You may have had your differences in the past, but like all good family members, Uncle Sam still likes you. He's willing to prove it, too.
If you qualify, the rebate checks that are part of the country's economic stimulus plan will be heading your way as early as May, but no later than mid-July.
Where you stand in the queue depends on two things. The first you can control, as the first two weeks of rebate checks will go out to those who filed to have their 2007 tax year refunds deposited directly into their banking accounts.
So if you haven't completed your taxes and you're due a refund, you may want to go for a direct deposit. That is, of course, after I chastise you for not filing sooner. You are actually owed money by the government and you've waited until late March to file? That's just a twisted case of procrastination on your part -- or your accountant's.
The second factor that will determine the order that the rebate checks are sent out isn't up to you. It is based on the last two numbers of your Social Security number. It it's a low number, you'll get yours early. If your Social Security number happens to end in the 90s, you will be in the last batch of checks to go out by no later than July 11, 2008.
At this point I guess we should review eligibility and the clarification of a popular misconception.
Contrary to popular belief, the stimulus checks aren't advances on future refunds. This is a rebate check to all qualifying taxpayers. It's your money. You've earned it.
The bad news is that not everyone will be getting these checks.
Couples that reported more than $174,000 in adjusted gross income for the 2007 tax year won't be receiving the rebates. If you and yours made between $150,000 and $174,000, only a pro-rated amount of the stimulus rebate will be going your way. If you're a single filer, cut those thresholds in half to see where you stand.
If you still qualify, your check will be amount to $600 per adult that paid at least $600 in taxes in 2007. You will also be on the receiving end of $300 for each dependent child, which should be just enough to cover the Nintendo Wii your kid has been asking about (though you obviously don't have to spend your rebate check that way).
Yes, the rebates are a done deal, but don't go spending the money that you haven't even received yet. The economy is counting on you to pour money back in, but I'm counting on you to do the right thing and either save some of that, pay off some of your outstanding debts, or invest it in your future.
You don't want Uncle Sam to tease you at the next family reunion now, do you?
Rick Munarriz is a personal finance columnist for HispanicBusiness.com. He has written for sites such as The Motley Fool and Citysearch, with appearances on NPR, TechTV, Sirius, and CNN en Espaņol. He can be reached through http://www.Reportedly.com where he discusses his latest articles.
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