IRS Launches Summer Push to Reach Retirees and Disabled Veterans Who Have Yet to File for Their Economic Stimulus Payments

IR-2008-80, June 19, 2008

WASHINGTON
— The Internal Revenue Service today announced a new summer campaign to reach
those retirees and disabled veterans who qualify for the economic stimulus
payment but have not filed to claim it. New statistics released today indicate
about 74 percent in this group are accounted for in the stimulus payments
currently being sent, leaving about 5.2 million potential recipients remaining.

For all taxpayers, the IRS has issued 76.5 million
payments worth $63.8 billion based on 2007 tax returns processed so far. The
agency expects to issue 124 million payments to Americans by year’s end.
Eligible individuals are receiving up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples
filing joint returns) plus $300 for eligible children younger than 17.

“The IRS has delivered. Only 70 days after the legislation became
law, the IRS started putting the money in the hands of tens of millions of
Americans. This summer, we will go the extra mile to help the remaining
retirees and disabled veterans get their payments,” said Doug Shulman, IRS
Commissioner.

A special stimulus category includes recipients of
certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs who do not normally
have a requirement to file a tax return.
However, these individuals must file a tax return before Oct. 15 this
year to receive their economic stimulus payments. The IRS has accounted for 74
percent of Social Security and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries out of about 20
million initially identified as being potential stimulus recipients. All but
5.2 million of those have been accounted for as either having filed a return,
having filed a joint return, or as not being eligible for a stimulus payment
(for example, they were claimed as a dependent on another’s return).

Most people only need to file a tax return as they
normally do. The IRS will calculate eligibility and the payment amount.
However, many retirees and veterans do not normally file a tax return because
their benefits are not taxable. This year, they must file in order to receive
an economic stimulus payment.

Shulman also stressed to retirees that receiving
the stimulus payment should have no impact on other federal benefits currently
being received. The stimulus payment is not taxable. Absent any other filing
requirements, filing a tax return to receive a stimulus payment does not mean
that retirees will have to start filing tax returns again.

The IRS
has identified 5.2 million retirees and veterans’ beneficiaries who potentially
are eligible for the stimulus payments. Later this summer, the agency will send
them a special letter that explains stimulus payment eligibility and how to
claim it. The letter will include a sample tax form and an actual tax form that
people can complete and mail to the IRS. This will be the second special
mailing to reach those individuals.

The IRS also is working with members of Congress,
state and local officials and national partners such as AARP, the National
Council on Aging, United Way
of America, National Disability Institute and others to continue its extensive
outreach efforts to the retiree and veterans’ communities through the
summer. The IRS will take the lead in
coordinating face-to-face free tax preparation sessions with the help of local
community partners at locations where these individuals live, work and
socialize such as senior housing, Veterans Affairs hospitals and assisted
living facilities.

The agency also reminded people that it has more
than 400 local Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating normal business hours
Monday through Friday. These centers can provide assistance to retirees and
veterans trying to receive their payments. A list for addresses and office
hours can be found at “Contact My Local Office” at http://www.irs.gov.

“Some retirees and others who normally do not file
a tax return may be eligible and not know it. And, that’s where we could use
the public’s help as well. If you know of a retiree or a disabled veteran who
might qualify, please pass along the information to them,” said Shulman.

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 generally
provided for payments of $600 ($1,200 for married couples filing joint returns
or the amount equal to the 2007 net income tax liability, whichever is less, ),
plus $300 for each qualifying child. Payments also begin to phase out for
individuals with adjusted gross incomes greater than $75,000 ($150,000 married
couples filing jointly).

For people who have no tax liability or no tax
filing requirement, there is a minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples),
plus the $300 for each qualifying child. To be eligible for the minimum
payment, individuals must have at least $3,000 in qualifying income. Qualifying income includes any combination of
earned income, nontaxable combat pay and certain benefit payments from Social
Security, Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement.

People not otherwise required to file an income
tax return should file Form 1040A with basic information to ensure they receive
the economic stimulus payment. This information includes name; address;
dependents, if any; amount of qualifying income (which must be $3,000 or more);
direct deposit information and signatures. Forms 1040A and instructions are
available at www.irs.gov.

Although, your payment can be made by check, the
IRS urges people to use direct deposit to ensure a speedy delivery.

The types of Social Security benefits that are
considered qualifying income include retirement, disability and survivor
payments. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not qualifying income. The
types of Veterans Affairs benefits that are considered qualifying income
include disability compensation, disability pension and survivor payments.
Qualifying Railroad Retirement payments include the social security equivalent
portion of Tier 1 benefits.

Eligible individuals including their qualifying
children, must have valid Social Security numbers. Also, people cannot be
claimed or be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax
return. People with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, except for the
spouses and qualifying children of military personnel, are not eligible.

Are You Ready for a Hurricane?

RE-Post from NYC OEM

Hurricane season is here. While New York City generally does not experience coastal storms before August, OEM urges New Yorkers to use the calm before the storm to prepare. Step 1: find out if you live in a Hurricane Evacuation Zone.

Learn about hurricanes in New York City
Attend a hurricane preparedness event near you
Learn more about Hurricane Preparedness Week

Average Video Game (AVG) Addiction

by Ambassador James Davis

Hello, my name is James. I am addicted to video games. I was a level 57 Dark Paladin Knight, I can beat Super Mario Brothers in under 5 minutes, I’ve become Super Sonic hundreds of times in my life, I can survive the horrors of Raccoon City without being bitten by a zombie, AND I have ‘owned’ many unsuspecting terrorists and mercenaries in my online career.

If you understood all (or most) of that statement, then you may need to be inducted to Gamers Anonymous.

It is a fact that some games, no matter how pointless they may be to real life situations, are so addicting that they could greatly affect one’s life. Could something originally developed to be a fun waste of time become something much more sinister?

Well, let us try to examine the average video game (AVG).

AVG’s usually put the player into another place, whether it be another city or another world. Also, players have the convenient ability to do things physically unimaginable in real life, a way to break away from reality to a world of fantasy.

A perfect example would be in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where the protagonist can ride a government-made jet pack, equipped with a semi-automatic weapon (naturally), while pursuing a dirty pimp who has ties with an opposing gang that may take over your territory at any given minute.

There have been many tests on how video games have a psychological effect on the system, so to speak.

The most highly addictive games are the ones that simulate another life (whether it be human or not). The Sims, an abbreviation for simulation, is a series of video games where the goal is to literally create a house, city, or anything for that matter.

From building the houses to arranging the relationships of the characters inside them and, in practice, running and living their lives.

How realistic can a video game become? That depends mostly on the physics of the game and its graphic capabilities.

There are advancements achieved in the emulation of games every day, making every step closer to looking more realistic.

A new gaming engine named Euphoria actually simulates the structure of a human skeleton to create a realistic reaction to whatever may stimulate the human, such as a broken bone due to a car crash.

Like I said, video games are a way to break away from reality into a fantasy world, however, if a fantasy world becomes too realistic, is it still considered fantasy?

According to certain political big shots, the answer is no. They argue that video games, if too realistic, can leak out into real life.

A well-known example being the aforementioned game GTA: San Andreas, claiming that it’s highly violent content can encourage people (mainly children) to act out in similar ways.

Another big factor to video game addiction, in regards to realism, are the actions of the game. The most addictive of all genres of games are massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGS), where a large number or players (from the hundreds to the thousands on average) interact with one another in a virtual world.

You may walk around freely, fight with one another on occasion, and achieve game goals with one another. You can usually develop your own characters in terms of looks and attributes, for them to be seen by the world, the essence of this genre’s addiction.

Redlight Center, a free MMORPG that “creates a virtual environment that facilitates and encourages human interaction in a more natural manner” is causing a stir in addiction and psychological effects.

It simulates meeting actual people, going to virtual social events, and having virtual sexual intercourse.

John Stossel, reporter of ABC News, reported the effects the Redlight Center had on it’s players. Stossel later exposes the fact that most players create characters that has no resemblance to them at all.

For example, a 200-pound short woman would recreate herself to look like a much skinnier bombshell to seem more attractive.

Because there are no pictures of the players, they have the freedom to be whomever they desire. Why would someone emulate another person’s image as themselves, even if it’s on a virtual dating scene that probably wouldn’t progress anywhere pass the keyboard? Well the answer is simple: rejection hurts.

Maybe it’s not an addiction to the games itself, but more an addiction to wanting an escape from life (or incorporate the game with your life through imitation), and the game helps in doing so.

This isn’t healthy, and should be discussed with a professional (and I’m not referring to a professional gamer).

I grew up thinking of video games as a way of procrastination, avoiding something much more important. There is a difference to being addicted to playing and just playing a lot. Just playing a lot can be from a multiple of things with no psychological basis, such as having nothing else better to do.

Personally, I am hoping that when I play excessively, that it is due to some form of subliminal messaging in the gaming ads.

Wishful thinker, I am.

Friendship

 Friendship

Friendly comments from Joe Leone

I was sitting down trying to define friendship using all kinds of situations, stories, and proverbs, and got nowhere. I mean what is this delicate thing we call “friendship”. You know its true it’s indefinable because it only becomes recognizable when it happens to you (whatever that is?) Here’s the irony of it, friendship is different to each and every one of us. Sometimes the negative definition “he’s no friend” is best. For example a person I worked with whom I thought very highly of (not avoiding the use of “friend”) actually turned on me to make a gain… when I found out, I was stunned! I never thought that it could happen. But where are we in the definition of a friend? Really give it a thought, it’s tough! Think of what you thought was a “best friend” (there’s that expression again) someone whom you confided in, telling your secrets only to find out either the whole world now knows or you’re being blackmailed! What a twist… wait till you’re in trouble and you run to your “best friend” (excuse me) for help, forget it! The rule book for excuses is then exceeded. So I started talking to people about friendship, in particular my wife, who is very popular and has many friends. She said to me.. how could you write an article about friends, “you have no friends”. She’s right because I point to no one as a friend “everyone is my friend” I follow my old uncle Tony’s advice “Trust everyone, but cut the cards every time.”

So to all my friends, and their friends,

I close your friend,

Joe Leone

Painful Comments form Joe Leone

 Painful Comments form Joe Leone

A while ago our wonderful pastor at St. James Church made a sermon about pain. I was very impressed it hit home! Many thought came to mind… you really have to understand pain so that you can reach out and touch those who suffer with it.l I remembered a poetic explanation of pain:

“Nothing begins and nothing ends,

that is not paid with moan;

for we are born in others pain,

and perish in our own.”

I’m sure all of us have witnessed pain, and can remember the pleasure of it’s relief like being reborn.

The longer we live the more we can share pain. The body can only take so much abuse. I can remember my wife keeping her mother living thru her constant nursing and devotion until her mother begged her to let her go! I don’t have the answers to determine what is worse physical pain or the pain of the mind. I don’t think “suffering” is human. There are many avenues of relief. Some cursed with pain can be kissed into smiles again. The pleasure from pain comes when one can sleep. A person can only take so many prescriptions. The price of old age is pain! I pray that the young escape the sting of pain and enjoy the pleasure of luxury of health.

Good Health!

Joe Leone.

H2O Comments from Joe Leone

H2O Comments from Joe Leone

 

 

Not too many people know the value of water. We wouldn’t be a planet alive with life without water. A body can live weeks without food but only days without water. The scientific search is for another plane that has or had water; we might find aliens!

Water is the savior here on earth, mixed with any product it can clean teeth, clean your body, clean your home, clean your car, & clean your streets. No it’s not the product that does the cleaning, it’s the water; the product only helps. So that when you brush your teeth use lots of water it’s water that cleans and keeps teeth healthy.

Water provides the food of life “fish”. Water provides miracles the miracle of Lourdes, which has healed many people. Besides all that, water provides beauty and danger. The beauty of water falls and rises in the evening. The danger of drowning, floods, and hurricanes. What a contrast!

However I didn’t mention the enjoyment water gives us. Swimming, boating, water skiing, & when frozen or in the form of snow ice skating, sleigh riding, skiing etc. for the kids, a snowman and the arrival of Christmas and Santa, so let me sign off by toasting to all of you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

 

Hey Gloria, pass me my Bourbon & water I’m finished!

 

Regards,

Joe

Don’t Give Up

 Don’t Give Up

By: Irene Cohen

Don’t give up,

Even when you feel

You have no luck

And everything in your life sucks!!!

Everything in your life

Is getting to feel to much,

And you feel like your

Going to be crushed

And your feeling fed up

And your feeling you had enough

You gotta try somehow

Hang tough

Even though what’s going on

In your life is rough!!!

Windows to the Soul

Windows to the Soul

By: Irene Cohen

 

The Eyes are the windows to the soul

Or so I’ve been told

 

Well, my eyes may need a pair of shades

Cause if you look deep down

You might not like what you see

 

Too much gray,

That never seems to go away

Winter Storm Preparedness

winter_storm_t2005.jpg 

Prepare a Winter Storm Plan

• Have extra blankets on hand.
• Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.

Have Your Go Bag Ready To Go!

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings. . .
• Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
Know What Winter Storm WATCHES and WARNINGS Mean
• A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is possible in your area.
• A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area.
• A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!

When a Winter Storm WATCH is Issued…
• Listen to local radio, and TV stations, or cable TV such as The Weather Channel for further updates.
• Be alert to changing weather conditions.
• Avoid unnecessary travel.

When a Winter Storm WARNING is Issued…
• Stay indoors during the storm.
• If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
• Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin.
• As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body at an accelerated rated, driving down the body temperature.
• Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
• After the storm, if you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.
• Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must…
• Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
• Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

If You Do Get Stuck…
• Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
• Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
• Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
• Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
• As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
• Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

What to Do After a Winter Storm
Continue listening to local radio or television stations for updated information and instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked.
Help a neighbor who may require special assistance–infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved. Roads may be blocked by snow or emergency vehicles.
Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter.
Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by even colder conditions.

Tornado Preparedness

tornado.jpg

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

• Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
• If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Have Your Go Bag Ready To Go!

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings
• Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
• Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
o A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
o A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.
• Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish.

When a Tornado WATCH Is Issued…
• Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
• Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a Tornado WARNING Is Issued…
• If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.
• If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
• If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the Tornado Passes…
• Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.
• Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
• Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
• Do not use candles at any time.