IRS Helps Seniors Get Stimulus Checks

The Internal Revenue Service is trying to get the word out to millions of retirees and disabled veterans to help them get the economic stimulus checks other taxpayers are getting. Jim Bell explains.

The IRS says more than five million retirees and disabled veterans didn't file an income tax return for 2007, and if they don't file a return by October 15th -- they won't get an economic stimulus check.  More than 400 thousand of those seniors are in Texas, and more than 50 thousand are in Harris County.

In any other year, these people don't file returns because their incomes are so low they pay no taxes. This year is different. No matter how small the income, the Economic Stimulus Act requires a tax return to qualify for a stimulus check.  IRS spokeswoman Lee Crusberg says the good news is that people who pay no taxes can still file a return and get a check.

"There's earned income, Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, certain veterans benefits, nontaxable combat pay, so obviously we want to encourage these people if you're in that category make sure that you qualify, and go ahead and file that return so we can get you that money as quickly as possible."

Crusberg says there's no need for anyone to panic because people in this category have until October 15th to file a return and qualify for a stimulus check. Those with Internet access can get the information and forms they need on the website IRS-dot-gov

"There's a list of frequently asked questions, they can download a form there. There are also some local taxpayer assistance centers here in the Houston area that people can, if they have questions or need help, they can go in between 8:30 and 4:30 Monday through Friday." 

Crusberg says the IRS is also spreading the word through retired military organizations, and public and private agencies, including the American Association of Retired Persons. AARP Texas spokesman Rafael Ayusa says they're alerting as many of their members as they can.

"AARP has information to this effect on our website. We have put out press releases and other communications to our members, 2.4 million members in Texas, and 39 million members across the nation." 

Ayusa says their message is that people must file a return to get a stimulus check. 

"If they are not filing a tax return, but have received at least three thousand dollars income from Social Security, they must submit a simplified version of the 10-40A tax form to the IRS."

In addition to the 54 thousand qualifying seniors in Harris County, there are more than six thousand in Montgomery County, and more than five thousand in Fort Bend County. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.