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How to get your Economic Stimulus check
ARLINGTON A tax preparer who volunteers to help the elderly with their taxes through AARP, Sue Hatfield of Arlington, wants folks to make sure that everyone who is eligible will get their Economic Stimulus checks from the feds.
Many people who do not routinely file a tax return due to their low incomes may qualify for this economic stimulus payment by filing a tax return, Hatfield said.
Hatfield is a volunteer Tax Counselor for the Elderly for the Association of American Retired People IRS program.
To volunteer, we have to study new IRS material and be tested and re-certified every January in order to prepare taxes for the previous year, Hatfield said.
To qualify, the person must have an income of $3,000 for the year 2007.
Social Security does count to qualify but SSI payments do not, she said.
The stimulus payment is excluded from income and resources for federally-funded programs based on need, such as Medicaid, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Food Assistance and Housing Assistance.
Washington Medicaid staff have confirmed that stimulus payments do not affect a Medicaid long-term care clients participation cost for the long-term care services.
This clarification removes a concern that caused some LTC clients to wonder whether it would be worthwhile to seek the payment, Hatfield said.
Advocates urge the low- and middle-income, seniors and providers serving seniors, to contact free tax preparation services available for low income people.
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program provides free tax help to all low to middle income taxpayers with special attention to people age 60 and older. To find an AARP Tax Aide site near you, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit the AARP web site.
The Snohomish County government, too, is urging local stakeholders such as charities, churches, employers, local governments and other social-service providers to reach out to residents who may be eligible for the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payment but dont know it.
Low-income families and senior citizens who dont earn enough to typically file federal tax returns, or those who receive non-taxable assistance including Social Security and veterans benefits may be eligible to receive a payment under the approved federal plan.
According to the IRS, individuals who qualify may receive as much as $600 ($1,200 if married filing jointly). Even Snohomish County residents who pay no income tax but have a total of $3,000 in combined income, Social Security benefits and/or veterans payments may receive a payment of $300 ($600 if married filing jointly). Finally, individuals eligible for payments may also receive an additional amount of $300 for each child qualifying for the federal child tax credit.
To receive the federally approved economic stimulus payment from the IRS, however, people in these populations must file a tax return.
The IRS has created a Web page at www.irs.gov/newsroom/article which contains a one-page flier that can be used as envelope stuffers and distributed by local employers, churches, charities and other nonprofits to inform their clients.
In addition, through the assistance of the Snohomish County Financial Asset Development Coalition, the United Way of Snohomish County is offering free tax preparation and electronic-filing services to low-income individuals and families.
ACORN, the nations largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, will assist families with tax preparation on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 - 8 p.m. at 2012 Lombard Ave., Everett. For information, call 425-259-5148 or go to www.wa.acorn.org.
AARP TaxAide also offers free help to those who are low-income or older than 59. Locations can be found throughout Snohomish County by using the Web site locator.aarp.org/vmis/sites/tax_aide_locator.jsp.
Finally, the IRS can help seniors and low-income residents find free tax help by calling 1-800-829-1040 or by going to www.irs.gov/individuals.
Anyone filing tax forms specifically for the economic stimulus payment should write Stimulus Payment across the top of their main tax form. An example of what to fill out on a Form 1040A can be found by going to www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/1040a.pdf.