Make us your home page

File tax return online for faster refund, rebate

Still haven't filed your income tax return? You have plenty of company, but only until April 15 to get right with the IRS.

This year there's an extra incentive to file on time: The IRS has a rebate waiting for most filers, a present from a Congress anxious to stimulate the flagging economy. If you're late, your rebate will be delayed.

Electronic filing is the way to go if you have Internet access. In addition to being faster, it's a lot more accurate. It's also free if your income is $54,000 or less; you can use the Free File service at

Whether filing online or on paper, avoid problems by double-checking Social Security numbers and the numbers you enter from W-2 and 1099 forms. Something new this year: You need a receipt or canceled check to deduct a charitable contribution. Sign up for direct deposit and you'll speed both your refund and your rebate, which could arrive as early as next month.

I don't make much money. Do I still need to file a tax return?

Yes, if you want a refund or rebate. If you had any taxes withheld from your pay, you need to file to get the money back. In addition, by filing, you may be eligible for the rebate or the earned income credit.

Who qualifies for the rebate?

Most people who pay taxes or have at least $3,000 in qualifying income (wages, Social Security payments or Veterans Affairs disability payments). Couples who file jointly need only $3,000 between them. There's no rebate for anyone 17 or older who is claimed as a dependent on someone else's return. Rebates also are phased out at higher income levels ($75,000 for singles and $150,000 for joint returns).

How much will my rebate be?

Between $300 and $600 if you are single or between $600 and $1,200 if you are married filing jointly, plus $300 for each dependent child under 17.

Will my rebate reduce my refund next year?

No. In fact, if you don't qualify for a rebate this year or you qualify for less than the maximum, you may be eligible for a rebate next year.

Who gets the earned income credit?

You may if you are between 25 and 65 with income of up to $12,590 (if childless) to $39,783 (two or more children).

What if I can't file by April 15?

Request an automatic six-month extension by filing Form 4868, either by mail or electronically. But you're still supposed to pay what you owe by April 15.

What if I can't pay the tax I owe?

File anyway, because there are separate penalties for not filing and not paying. You can pay by credit card or ask the IRS for an installment plan (Form 9465 or use the online payment agreement at

Helen Huntley can be reached
or (727) 893-8230.

Tax help

The income tax filing deadline is April 15. The IRS Web site ( or call toll-free (800) 829-1040 to ask a question or find out where to get free in-person help. Check out the St. Petersburg Times' income tax special report at

>>fast facts

Tax help

The income tax filing deadline is April 15. Try the IRS Web site ( ) or call toll-free 1-800-829-1040 to ask a question or find out where to get free help in person. Check out the St. Petersburg Times' income tax special report at

>>by the numbers

Tax filing season*

Returns expected

Returns already filed

$2,492 Average refund

9 percent Increase in electronic filings

*Through March 21

Source: IRS

File tax return online for faster refund, rebate 04/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 7:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week


    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma


    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]