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Nearly 100,000 in WA Could Miss Free Money

October 10, 2008

Seattle, WA - Hard economic times are no time to be throwing money out the window. However, that's exactly what's going to happen to nearly 100,000 Washingtonians if they miss next week's deadline to file income tax forms, in order to receive the government's economic stimulus payment.

Wednesday is the final day to file for the one-time check from Uncle Sam. Jean Mathisen heads up AARP's "Fraud Fighter Call Center," and she's redirected her staff this week to focus on getting the word out to thousands of residents of the Evergreen State who could use a little extra "green" right now.

"We fear that many of the people who haven't filed are those whose incomes are so low that they don't regularly file taxes, so they would not have filed taxes for 2007 - and consequently, they're ineligible to receive the rebate until they file."

The unclaimed payments affect everyone in Washington, Mathisen explains, because signing up last-minute filers will pump $27 million into the state's economy. She recommends filing those tax forms in person or on the Internet as soon as possible.

Mathisen says some people believe accepting the rebate check will affect other federal benefits they receive. She's also concerned many individuals are being influenced by rumor rather than fact.

"We've talked with some folks who say they feel guilty because today's economy is so bad and they haven't paid taxes. They don't believe they deserve the rebate. It's important that folks understand that receiving and using the money will actually help to stimulate the economy."

Forms are available online at www.aarp.org or www.irs.gov. For those unable to access the Internet, call the IRS' tollfree number, 1-866-234-2942. An important caution, however: Mathisen reminds folks never to give out personal information over the phone unless they have initiated the call.

Michael Clifford/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - WA