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Notices to explain tax refunds

Notices describing details of upcoming tax refund checks were headed for the mailboxes of about 112-million taxpayers Monday. The first checks go out at week's end.

For most people, the Internal Revenue Service notice will contain the good news about the check they will get and when to expect it. Some will find out they won't, and why.

"People won't need to call the IRS because we've made the entire process automatic," IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said.

The refund checks of up to $300 for a single taxpayer, $500 for heads of households and $600 for a married couple filing jointly are part of the 10-year, $1.35-trillion tax cut signed into law last month by President Bush.

The refund checks represent an advance payment for the new 10 percent income tax rate on the first portion of taxpayer income, which is retroactive to Jan. 1.

Rossotti said the main purpose of the notice is to inform taxpayers and prevent the IRS from being deluged with phone calls.

For some people, the notices will explain why their refund check is smaller than the maximum amount or tell them why they won't receive one. Reasons for this include low taxable income on their 2000 return and offsets such as delinquent child support or education loans.

Checks start going out Friday, beginning with taxpayers whose Social Security numbers end in 00 through 09. They will continue each week through September, when taxpayers with numbers ending in 90 through 99 should receive theirs.