51,000 + Minnesotans Yet to File for Stimulus Payments

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 at 6:36 am

ST. PAUL — The Oct. 15 deadline to file a 2007 income tax return and receive an economic stimulus payment this year is fast approaching. Non-traditional filers and taxpayers who received an extension to file are encouraged to submit their returns as soon as possible.

Non-traditional filers include Railroad Retirees, and Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefit recipients who normally do not have to file a tax return, as well as low-income workers and people receiving combat pay.

More than 51,600 Minnesotans who may qualify for a stimulus payment haven’t filed a 2007 tax return yet, according to the IRS. “If you had at least $3,000 in annual income or benefits in 2007,” said Carrie Resch, IRS spokesperson, “check on whether you qualify for a stimulus payment. If you do, file by Oct. 15 – even if aren’t normally required to file – so you can receive your stimulus payment this year.”

Oct. 15 is also the deadline for people who earlier this year requested an extension to file their 2007 income tax return.

The IRS has received returns from nearly 80 percent of the Social Security and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries initially identified as potentially eligible. While more than 254,200 non-traditional filers in Minnesota have already claimed their payment, the IRS has yet to hear from an estimated 51,615 people who receive Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits.

IRS has twice sent to this group letters that included a 1040A sample tax form and instructions for sending in their tax return.

If misplaced, the fastest way to obtain a Package 1040A-3 is to go to IRS.gov or a local IRS office, where people can get assistance in preparing the return as well. A return also can be prepared and submitted for free through Free File which is available at IRS.gov.

The IRS has also partnered with numerous community organizations across the country. These organizations also are conducting further outreach efforts to older Americans and veterans before the deadline.

By law, the IRS cannot disperse any economic stimulus payments after Dec. 31. However, people who may be eligible for an economic stimulus payment can claim a credit in 2009 by filing a 2008 income tax return.

As of Aug. 29, the IRS has issued $93 billion in economic stimulus payments to 114.8 million individuals and families.

Also, each year, there are approximately 10 million Americans who request an extension from the April 15 deadline to file their tax return. Oct. 15 is a final deadline for these extension taxpayers to avoid any penalties. They, too, may be eligible for the economic stimulus payment but must file a 2007 return by Oct. 15 to receive the payment this year.

ABOUT THE STIMULUS PAYMENTS

For eligible individuals, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 provided for stimulus payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) or the amount of the taxpayer’s 2007 net income tax liability, whichever is less. There also is a $300 payment for each qualifying child.

For people who have no tax liability and who have no requirement to file a tax return because their income is too low or nontaxable there is a stimulus payment of up to $300 ($600 for married couples) plus the $300 payment for each qualifying child. However, people in this situation must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income from earned income, nontaxable combat pay as well as certain benefits from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement.

Qualifying income from Social Security includes retirement, disability and survivor benefits. Supplemental Security Income is not a qualifying income. Qualifying income from Veterans Affairs includes disability compensation, disability pension and survivor benefits. Qualifying Railroad Retirement Board benefits include the social security equivalent portion of Tier I benefits. Also, those who are dependents or eligible to be dependents on another’s tax return are not eligible. People must have a valid Social Security Number unless their spouse is a member of the military.

Those who already have filed a 2007 tax return but have not received an economic stimulus payment can check on the status of a payment by going to “Where’s My Economic Stimulus Payment?” on the IRS.gov Web site. Or call 1-866-234-2942 and, after selecting English or Spanish, press 2 to check on the status of the stimulus payment. People will need their Social Security Number (the one listed first on the 2007 return), filing status (single, married, etc.) and the number of exemptions claimed on the return.

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