It is not too late to file a return to claim your economic stimulus payment, but you must file a return by Oct. 15 to receive a payment prior to year’s end. It can take up to eight weeks for the Internal Revenue Service to process the return and issue the check.

People who have no tax filing requirement but have at least $3,000 in qualifying income should file a simple Form 1040A to claim the minimum payment of $300 ($600 for married couples) plus the $300 payment for each qualifying child younger than 17 as of Dec. 31, 2007. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned income, nontaxable combat pay as well as certain payments from the Social Security Administration, Veterans’ Affairs Department and the Railroad Retirement Board.

For taxpayers who are required to file an income tax return, the IRS will use their 2007 tax return information to determine eligibility for economic stimulus payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus the $300 payment per each qualifying child.

Social Security benefits considered qualifying income include retirement, disability and survivor payments; Supplemental Security Income, known as SSI, is not qualifying income. VA benefits considered qualifying income include disability compensation, disability pension and survivor payments. Qualifying Railroad Retirement payments include the Social Security equivalent portion of Tier 1 benefits.

Taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number to qualify for the payment; this includes both spouses filing a joint return and any dependents. Married members of the military may receive economic stimulus payments this fall, even if their spouses or children don’t have Social Security numbers, following the newly enacted Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008. Also, people cannot be claimed or be eligible to be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.

Click here for more information about the Economic Stimulus payments. Remember that for the genuine IRS Web site be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is

— Victor Omelczenko is an Internal Revenue Service media relations specialist.