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Congress Sends Economic Stimulus Package to President

On February 7, the Senate passed, 81-16, the Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act (H.R. 5140); the House passed the measure, 380-34, later the same day. The bill represents a compromise between the House bill passed last week and the version passed, also last week, by the Senate Finance Committee (see The Source, 2/1/08). The president is expected to sign the bill into law.

Like the House bill, H.R. 5140 provides tax rebates of $600 and $1,200 for individual and joint taxpayers, respectively, and rebates of $300 to families for every dependent child under age 17. The bill also includes rebates of at least $300 for individual taxpayers ($600 for joint filers) who have qualifying income of at least $3,000.

As proposed by the Senate Finance Committee, the bill defines “qualifying income” to include Social Security benefits and benefits received by disabled veterans or their survivors thus making senior citizens and disabled veterans eligible for rebates and requires taxpayers to have a valid Social Security number in order to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving tax rebates. The measure also clarifies that tax rebates would not affect eligibility for federal assistance and programs.

The bill does not extend unemployment insurance benefits.

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