Economic stimulus check, take 2: You could still get money if you've hit hard times

If you didn't get a piece of the economic stimulus pie the first time around this year because you either made too much or too little, you might still be able to get in on it.

To be eligible for a check in 2008, taxpayers had to have a minimum amount of earned income or Social Security retirement income on their 2007 tax returns. There was also a maximum in place to stop high-income taxpayers from receiving a check.

But even if they got shut out on their 2007 returns, taxpayers might still be able to get some money based on 2008 income numbers. So if your situation has changed dramatically -- say you got laid off, or something like that -- you could qualify! What matters is if your 2008 income falls within the parameters set up by the IRS. This is going to mean a little boost for those who may have lost a job or otherwise had lower-than-normal income this year.

How much does the IRS think will still go out related to this twist in the law? Another $10 billion above what's already been paid out. If you didn't receive a check this year but are eligible based on your 2008 income, you'll claim a credit on your 2008 tax return. You won't receive a separate check for it.

Uncle Sam seems to think that lots of you will be eligible to receive this benefit in 2008, so don't overlook it. With slightly higher unemployment numbers this year, it's likely that a number of people will have reduced incomes that will qualify them for the economic stimulus package.

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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