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Where's all the stimulus money going?

ST. PETERSBURG — The windfall is coming.

But exactly where that $789 billion in federal stimulus will land remains unclear. Could it help you land a job? Assist you with your monthly mortgage payments?

It's not easy to understand the tax impacts, the government parlance or who's in charge.

But the message from local, state and federal leaders regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is clear: The money is going to be spent. And everyone needs to get in line.

St. Petersburg officials tried to break down the impact of the federal legislation this week to nearly 200 citizens at a forum held at the Coliseum downtown. Monday's event was part of the city's effort to promote its own recovery plan and connect representatives from state and federal agencies with local citizens. Here's just a slice of what you need to know:

Tax changes

• First-time home buyers who purchase a home before Dec. 1, 2009, are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit, said Linda Tuzzolo, senior stakeholder liaison with the Internal Revenue Service.

• People who purchase a new vehicle in 2009 can receive a tax credit for the purchase whether they itemize their deductions or not.

• The first $2,400 in unemployment benefit, which is typically taxed, is now tax-free.

Housing money

• The city of St. Petersburg will receive almost $9.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy, renovate and resell foreclosed properties, said Karen Jackson Sims, HUD Tampa field office director.

• Another $600,000 in HUD funding will be directed to the city to invest in low- to middle-income neighborhoods and programs. City officials must consult the community before deciding how to spend the money, Sims said. There also is $900,000 available for homeless prevention assistance in St. Petersburg. The program could include rent or utility subsidies.

• The city housing authority also could receive at least $3.6 million, Sims said, to make repairs to public housing projects and assist low-income families.

Social Security dollars

• Most people on Social Security should expect to receive a one-time $250 check in May or June, said Norm Bungard of the Social Security Administration. If two people in the family are on Social Security, each person will receive the $250 recovery payment. Children receiving Social Security will not get the payment, but those drawing SSI will, Bungard said. You don't have to apply for the money, and it will come the same way your monthly check does.

Stimulus for truckers

• The state Department of Environmental Protection said it will add electricity to many highway rest stops, allowing truckers to turn off their engines and plug in. Truckers also can receive $1,500 to retrofit their rigs with an auxiliary power unit, said external affairs coordinator Ana Gibbs.

Where's all the stimulus money going? 04/07/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 6:24pm]

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