Checks coming, but...

Are you eligible for the ‘economic stimulus’ payment?

In a few weeks, Congress will be sending people money as a way to help jump start the dead economy. But will you be getting a check?

Approximately 130 million individuals will be receiving a federal economic stimulus payment, starting in May. There is a lot of conflicting information about who is eligible for these payments, which will range from $300 to $1,200 (or more for those with children). The IRS recently clarified that people receiving Social Security Retirement and Disability Insurance benefits, as well as people receiving some forms of veteran’s assistance, may be eligible for a stimulus payment.

Even individuals who have no tax liability may qualify for a $300 rebate if their tax return shows $3,000 or more in qualifying income. This income can include wages, self-employment income, and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Veteran’s disability compensation, pensions or survivor’s benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007 can also be considered qualifying income. Note, however, that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not qualify as income for this payment.

To receive the stimulus payment, you must file a 2007 tax return, even if you would not otherwise need to file one. The IRS has posted more information on their Web site. Go to www.irs.gov and click on “Rebate Questions.” The IRS Web site also has a sample version of IRS Form 1040A, showing the specific section of the form you need to fill out to qualify for the stimulus payment. Your 2007 benefits can be reported on Line 14a of Form 1040A or line 20a of Form 1040.

People who would not otherwise be required to file should write the words “Stimulus Payment” at the top of their tax form. Filers in this group must file a paper copy of Form 1040 or Form 1040A. The IRS will not accept these forms electronically.

Receiving an economic stimulus payment will not trigger a tax bill. It will not cause you to owe taxes next year and will not impact benefits you receive from the federal government. Since state benefit programs usually follow federal guidelines in one-time situations, we do not expect these payments to impact state benefits, either. We are continuing to seek confirmation from state government officials.

From February 5th through April 15th, scores of volunteers throughout the state are available to help people with low incomes fill out their tax forms. These volunteers can help you apply for the stimulus rebate. For the dates, times and locations of free tax-assistance, call 651-297-3724 or 1-800-657-3989. Free tax-help can be found at: www.accountability mn.org or www.taxes.state.mnus/