CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin is urging West Virginians to file their 2007 federal income tax returns so they can receive the Federal Economic Stimulus payments that Congress passed and the president signed in February.

The State Tax Department estimates that 646,000 West Virginians are expected to receive a total of about $732.5 million in federal stimulus payments beginning in May. The influx of that cash could be a tremendous boost to the state's economy, Manchin said.

"Most West Virginians probably are familiar with the federal stimulus program, but we want to spread the word that you won't automatically receive your check unless you file a federal return," Manchin said. "That includes everyone, even those who do not normally file a return. I want to make sure no West Virginians miss this opportunity to get back some money and put it to good use in our state."

Under the program, single individuals would receive $600 while couples would receive $1,200 and an additional $300 for each qualifying dependent. This money is considered a rebate of taxes that have been paid, so it would not be taxable income.

In most cases, the only requirement for taxpayers to receive the stimulus payment is filing a 2007 federal return. The IRS will determine the payment for qualifying individuals, send them a notice showing the amount and then process their payments, electronically or through the mail.

Those who are not normally required to file a federal income tax return, such as low-income workers, Social Security recipients, certain railroad retirees and those who receive certain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs still must file a return to receive the stimulus payment. For example, seniors whose sole income is Social Security would simply fill out the necessary biographical information and social security benefits they received on form 1040A, write "Stimulus Payment" on the top, sign it and send it in.

Once received and processed, such filers would receive a minimum of $300 per individual or $600 per married couple.

The IRS this month will mail reminders to those Social Security recipients and those who have received certain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even if you do not receive a reminder, you must still file a federal return to qualify for a rebate.

It is not necessary to file a West Virginia income tax return if a federal return is being filed only to receive the stimulus payment.

"Checks should start coming out in early May, but the earlier you file, the earlier you'll receive your stimulus payment," Manchin said.

Additional information regarding this federal program can be found on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov or call 1-800-829-1040.

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