Many Middle Tennessee residents have contacted me with questions about what they need to do to receive a rebate through the economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. Through this plan, more than 130 million Americans will receive funds to help jumpstart the nation's economy.
One common question is about the size of rebate checks. Individuals are eligible to receive from $300 to $600, and couples are eligible to receive up to $1,200. An additional $300 per child is available for parents.
The Internal Revenue Service will distribute the rebates from May to July. Rebates sent by direct deposits will go out in May, but paper checks will take a while longer. So, if you have filed your taxes, all you need to do now is wait.
The timely and targeted plan includes seniors on Social Security, disabled veterans and others who do not have tax liability. In a normal year, these folks would not be required to file an annual return with the IRS, but this year it is necessary to receive a rebate. The paperwork people fill out by sending in a tax return is what allows the IRS to process a rebate check and keep illegal immigrants and others seeking handouts from getting one.
Taxpayers should also be aware that scam artists are using the rebate plan to target people with e-mails and phone calls to lure them into revealing personal information that could be used for identity theft. The IRS warns taxpayers to safeguard their personal and financial information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.
As Rockvale resident David Brown knows, the people who operate these scams can be persistent. He has received multiple calls from people claiming the IRS needs his bank account information so he can receive a rebate check or other funds. When Mr. Brown received his first call from someone who claimed to need his bank account information so the Internal Revenue Service could process his tax rebate, he grew suspicious, asked questions and refused to give out his information. Mr. Brown did the right thing.
The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails, and it does not contact people by phone for personal information. When a person files taxes, the IRS gets all the information it needs to process a tax rebate check. If you signed up for direct deposit when you filed your taxes, you will
also receive your tax rebate by direct deposit. If not, the IRS will mail your rebate just as it would mail your tax refund check.
If you think you have received a scam phone call or e-mail, you can report the information to the IRS by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The IRS can use that information to warn others or even track down the people responsible for the scam.
For more information on the tax rebates, contact the IRS at www.irs.gov or 1-866-234-2942. Or contact my Murfreesboro office at (615) 896-1986.