October 3, 2008 in City

Many still eligible for economic stimulus

Thousands of residents have not received checks
By The Spokesman-Review

Get your rebate

If you’ve filed for an economic stimulus payment and not received it, you can get information by calling a special IRS hotline at (866) 234-2942. Spokane-area residents who believe they are eligible for a payment but haven’t yet filed a 2007 tax refund can get help by calling Kevin Worth at United Way, 838-6581, ext. 110.

About 5,400 Spokane city residents, and 1,600 people in the rest of the county, have yet to receive the tax rebate that Congress voted to give them earlier this year, a Washington, D.C., organization estimates. They’ve got two weeks left to file the forms to receive the payments, which are usually $300 per person or $600 for a couple.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said Wednesday that it believes more than 4.3 million people around the country still haven’t filed for their “economic stimulus payment.”

Spokane appears on its list of the 100 cities with the greatest number of residents who haven’t made a claim, as do Seattle and Tacoma; across Washington, more than 92,000 taxpayers have yet to file.

If all of them were to file, they’d receive checks from the government totaling $27.8 million.

In Idaho, the numbers are smaller. No Idaho city is on the organization’s “Top 100 list” and the group estimates about 19,200 have yet to file for their rebate. That total includes about 2,000 in Kootenai County, 219 in Benewah, 771 in Bonner, 210 in Boundary, 383 in Latah and 318 in Shoshone.

All will have to file a standard tax form by Oct. 15.

Most of the people who haven’t filed for a rebate may not know they are eligible, said Donna Cohen Ross, director of outreach for the center. Many had so little income in 2007 that they weren’t required to file a tax return in 2008, and some haven’t had to file a return for years. Some are retired and others are disabled.

“It may be decades since they’ve filed,” Cohen Ross said. Some may be in nursing homes or shut-ins.

If they had at least $3,000 in income from one or more sources, including Social Security, disability insurance or veterans benefits, they are likely eligible. But for this special payment, they must file a tax form, usually a 1040A, even if they didn’t owe any taxes. Receiving the stimulus check doesn’t count against income limits for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or food stamps, Cohen Ross said.

Information on how to file is available from the IRS and many social service agencies, she said.

“It only takes a few minutes,” Cohen Ross said. “These days, $300 could really mean a lot.”

Contact Jim Camden at (509) 459-5461 or jimc@spokesman.com.

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