It’s that time of year again — tax season! The April 15 deadline to file your 2007 taxes is just around the corner.

It’s always important to submit your tax forms as soon as possible, but this year millions of Americans have another reason to get their taxes done quickly: Tax rebate checks!

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 with overwhelming bipartisan support, and President Bush signed the legislation into law. The measure provides a tax rebate to more than 130 million American families, including 35 million families who work but do not earn enough to pay income taxes — although they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Americans who earned at least $3,000 in 2007 will get at least $300 per individual and up to $1,200 per couple, plus a child tax credit of $300 per child. It also extends the rebates to approximately 27 million seniors, 250,000 disabled veterans and the survivors of disabled veterans.

This economic stimulus package is a timely, targeted and temporary measure designed to help jump-start our fragile economy by providing rebates to millions of middle-income Americans and small businesses.  According to the Treasury Department, California should receive $12.4 billion, with an average tax rebate of $844 going to nearly 15 million households.

But in order to get your tax rebate you must file a 2007 IRS Form 1040 or Form 1040A and report at least $3,000 in qualifying income on the form. I strongly encourage everyone who is required to file a tax return to do so as soon as possible and prior to the April 15 deadline so the IRS will be able to process your return and determine whether you are eligible for a rebate.

People who normally are not required to file a tax return will still need to file a 2007 return to receive their economic stimulus payment. Click here for more information on a special program set up by the IRS and the Free File Alliance to allow these individuals to use free electronic filing. Remember, the sooner you file your tax return the sooner the IRS will be able to determine your eligibility to receive a tax rebate. Taxpayers who already have filed a tax return can click here to calculate their potential rebate.

When filing your tax paperwork, I also encourage you to use direct deposit so you can receive your stimulus payment faster. Similarly I urge you to file your tax returns electronically, which saves processing time, is better for the environment and saves on postage. Click here for IRS e-file information.

Also a word of warning Be wary of unsolicited e-mail or telephone calls from anyone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Don’t click on any links from these solicitations. Instead, forward the e-mail to, and then delete it. Use the same e-mail address to report unsolicited telephone calls. Click here for the only official IRS Web site.

These tax rebates are a good first step in helping families through these difficult financial times, but we must do more to help folks cope with the housing crisis, growing unemployment, the credit crunch, and the high cost of gas, groceries and college. I hope that in the coming months Congress and the president can again work together on additional steps to further stabilize our economy and help hard-working families.

Click here for more information on the economic stimulus package or contact my Santa Barbara district office at 805.730.1710.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, represents the 23rd Congressional District.