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IRS tax return needed to receive rebate check

WASHINGTON – The only way to receive a rebate from the economic stimulus package is to file a tax return, the Internal Revenue Service said Friday. That includes recipients of Social Security and veterans’ benefits who do not normally need to file returns.

The IRS said some low-income people who are not required to file will be eligible to receive payments of $300, or $600 on joint returns, if they had at least $3,000 in qualifying income. But to do so they must file a return.

The tax agency said it was introducing a special version of Form 1040A on its Web site, www.irs.gov, with instructions to these special groups on how to fill out the form.

Qualifying income includes Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, certain veterans’ benefits and earned income.

It said that for now, taxpayers in this group will have to file a paper copy of Form 1040 or Form 1040A, although it is working to update its systems to accept electronic versions.

Those who have already filed but did not report their qualifying benefits may have to file an amended return in some situations to receive a larger stimulus payment, the IRS said. The stimulus payments will not affect eligibility for federal benefits.

The $168 billion stimulus package Congress passed and President Bush signed into law this month provides checks of up to $600 for most individuals and $1,200 for couples, with an additional $300 for each child. The IRS will begin sending out the payments in May.


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