Veterans get weekend tax help
BARSTOW - At least 29 residents at the Veterans Home of California will likely be getting a check in the mail from the government this year.
Representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and the AARP spent Saturday at the Veterans Home helping residents prepare their 2007 tax returns so they will be eligible to receive a check for $300 or more from the United States Treasury. The payments, ranging from $300 to $600 for an individual, are part of an economic stimulus package signed into law by President Bush last month.
"The intent is that they receive these economic stimulus payments and then they go out and spend money and stimulate the economy," said IRS representative Jerrie Muir at the Veterans Home Saturday along with AARP representative Donna Munday.
For seniors living on a fixed income, a check for $300 or $600 can mean the difference between buying items like medication or doing without, Muir said.
"For a lot of people $300 isn't a lot, for someone who's working and making $100,000 a year, but for a low-income person, that's a lot of money," he said.
Although anyone with at least $3,000 in income may be eligible for the federal payment, they won't receive it unless they file a tax return.
Since many seniors have a low enough income that they are not required to file a tax return, the IRS has focused education efforts on making sure that they file this year so that they can receive their economic stimulus payments, Muir said. IRS offices around the nation opened their doors on Saturday to assist people in preparing their returns.
Veterans Home activities coordinator Maria Rodriguez said that many of the approximately 155 residents would not have the resources to get tax help on their own without the assistance of volunteers.
"Most of the residents here are unable to go into town or wherever they need to go to get their taxes done," she said.
When asked whether the sit-down with Muir was helpful, Veterans Home resident Robert McCully said, "Sure was. It's a great thing."
Of the 29 veterans who got tax help Saturday, two of them owed taxes and the rest had zero taxable income, meaning that they did not owe taxes and are not owed a refund, Muir said. Some had not filed a tax return in years and had questions about what type of income they were required to report. Most of them knew about the economic stimulus payments, but they had questions about the amount and other details, he said.
Economic stimulus payments will be issued beginning May 2, according to IRS spokesperson Rafael Tulino. The payments are separate from any refund owed to taxpayers. Taxpayers who owe money may not have their tax payment deducted from the economic stimulus payment owed to them, Muir said.
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To get your economic stimulus payment you must:
• Have made $3,000 or more in qualifying income including earned income from wages, tips, salary or taxable self employment income; Social security retirement, disability or survivors’ benefits; disability pension or survivors’ benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs; Tier 1 benefits from Railroad Retirement and certain combat pay.
• Have a valid Social Security Number and not be claimed as a dependent by anyone else.
• File a 2007 tax return.
• To ensure that you will receive your payment, write “Economic Stimulus” across the top of your tax return.
• For more information, see http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/index.html.
(From IRS reports)