If you qualify for the Economic Stimulus Payment and haven't yet filed a tax return to get it, you still have time. But you must file by Oct. 15 to get your payment this year. "Many Texans may still be able to file for this year's economic stimulus payment and receive a check by Christmas or New Year's Eve," said Clay Sanford, an Internal Revenue Service spokesman in Dallas. "Who couldn't use extra cash during that time?"
The IRS expects to issue 124 million payments to Americans by year's end. Eligible individuals are receiving up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples filing joint returns) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17.
For people who have no tax liability or no tax filing requirement, there is a minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples), plus the $300 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the minimum payment, individuals must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay and certain benefit payments from Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement.
People not otherwise required to file an income tax return should file Form 1040A with basic information to ensure they receive the economic stimulus payment. This information includes name; address; dependents, if any; amount of qualifying income (which must be $3,000 or more); direct deposit information and signatures. Forms 1040A and instructions are available at the IRS Web site.
The types of Social Security benefits that are considered qualifying income include retirement, disability and survivor payments. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not qualifying income. The types of Veterans Affairs benefits that are considered qualifying income include disability compensation, disability pension and survivor payments. Qualifying Railroad Retirement payments include the social security equivalent portion of Tier 1 benefits.
Eligible individuals, including their qualifying children, must have valid Social Security numbers. Also, people cannot be claimed or be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. People with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, except for the spouses and qualifying children of military personnel, are not eligible.
Generally, people cannot file an amended return solely to get an economic stimulus payment unless they are a retiree, veteran or have other qualifying income. While amended returns will be processed to correct the income, deductions and income tax as appropriate, the economic stimulus payment amount will not be adjusted based on an amended return. If people do not receive a payment this year, they can claim it when they file their tax return in 2009. If they wait until next year to file, their payments will be based on their 2008 income and personal situations rather than on 2007 data .
"We have a lot of information dedicated to the stimulus program on our Web site," explained Sanford. "You can find solutions to common filing mistakes and answers to almost any question you may have about the stimulus payments at IRS.gov."
But, Sanford stressed that the biggest mistake of all would be failing to file a 2007 return in order to receive the stimulus payment, especially for people who are eligible but who do not normally file a tax return because their income is low or nontaxable.
"Make sure you don't overlook your eligibility for this money just because you're not accustomed to filling out a tax return at this point in your life," Sanford said. "Help notify your friends or neighbors who may be in this category yet unaware of their eligibility."
The agency also reminded people that it has more than 400 local Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating normal business hours Monday through Friday. These centers can provide assistance to retirees and veterans trying to receive their payments. A list for addresses and office hours can be found on IRS.gov at "Contact My Local Office."
There are Taxpayer Assistance Centers in the following north Texas cities: Dallas, Fort Worth, Abilene, Amarillo, DeSoto, Farmers Branch, Longview, Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo, Tyler, Texarkana, Waco and Wichita Falls.