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Montanans Are Owed More Than $5 Million

August 11, 2008

Helena, MT – The promise of "free money" makes Montanans suspicious. Perhaps that's one explanation for the more than 17,000 state residents who have not yet applied to receive their economic stimulus checks. Montana's chunk of the unclaimed federal money totals more than $5 million, which could go a long way toward filling gas tanks and buying groceries.

Donna Cohen Ross, outreach director for the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, says her organization is reaching out to people to let them know there are no strings attached, and just a few hoops to jump through, to get an economic stimulus check. CBPP's research indicates most of the people missing out are over age 60, veterans, and those with disabilities.

"The people who haven't yet filed are among those who need the payments the most. When you think about what kinds of financial constraints people are facing, the 300-dollar payment can make a huge difference."

In order to qualify for a stimulus payment, people must file an IRS Form 1040-A to report income for 2007, even if they haven't been required to file income tax forms in years. Cohen Ross explains that the stimulus check will not count as taxable income and does not affect other forms of public assistance they may be receiving, such as food stamps.

AARP also has created a site to walk people through the process, print out the form, fill it out and send it in. Find it at aarp-stimulus2008.benefitscheckup.org. The deadline for filing is October 15.


Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MT