Retirees eligible for rebates

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service,almost 900 people of a particular tax base in Lincoln County areeligible for an economic stimulus check and may be unaware.

Deirdre Harris, IRS spokesperson for Mississippi and Louisiana,said there are 874 retirees and veterans, and their beneficiaries,in the county – 685 of which reside in Brookhaven – who normally donot file tax returns because their benefits are not taxable. As aresult, these people are eligible for payment under the EconomicStimulus Act of 2008 – signed into law by President George W. Bushin February – and may be letting the opportunity slide by.

“Statewide, we’ve identified more than 71,000 retirees andveterans who have not filed,” Harris said. “They’re normally nottaxed, and may not have filed a tax return in several years. Inorder for us to send a rebate out to them, we need them to filetheir 2007 returns so we can determine the correct amount of theirtax rebate.”

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Harris said that, since many of the eligible taxpayers have notfiled tax returns in several years, they might be unfamiliar withthe filing process. To assist them, the IRS is working with theSocial Security Administration, Veterans Administration, United Wayof America, National Disability Institute, National Council ofAging and American Association of Retired Persons.

The two IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nearest to Lincoln andsurrounding counties are in Jackson, at 100 West Capitol St.; andHattiesburg, at 701 North Main St.

“Retirees and veterans who need assistance can go to their localIRS office, any of these community partners or even just family andfriends who can assist them in filling out the tax firms,” Harrissaid. “A wealth of information is also available on the IRS Website.”

Harris said retirees and veterans filing to claim their benefitsdo not have to complete the entire tax form – Form 1040A. They needonly to provide their names, addresses, Social Security Numbers,filing status and any qualifying dependents. Filers must also tallythe combination of their wages and benefits, which must total aminimum of $3,000 to qualify for the stimulus check.

“We just need enough information to determine what amount theyare eligible for,” Harris said. “Filing the returns will not changethe status of their benefits, and this does not mean that they willhave to start filing every year.”

According to IRS numbers, the 22 percent of Mississippi’spopulation of retirees and veterans who have yet to file their taxreturns includes 1,218 in Pike County, 755 in Copiah County, 524 inLawrence County and 238 in Franklin County.

Further information will be mailed to such individuals laterthis summer. The letters will include a sample tax form and anactual tax form that can be completed and returned to the IRS.

“We still want to reach out to this group of taxpayers and makesure they are aware, and that they get the assistance they need,”Harris said.