A Summer Project for the Greater Good: Help a Retiree Get a Tax Rebate

Tax Tips

The IRS needs you.

No, not in the usual way.

It’s asking your help – essentially a few minutes of your time and effort – to ensure that tax rebates get to people who might need them the most.

Chances are you know a family member or neighbor who’s living on a fixed income, say from Social Security or the Veteran Administration. A tax rebate, or economic stimulus payment, worth $300 or more would doubtless be a welcome gift.

But it turns out that one in every four Social Security and VA beneficiaries who qualify haven’t claimed their share of the more than $100 billion in stimulus payments.

That’s 5.2 million people who are missing out, as of June.

Why would that many people leave billions on the table?

The biggest hurdle is this: To get a rebate, you HAVE to file a 2007 tax return, even if your income was low enough that you aren’t normally required to file.

The IRS says that 74 percent of those 5.2 million individuals have not filed a tax return in the last three years.

So the challenge is to convince them that filing a return is in their best interest – and to reassure them that the rebates don’t come with strings attached.

Rebates don’t have to be repaid and won’t reduce the filer’s regular income benefits. Filing just to get a rebate won’t mean having to file every year from now on (as long as the recipient’s income falls below the filing requirements).

To get the rebate this year, you have to file by Oct. 15.

If you think the IRS doesn’t need your help in this, think again. Here’s what IRS head honcho Commissioner Doug Shulman has to say:

“Some retirees and others who normally do not file a tax return may be eligible and not know it. And, that’s where we could use the public’s help as well. If you know of a retiree or a disabled veteran who might qualify, please pass along the information to them.”

So, there you are. Stop blogging and go make someone’s day.