For Utahns who have already planned how to spend their income tax rebate, it may be hard to believe some of the state's residents have called the state Tax Commission to see why they've received a check.
That's not the only confusion surrounding the $80 million in income tax rebates. Callers to the Utah State Tax Commission are asking about everything from when they can expect their money to how much they can figure on getting.Some of the callers are a little upset, but most are just happy to be getting money back from the government, said Thomas Morris, an income tax specialist with the Tax Commission.
Morris is one of nine Tax Commission employees who have been fielding telephone calls since last week's announcement that the first batch of checks was being mailed out Sept. 6.
"I had three of them yesterday who called and didn't know what the rebate check was," he said. "I'll bet there are quite a few of them who thought, `They messed up and I lucked out this time,' and won't be calling."
The first question Morris said he received is also the one probably heard most often around the office: `Where's my rebate?' Morris said most people want to know how come they haven't received it yet.
Checks averaging $148 are being mailed every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this month with the exception of Labor Day, so most Utahns should receive their checks by the end of the month.
Morris said taxpayers who were due a refund will likely see their rebate checks first, followed by those who owed the state money and finally, those whose returns contained errors or who still haven't settled with the state.
If it's any consolation, Morris said he has not yet received his own income tax rebate check, which he expects will be for the same amount he ended up owing the stake in taxes -- about $39.
While those callers concerned about when they'll receive their money tend to be the most testy, some have also been troubled because their check is smaller than they thought it would be.
These callers have figured their estimated rebate on the total amount of income tax withheld from the paychecks in 1987 instead of the total amount of income tax they actually paid the sate, Morris said.
The easiest way to figure the rebate is to calculate 12.5 percent of the amount on line 19 of the state's long tax form or line 9 of the state's short tax form. Rebates are not paid on any tax refund or on any amount still owned.
Taxpayers who have moved since filing their 1987 state return will have to wait for their rebate check to be returned to the state before the address can be corrected.
One question Morris said he hasn't heard is how the rebate money can be returned to the state. The checks themselves contain a message that recipients can make a tax-deductible donation to specific state program, such as education or social services.
Morris and the other Tax Commission employees responsible for answering tax questions can be reached at 530-4848, or 1 (800) 662-4335.