Friday, April 10, 2009
Misconception #1: Most people will get their stimulus money as a check this year.
Instead of receiving a check from the government, most single taxpayers will see an adjustment to their tax withholding in their paychecks in 2009 and 2010, giving them about $45 extra per month for the rest of this year (married workers will receive an extra $65). If you're self-employed, you can adjust your quarterly tax payments to benefit from the tax credit. Then you will claim the credit when you file your 2009 tax return next spring, bringing your tax bill in line with your reduced payments.
Misconception #2: The adjustment to withholding will have to be paid back when you file your tax return next year.
Wrong -- the stimulus is actually a tax credit of 6.2% of taxable wages in 2009 and 2010, to a maximum each year of $400 for single taxpayers and $800 for married couples filing jointly. The credit is refundable, which means that you can still receive the full credit even if it is worth more than your total tax liability. Paychecks are being adjusted now to get more money into the economy faster. You'll claim the credit when you file your return next year, so your tax bill should adjust in line with the stimulus money (and you might get some extra money at tax time if your withholding wasn't adjusted enough to account for the extra credit during the year, which may happen for some married people in single-earner households).
Misconception #3: The first-time home buyer's credit needs to be repaid.
You may not have to repay the credit, depending on when you bought the house.
If you buy a house between January 1, 2009, and December 1, 2009, you could receive a credit for 10% of the home's purchase price, up to $8,000. This credit does not have to be repaid as long as you own the home for at least three years.
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