The IRS Economic Stimulus Notice Letter Is A Waste Of Taxpayer Money
Published 3/26/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
When I went downstairs to the mailboxes to check my mail today, I discovered a letter in my slot with the ominous letters "IRS" and the trademark federal eagle logo stamped on it. My heart immediately skipped a beat. Was I being audited? But then I thought again - that wouldn't make any sense - I hadn't even filed my 2007 federal tax return yet.
I looked at the envelope more closely - the red lettering advertised the contents of the envelope as an important message from the IRS on the economics stimulus act of 2008 and implored me not to throw it away. Looks like I finally received one of those notorious notice letters that the IRS spent $42 million to issue. For $42 million you'd think the federal government would have been able to design a more conspicuously colored envelope rather than sticking with the traditional white junk mail design. If I hadn't examined the lettering closer I may have chucked it into the trash can like I instinctively do with most spammy mail pieces I receive.
If you want to know what the letter said, I've transcribed the entire content message below. It was a typical boiler plate form message. They didn't even bother to address the letter recipient by name. I'm simply referred to using the standard moniker - "Taxpayer".
Why the federal government and the IRS chose to spend so much money to send us this information is beyond me. Is this part of the economic stimulus plan - injecting precious taxpayer money to jump start the U.S. postal service? Why else would they waste $42 million worth of stamps and envelopes to send every single taxpayer this pointless notice? None of the information provided was new and most of the facts could easily be gleaned from a simple Google search about the stimulus tax rebate or a visit to the official IRS tax rebate website.
What the federal government and the IRS needs to do is join the modern age and start issuing nation wide email and text messages rather than relying on ancient snail mail postal delivery means. The IRS already accepts free e-filing and most people already submit their tax returns electronically. It's quick and easy. Official governmental notices being sent nationwide should accordingly adopt this electronic medium as well. Better yet, they should have used the money to help fund the Democratic Primary Re-elections in Michigan and Florida to stop the electorate disenfranchisement. That would have been a better use of governmental funds than to spend it on taxpayer junk mail.
If you didn't receive your part of the $42 million colossal paper waste, here is what the message said. It's applicable to everyone:
Economic Stimulus Payment Notice
We are pleased to inform you that the Unites States Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which provides for economic stimulus payments to be made to over 130 million American households. Under this new law, you may be entitled to a payment of up to $600 ($1,200 if filing a joint return), plus additional amounts for each qualifying child.
We are sending this notice to let you know that based on this new law the IRS will begin sending the one-time payments starting in May. To receive a payment in 2008, individuals who qualify will not have to do anything more than file a 2007 tax return. The IRS will determine eligibility, figure the amount, and send the payment. This payment should not be confused with any 2007 income tax refund that is owed to you by the federal government. Income tax refunds for 2007 will be made separately from this one-time payment.
For individuals who normally do not have to file a tax return, the new law provides for payments to individuals who have a total of $3,000 or more in earned income, Social Security benefits, and/or certain veterans' payments. Those individuals should file a tax return for 2007 to receive a payment in 2008.
Individuals who qualify may receive as much as $600 ($1,200 if married filing jointly). Even if you pay no income tax but have a total of $3,000 or more in earned income, Social Security benefits, and/or certain veterans' payments, you may receive a payment of $300 ($600 if married filing jointly).
In addition, individuals eligible for payments may also receive an additional amount of $300 for each child qualifying for the child tax credit.
For taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $75,000 (or more than $150,000 if married filing jointly), the payment will be reduced or phased out completely.
To qualify for the payment, an individual, spouse, and any qualifying child must have a valid Social Security number. In addition, individuals cannot receive a payment if they can be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer or they filed a 2007 Form 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ, 1040-PR, or 1040-SS.
All individuals receiving payments will receive a notice and additional information shortly before the payment is made. In the meantime, for additional information, please visit the IRS website at