It sounds almost too good to be true, no? Just for filing a tax return, our government will hand over a check to you. It is, after all, merely a means of getting money into the hands of everyday Americans to stimulate the economy. Right?
I received an email over the weekend with one simple question, “Why do you have to file your 2007 tax return before you can receive a rebate check?”
My initial response was that it was the most simple method of determining eligibility. But then I thought about it a little bit longer. There are other ways of determining eligibility – and why not use the 2006 tax season? And just like that, my mind kicked into high Mel Gibson-Conspiracy Theory mode.
Is it possible that the filing requirement is actually meant to “encourage” more taxpayers to file?
Could it be that the lure of “free money” will be enough to encourage regular non-filers to file – and possibly pay?
Instead of raising taxes in an election year, could it be contemplated that filing incentives will actually raise revenues?
For the record, I don’t believe that Congress puts all that much thought into the best method to lure taxpayers into filing tax returns… But it is an interesting thought.
Here are some statistics to chew on:
So what does any of that mean? Maybe nothing. Or maybe it means that there are a lot of taxpayers who normally either don’t have to file or willfully choose not to file – and this year, there’s an incentive to file and pay.
Could it be an elaborate plot to see who is not filing? Is it a way of updating the records in the ol’ IRS database? Is it a strategy to have more on time payments in 2008? Is there something more to it than merely getting some free money?
I don’t know. But I will say this: I’m already hearing flurries of “should I file this year?” No doubt, some of these are from folks who have willfully chosen not to file in years past and now see a big fat check being waved in front of their faces.
The whole thing reminds me of the episode of the Simpsons (Lisa the Skeptic) where the police lure Homer to the station to arrest him for 235 unpaid parking tickets.
Chief Wiggum has Homer arrested and says: I hope you brought your checkbook, wiseguy.
Homer replies: You lousy cops. Lucky for you, I’m double-parked, or I’d… (writes a check)
Homer continues: There. Now, could I please have my motorboat?
Are the rebate checks the equivalent of Homer’s motorboat?