Friday, February 08, 2008

Tax Rebates are coming


The final stimulus bill that flew through Congress yesterday is very close to the House bill, except with free stuff thrown in for old folks and veterans who might not get any free stuff otherwise. The rebates will work like this:

The IRS will look at your 2007 return. If you incurred at least $600 in tax, or $1,200 on a joint return, the IRS will mail you a $600 ($1,200 joint) check.

If your tax was less than that, the IRS will send you the lesser amount.

You'll also get a $300 check for each child for whom you received a 2007 credit.

The rebate will be reduced by 5 cents for each dollar your adjusted gross income exceeds $75,000, or $150,000 for joint returns.

For folks without at least $300 of 2007 income tax liability, the rebate works this way:


- you had at least $1 of tax liability and gross income of at least $8,750 (or $17,500 joint);


at least $3,000 of income from self-employment, social security benefits, or veterans disability or survivor benefits,

you will get a $300 check, or $600 for a joint return. You also will get $300 per qualifying child.

The credit phases out five cents for each dollar adjusted gross income exceeds $75,000 on single returns or $150,000 on joint returns. This means no credit for singles with AGI over $87,0000 and joint filers with AGI over $174,000, unless they have children; then the phase out stretches out to eventually reclaim the $300-per-child credit.

When you do your 2008 return, you will recompute the credit using 2008 numbers. If you compute a higher credit, you get the difference when you file your return. If the credit is lower using 2008 numbers, you won't have to pay it back.


Increased Sec. 179 deduction. Section 179 allows businesses to expense in the year of acquisition the cost of non-rental property, other than real property, that would otherwise have to be capitalized and depreciated. This was to be limited to $128,000 in 2008. The stimulus package raises this to $250,000 for taxable years that begin after 12/31/2007 but before 12/31/2008. It phases out dollar-for-dollar as fixed asset purchases exceed $800,000.

Bonus Depreciation. The bill allows taxpayers to expense 50% of the cost of new property placed in service during the period beginning January 1, 2008, and ending December 31, 2008, regardless of your taxable year. Used property normally won't qualify. Aircraft and some property with a long construction period qualify through 12/31/2009. Qualifying property includes machinery, software, and certain "qualified leasehold improvements." If there was a binding contract in place to acquire the property before January 1, 2008, the property will not qualify for bonus depreciation. Property placed in service after 2008 may qualify if it is acquired pursuant to a binding contract entered into during calendar year 2008.

Both bonus depreciation and Section 179 deductions are fully allowed in computing alternative minimum tax.

I would like to thank Roth & Co, a CPA firm based in Iowa for the excellent presentation of the stimulus package noted above.

Tax Rebate SCAMS-Watch OUT!

The Rebates will be here in May-and you don't have to do anything to get it, it is conditional on your tax returns.
IRS Warns of Rebate Scams to Steal Personal Information
Under one scheme, the IRS said, people are receiving phone calls telling them they can only receive a rebate if they provide bank account information for a direct deposit.
The tax agency stressed that it does not collect information by telephone and that no legislation has been enacted that would allow it to provide advance payments to taxpayers or that specifies the details of those payments.
The House last week, as part of an economic stimulus package, approved tax rebates of $600 and $1,200 respectively for most individuals and couples, with another $300 per child. The Senate is now considering a slightly different version.
The IRS also repeated past warnings of e-mails, supposedly coming from the agency, where people are asked to enter personal information on a form needed to obtain a tax refund.
A new scam, it said, involves an e-mail notification that a person's tax return will be audited with instructions to click on links to complete forms with personal and account information.
Businesses and accountants are also getting e-mails with instructions to download information on tax law changes. Clicking on these links could download "malware" onto the recipient's computer that gives the scammer remote access to the computer hard drive.
In another telephone scam, a caller claims to be an IRS employee who says the taxpayer has not cashed a refund check and asks the person to verify his or her bank account number.
On Tuesday, at a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing for Douglas Shulman, the nominee to be IRS commissioner, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed concern that taxpayers would be victimized by tax preparers and lenders who charge high interest rates for short-term advances on their stimulus rebates.
The IRS advised people not to click on any link from an e-mail purporting to come from the tax agency. People receiving questionable e-mails can contact the IRS through