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Economic Stimulus Payments: Information for Recipients of Railroad Retirement Benefits

Updated July 18, 2008

This section is for people who receive Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits. The IRS and Treasury are working closely with the Railroad Retirement Board to ensure that all eligible individuals know what to do to receive a stimulus payment.

Normally, certain Railroad Retirement payments are not subject to income tax. However, the economic stimulus law passed in February contains a special provision allowing Railroad Retirement recipients to count those benefits toward the qualifying income requirement of $3,000 and thereby qualify for the stimulus payment.

For eligible beneficiaries, the IRS has prepared an 8-page informational package that includes instructions, a sample Form 1040A and a blank Form 1040A — everything needed to send a tax return today. See below for eligibility requirements.

Basic Eligibility Requirements
  • You have, or your family has, at least $3,000 in qualifying income from, or in combination with, Social Security benefits, certain Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits and earned income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.

  • You and any family members listed on your tax return have valid Social Security numbers.

  • You are not a dependent or eligible to be a dependent on someone else’s federal tax return. (The same must be true of any family members claimed on your return.)

To Claim Your Payment

If you normally don’t file a federal tax return but must file one this year solely to claim your economic stimulus payment, you should file by Oct. 15, 2008, to ensure that you receive the payment this year. Find out where to send your tax return.

It will generally take a minimum of eight weeks after you file your return to get your stimulus payment.

For Those Who Have Already Filed

Many recipients of the benefits described above may have filed a 2007 tax return reporting at least $3,000 in qualifying income. They do not need to do anything else.

Others may need to amend a tax return that they have already filed to include previously unreported benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level. Adding these benefits on an amended tax return will not increase an individual’s tax liability, but will establish eligibility for the stimulus payment. Taxpayers can use IRS Form 1040X to amend a tax return in order to qualify for the stimulus payment. The amended return requires only a few simple entries. See a sample with instructions. Allow 8-12 weeks of processing time before making any inquiries about the payment.

Free Tax Help Available

Individuals who need to file a return this year to receive a stimulus payment may be able to take advantage of free tax preparation sites nationwide for low-income and older taxpayers.

Free File provides free tax preparation software and electronic filing for people who are submitting a return solely to receive their economic stimulus payment.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help to low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Call 1-800-906-9887 to locate the nearest VITA site.

IRS employees will help prepare Form 1040A returns for low-income workers, retirees, disabled veterans and others at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. For a list of centers in your state and their hours of operation, Contact My Local Office.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 29-May-2013