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Missing checks from the government

By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia

Almost 168,000 Georgians haven’t seen the money, yet, says a financial expert with the University of Georgia. To get their economic stimulus checks, they need to file a 2007 federal income tax return by Oct. 17.

Some $50 million in checks remains unclaimed. These checks are waiting to be sent to Georgians as part of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, says Michael Rupured, a UGA Cooperative Extension consumer economics specialist. The federal money - totaling $152 billion - started arriving to U.S. citizens in early summer in an effort to charge the country’s lagging economy.

In Fulton County, more than 15,000 people are leaving nearly $5 million on the table, Rupured said. Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Chatham counties are among the top 200 counties nationwide with unclaimed payments.

The Georgia counties with the most unclaimed payments are Richmond, Muscogee, Clayton, Bibb, Hall, Cherokee, Floyd, Henry, Carroll, Dougherty, Lowndes, Whitfield, Douglas, Glynn and Houston. In Georgia’s other counties, 83,000 people have $24 million left to be claimed. For a detailed breakdown on how many haven’t gotten the money and where, go to the Web site http://www.cbpp.org/states/7-28-08stim-fact-ga.pdf.

Those who haven’t filed an ’07 return have until Oct. 17 to do so in order to receive their stimulus payment. No economic stimulus checks will be given to people who file after this date.

“Many seniors, disabled veterans and others with disabilities who are not otherwise required to file a tax return are missing out on their stimulus payments,” Rupured said.

Payments can be as much as $600 for a single individual. Those who have filed an ’07 return and not received their check should contact the Internal Revenue Service. Forms and other important information about tax returns and the stimulus payment are available on the Web site www.irs.gov. For additional help, call (800) 829-1040.

(Allie Byrd is a writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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