Are you a retiree and receiving Social Security/Railroad Retirement or Veterans benefits and afraid to apply for the Economic Stimulus Payment? The Economic Stimulus Payment is a payment that puts up to $600 in the hands of those who have done one of two things -- they filed a tax return for 2007 or they filed a 1040A form.
According to the IRS Web site, there are 5.2 million retirees and veterans who are eligible to receive the Economic Stimulus Payment, but haven't filed the necessary paperwork to get it. In trying to get older people to apply for the stimulus payment, the IRS posted an announcement entitled, "IRS Launches Summer Push to Reach Retirees and Disabled Veterans Who Have Yet to File for Their Economic Stimulus Payments."(IRS)
In my work running Serving Our Seniors, a geriatric social service agency, we have found that some retirees have fears about filing. They are afraid this additional income will make them ineligible for some of the benefits they are receiving from Social Security, Railroad Retirement or the Veterans Administration. Another fear is if they get this money today, they will be taxed for it and be required to come up with cash to pay this tax in 2009. And finally, applying for the stimulus payment will trigger them to be audited in the future.
* Receiving the stimulus payment should have no impact on other federal benefits. 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 will have to start filing tax returns again. (IRS)
* A special stimulus category includes recipients of certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs who do not normally have a requirement to file a tax return. These individuals, however, must file a tax return before Oct. 15 to receive their economic stimulus payments. (IRS)
* People not otherwise required to file an income tax return should file 1040A form with basic information to ensure they receive the economic stimulus payment. This information includes name, address, dependents, if any, amount of qualifying income (which must be $3,000 or more,) direct deposit information and signatures. (IRS)
Serving Our Seniors has copies of the 1040 A form. If you are an Erie County resident, age 60 or older and would like help from Serving Our Seniors in completing the 1040A, ask for an appointment with our office by calling 419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856. The 1040A is quick and easy, and our help is free.
* The stimulus payment will not reduce the amount of other benefit payments. It is also not considered taxable income for either federal or state purposes. (Governor Urges Seniors, Veterans to Apply for Stimulus Payments, State of Ohio)
The one fear that I could not put to rest, based on the information contained in this IRS announcement, is whether applying for the Economic Stimulus Payment will trigger an audit on me in the future. I could not find an answer to this question.
If you haven't filed for this payment, you might want consider doing so. And when you get this money, I suggest squirreling it away for the winter heating season's fuel bills.