Seniors, vets will need to file return to see stimulus checks

Lawton_President Bush signed the $170 Billion economic stimulus bill into law Wednesday, and checks for $300 and more will start arriving in the mailboxes of millions of American taxpayers this spring.  But, those who don't have to file a tax return, such as senior citizens on social security, or veterans on disability will have to take an extra step this year or they won't get their share.

They will have to file a 2007 income tax return, even if they don't normally have to.  It has to be on record so the IRS can send them their slice of the pie.  Liberty Tax Service Manager Chris Vajgert has been busy helping people file their taxes this year so they can get part of the $168 Billion measure.  "We have a lot of seniors on social security that don't file tax returns because they don't have a tax liability."

If they don't file, they won't get a check.  "Tax Counseling for the Elderly" Coordinator Byron Bowman says he's encouraging all senior citizens to file this year when they come to him for help.  "There is a special provision in the law that will allow them to get the stimulus payment, but they must file a tax return," he says.

The same applies to veteran's benefits.  "The social security benefit and the VA benefit counts as part of the $3,000 of needed income," Bowman says.

But, filing taxes this year won't change your income status.  "It's not going to affect your social security benefit," says Bowman.  "All it's going to do is get your return on file or on record, if you will, so that you can get this $300-$600 check."  Vajgers says it's not going to be taxed by the state either.

Bowman says it's good to see the government looking out for veterans and senior citizens.  "Why, I think it's absolutely great," he says.  "They're most deserving.  These folks, you know, they've worked long and hard at a lot less income rate than we do today, and I think it's great that they're going to be included in this package, especially the veterans."

Most local tax preparation services are offering discounted return preparation prices to help seniors get their stimulus payments.  VITA services are also available.