Aug. 12, 2008 — There's no sport in filing a tax return. But plenty of Virgin Islanders rank among the millions of Americans who could hit a home run if they did file, even though they're exempt from filing requirements.
Oct. 15 is the deadline for people to cash in by year's end on their slice of the president's Economic Stimulus Package of 2008. The package is issuing $152 billion in tax rebates to some 128 million families. Cashing in, however, requires the filing of a tax return.
Gizette Thomas, director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue, said her department has no figures on just how many residents in the territory aren't required to file a tax return due to low income. However, she said the bureau has been broadcasting the need to file in order to receive the cash dividend which, for those typically exempt from filing, would amount to $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples.
"The word is out there," Thomas said, "and we have received tax returns from individuals who traditionally would not file with us."
Thomas said the bureau has run radio, television and newspaper ads encouraging people exempt from filing to file this year. In addition, there have been visits to senior centers to sign up the elderly who otherwise wouldn't file.
Residents of the Sea View Nursing & Rehabilitation Facility on St. Thomas are apparently up to speed. "We did file for our people and it didn't take us long," said Doradean Williams, the facility's administrator.
Morris Moorehead, director of Veterans Affairs for the territory, said his department has been encouraging veterans who fall below the income threshold to file their return and apply for the rebate, but not many have come in for assistance.
"Just two so far," said Moorehead, who estimated that 6,000 veterans live in the territory. He put the likely number of vets who haven't taken advantage of the rebate in the hundreds, based on the military's estimate that 5.2 million vets nationwide are presumed eligible for the rebate but have yet to file a return.
"We put out a press release back in June about what to do about the rebate, and accessing it and telling them that we're here to help," Moorehead said.
Exactly who is exempt from filing an income tax return depends not only on income earned, but on marital status, age and other factors. However, for those who are exempt, they must earn at least $3,000 in income and/or benefits to qualify for a rebate.
A 1040A form must be filed to secure the bonus, according to Thomas, and can be obtained on line at www.irs.gov . Thomas said help is also available at IRB offices.
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