Retailers Hope to Get a Piece of Taxpayer Rebates

A sample $600 U.S. Treasury stimulus check. i

A sample $600 U.S. Treasury stimulus check. U.S. Treasury hide caption

itoggle caption U.S. Treasury
A sample $600 U.S. Treasury stimulus check.

A sample $600 U.S. Treasury stimulus check.

U.S. Treasury

Taxpayers this week will start receiving payments from the federal government that are supposed to help stimulate the weakening economy. Some stores are offering special deals to consumers who swap their payments for gift cards.

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The Bush administration and Congress are hoping the economy gets an edge starting today when the Treasury Department starts sending out tax rebates.

NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD: The first payments are going out to people who signed up for electronic deposit - nearly eight million people this week. Most others will be getting their rebate checks between next week and the end of May. Most individuals will get $600. Couples filing jointly can get 1200 plus 300 more for each kid. That's a nice wad of cash to have in your pocket. Altogether it's upwards of a $100 billion.

Mr. NARIMAN BEHRAVESH (Global Insight): I think it will certainly help to make this recession that we're in short and shallow.

ARNOLD: Nariman Behravesh is chief economist at Global Insight. His firm has been researching just how much of that money people will squirrel away or use to pay off debt, and how much they'll go out and spend to buy new stuff. The more people that run out and buy TVs, couches, washing machines, the bigger the boost to the economy.

Mr. BEHRAVESH: Our best guess is about half of this will be spent, half of it will be saved, or maybe used to just write down debt.

ARNOLD: Retailers are already trying to get their hands on your check. Some are offering you an extra 10 percent if you hand it over to convert into a gift card.

And if you're wondering exactly when you'll be getting your check, that depends on the last two digits of your social security number. The lower that two digit number is - like say 05 - the sooner your check gets cut.

Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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