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File tax return to get rebate check: Crowley

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At a meeting of the United Spinal Association in East Elmhurst last Thursday, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said those who live off nontaxable income like Social Security or veterans' disability benefits will not receive the rebate unless they file the tax returns they do not generally have to.Anyone who made more than $3,000 in 2007 is eligible for the stimulus rebate.He also warned seniors about scammers using the confusion surrounding the rebate to extract money and personal information from victims."We're concerned about people calling, asking for a fee or personal information to get people their rebate checks," he said.Internal Revenue Service officials warned the agency does not solicit personal information via e-mails. Suspicious e-mails should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov, officials said.Crowley also said many of those who would otherwise not file a tax return probably do not need the special discounted services certain professional tax preparation firms are offering."This is a very simple process. There's really no need to use professional accountants," he said.Crowley noted that for many, the $35 discounted fee associated with these returns is more than 10 percent of the actual rebate.He urged people to spread the word about the stimulus rebates."Especially for shut-ins and neighbors, if they don't open a letter from the IRS because they're afraid to," he said.James Duffy, IRS regional manager, said a free tax preparation program is available for low-income people.Crowley said unclaimed rebate money will eventually go back to the federal government."The notion is to stimulate the economy by getting people spending money," he said.Those who opt for direct deposit refunds will receive their stimulus money starting May 2. That process should take two weeks.Those requesting their stimulus checks on paper will receive them over 10 weeks, IRS officials said.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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