$47 Million Waiting for 156,000 New Jersey Residents

NEWARK—Unless an estimated 156,000 eligible New Jerseyans file “short form” IRS tax returns before Oct. 15, up to $47 million in economic stimulus payments will go unclaimed in the Garden State.

AARP New Jersey and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) teamed up Monday for a joint press conference and Tele-town hall forum to help eligible New Jersey residents file for their economic stimulus payments by the Oct. 15 deadline.

In the space of one hour, approximately 100,000 AARP NJ members were called to participate in a Tele-town hall forum. Tens of thousands participated in the Tele-town hall with Menendez and learned how to claim their economic stimulus checks. AARP New Jersey Advocacy Manager Douglas Johnston hosted the event and IRS Spokesperson Gregg Semanick was on hand to answer participants’ detailed questions. Everyone on the call learned of the few easy steps it takes to get these checks.

“Senator Menendez worked hard to ensure that the 20 million seniors living on Social Security nationwide would receive an economic stimulus check,” said AARP New Jersey State President Sy Larson.

“AARP is proud to work with Senator Menendez on projects like these so that we can help guarantee that those eligible for stimulus checks will actually receive them. With winter just around the corner, these stimulus checks can really help moderate and low-income residents with their winter heating expenses,” said Larson.

During the press conference that preceded the Tele-town hall forum, Menendez symbolically presented a giant check for $47 million dollars made out to the people of New Jersey.

“Many taxpayers haven’t realized that the economic stimulus rebate checks are available and that they are eligible for them,” said Menendez. “They do not have to pay the money back, and it will not be taxed next year,” he added.

More than 108,000 of those eligible for the stimulus payments are over the age of 65. Lower-income seniors and disabled veterans often are not required to file an annual income tax return. Thus, they may not have realized that they could receive rebate checks if they filed simple IRS forms this year.

Menendez said “Forty-seven million dollars of economic stimulus funding remains unclaimed just in New Jersey, and I would like to thank AARP for their help in getting this important message out today.”

AARP State Director Jim Dieterle spoke at Monday’s press conference as well, emphasizing the importance of AARP’s social movement “Divided We Fail” and its connection to helping improve financial security for older Americans.

“Lifetime financial security is such an important concern for people today,” Dieterle said. “We know that only 1 out of every 5 workers has a traditional pension plan, which means the majority of people on the call today are trying to make ends meet primarily through their monthly social security checks.”

“Today, we had a unique opportunity to help our members take action and improve their financial security by applying for their economic stimulus checks, and AARP is very appreciative of Senator Menendez’s efforts toward helping struggling older Americans stay afloat during this tough economic time,” Dieterle added.

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