As part of a national outreach effort, the Internal Revenue Service is encouraging nonprofits, charities, and other community groups to reach out to low-income Americans who may not realize they are eligible for the 2008 economic stimulus payment.
Workers who normally do not file a tax return because their income is too low but who have at least $3,000 in wages, tips, or salary or other qualifying income may be eligible for an economic stimulus payment. However, they must file a 2007 income tax return in order to receive a payment.
The IRS encouraged government and nongovernmental organizations, especially churches and charities that work with low-income Americans to help spread the word to individuals and families. Because it lacks name and address information for many low-wage workers, the IRS is unable to contact everyone who may be eligible.
"Many people who don't normally file a tax return may not realize they need to take an extra step this year to receive an economic stimulus payment," said Acting IRS Commissioner Linda E. Stiff. "We are encouraging groups across the country to help us get out the word that low-income workers and others need to file a tax return in order to receive a stimulus payment."
"Some low-income taxpayers may never have filed a tax return before yet qualify for an economic stimulus payment," added National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson. "Community-based organizations can play a vital role in spreading the word about the steps people must take to receive their payment. Part of that message should be to seek help from reputable sources and avoid Internet solicitations."
Generally, workers who earn less than $8,750 if single, $11,250 if a single parent or $17,500 if married are not required to file a tax return. This year, however, they should file a simple tax return if they had at least $3,000 in qualifying income which is defined as earned income, nontaxable combat pay or certain Social Security, Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement benefits. It also can be a mix of pay and benefits.
The IRS will mail 20.5 million information packages to Social Security and Veterans Affairs recipients, starting this week. In all, more than 130 million individuals and couples may be eligible for an economic stimulus payment of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples.). Some households may qualify for an additional $300 for each eligible child younger than 17.
People who normally do not file a tax return may be eligible for the minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples) plus the additional $300 per eligible child.
There are some caveats: People must have at least $3,000 in qualified income, valid Social Security numbers for themselves and their qualifying children, and cannot be a dependent or be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return.
Organizations with interest in providing information to Americans who may be eligible for these payments can go to IRS.gov for materials and marketing tools to help spread the word.
An IRS.gov Web page, Economic Stimulus Payments: Marketing Products for Partners, has one-page flyers, envelope stuffers, and more information that can be downloaded. Also available is the Package 1040A-3, a 8-page package containing everything low-wage workers need to file a tax form immediately.
The IRS also is working with a number of key national organizations such as AARP, National Community Tax Coalition/Center for Economic Progress, National Council on Aging, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, National Disability Institute, United Way of America, Catholic Charities, Disabled American Veterans, and others.
In addition, the IRS is reaching out to small business employers and employees across the nation with the help of organizations such as the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Association for the Self-Employed.
Starting in May, the IRS will begin issuing economic stimulus payments based on the 2007 tax returns being filed this spring. Filers who have bank accounts can receive their stimulus payments faster by using direct deposit.
Free help is available. For those with computer access, IRS Free File â Economic Stimulus Payment is available at IRS.gov. People can use IRS Free File to prepare returns and submit them electronically for free.
People also can print out Package 1040A-3, the 8-page publication containing tips for completing a return, a sample Form 1040A and a blank Form 1040A, which people can complete and mail to the IRS.
There are also thousands of free tax preparation sites staffed by volunteers nationwide. And, there are more than 400 IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide.