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Recovery Rebate Credit Information Center


En Español

The recovery rebate credit is a one-time benefit for people who didn't receive the full economic stimulus payment last year and whose circumstances may have changed, making them eligible now for some or all of the unpaid portion.

Generally, a credit adds to the amount of your tax refund or lowers the amount of taxes owed. Therefore, the amount you receive for the recovery rebate credit will be included as part of your refund, as shown on your tax return.

You May Be Eligible

People who fall into the categories described below may be eligible for the recovery rebate credit this year:

  • Individuals who did not receive an economic stimulus payment.

  • Those who received less than the maximum economic stimulus payment in 2008 — $600 per taxpayer; $1,200 if married filing jointly — because their qualifying or gross income was either too high or too low.

  • Families who gained an additional qualifying child in 2008.

  • Individuals who could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2007, but who cannot be claimed as a dependent on another return in 2008.

  • Individuals who did not have a valid Social Security number in 2007 but who did receive one in 2008.

How to Get the Recovery Rebate Credit

You need to claim the recovery rebate credit on Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The instructions for these forms will show you which lines to use. Unlike the economic stimulus payment, the recovery rebate credit will be included in your tax refund for 2008 and will not be issued as a separate payment.

The IRS Will Figure the Credit for You in Most Cases

You can let the IRS figure the credit when you file your 2008 Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. If you're filing on paper, simply follow the line-by-line instructions to choose this option. If you're filing electronically, the software will figure the credit for you.

Or You Can Figure It Yourself

Likewise, you can figure and claim the recovery rebate credit on your 2008 Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Two interactive online tools will be available to help you with the calculation, the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator and How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment?

The Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator will help you figure the amount you should claim on your 2008 tax return. The worksheet in the Form 1040 instruction booklet can also help you figure your credit by hand. To use the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator or complete the worksheet, you'll need the amount of your 2008 economic stimulus payment, if any. This amount was provided on Notice 1378, Economic Stimulus Payment Notice, sent by the IRS to taxpayers who received a payment.

You need to know the amount of your 2008 economic stimulus payment to determine if you are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit. You must enter the total amount of your stimulus payment when you file your 2008 tax return. Even if your payment was reduced to satisfy other debts, as would be stated on your Notice 1378, you still need to include the total. If you received more than one payment — and more than one Notice 1378 — enter the total of all payments you received.

If you don't have Notice 1378, you can use How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment? to look up the amount you received.

Has Your Filing Status Changed?

If your filing status changed for 2008, follow these directions to determine the amount of your total 2008 stimulus payment. You'll need to use this amount when you calculate your 2008 Recovery Rebate Credit. 

Find the Answers to Your Questions 

You might find what you're looking for on our question and answer page.  

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: January 09, 2009