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Tax rebate checks start landing

The economic stimulus rebates will start landing in Americans' bank accounts on Monday, but Lutz retirees Bruce and Sharon Hurwitz didn't want to wait that long. They spent their $1,200 rebate this past week.

"We've already helped the economy," Bruce Hurwitz said. He said that when the rebate money arrives, it will go into the account he and his wife tapped to buy their new Nissan 350Z sports car. Knowing the rebate would be coming and having a tax refund in hand convinced the couple this was a good time to splurge.

"It's not a hybrid and it's not the most energy efficient car, but we've wanted to get one for a very long time and now we've done it," he said.

Congress wants lots of Americans to spend their rebates since revving up the economy was the point of the stimulus package, which is expected to cost the Treasury $168-billion, including the cost of some tax breaks for businesses. Expect to see some heavy promotions from economically pressured retailers who want a share of the loot.

The 7.7-million taxpayers whose returns included bank account routing information and were processed by April 15 will be the first in line for the rebates. The money should be deposited directly in their bank accounts no later than May 16. Others whose returns were processed by April 15 but who did not use direct deposit will get paper checks by mail between May 9 and July 11.

Those who filed later will get their rebates later. You can still file a tax return and get a rebate; you'll just have to wait longer for it.

Rebates will range from $300 to $600 for single filers and $600 to $1,200 for joint filers, plus $300 for each qualifying child younger than 17. Rebates are phased out for people with incomes above $75,000 (single filers) or $150,000 (joint filers).

The IRS estimates as many as 130-million households will qualify for a rebate. In addition to being handed out to taxpayers, rebates will go to people who don't pay taxes but who have at least $3,000 in income from earnings, Social Security or Veterans Administration disability benefits — as long as they aren't claimed as dependents on anyone else's return. However, you must file a return to get a rebate.

Through April 12, 110-million returns had been filed, a 10.5 percent increase from that same week last year. The average refund was up 3.2 percent, to $2,413.

The IRS plans to release additional information about the rebate program this week.

Helen Huntley can be reached at hhuntley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8230.

Tax rebate checks start landing 04/26/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:26am]

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