200,000 state residents haven't applied for stimulus checks

Published8/10/2008 12:01 AM

More than 200,000 Illinois residents, mostly seniors, have not applied for their economic stimulus checks.

That accounts for nearly $63 million in unclaimed tax rebates.


"I think a number of people may not know," said Chicago office IRS spokeswoman Sue Hales.

Most stimulus checks were automatically dispatched to many Americans who filed tax returns this year, but about 20 million low-income seniors, disabled veterans and others with disabilities who don't file tax returns also are eligible for the checks, Hales said.

Residents have until Oct. 15 to file what Hales described as a "short form" to take advantage of the checks that range between $300 and $600. Because these residents don't file tax returns, the IRS has no way of reaching out to them individually to notify them of their money. However, they are reaching out to AARP agencies in every state and other groups to get the message out.

AARP Illinois spokesman David Irwin said about 70 percent of the Illinois residents who haven't claimed the checks yet are seniors.

"These are people who don't know how to do what they need to do and are not getting the message," he said.

More than 100,000 Cook County residents have yet to claim their checks, followed by nearly 10,000 DuPage County residents, according to IRS statistics on its Web site.

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Information about the stimulus checks is available at www.aarp.org/stimulushelp as well as www.irs.gov. Irwin said he's aware many low income seniors may not be able to access the Web-based information.

"What we're hoping is their friends or family or caregiver or a neighbor does have access and is checking it for them," he said. "The IRS also set up an 800-number to walk people through the process." The number is (800) 829-1040.

Those who qualify for the rebate checks are people who receive Social Security payments, veterans benefits, railroad benefits, made at least $3,000 in earned income, but didn't make enough to require filing a return or any combination of those, Hales said.

She suggested anyone who believes they are entitled to a stimulus check bring their identification and Social Security card with them to one of the four IRS taxpayer assistance centers in the Chicago area. One is located at 230 S. Dearborn St. in Chicago. In DuPage, a center is located at 2001 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove. In suburban Cook County a center is located at 8125 N. River Drive in Morton Grove.

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