By Gerri Elder
For Americans who are looking forward to receiving tax rebate checks as a result of the economic stimulus package, the wait is almost over.
For taxpayers who filed their 2007 tax returns by the April 15 deadline, the checks will start being mailed out on May 16 and continue through July 11.
The date that the rebate check will be mailed depends on a factor that no taxpayer has any control over - the last two digits of the Social Security number. For taxpayers who elect to receive their income tax refunds via direct deposit, the money will be deposited between May 2 and May 16 according to the IRS.
The amount of the individual tax rebate checks that Americans will receive has been subject to much debate and speculation, mainly because the formula used to determine the amount it quite complex.
For taxpayers who have prepared their 2007 federal income tax returns, the IRS has set up a tool to help determine the amount that can be expected. By entering correct information from a federal tax return, the IRS Web site can calculate the approximate amount of the tax rebate check.
Check out the Economic Stimulus Calculator.
While most Americans were excited to learn that they would be receiving a tax rebate after the economic stimulus plan was passed, USA Today reported that recent polls indicate that only 16 to 21 percent of people say that they plan to spend the money they receive on non-necessities.
Others will use the money to pay down high interest debts or put the money into savings and investment accounts.
With a recession looming, many people are experiencing financial hardships that they never could have imagined.
Others may not be on the brink of bankruptcy, but feel that with a shaky economy it is best to put the money away for financial emergencies that could lurk around the corner.
The economic stimulus package was designed to function as the name implies, but many economic experts say that it falls short and is too little, too late to rescue the United States from a recession. With few people willing or able to freely spend the tax rebates that they receive, there may be little economic stimulation to speak of when all is said and done.
Many Americans are drowning in credit card debt that was racked up before the economy slowed down. Now there are few credit resources available to them to use in emergency situations. Millions of homes are in foreclosure because their owners can no longer afford the mortgage payments, while some people opt to file bankruptcy in order to hang onto their property.
The rising costs of food and gas have reached record levels in recent months with no end in sight. Americans just don't know what to expect next from the economy, and therefore can't afford to stimulate the economy with the money that was intended for that purpose. There are other obligations and higher priorities.
Of the people who plan to use their tax rebate checks to pay down debts or save the money for a rainy day, there will likely be people who still wind up no better off than before the economic stimulus package. While the money may be used to pay down credit card debt, rising costs of gas and food combined, the shrinking dollar will likely force many to rely on credit cards to purchase necessities just to get by and therefore incur more debt and cause credit card balances to bounce back up. Likewise, many Americans will be forced to dip into savings during these hard economic times.
For those Americans who are already considering bankruptcy or are faced with the very real possibility of losing their homes to foreclosure, the tax rebate checks may be just a drop in the bucket.
Whether spent on necessities, used to pay bills or to hire a lawyer, many people just can not afford to go out and stimulate the economy.
Lawmakers may very well find themselves back at the drawing board looking for a solution to pull the economy back from the brink of a devastating disaster that is already being compared to the Great Depression.