Why you might not have gotten your tax rebate yet

Your neighbor got one. So did your brother-in-law. Your loud-mouth co-worker received his last week and spent it at the track. You, however, haven't gotten your tax rebate yet. What gives?

The IRS, which began sending out rebates on April 28, will continue distributing them through mid-July. The rebates, part of the economic stimulus package enacted this year, range from $300 to $600 per person, or $1,200 for married couples.

Taxpayers who arranged for direct deposit for their tax refunds — or who owed money but provided bank account information on their 2007 tax returns — began receiving their checks on April 28. The last batch of those rebate checks is scheduled to be transmitted this week. Paper checks will be mailed May 16 through July 11, based on taxpayers' Social Security numbers (see box).

Still, some taxpayers who thought they would receive their rebates by now haven't gotten their checks. Others have received their checks, but the amount was smaller than they expected. Here are some answers to your rebate questions:

Q: The payment date for my Social Security number has passed, and I haven't received my rebate. Why not?

A: The payment schedule applies to taxpayers whose tax returns were processed before April 15. If you filed your tax return just before the filing deadline, the IRS might not have processed it by April 15, which could delay your rebate, IRS spokesman Anthony Burke says.

The IRS is offering a "Where's My Stimulus Payment?" tool on its website, www.irs.gov, for taxpayers whose rebates should have arrived by now.

Q: I arranged for direct deposit of my refund but also received a refund-anticipation loan from my tax preparer. How will that affect my rebate?

A: All taxpayers who received a refund-anticipation loan — or who requested one but were turned down — will receive their rebates by mail, says Amy McAnarney of H&R Block. Similarly, if your tax-preparation or electronic-filing fees were withheld from your refund, you'll receive a paper check, even if you arranged for direct deposit of your tax refund.

If, however, you arranged to have your refund deposited to a prepaid debit card and didn't request a refund-anticipation loan or other bank product, your rebate will be direct-deposited to the prepaid card, McAnarney says.

Q: I didn't use direct deposit for my tax refund but would like to have my rebate direct deposited. Can I provide that information to the IRS?

A: No. If you didn't provide direct-deposit information on your tax return, you'll receive a paper check. Likewise, you can't change the account information for your rebate. If the account you provided on your tax return is no longer active, you'll receive a paper check.

Q: I arranged for my tax refund to be deposited into an individual retirement account. What will happen to my rebate?

A: Your rebate will also be deposited into your IRA. But don't panic. Taxpayers whose rebates were direct-deposited into an IRA, 529 college savings plan or other tax-favored account can withdraw that money without triggering taxes or penalties. The IRS is allowing these withdrawals because otherwise, some taxpayers could inadvertently exceed annual contribution limits to such accounts, Burke says.

You must make such a withdrawal by April 15, 2009, or Oct. 15, 2009, if you file for an extension.

If you used the split-refund option, which lets you deposit your refund in up to three different accounts, you won't have to worry about retrieving your rebate. Taxpayers who used the split-refund option will receive rebates by mail.

Q: I received my rebate, but it's for less than I thought I would get. Why?

A: There are several factors that could shrink your rebate:

•Your rebate can't exceed your 2007 net tax liability. If your net tax liability was less than $600 — or $1,200 if you're married and filed jointly — your rebate will be reduced.

Taxpayers who used Form 1040 can calculate their net tax liability by adding Line 52 and Line 57. If you used 1040A, add Lines 35 and 32. On 1040EZ, your net tax liability is the amount shown on Line 10.

•You owe back taxes, child support or have defaulted on your federal student loans. The IRS will apply your rebate to those debts.

•Your children don't qualify. Parents are eligible for an additional $300 for each dependent child. But the payment is available only for dependent children who were age 16 or under on Dec. 31, 2007.

Sandra Block covers personal finance for USA TODAY. Her Your Money column appears Tuesdays. Click here for an index of Your Money columns. E-mail her at: sblock@usatoday.com.