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Office of the Governor News Release, March 20, 2008: Governor Urges Seniors, Veterans to Apply for Stimulus Payments

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Governor Ted Strickland today urged Ohioans to reach out to family and friends to make sure they are filing federal income tax returns this year so they can preserve their right to receive the economic stimulus payments recently authorized by Congress.

Most taxpayers file a federal income tax return every year and have no cause for concern. However, Social Security recipients and veterans who receive disability payments from the Veterans Administration – and who do not normally file a federal return because their income isn’t taxable – are at risk of missing out.

Taxpayers who don’t file a federal tax return this year will not receive a stimulus payment, even if they are otherwise eligible. Governor Strickland said today it is important for all taxpayers who think they may be eligible for a stimulus payment to file a federal return this year.

“If you have a parent or a neighbor you think may be receiving Social Security or VA benefits, take the time to explain why it is important to file a federal return this year,” Strickland said. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on an opportunity to receive this stimulus payment. This is real money that could make a real difference in the lives of hardworking Ohioans and help our economy.”

The Ohio Department of Taxation estimates that stimulus payments will add up to about $3.9 billion for Ohio taxpayers who normally file a federal return. Senior citizens who don’t normally file could be eligible for as much as another $200 million.

At stake are federal economic stimulus payments that will range from $300 to $600 for individuals and from $600 to $1,200 for married couples filing jointly.

To qualify for a stimulus payment, taxpayers must file a federal tax return that shows at least $3,000 in qualifying income from 2007.

Certain kinds of income that are not taxable, such as Social Security retirement, may be used to meet the $3,000 threshold. Other forms of nontaxable income that can be used toward the $3,000 threshold include Social Security disability benefits; tier 1 railroad retirement benefits; VA disability compensation, pension or survivor’s benefits; and earned income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not qualify.

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.

To receive the stimulus payments, taxpayers who normally do not file a return should file IRS form 1040 or 1040A. The words “Stimulus Payment” should be written across the top of the form.

The Internal Revenue Service has devoted a section of its Web site, www.irs.gov, to questions and answers about the stimulus payments. Taxpayers also began receiving letters from the IRS last week alerting them about eligibility for the payments. A special IRS mailing later this month is targeted at senior citizens and veterans who don’t normally file a return, reminding them that they must file this year to receive the payments.

Senior citizens and low-income Ohioans looking for free help with completing returns may contact the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program; call (800) 906-9887 for the closest walk-in site. The AARP also operates a network of free walk-in tax assistance sites through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program; call (888) 337-7669 for the nearest location.

For online information concerning all aspects of the 2008 economic stimulus payments, please visit the IRS stimulus information center at:

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=177937,00.html

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