As people read about the cash goodies earmarked for individuals inside the economic stimulus package, it’s hard not to think of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s famous line in the movie “Jerry Maguire:” “Show me the money.”
By April — less than two months after President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — millions of people will start seeing the money.
The IRS has started sending tax charts and instructions to human resource directors on how to dole out a new tax credit to qualifying workers — up to $400 per worker, $800 per couple, said James Dupree, an IRS spokesman in Baltimore.
Unlike last year’s stimulus check that came in one lump, this tax credit will be paid over time as employees see less federal income tax withheld from their earnings.
“People will start seeing an increase in their paychecks as early as April,” said Dupree.
Many of the 12.5 million people receiving unemployment benefits will start seeing a boost in their weekly payments in a few weeks as employment offices update their computer systems.
The $25 weekly increase in unemployment benefits promised in the stimulus plan took effect the last week in February. In North Carolina, the increase will be added to weekly disbursements as soon as the new software program is completed by the end of March or early April, said Larry Parker, a spokesman for the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.
The first adjusted payment will include retroactive payments from the 22nd of February, he said.
Likewise, those $250 one-time payments to nearly 55 million Social Security and other supplemental income beneficiaries will be delivered by late May 2009, according the Social Security Administration’s web site.
Over the next few weeks, laid off workers still getting employer-provided health insurance through COBRA will get a letter from their health insurance administrator telling them whether they qualify for the 65 percent premium subsidy, said Gloria Della, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor.
This benefit will be offered to eligible individuals for up to 9 months. It will apply to workers involuntarily terminated during the period starting September 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009.
The one big unknown, said Della, is how the government defines “involuntary termination.” It is still unclear whether workers who voluntarily accepted a buyout or severance package will qualify for this subsidy. Della said the IRS is expected to provide more details in the coming weeks.
While it’s true that a number of the tax benefits in the stimulus plan will apply to tax years 2009 and 2010, there is at least one credit people can opt to take this filing season. The first-time home buying credit — 10 percent of your home purchase price up to $8000 — can be applied to your 2008 or 2009 tax returns if you purchased a home since Jan. 1, said Dupree.
Keeping track of when you will receive other benefits, such as the $500 boost to the maximum Pell Grant payment for students, is relatively easy if you have access to a computer.
Thanks to President Obama’s pledge of government transparency, each federal department has added an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act page to its Internet site. Finding most of them is simple. Just type “/recovery” at the end of the URL or domain address of the department or agency you want to visit. For example, to find out about tax credits, type, www.irs.gov/recovery in the URL bar.
Many states as well as some local state agencies have created similar recovery web pages. And the White House has, of course, set up the Recovery.gov web page to help taxpayers keep track of the nearly $800 billion in stimulus funds.
Now that’s my idea of showing me the money.
Vicki Lee Parker can be reached at (919)395-3329 or email@example.com