WASHINGTON — Don’t owe any taxes this year? Not getting a refund either?

File anyway.

Internal Revenue Service officials on Thursday issued a reminder to servicemembers that they need to send in a basic tax return to get their stimulus checks later this year, even if they don’t owe money or anticipate cash back.

Under legislation passed in February, most taxpayers will see checks of $600 per person and $300 per dependent child beginning in May as part of a larger effort to help stimulate the economy.

But Congress also approved checks of $300 — and another $300 per dependent child — for filers who earned at least $3,000 in gross income in 2007 but paid no taxes.

That includes servicemembers deployed to combat zones, whose pay is tax-free but counts toward their gross income total.

“We want to make sure to get the word out to those who might not otherwise file, and let them know what to do if they want their payment,” said IRS spokesman Eric Smith. “Even if you don’t owe anything, you need to file to get this money.

Troops stationed in combat zones like Iraq or Afghanistan don’t have to file their taxes until they return home, and overseas troops don’t have to file any tax returns until June.

But Smith said the sooner troops file their paperwork, the sooner they’ll receive their stimulus checks too. The first batch of payments is scheduled to be sent out in May, for those who file before April 15.

“So troops can still wait to file, but this would be a year where it helps you not to wait,” he said.

To ensure you get the check before the end of the year, the IRS needs the tax forms filed by Oct. 15.

Troops in combat zones who can’t file before then may still be eligible for the payments in 2009, but will have to apply for the money on their 2008 returns.

For more information, or for resources on free electronic filing options for low-income families, visit

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