What is a Tax Rebate?
A tax rebate is basically a refund check issued from the government (i.e., the IRS) to you, the taxpayer. In theory, the tax rebate is a refund of taxes, although as a practical matter, many people who don't earn enough money to pay taxes still receive tax rebates. The government will sometimes issue tax rebates to stimulate the economy. To receive a federal tax rebate, you need to make sure the IRS has your contact information. If you believe you are entitled to a rebate, but have not received it, you should contact the IRS. The tax rebate is basically tax in reverse; instead of you writing a tax check to the government, the government writes a tax refund check to you.
The government issues tax rebates mainly to stimulate the economy. The idea is that if the government gives money back to the taxpayers, the taxpayers will spend that money. More money spent in the store equals more money flowing through the economy, which means more jobs for everybody. That is the theory, at least.
Tax rebates have been issued as an economic recovery tool for most of the 20th and 21st centuries, dating back to the time when the federal income tax was first enacted in the early 1900s. Recently, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have encouraged Congress to issue tax rebates in an effort to minimize the recession and stimulate the economy back to growth.
Can Everyone Get a Rebate?
Every time a tax rebate is issued, some of the money does not find its way back to the taxpayers. Usually, that is because the IRS does not have contact information for some citizens. The easiest way to make sure the IRS has your contact information is to file a federal tax return each year. Even if you don't earn enough money to pay any income taxes, you should still file a tax return.
Collecting Past Tax Rebates
You typically have three years to collect your tax rebate check from the IRS. After that time, the IRS will no longer hold the money for you. If you believe you are entitled to a rebate check, but you have not received it, you should contact the IRS and give them your information and request the check.
Some people believe that in order to receive a tax rebate, or refund, you have to actually pay some income tax. After all, how can you receive a refund on something you never paid in the first place? Well, practically speaking, you can receive a rebate even though you don't make enough money to pay taxes. In fact, it is more likely that you won't get a tax rebate if you make too much money, not too little. So even if you have never paid a dollar in federal income tax, you still probably qualify for a tax rebate. You should contact the IRS to find out for sure.
The Constitution Guru has worked as a writer and editor for "BYU Law Review" and "BYU Journal of Public Law." He is an experienced attorney with a law degree and a B.A. degree in history with an emphasis on U.S. Constitutional history, both earned at Brigham Young University.