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2008 Tax Rebate Stimulus Package Explained

Posted By Jim On 01/25/2008 @ 8:25 am In Taxes | Comments Disabled

1/15: The Committee on Appropriations just released the an executive summery of the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan [3].

This post refers to the first economic stimulus package of 2008. You can read about the second stimulus package [4] here.

Looks like the stimulus payments will be sent out ahead of schedule, with the 800,000 direct deposit payments on Monday April 28th, Tuesday, Wednesday, and a whopping 5 million on Friday (none on Thursday). The schedule of payments will follow the original schedule, just accelerated by a week.

No doubt you’ve heard the “great” news that a deal on a stimulus package has been reached and that checks will be in the mail as early as May. Whether you believe the naysayers that say we’re really just propping up the Chinese economy (or oil rich nations) because we’re borrowing from them to buy their goods or whether you believe the proponents that say this will boost own economy in magical ways the fact of the matter is a deal has been reached – so what is it? Essentially, it’s a removal of the 10% tax bracket for everyone with some modifications. It includes phaseouts that begin past annual incomes of $75,000 and a component that includes those working Americans that don’t earn enough to pay income taxes.

To get a clearer understanding of the rules, let’s walk up the income levels and explain how it works; beginning first with those filing their taxes as singles and then adding in families. How the phaseouts work, from what I can understand, is that you first determine eligibility (if you earned more than $3,000 and paid taxes) and then, if you fall in to the phaseout, start reducing your benefit.

Singles

Determine Eligibility:
If you earned less than $3,000 – unfortunately you’d get nothing.
If you earned more than $3,000 but paid no taxes, you’d get $300.
If you earned more than $3,000 and paid taxes, you get $600.
If you have children, add $300 per.
Determine Phaseout Reduction:
The phaseout levels begin at $75k and end at $87k, at a reduction of 5% per $1,000 over the lower limit. If you earn above $87k, you’re over and thus get nothing regardless of the math.

Couples

Determine Eligibility (appears to be the same as singles):
If you earned less than $3,000 – unfortunately you’d get nothing.
If you earned more than $3,000 but paid no taxes, you’d get $600.
If you earned more than $3,000 and paid taxes, you get $1,200.
If you have children, add $300 per.
Determine Phaseout Reduction:
The phaseout levels begin at $150k and end at $174, at a reduction of 5% per $1,000 over the lower limit. If you earned above $174k, you’re over and thus get nothing regardless of the math.

Some Common Examples

These are taken from a post by Gridking on Tickerform.org [5]:

  • An individual with $2,500 in earned income in 2007: Disqualified because income fell below the $3,000 threshold. No rebate.
  • A married couple with no children, with adjusted gross income of $100,000 in 2007: Would qualify for the full $1,200 couples. A $1,200 rebate.
  • A worker with one child, who earned $9,000 and owed no taxes in 2007: Would qualify for the $300 rebate available to individuals who pay no taxes but earned at least $3,000, plus an additional $300 for the child. A $600 rebate.
  • A couple with income of $145,000 in 2007, with three children: Would qualify for the full $1,200 for couples, plus $300 for each child. A $2,100 rebate.
  • A couple with income of $160,000 in 2007 with two children: Would qualify for a partial rebate, reduced by 5 percent for every $1,000 in income above the $150,000 threshold. An $1,800 rebate $1,200 for the couple plus $300 per child — would go down by 50 percent for this family. A $900 rebate.
  • A couple with income of $200,000 and four children: Disqualified because their income exceeded $174,000, the phase-out limit. No rebate.

There were a few other salient details to the bill, including a temporary raising of the individual mortgage ceiling that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could purchase (FHA loan limits) – increasing it to a whopping $729,750 (up from $417,000), and business tax breaks for infrastructure investments.

Some Questions & Answers

Here are the answers to many of the questions in the comments below, I wanted to wait until the Senate and House agreed on something before trying to tackle these:

Is this a rebate? What is it a rebate on?

The funds are NOT a rebate on the taxes you will pay next year, they are based on your 2007 tax return. Next year, after you file your taxes, the IRS will calculate what you should’ve gotten and adjust your return. So if you received too much “rebate,” they let you keep it. If you received too little, they decrease what you owe next year. (Correction made, Thanks Phil!)

How do I know what I get?

What you receive in May (or June or July) will be based on the tax return that is due April 15th. It will then be adjusted next year if necessary. So, it is based on your 2007 return, use the math I outlined above or the calculator below to determine what you’ll be getting.

Tax Rebate Calculator

This is a calculator that you can find on Consumerism Commentary [6] and has been vetted by tax professionals, this is NOT tax advice so please consult a professional if you have additional questions:

(Photo: Tracy O [7])


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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/2008-tax-rebate-stimulus-package-explained.html

[3] details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/american-recovery-reinvestment-plan-details.html

[4] second stimulus package: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/second-stimulus-package.html

[5] Gridking on Tickerform.org: http://www.tickerforum.org/cgi-ticker/akcs-www?post=25775

[6] Consumerism Commentary: http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/2008/01/28/economic-stimulus-tax-rebate-calculator/

[7] Tracy O: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracy_olson/61056391/sizes/l/

Thank you for reading!