Seniors beware: Filing taxes for stimulus check is free

Economic stimulus payments are set to be sent out, starting in May. So if you haven't already done so, file your taxes. Everyone is eligible is for a $300 rebate up to $1200.

Even senior citizens are expected to do the same. But before you do, Problem Solver Mika Highsmith says there are some things you should know.

It's money up for grabs, and if you want to collect you have to file your taxes first. But most seniors who haven't done it in years like Jeannine Green. "I'm 78," she says, "it's been a long time since I worked."

It can be pretty confusing. Tish Whitmore of the Margaret l. Hunt Senior Center says, "This is something new."

Especially with signs like the one at Cashland on Lewis Avenue urging seniors to file there for $40. It's legal, but you can get it done for free.

We went inside Cashland to find out why. The answer: "Ours goes through a tax professional," the employee said.

The clerk then admitted this is not Cashland's basic service. "Ours is not mostly for people who aren't getting a refund back. It's for people who want $400 back and they want it back today."

But it's something that can be done at no cost over the Internet or at your local senior center. Whitmore says, "I just fill out paperwork for them, and it only takes a few minutes."

Green got hers done. "It's a blessing it's free," she says.

And on a limited income, she'd much rather gain money then spend it. "We're on low income, and then to have to pay $40. That's not right."

So remember, you can go to a local senior center for free help. You can file online through www.irs.gov. This Saturday March 29, just show up at the local IRS office at 4 Seagate in downtown Toledo between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and representatives there will be glad to help.

Posted by LS