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Rebates, questions continue to flow
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


April 30, 2008

Money has begun pouring out of the government's coffers and into American bank accounts -- 800,000 tax rebate deposits every day since Monday -- even as the questions from confused consumers continue.

Who will get rebates first? Will wives and husbands filing joint returns get separate checks? Will everyone get at least $600? Is it too late to ask for a check to be deposited directly into an account rather than sent by mail?

The quick answers for those particular questions: Check the IRS chart. No. No. Yes.

It probably also wouldn't hurt if people practiced patience. By Friday, the Internal Revenue Service should have shipped direct deposits to 7.7 million accounts. "The simpler returns are going out sooner," IRS spokesman Gregg Semanick said.

Work continues into next week with the first round of paper checks to be in the mail by May 9. "That is our main priority: getting the payments out," Semanick said.

By the end of the year, more than $110 billion should be distributed to 130 million households. Almost half of that money will be on its way by the end of May.

In the meantime, there are a couple of things that officials would like people to remember. First, the payment schedule is for those who filed early enough to have their tax returns processed by April 15. Those who didn't might get their money later than the scheduled dates.

Next, everyone can expect a mailed notice from the IRS explaining how it determined what his or her rebate should be. Based on tax returns, not everyone will get the full $600 level ($1,200 for married couples) and $300 per child under 17.

"It's important to hold onto that notice," said Semanick. Some people may qualify next year for additional rebate money if they didn't get the full amount this year. They'll need the documentation to help make their case.

For those who can't wait or who still have questions, the government is pointing them to the Web site, There are answers to frequently asked questions and a tool that consumers can use, along with their tax return, to figure out how much they should get. Those without Internet access at home might check with a neighbor or head to the library, Semanick said.

If all else fails, there is a rebate hot line, 866-234-2942.

In the meantime, the questions keep coming, and not just to the government. Media outlets, elected officials, even banks are trying to help.

"Our call center is receiving requests for information about the economic stimulus payments," confirmed a spokesman for PNC Financial Services.

He said customers with online banking don't need to keep checking in. They can set their account up to send an automatic alert when deposits arrive.


Reach Teresa F. Lindeman at tlindeman(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

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