'IRS Free File' available for non-filers receiving stimulus payment

WASHINGTON (AFRNS) -- Individuals who normally do not file a tax return, but must do so this year in order to receive their 2008 economic stimulus payment, can use a free filing tool. IRS officials announced these individuals can use the IRS Free File program to help them file returns for 2007.

The IRS and several of its partners in the Free File Alliance can now accept returns submitted by people who have no legal requirement to file other than to receive their payments. People in this category should take care to use only those companies listed on the Free File section for the payments under "Online Tools" at www.irs.gov.

"If you are only filing a return to receive your economic stimulus payment, Free File is a great option for you," said Linda E. Stiff, acting IRS commissioner. "All you need to do is follow the simple instructions provided by the software. It's easy, and it's free."

Individuals and families must have at least $3,000 of income from any combination of earned income, Social Security retirement or disability benefits, certain Railroad retirement benefits, or disability compensation, disability pension, or survivor benefits paid by Veterans Affairs. The minimum economic stimulus payment is $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples.

To obtain a payment, all people who are eligible for payments of up to $600 for individuals ($1,200 for married couples) must file a tax return in order for the IRS to know their name, address and eligibility. Parents also may qualify for a $300 payment for each eligible child younger than 17. Valid Social Security numbers are required.

Taxpayers who normally file a tax return and want to use Free File should simply go to the main Free File page on the Web and click "Start Now" to see a list of the 19 companies offering free preparation and electronic filing to the IRS. Free File is available to 97 million taxpayers who earn $54,000 or less.

There is no charge for using IRS Free File. With just a few answers, people can complete a simple form and use IRS e-file. IRS officials also urges all filers to use direct deposit, if they have a checking or savings account, because it is the fastest way to receive an economic stimulus payment.

Once people file a tax return, they do not need to do anything more. The IRS will do the rest and begin issuing payments in May. (Courtesy of the IRS)