Confusion on Stimulus Checks

May 30, 2008

I have received several phone calls and emails from guest workers with concerns and questions about their federal rebate checks received under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. While happy that they received checks, they expected the amounts of their checks to be more. The guest workers asked why they received checks for $300 when they had heard that individuals would receive $600, couples $1,200, and $300 for additional children.

One guest worker wrote to me, "My question is why we have $300 and other $600, even they are not earned more then me for 2007 tax file."

After trying to decipher the IRS site detailing the stimulus rebate policy, it seems those often quoted figures of $600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples, and $300 for additional children under 17 years old, actually represent the maximum amounts that could be received.

The Saipan Tribune said:

The rebates range up to $600 for an individual and $1,200 for a couple. Families with children will get $300 per child. The law guarantees workers who earned at least $3,000 in 2007 will receive at least a $300 tax rebate.

On the Internal Revenue Service web site there is a Frequently Asked Question page and a economic stimulus payment calculator. From the IRS website:

Your payment may be less than the maximum for one or more of the following reasons:

You are single and your net income tax liability is less than $600.

If you file Form 1040 net income tax liability is the amount shown on Line 57, plus the amount on Line 52.

You are married and your net income tax liability is less than $1,200.

You are single and your adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than $75,000. On Form 1040, AGI is the amount on Line 37.

You are married filing a joint return and your AGI is more than $150,000.

You owe back taxes.

You have non-tax federal debts such as unpaid student loans or child-support obligations.

Around the same time you receive your payment, you will receive a notice from the IRS explaining how your payment was figured. It is important to keep this notice as a record of your economic stimulus payment. In addition, you’ll get a separate notice if you owe back taxes or non-tax debts.

It seems that the net income tax liability amount determines the amount of the rebate. Further down on the site it reads:

Your stimulus payment is equal to your net income tax liability, but no more than $600, if you are single, or $1,200, if you are married filing a joint return.

If you had no net income tax liability for 2007, you are usually getting a minimum payment of $300, if you are single, or $600, if you are married filing jointly, as long as you had qualifying income of at least $3,000 in 2007.

A story printed in the Marianas Variety said that the rebate checks would be distributed Friday. The CNMI Department of Finance received $16.1 million from the US Department of Treasury. The story quotes Department of Finance Secretary Eloy Inos:

“We’ve got a total of about 23,000 returns that have been filed,” Inos told Variety. “Of that, about 9,000 got kicked out because of some problems with their returns like the income does not match the information returns that we got from the employers, from the banks and so forth. So that kind of situation.”

He added, “Of the 14,000, 3,000 got kicked out again on the second stage of the review process and that is the Social Security validation. That leaves us with 11,000 to 10,000. We’re ready to go with the 10,000 so we’re doing the necessary work right now. Hopefully, we can get their checks by Friday. That’s for the 10,000 taxpayers.”

Taxpayers with discrepancies on their returns will be given time to correct their records so that they, too, can benefit from the U.S. stimulus package.

One caller told me that he just got his W-2 form yesterday so he can finally file his taxes.

Guest workers with questions on their stimulus tax rebates can check the IRS website listed above, or inquire at the Department of Finance. As stated in the Variety article,
taxpayers with discrepancies will be given time to correct their returns.


crestcap said...

The only bright news for small business in 2008 are the incresed tax deduction limits provided by Section 179 from the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008.

Wendy said...

Thanks for that information!

Anonymous said...

There are those alien workers who received letter from Revenue office that asked: what is your nationality, when did you arrive in CNMI if so show your passport when you arrive and how many days have you stayed in the CNMI.
Albeit, they have stayed here since 1991 filed taxes yearly and stayed here legally. Reason, I don't understand.

Some rumors, undocumented, however that some received it without even filing tax return for 2007.
Lottery? I guess federal people should invetigate.