The IRS sent taxpayers nearly 119 million economic stimulus payments last year.
When filing a 2008 federal tax return, taxpayers will need to know the amount of their stimulus payment to properly determine if they are eligible for a recovery rebate credit.
Here are six tips for finding how much you received and correctly claiming the credit on your return.
1. Get your notice. Check the amount listed on Notice 1378, which the IRS mailed last year to individuals who received the economic stimulus payment.
2. Visit IRS.gov to find the amount. If you don’t have your Notice 1378, go to the "How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment?" tool that is available on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. This tool can provide the correct amount in a matter of a few seconds.
3. Call the IRS at 1-866-234-2942. If you don’t have Internet access, call the IRS. After a brief recorded announcement, select option one to find out the amount of your economic stimulus payment. You will need to provide your 2007 filing status, Social Security Number and the number of exemptions claimed on the tax return.
4. Keep the amount handy. With the amount of last year’s economic stimulus payment in hand, you will be able to enter the figure on the recovery rebate credit worksheet or in the appropriate location when your tax preparation software requests it. This number will not appear on your actual tax return but is vital to ensure the accurate determination of the recovery rebate credit amount.
5. Trust the software or the worksheet to get it right. Tax preparation software will automatically and correctly calculate the amount of the rebate recovery credit for you. The software will also properly report the credit on your tax return. If you are filing a paper return, the worksheet will guide you in calculating the proper amount of the credit. The recovery rebate credit should be reported on Line 70 of Form 1040, Line 42 of Form 1040A or Line 9 of Form 1040EZ. In order to avoid an error, use extra care when responding to the software questions or when completing the worksheet. Do not enter the stimulus payment directly on your return.
6. Most taxpayers won’t qualify for more. For most taxpayers, the correct entry for the recovery rebate credit will either be blank or zero because they have already received the money as a stimulus payment. If you complete the worksheet, and there is any question about the amount that should be reported for the recovery rebate credit, you or your preparer should enter a zero on the appropriate line above. For most people this will be the correct amount, and for the others the IRS will determine whether a recovery rebate credit is due and, if so, how much. If the IRS calculates a different credit amount than is reflected on your return, you will receive a notice that alerts you to the change.