Stimulating News You Can Use

I really hoped you cashed that economic stimulus check you got back from Uncle Sam in the beginning of this past summer. If you haven’t done so already, you better get that sucker deposited in the bank before the government runs out of money and the check bounces. Just kidding. I think.

But seriously, while we’re on the subject, you still have time to get your economic stimulus payment this year. The IRS, working with the AARP, stated that approximately 4.35 million Americans haven’t claimed their stimulus checks, because they didn’t file a 2007 federal tax return. In Illinois, which is among the top 10 states in the U.S. who haven’t filed, more than 150,000 residents are in danger of losing their stimulus check. That’s $46 million in total going unclaimed or $300 for each individual. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use $46 million. In truth, I sure could use $300. And that $300 is the minimum amount you could be eligible for, it could go as high as $600 per individual, or $1,200 for a couple.

What’s really sad about this is that the majority of those who may be eligible for the stimulus payment are the ones who need it most, including low-income seniors, disabled war veterans and military families.

Compounding the problem is that many non-filers have heard a rumor that they would have to pay taxes on the stimulus check. So, why bother filing for it, right? Of course it “sounds” darn plausible; the IRS pretty much does tax every one and every thing, right? But in this case, it’s an outright lie. That money is tax-free.

The IRS says that you must file your federal tax return before October 15, 2008 to be eligible. That’s if you’re eligible for the check. Are you? If you’ve got a valid social security number, and had $3,000 in qualifying income during 2007, and by qualifying income, the IRS means any earned income, or specific benefits from the Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement or Veterans Affairs.

A lot of individuals don’t like to file a tax return (even if they’re getting money back!) because the forms are too complicated. In this case, it’s easier than it looks; you only need to file the 1040A form, and complete a few lines of information. AARP makes it even easier, with an online form that you can complete, print, sign and mail.

In this economy, which is getting worse, it seems, every single day, even an amount as paltry as $300 can and will help. Winter is coming, and so are the holidays, and everyone is looking for a little extra something to tide them along. Don’t let the federal government keep the money that rightly belongs to you. They’re just gonna do something stupid with it like give it to some Wall Street banker who didn’t have enough money to get his Prada suit dry cleaned, or had to wash his Lamborghini by hand instead of having it detailed. What could you do with it? How about buy groceries, put gas in the car, pay off a credit card bill, or go out to dinner? It’s your choice and it’s your money – use it or lose it.

DebtStoppers is not just about helping you get your debt under control. We’re also about helping you get what you’re entitled to.

--Debt Diva

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