my W-2 for 2008 year. So am I eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit?

  11. Michael says:

    @Sudeep: So long as you otherwise qualify (you cannot be claimed as a dependent by anyone else and you file a tax return), you will be eligible for the credit.

    This assumes you have a Social Security number, not an ITIN (individual taxpayer number).

  12. sudeep says:

    Thanks,Michael. Yes I do have a SSN and I work as a Graduate Research Assistant with The University of Georgia. I have never been claimed as a dependent by anyone before. So, this means that I am eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

  13. crystal says:

    my hubby and I got a rebate check last year for only 1200 and we have two kids and i thought it was 600 for each married couples and 300 for each kid so that would be 1800 would we get some back this year?

  14. Michael says:

    @Crystal: quite possibly. Will depend on your taxable income for 2008.

  15. Sheila says:

    I have filed my returns and was eligible for the tax credit. I received my IRS refund check, but the amount is short the money that I was supposedly getting in addition to my refund. Why did I not receive it?

  16. Michael says:

    @Sheila: Because the IRS disagreed that you qualified with the credit. Without seeing your tax return for 08 and 07, there’s no way for me to answer the “Why?” question. However, I can tell you three things: 1) The recovery rebate credits have caused a lot of problems for self-filers this year, 2) you’re likely to get a letter of explanation in the mail, and 3) you can always call the IRS to get more clarity. Heck, it’s also possible they made a mistake (but don’t get your hopes up!)

  17. edith c says:

    hi – i am preparing my tax return with 1 qualifying child with ITIN (no SSN) can I enter on line21 $300 for 1 qualifying child even w/o SSN just ITIN? Thanks

  18. Michael says:

    @Edith: If you or your spouse are members of the military, perhaps. Otherwise, probably not. Per the IRS website, Taxpayers with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of an SSN are not eligible to receive a stimulus payment.

  19. Mark says:

    Here is a question I have not found answered anywhere else on the Internet, and it seems the IRS Recovery Rebate Calculator and their own personnel (at a local IRS office – I cannot wait all day on the phone for someone to answer) cannot agree to the answer on:

    In 2007 I received a large severance when I was let go from my last fulltime employee job. I have 2 children, with ages of 13 and 16 as of 12/31/2007, and I was married filling jointly.

    So the stimulus check we received in mid-2008 was $42 instead of the $1800 we should have gotten had they not phased out my stimulus due to the one-time severance.

    So with my income much lower in 2008, in the Recovery Rebate Credit I thought I would qualify $1758, but both the calculator on the IRS website, as well as my tax software, is telling me I only qualify for $1458, because the RRC bases its qualifying children on their age as of 12/31/2008, and not their age as of the 12/31/2007 date that the stimulus checks sent out in 2008 were based on.

    So, it seems that if you had a 16 year old child in 2007 and were unlucky enough to make too much money in 2007 – that in 2008 you would get ripped off by the government and not given the $300 by the RRC if your child turned 17 years old in 2008.

    Millions of Americans were given a $300 stimulus for their children that turned 17 during 2008, but if the government incorretly assumed you would be “too rich” to qualify for the stimulus in 2008, you are out of luck trying to get that $300 for that child on your 2009 tax return. At least that seems what the IRS seems to be saying.

    Seems quite unfair to me. And my Senator (Chuck Schumer) seems to be too busy criticizing AIG instead of responding to my questions on this matter, after he told me in 2008 that I would get the remainder of my all my 2008 stimulus in 2009 once I filled my tax forms.

    Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Michael says:

    @Mark: I understand your frustration and I doubt I am going to be alleviate it any. KI believe those who are telling you that you will receive $1,458 are correct. For what it is worth, the logic is that you get what you could based on your 2007 tax info. For you, that was $42 due to your “higher than normal” income. Based on your 2008 information, you qualify for $1,500 based on having just one child who qualifies for the child tax credit (is less than 17 as of 12/31/08). Since you already received $42, your recovery rebate credit is $1,458, not $1,800. You are not permitted to “cherry-pick” the most advantageous facts from the two tax years (i.e., the lower income from 2008 and the greater number of kids from 2007). Sorry.

  21. KP says:

    I filed my return this year MFJ, as the same of last year we have 3 kids, to the point HR Block prepares our taxes and we were told that we would receive the RRC this year and it calculated the RRs for. We were also told it would be mailed and not part of our original refund. Is this not true? Because this is what HR Block is telling their clients. Thanks.

  22. Michael says:

    @KP: I missing a lot of facts here so I’ll do my best to answer you. If you received a $2,100 stimulus payment last year as a separate check, you’re done – no RRC for you. The RRC is only for those who didn’t qualify for the maximum last year but do this year. The difference between what you qualify for based on our 2008 return vs. what you qualified for based on your 2007 is your RRC and it will be part of your income tax refund. There will not be a separate check mailed as there was with the original stimulus payment a year ago.

  23. paula says:

    sooo I recieved a $300 stimulus check last year. I made just over $3000 this year and already filed my taxes. Im an independent. What is this “line 70 on the 1040″ ? I dont think I did that. Does that mean i wont be eligible for the other $300 in my recovery rebate????

  24. Michael says:

    @Paula: Theoretically, the IRS should catch your mistake and give you the additional $300 if you qualify. Give it a few weeks and if you haven’t heard anything, take a deep breath and give them a call.

  25. nam says:

    I did not get stimulus in 2008 as my wife did not have a SSN. She Got her SSN now in 2009(and not 2008) so are we still eligible for recovery rebate credit? IRS website says if you got in 2008 you are eligible but no mention about if you got in 2009.

  26. Michael says:

    @nam: Sorry. She needed to have her Social Security numebr during 2008 to potentially qualify for the recovery rebate credit. Even though the credit is paid during 2009, it is based on 2008 tax data.

  27. MK says:

    Hey there..I am slightly confused by all this. I may need to get more information from my stepdad.. but here is what I know:
    My stepdad’s accountant did my taxes for me last year. I turned 17 in December of 2007. I do not know if he claimed me as a dependent or not… But from what I gather, if he did, he didn’t get the $300 for me. If he didn’t, should I have been eligible for the stimulus payment last year? I did make more than $3000 and am eligible in every other way.
    Also, if you got a stimulus payment last year, then you get nothing this year, correct? So it was a one time deal?

  28. Michael says:

    @MK: If you did not receive a $300 check in 2007, you’ll qualify for the RRC when you file your 2008 tax return. Yes, it’s a one-time deal.

  29. jackie says:

    I was just wondering if people who are low-income families and receive food stamps but not cash benefits will be getting a rrc in December like they did back in august for their children.

  30. Michael says:

    @Jackie: There was no RRC (you may be referring to something other than this blog topic) in August of 2009.

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