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Many in region and state failing to sign up for economic stimulus payments

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Nearly a quarter of Wisconsinites eligible for economic stimulus checks from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service won't be getting their check.

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That's because they haven't filed the required paperwork, according to a report issued by the IRS last week.

The report notes that 77,354 state residents won't be getting the payments, most of those are individuals who don't normally file tax returns, but yet do qualify for the stimulus payments, according to U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who chairs the Senate's special committee on aging.

"It's important that Wisconsinites understand that even if they owe no taxes, they must file a simple form with the IRS by Oct. 15 in order to receive their rebate," said Kohl.

Those eligible include many disabled veterans, as well as, seniors living primarily off their Social Security benefits, according to Kohl's office.

Payments to these individuals are $300, while married couples can be eligible for $600.

IRS statistics show that of those who have yet to file for their rebate in Wisconsin, 68 percent of them are ages 65 and older. Wisconsin residents over the age of 50 comprise 84 percent of that group.

According to the IRS report, 12 individuals in St. Croix County have not yet filed the proper paperwork.

However, in Pierce County that number jumps to 488, while in Polk County the number goes even higher to 784.

In Pepin County, 166 eligible recipients have not yet filed with the IRS, while in Dunn County 671 individuals have failed to file.

Further east, 906 eligible recipients in Chippewa County need to file, while in Eau Claire County that number reaches 1,313.

"Often older Americans are on fixed incomes. These rebates help seniors manage the rising costs of food and gas," Kohl said.

Individuals have until Oct.15 to file for and claim their stimulus payment. Those who owe no tax will not be penalized for filing after April 15.

The stimulus payment should not affect an individual's eligibility for any other federal benefits, such as Medicaid or food stamps, according to IRS officials.

Individuals with at least $3000 of qualifying income will qualify for the stimulus rebate even if they owe no tax. This income can include any combination of wages, social security benefits and disabled veterans benefits.

Those who owe at least $1 in tax may also qualify for the rebate, including those who receive private or public pension income.

Anyone with questions about the economic stimulus payments can contact the IRS at 866.234.2942 or visit their Web site at www.irs.gov.

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