Treasury Department prepares to send out rebates |

Treasury Department prepares to send out rebates

WASHINGTON (AP) – With President Bush poised to order rebates for nearly 100 million taxpayers, the Treasury Department is readying a customized computer program that will sort through Internal Revenue Service records and issue checks ranging from $300 to $600, most by the end of September.

The $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut package Bush intends to sign during the first week of June is retroactive to the beginning of the year, and the rebates are to adjust for overpayment. They reflect the first year of a new 10 percent income tax rate on the initial $6,000 of an individual’s income, $12,000 for married couples.

Married couples will get checks for $600; single parents will receive $500; and single taxpayers will get $300.

When lawmakers and the White House began discussing the possibility of refunds as a quick economic stimulus, the Treasury Department quietly began preparing for a burst of check-writing activity. Still, it will take up to four months to complete the process, officials said.

”It will be a quick process, but it won’t be immediate,” said Mike Siegel, spokesman for Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

That will require the government to swiftly identify about 95 million eligible taxpayers, determine the size of their rebates, print the checks and send them.

New software will help the department perform the calculations, and the printing machines that write government and military paychecks and Social Security checks will be employed in their ”off time” to write the rebates, said department spokeswoman Michele Davis.

Taxpayers will receive checks that look like standard tax-refund checks, she said. She and Siegel said most taxpayers should get their rebates by the end of September, though Siegel said a small number may not go out until the end of the year.

Bush and many lawmakers were eager to send as much money back to taxpayers as quickly as possible, arguing that doing so could boost the economy. The rebate checks, along with decreasing tax withholdings, will also allow the tax-cut advocates to claim victory as they look ahead to next year’s elections.

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