A woman came up to the information desk where I work at the Central Library downtown and asked me how to get her stimulus funds. This is of course an excellent question- the 787 billion dollar budget for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes provisions for education and training, protecting the vulnerable, energy, state and local fiscal relief, tax relief, health care, infrastructure and science and “other.” In addition, California, the most populous state in the union will receive the largest amount of those funds destined to the states. It is worth our while to be informed about what is available, so I’ll be posting articles from time to time called “Will we be stimulated ?” and hope you will respond to the information.
I explained to the woman in the library that one source of stimulus funds to individuals is through the economic stimulus payment (tax relief) that many of us will receive when we file our 2008 taxes. She said that she is on SSI and Social Security and doesn’t file taxes. Here’s some important information for our seniors, neighbors with disabilities and the working poor who do not file income tax. This information is on the IRS site http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=179181,00.html .
Q: I normally don’t need to file a tax return. How do I know if I’m one of those people who may be eligible to receive an economic stimulus payment?
A: This group includes some recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement or veterans’ benefits as well as taxpayers who do not make enough money to normally have to file a 2007 tax return. For example, this can include low-income workers, those who receive Social Security benefits or veterans’ disability compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007. These people will be eligible to receive a payment of $300 ($600 on a joint return) if they had at least $3,000 of qualifying income.
Qualifying income includes Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, certain veterans’ benefits and earned income, such as income from wages, salaries, tips and self-employment. For people filing joint tax returns, only a total of $3,000 of qualifying income from both spouses is required to be eligible for a payment.
One thing we can all do is make sure that everybody who can possibly qualify for this benefit files for it. Get out the word by going to senior housing and senior centers and informing people. It means recruiting volunteers to set up places and times to assist low income people in filing their federal income tax. It means making sure that your library has this information available in print form. As you all know, not everybody has a computer nor knows how to use one and these are the very people we need to be helping. So let’s help them. It’s that easy. The official federal site for stimulus information is www.recovery.gov