Tax Tips: IRS reminding everyone (again) about stimulus payments

In case you haven't ever watched the news, listened to a radio, or picked up a newspaper in the last several months, you should know that the Internal Revenue Service is sending out lots of checks to lots of people. But in order to get one of these checks via the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, you have to file a tax return, even if you have no tax liability and otherwise wouldn't need to file.

More letters are going out, as the IRS estimates that 5.2 million people are still eligible to receive a check but haven't filed a tax return in order to qualify. All along, I've figured that if people didn't know by now that they need to file, they just shouldn't get a check. Someone disagrees with me, and the government will spend a bunch of money to tell people for about the 80th time that they need to file to get a check.

About 112 million taxpayers have received checks totaling $91.8 billion so far. The IRS thinks the 5.2 million people who haven't received checks are retirees and veterans, and wants to give them one last chance to file. Anyone who may be eligible for a check has until October 15 to file a personal tax return. After that date, they forfeit their right to receive a check.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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