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Stimulus checks still await some seniors, veterans

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is urging nearly 3,000 Clayton County retirees and veterans eligible to receive economic stimulus payments, to file their 2007 tax returns by the approaching deadline of Oct. 15.

An estimated $50 million worth of economics stimulus checks in Georgia are unclaimed.

"This is the deadline for the estimated 134,000 retirees and disabled veterans who may be eligible to receive a stimulus payment, but who normally don't file a tax return," said IRS spokesman Mark Green. "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."

Nationwide, the IRS has accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Social Security recipients and veterans initially identified. However, an estimated 4.4 million other eligible seniors and veterans have not requested the checks.

In Georgia, about 82 percent of those eligible for economic stimulus checks have been accounted for, but 134,000 Georgians (2,738 in Clayton) have not.

The IRS has partnered with several groups in outreach efforts to make those eligible aware of the approaching deadline. One agency is AARP Georgia.

"AARP's Tax-Aide volunteers, with assistance from the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, stand ready to provide one-on-one help to those who need it," said Ken Mitchell, state director of AARP Georgia. "If you know of a housebound senior, or other person who needs help in getting their stimulus check, please tell them about this opportunity."

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation's largest free volunteer-run tax service assistance program. It provides trained and IRS-certified volunteers to assist taxpayers with limited resources in filing basic forms. The nearest assistance site to Clayton County is at the Spalding County Offices, located at 819 Memorial Drive in Griffin.

"High energy and food prices have caused many Georgians to tighten their belts, and these checks will provide some relief from rising prices," said Carter Elliott, Atlanta Prosperity Campaign manager.

Those who have no tax liability and are not required to file returns are eligible to receive up to $300 individually, or $600 for couples, plus $300 each for dependents or children. Individuals who have been gainfully employed and are single can get $600.

"People in this situation must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income from earned income, nontaxable combat pay as well as certain (qualifying) benefits from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement," Green said.

Couples filing jointly can receive as much as $1,200, plus $300 per dependent or child. They must, however, file a tax return in order to receive an economic stimulus payment even if they normally are not required to file a return. There is also an income phase-out, according to the $168 billion Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. The phase-out starts at adjusted gross income amounts of $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers.

So far, the IRS has issued more than $93 billion in economic stimulus payments to some 115 million individuals and families. To learn more, visit the IRS Web site.

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On the net:

Internal Revenue Service: www.irs.gov