One million goofs and counting

| Thursday, March 07, 2002

Remember the check you got last year from Uncle Sam? According to Bankrate.com, that extra tax refund last year is causing so much confusion that it's delaying this year's refunds.

The Internal Revenue Service reports that more than one million people have made an error reporting the advance payment the government sent out in 2001. Those who have made the mistake may have this year's refund delayed by a week or more.

Most people got a check from Uncle Sam last summer as part of the overall lowering of tax rates.

The maximum amounts were: $300 for single people or married people filing separately; $500 for single heads of households; $600 for married couples filling jointly, or qualifying widowers. If you got the maximum, leave line 47 blank on your Form 1040 (line 30 of Form 1040A and line 7 of Form 1040EZ).

Those who didn't, or who got less than the maximum amount, should use the new line on the tax form -- it's there for folks who need a second chance at the money on their 2001 return by claiming the rate reduction credit. Follow this year's instructions for computing the amount.

The IRS warns that filers who fill in the line when they aren't due any extra cash will likely find their returns flagged for the error, possibly prompting a letter from the agency, as well as slowing any additional refunds they are due. If you made a mistake here, you can correct it by filing an amended return. Wait, however, until the IRS processes your original return.

Of course, if you didn't get a full rebate check last year, Bankrate.com says you'll be making a big mistake if you ignore this new tax credit.

For more details on the rate reduction credit line, visit the IRS web site or call 1-800-829-4477, press 3 to listen to the recorded topics and choose topic 609.

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