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167,000 seniors, veterans haven't filed for stimulus rebate

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

There are more than 167,000 potential economic stimulus payment recipients in Georgia who have yet to file a claim for it.

Officials with the Internal Revenue Service are attempting to get retirees and disabled veterans, who qualify for the economic stimulus payment, to file for the rebates.

Statistics indicate that only about 74 percent of qualified Georgians have filed for the money. The remaining 167,000-plus have yet to file. Of those, 2,358 are Henry County residents; 3,216 are Clayton County residents.

Of 160 counties statewide, Henry and Clayton rank 13th and eighth respectively for retirees and veterans who have yet to file. "We want to make sure every Georgian, who is eligible to receive an economic stimulus payment, files a return so they can receive their money," said IRS Spokesperson Mark Green.

Recipients of certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs, who are not normally required to file a tax return, must file a tax return before Oct. 15, 2008, in order to receive their stimulus payments.

The stimulus payment is not taxable and should have no impact on other federal benefits currently being received, Green said. "Unless an individual has other filing requirements, filing a tax return to receive a stimulus payment does not mean that retirees will have to start filing tax returns again," he added.

Later this summer, the IRS will send those qualified retirees and veterans a special letter explaining stimulus payment eligibility and how to claim it. The letter, the second regarding the retirees and veterans' rebates, will include a sample tax form and an authentic tax form that can be completed and mailed to the IRS.

Green said the IRS is trying to continue its outreach efforts to the retiree and veterans communities by working with state and local officials, members of Congress, AARP, the United Way of America, the National Disability Institute, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and other organizations.

"With an October 15 deadline to file, it is becoming increasingly urgent to reach people who have not filed for the payments they deserve," said NCOA President and CEO James Firman, in a recent statement. "The economic stimulus payment of $300 paid to a single person and the $600 to a couple mean a lot to seniors of modest means. This is true more than ever with rising gas, food, and health care costs."

The IRS will coordinate face-to-face, free tax-preparation sessions with the help of local community partners at locations where individuals live, work, and socialize, such as senior housing, Veterans Affairs hospitals and assisted living facilities. To learn more, visit the IRS web site.

The number of potential rebate recipients by city, county are as follows:

Henry County

Stockbridge: 799

Hampton: 415

McDonough: 906

Locust Grove: 238

Total: 2,358

Clayton County

Lovejoy: 13

Jonesboro: 1,218

Morrow: 385

Riverdale: 901

Forest Park: 494

Lake City: 205

Total: 3,216

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Source: Internal Revenue Service

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On the net:

Internal Revenue Service: www.irs.gov