The four-county area has thousands of retirees and disabled veterans who have not filed for the economic stimulus payment despite being eligible, according to the IRS.

But there's still time, and the Internal Revenue Service says it's working to help those people meet the Oct. 15 filing deadline.

Statistics released Thursday by the Internal Revenue Service indicate about 74 percent in this group nationwide have filed for the stimulus payments, but there are about 5.2 million potential recipients remaining.

In New York state, 67 percent of the 1.3 million potential retiree/disabled veteran filers are accounted for, leaving about 440,000 potential recipients remaining.

Locally, there are 1,446 retiree/disabled vets in Otsego County who have not yet filed, and 485 of them are in Oneonta, IRS spokesman Kevin McKeon said Monday.

Delaware County has 1,205 retiree/disabled vets who have not applied; Chenango County has 1,387; and Schoharie County has 780.

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 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.

A special stimulus category includes recipients of certain benefits from Social Security and Veterans Affairs who do not normally have to file a tax return. However, these individuals must file before Oct. 15 to receive their economic stimulus payments.

"Some retirees and others who normally do not file a tax return may be eligible and not know it," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a media release. "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."

"Most people only need to file a tax return as they normally do," McKeon said. "We will calculate eligibility and the payment amount."

McKeon added that retirees receiving the stimulus payment should see no impact on other federal benefits they receive. The stimulus payment is not taxable.

Later this summer, the agency will send them a letter that explains stimulus payment eligibility and how to claim it.

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 outreach efforts.

McKeon said the IRS has 24 New York Taxpayer Assistance Centers operating during normal business hours. 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 www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html. The two nearest to this area are in Albany, reached by phone at (518) 427-4250, and Binghamton, reachable at 721-0338.

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Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhi@stny.rr.com.

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