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April 8th, 2009

How Many Do You Qualify For?

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President Obama’s Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus package) includes several consumer incentives and tax breaks designed to help Americans stimulate the economy.

So here’s the big question: How many of the following items will help you?

  1. Employee Tax Credit - Provides American workers with about $45 extra each month, up to $400 for single tax filers, $800 for joint filers.
  2. New Car-Sales Tax Deduction – From about the middle of February through year’s end, taxpayers can deduct the sales tax of their new vehicle on their 2009 tax return.
  3. Better Benefits for the Unemployed – Weekly unemployment benefits automatically increase by $25 for the entire year, up to 33 weeks. Also, the application period is extended.
  4. New Home-Buyer Tax Credit – If a new home is purchased before December 1, the home buyer is eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000 which does not need to be paid back.
  5. Health Care Subsidy for the Unemployed – The government will subsidize 65% of COBRA coverage for up to nine months.
  6. AMT Tax Relief – The tax relief measure increases the income threshold by $500 for single tax filers and $1,000 for joint filers, so that 26 million taxpayers will avoid paying more.
  7. College Aid Gets Fresh Funding – Additional funds have been dedicated to certain college programs and grants.

Generally speaking, a taxpayer may only qualify for one item on this list. While sure, getting a few extra dollars in your paycheck every week is appreciated, it’s not enough to allow us to do our part to stimulate the economy. It would be interesting to determine just how many Americans qualify for more than two of these items.

I can’t argue against the benefits the stimulus provides to out of work Americans. But what does it do for those who remain employed but continue to struggle? Although these incentives are appealing, it seems likely that a new home and car are not in the cards for most of us.

How many incentives do you qualify for? Are there other incentives that you would have liked to see?

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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