Sunday, May 18, 2008

Week 3 of rebates: $13.5 billion sent out

The Treasury Department said Friday it sent out more than 15 million economic stimulus payments this week, totaling more than $13.5 billion, in an effort to boost the nation's spending power.

The checks are part of the federal government's plan to reinvigorate the slowing economy by encouraging consumer spending. To date, The treasury has distributed more than 45.4 million stimulus payments, worth a total of $40.8 billion.

Treasury spokesman Andrew DeSouza said the "vast majority" of the stimulus checks will be out by mid-summer, with the remainder being distributed by the end of the year. "We're on track," he said.

The first payments began distribution on April 28. Last week, the Treasury sent out more than 22 million checks totaling about $20 billion.

Overall, the Treasury Department plans to send $100 billion to American households.

To qualify for a stimulus payment, individuals and households must file an income tax return.

Single taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 last year, as well as joint filers with adjusted gross income of less than $150,000, are eligible for a rebate.
Rebate checks: How to spend 'em

That works out to more than 130 million households, including at least 117 million low- and middle-income families, 20 million senior citizens living on Social Security and 250,000 disabled veterans.

For a single filer, the minimum payment is generally $300, and the maximum payment about $600. For married taxpayers filing jointly, the minimum payment is $600 and the maximum is $1,200. Taxpayers with children will receive an additional $300 per child under 17.

Separately, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday that the checks will help put the country back on the path to economic growth.

"This fiscal stimulus will provide support to the economy as we weather the housing correction, capital markets turmoil and higher energy and food prices," Paulson said while speaking at a luncheon in Washington.

Opponents of the plan argue that the payments will not have the desired impact because most of the recipients will use the checks to pay off debts or purchase gas.

Critics also say the one-time payment is a short-term fix that does not address the underlying problems affecting the economy.

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