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If you don’t file your taxes, you won’t get the big check

By Staff | Mar 31, 2008

Chuck Hunt - Register Editor

Whether you agree with it or not, President Bush’s Economic Stimulus Plan means that everyone is going to get a “bonus” check this year, with the hopes that everyone will spend it at the store and that will boost the economy.

Not being an economist, I have no idea whether this will work or not. But I do have to admit that the check will be nice, and I am sure that we will all do our best to spend it on something frivolous, like food or heat or rent.

I know a few people who say the government should keep the money and do something good with it like fix all the highway bridges or give it to the public schools. Or even buy down the national debt a bit. Now those are all worthy things that the government should do anyway. My fear is that if they keep my check they won’t do something worthy with it, they will spend it foolishly on something like $900 a piece hammers.

If anyone spends $900 of my money on a hammer, I’d like it to be for me. Of course, what with having moved to Blue Earth recently, my check will probably be lost in the mail.

I have heard anywhere from $300 to $1,200 for these stimulus checks, depending on your income category. Everyone is supposed to get one.

Former Superintendent Ken Queensland is worried that a lot of Faribault County residents might miss out. The reason is that they are on Social Security and do not file income tax returns. And, according to Ken, if you don’t file a tax return, you won’t get a check. That means that some of those people who need the check the most, won’t get one.

Ken has a solution. He and two other very dedicated volunteers (Sally Jaeger and Dottie Lawson), spend every Wednesday afternoon at the Senior Citizens Center in Blue Earth preparing income tax returns for people…for free. They mainly do it for senior citizens, but they also do it for teenagers, and for people on limited income.

So far this year they have done around 100 tax returns for people.

They also do the same thing in Winnebago on Tuesday afternoons, but that is mainly Sally Jaeger who does those, Ken said.

Ken had another plea to tell me. They could use a little more help with preparing the forms. With just three people, it can get a little overwhelming especially in April. Of course, this column might spark even more interest in the free service, and the three might really get swamped.

So Ken asks if if there is someone out there willing to help out with filling out the tax forms. You don’t need to be a retired CPA to do it (although that would be perfect). Training is provided, but good computer skills are important. Apply with Middy Thomas at the Senior Citizens Center if you can volunteer.

Okay, let’s review.

First, you need to file an income tax form in order to get your stimulus check. Even if you don’t normally have to file one.

Second, you need to do your part to stimulate the economy by spending that check on something you don’t really need.

Third, if you have the time, and the skills, volunteer to help out others fill out their income tax forms.

There is one more point as well. In all seriousness, we suggest you spend this check locally. That means in the town or the county where you reside. When you shop, you are bolstering the economy of the area where you are spending the money. You might as well bolster the town where you live. Because those people are your friends and neighbors, and they are the ones who support your town and schools.