Today’s news:

IRS: Not to late for ‘stimulus’

The Internal Revenue Service reminded qualifying retirees and veterans that it is not too late to file for an economic stimulus payment and announced it will send a second set of information packets to 5.2 million people who may be eligible but who have not yet filed for their stimulus payment.

The packages will contain everything needed by a person who normally does not have a filing requirement but who must file this year in order to receive an economic stimulus payment. There will be instructions, an example Form 1040A return showing the few lines that need to be completed, and a blank Form 1040A.

“All it takes is a few simple steps, and the payment can be on its way. It’s not too late to file, but the sooner people file, the faster they’ll receive their money,” said Doug Shulman, IRS commissioner.

The mailing is part of an IRS summer campaign to reach out to those people who have no requirement to file a tax return but who may be eligible for a stimulus payment of up to $300 ($600 for married filing jointly). For those eligible for a payment for themselves, there also is a $300 per child payment for eligible children younger than 17.

The IRS has accounted for about 75 percent of the approximately 20 million Social Security and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries identified as being potential stimulus recipients. All but 5.2 million of those have either filed a return, filed a joint return or were not eligible for a stimulus payment (for example, they were claimed as a dependent on another’s return).

To reach the remaining recipients, the IRS is working with national partners, members of Congress and state and local officials to ensure that assistance to eligible people is available.

The agency also reminded people that it has more than 400 local Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating normal business hours Monday through Friday. These centers can provide assistance to retirees and veterans trying to receive their payments. A list of addresses and office hours can be found at “Contact My Local Office at www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html.

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 provided for payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married filing jointly) for taxpayers who normally file a tax return and have a tax liability. It provided that stimulus recipients could receive another $300 for each eligible child younger than 17.

The act also created a special category for people who had certain types of income but may not file a tax return because their income is too low or their income is nontaxable.

People in this category must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income to be eligible for the minimum amount of $300 ($600 married filing jointly). Qualifying income is the total of Social Security, Veterans Affairs and/or Railroad Retirement benefits plus earned income, including nontaxable combat pay.

People receiving only Supplemental Security Income are not eligible. Eligible people must have a Social Security Number (unless their spouse is a member of the military) and be neither a dependent nor eligible to be a dependent on another’s tax return.

Receiving the stimulus payment should have no impact on other federal benefits currently being received. The stimulus payment is not taxable. Absent any other filing requirements, filing a tax return to receive a stimulus payment does not mean that retirees and others will have to start filing tax returns again.

As of July 11, the IRS had issued 112.4 million payments totaling $91.8 billion. Payments are based on 2007 tax returns being filed this year.

People must file by October 15 in order to receive a payment in 2008. Those who do not file a tax return to obtain their stimulus payment this year may still receive their stimulus payments by filing a 2008 tax return next spring, but then their stimulus payment would be based on their 2008 qualifying income.

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