2008 Tax Law Highlights

Economic Stimulus Payments Tax Free

Economic stimulus payments are not taxable, and they are not reported on 2008 tax returns. However, the stimulus payment does affect whether a taxpayer can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and how much credit he or she can get. The credit is figured like last year’s economic stimulus payment except that the amounts are based on tax year 2008 instead of 2007. A taxpayer may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit if, for example, she did not get an economic-stimulus payment or had a child in 2008. See Fact Sheet 2009-3 for details. In most cases, the IRS can figure the credit. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ have more information.

AMT Exemption Increased for One Year

For tax-year 2008, Congress raised the alternative minimum tax exemption to the following levels:

  • $69,950 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers, up from $66,250 in 2007
  • $34,975 for a married person filing separately, up from $33,125 and
  • $46,200 for singles and heads of household, up from $44,350

Under current law, these exemption amounts will drop to $45,000, $22,500 and $33,750, respectively, in 2009. Form 6251 and the AMT Calculator provide more information.

Expiring Tax Breaks Renewed

Several popular tax breaks that expired at the end of 2007 were renewed for tax-years 2008 and 2009. As a result, eligible taxpayers can claim:

  • The deduction for state and l