On the street
Mine is going to help pay off my credit card debt, and that’s about it.
Joy Dryden last drew a paycheck eight years ago, and her husband retired from auto sales back when President Bush - the first one - signed legislation in the Oval Office.
While Uncle Sam no longer requires her to file a tax return, the former antiques dealer is making a point of sending in a 1040-A this year. That's because filling out the few lines of information will be expected to produce a $600 check for the Drydens this summer.
That's thanks to the economic stimulus package signed by the second President Bush.
"I just can't believe it," said Dryden, waiting patiently for tax-filing assistance Tuesday afternoon at the Lawrence Senior Center. "I haven't had anything given to me in my entire life. This really will be something."
But the payment will be something that many retirees just like her - or others receiving veterans benefits, railroad benefits or working for low wages - will miss out on unless they take a few moments to file a tax return.
Filing a return is the only way for the IRS to know whether you qualify, how much you should get and where to send the money. And people who don't have to file often don't.
"We don't want to miss anybody," said Michael Devine, an IRS spokesman. "For millions of Americans, filing a tax return is not routine because their income either is so low that it's not taxable or their benefits are not taxable.
"This year, filing a 2007 return is the only way to receive an economic stimulus payment. Congress asked us, the IRS, to give the money away, and that's a good thing. Now we want to get everybody to get their tax returns filed so they can get their stimulus payments."
Jack Connolly, site coordinator for the AARP Tax-Aide assistance site at the senior center, 745 Vt., said the tax-preparation program already had helped about 800 people fill out tax returns this season in Lawrence, Baldwin City and Ottawa. Of those filings, he figures, at least 15 percent are for people who normally wouldn't need to send in a return.
It's the stimulus program that is drawing them in - the IRS sent out information packets this week to recipients of Social Security and veterans benefits - and he knows there are more people out there who could use some help.
That's why the center is participating in Super Saturday, a national effort promoted by the IRS to encourage people who normally don't have to file returns to get out and get help getting their returns turned in.
Trained volunteers will be available from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the center, Connolly said, and the entire process takes only about 20 minutes once seated with a volunteer at a computer.
"For most people it will be $300. For some people it will be $600," he said. "This is the only thing you have to do, and it's painless."
Even better: Filing a return also may help people recover other tax revenues available through other programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the state Homestead Exemption or a sales-tax refund on food purchases.
Bring in a blank check, and volunteers also can set up direct deposit so that someone filing by April 15 would be set to receive a stimulus payment sometime in May.
One key, Connolly said: Filing a tax return is nothing to be afraid of, whether someone does it at home, with a paid preparer or through a volunteer.
"People think that if they file a return, the IRS will come after them," Connolly said. "That's not it at all. This is totally free. It's $300, and it's yours."
Check the schedule
The Internal Revenue Service plans to send more than 130 million economic stimulus payments beginning May 2. People filing tax returns and opting for direct deposit will get their stimulus payments first.
Stimulus payments will be sent according to a schedule based on the last two digits of a taxpayer's Social Security number. For married couples filing jointly, the first number on the return will determine when the payment will be sent.
For direct deposit, taxpayers with these numbers can expect payments in their accounts by these dates, provided their returns have been filed and processed by April 15:
¢ 0020, May 2
¢ 2175, May 9
¢ 7699, May 16
Paper checks will be in the mail on this schedule:
¢ 0009, May 16
¢ 10-18, May 23
¢ 1925, May 30
¢ 2638, June 6
¢ 3951, June 13
¢ 5263, June 20
¢ 6475, June 27
¢ 7687, July 4
¢ 8899, July 11