February 3, 2008 in City

Proposals at a glance

The Spokesman-Review
 

House: At least $300 to almost everyone earning a paycheck, including low-income earners who make too little to pay income taxes, as long as they earned at least $3,000 in 2007. People paying income taxes could receive higher rebates of up to $600 per individual and $1,200 for couples. Families with children would receive an additional $300 per child. The full rebate would be limited to individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples with incomes of $150,000 or less, but a partial rebate would go to individuals earning up to $87,000 and couples earning up to $174,000. The caps are higher for people with children.

Senate: $500 to almost everyone earning a paycheck, including low-income earners who make too little to pay income taxes, as long as they earned at least $3,000 in 2007. Social Security and veterans’ disability income would qualify. Couples would get $1,000, and families with children would receive an additional $300 per child. The full rebate would be limited to individuals earning $150,000 or less and couples with incomes of $300,000 or less, but a partial rebate would go to individuals earning up to $160,000 and couples earning up to $320,000. The caps are higher for people with children. Members of Congress could not receive a rebate.

The goal of the economic stimulus plan being engineered by the White House and Congress is to encourage consumer spending, which boosts the economy. But some experts think Americans should consider using the rebates to improve their personal balance sheets.

These suggestions are from the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies:

•Pay down debt, especially high-interest credit card balances.

•Start an emergency savings fund.

•Set money aside for planned expenses, like your summer vacation.

These tips are from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling:

•Catch up on any past-due payments to avoid penalty fees.

•Plan for your future by opening a retirement account.

•Make needed repairs to your house or car, reducing likelihood of more costly emergency work.

•Make your home more energy-efficient to save money in the future.

•Make an extra principal payment on your mortgage or other loan to reduce long-term interest costs.

•Save the rebate as “seed money” for the down payment on a home.

After debts have been paid and savings accounts launched, says the NFCC, “treat yourself” with dinner at a special restaurant or the purchase of an item you’ve had your eye on. “Within reason,” it added.

Associated Press


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