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Federal stimulus checks await thousands who haven’t filed

Fri., June 20, 2008

More than 9,000 people in Spokane County and 2,500 in Kootenai County who are eligible to receive economic stimulus payments from the federal government have not filed for them, the Internal Revenue Service reported Thursday.

They are among the estimated 5.2 million people – mostly retirees and disabled veterans – the IRS will attempt to reach this summer to ensure they receive their stimulus payments of as much as $600. Many of them do not ordinarily file tax returns because they receive income such as Social Security or Veterans Affairs benefits that are not taxed.

Filers need at least $3,000 in qualifying income to be eligible for the minimum payment of $300. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay and certain benefit payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement. The returns must be filed before Oct. 15.

The IRS will work with community partners, including the United Way and veterans groups, to find the remaining people and help them file their returns, said Jesse Weller, an IRS spokesman.

The campaign started Thursday, so many community groups have not been notified yet, he said.

“The community groups we are partnering with are doing the outreach,” Weller said. “We are connected to the communities through our partners.”

All but 5.2 million of about 20 million originally identified as potential stimulus payment recipients have either filed a return or been determined ineligible. The IRS will send those remaining a letter later this summer explaining the stimulus payment and how to claim it. The letter will include a filled-in sample form and an actual tax form people can fill out and mail to the IRS.

The IRS will coordinate face-to-face free tax preparation sessions with the help of community organizations, the IRS said in a news release.

The IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center can be reached in Spokane at (509) 353-0508 and in Coeur d’Alene at (208) 676-8798.


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