The payments will go out ahead of schedule because of a new computer program that updates records daily - faster than an older program that updates weekly, according to Andrew DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman. Overall, the Treasury will distribute more than $110 billion to 130 million taxpayers by July and hopes to get the first $50 billion out by the end of May, DeSouza said.
The checks are the centerpiece of an economic stimulus program signed into law by President Bush in February. The aim is to boost consumer spending and help mitigate problems caused by the slowing economy. Checks are being distributed to people who file 2007 tax returns. Those who opt for direct deposit with the Internal Revenue Service will start getting rebates before those who use the mail.
The program calls for rebates of up to $600 for single filers making less than $75,000. Couples making less than $150,000 would receive rebates of up to $1,200. In addition, parents would receive $300 rebates per child. Tax filers who do not owe income taxes but have at least $3,000 in income would get a $300 rebate.
Rebates to taxpayers slated to get paper checks will start to go out on May 9 - one week earlier than originally planned.
The order in which tax filers will receive their rebates will be based on the last two digits of their Social Security numbers.