Consider wisely how to spend your rebate


It’s not every day you receive “free” money in the mail, but you will starting in May if you file your 2007 tax returns.

President Bush Wednesday signed a $168 billion economic stimulus package into law, the fruitful efforts of the president, Congress and Federal Reserve over the last month.

About 130 million people are expected to receive rebate checks of at least $300, starting in May. The amount of the rebate, however, varies from person to person.

Most taxpayers will receive a check of up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples, with an additional $300 for each child. People earning too little to pay taxes but who earn at least $3,000 will get $300 if single, or $600 if a couple.

Singles making more than $75,000 and couples who earn more than $150,000, however, will get smaller checks.

To receive any rebate, you must file a 2007 tax return and have a valid Social Security number. If you already filed your 2007 return, the IRS says you don’t need to do anything extra.

The IRS will send out rebates – by mail or by direct deposit into your bank account – through summer. The rebates come in addition to any regular tax refund.

The intention of the bill is to put money back into the hands of Americans, who can then go out and spend it. The government is hoping this will boost the economy and prevent a recession – or ease the effects of one we already may be in.

Whether people actually spend the money remains to be seen.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday the results of a recent poll, in which 45 percent of respondents said they planned to pay off bills, while 32 percent said they would save or invest it. Only 19 percent said they would spend their rebates.

We want to raise the point, however, that your stimulus check should be spent wisely.

Consider this – though the rebates are supposed to stimulate the U.S. economy, our country is tied into the economies of many other countries around the world.

If you go out and spend the money on a stereo that was made in China, for example, you’re boosting the Chinese economy, not our own.

We’re not trying to say the U.S. should remain the largest economy in the world – it’s fine if we’re not – but simply that some thought should be put into what you spend the rebate check on.

Paying down credit card bills, for example, wouldn’t stimulate the economy, but it would allow you to have more disposable income in the future. Saving it also wouldn’t be an immediate boost, but it’s up to you.

All we’re asking is to consider that as U.S. citizens in the largest economy in the world – the $168 billion stimulus package only represents about .07 to 1 percent of our nearly $4 trillion economy – careful spending goes a long way. Oh, and don’t forget to file your tax returns.