Another group of taxpayers surprised by an economic stimulus detail

Last week, fellow WalletPop blogger Julie Tilsner clued everyone in to this little known delay in receiving your economic stimulus money: "If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2007 refund, or you received a rapid refund, you will be receiving a check instead of a direct deposit."

Now word is out that a second group of taxpayers will be disappointed: those with spouses who do not have Social Security numbers will not receive any rebate money. The economic stimulus package was set up with this provision to prevent illegal immigrants from getting rebates. And I can't say I disagree much with this detail. While illegal immigrants probably would have put the money into the U.S. economy, it just wouldn't make any sense to give this money to someone who's not in the country legally.

But what about those foreigners who are here legally, and just don't have Social Security numbers? Unfortunately, they aren't eligible for this little perk received by those who do. Even the spouses of those without Social Security numbers won't receive a rebate check if they've filed their taxes jointly.

There are probably about 1 million legal residents of the U.S. who have green cards, but are waiting for paperwork for their spouses. It's hard to know how many others will be affected by this detail. Lawmakers have to continuously balance interests of many people when making their decision. This detail was an unintended consequence, and I think it's a small price to pay in order to make sure those in the country illegally don't benefit.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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