Over the weekend, I received a notification from the IRS about the economic stimulus. The notice isn’t personalized; it contains only general information about the new law. The text of the letter is straightforward. Rather than get into the details, particularly the facts that the law authorizes a new credit to 2008 income taxes and that the “payment” referred to in the letter is a pre-payment of that credit, estimated based on 2007 income taxes.
The notification is a waste of money. Here is the final paragraph:
All individuals receiving payments will receive a notice and additional information shortly before the payment is made. In the meantime, for additional information, please visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
(Interestingly, the web address is underlined as if it were a hyperlink, but as this letter appears on paper. “Clicking” on the link will get you nowhere.)
If the IRS is sending out a second notification right before the payments are sent, I would say that this pre-notification notification is pointless. The opposite side of the letter contains some instructions for calculating this tax credit. Unfortunately, the instructions are far too simplistic to provide an accurate answer for most people. Even the calculator on the IRS website provides only an estimate. I’d have to say that the only calculator that follows the letter of the law is the one posted on Consumerism Commentary and provided by a reader. Of course, since the IRS is calculating the final credit amount on their own, and they probably won’t be using the calculator found here, we can’t guarantee that what you receive will be the same as the result from our calculator.
Here’s a schedule showing when the IRS will send payments to individuals, via check or direct deposit.
Updated June 22, 2016 and originally published March 24, 2008.