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City leaders can help constituents receive economic stimulus rebates.

Congress has approved an economic stimulus package to boost the economy and help struggling families. Individuals can receive at least $300 and married couples at least $600. Those raising children under age 17 can receive an additional $300 per child. However, to get the payment, individuals need to file a tax return.

People whose income is mainly from Social Security or veterans benefits, or those with very low earnings, are in danger of missing out on these valuable stimulus payments. Since they often do not owe income tax and do not usually file a tax return, they may need assistance to file. City leaders are well-positioned to inform residents about how to receive these payments.

To qualify, families must have had an income in 2007 of $3,000 or more from earnings, Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or veterans' disability or survivors' benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those claimed as dependents on another tax return do not qualify. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send out payments beginning in May.

To get IRS facts and outreach materials, visit www.irs.gov, and look for "Economic Stimulus Payment." Local officials can also contact their IRS Territory Manager (www.cbpp.org/eitc-partnership/territory-manager.htm) to coordinate local activities, including efforts with Earned Income Tax Credit outreach partners to reach local social service agencies, seniors groups and veterans groups to circulate information.

John Wancheck is coordinator of the Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach Campaign at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.
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Author:Wancheck, John
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 3, 2008
Words:256
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