Rebates nearly reality

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

From staff reports

Residents have reason to cheer.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

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Residents have reason to cheer.

The economy is coasting along nicely. Summer fun activities are well underway.

And sales-tax rebates are about to hit the mail.

About $16 million in rebate checks are heading for this area starting next month, with the average household receiving $641, and the average individual, $496.

A household with joint income of $30,000 will receive up to $762; an income of $40,000 will mean up to $874. And a single person making $20,000 will receive about $496.

The influx of money will mean a variety of things. Some taxpayers will use their rebates to pay bills, or help fund home improvements. Others may buy school clothes for their children, or other necessities. Some will place the money into savings accounts or investments.

However they are used, the rebates were the right thing for the state to do. The surplus is free and clear money, based on tax collections above and beyond state expenditures. It belongs to each of us, and reflects a strong economy

By contrast, the federal government’s &uot;surplus&uot; is in large part due to excess collection of Social Security payroll taxes, and must be used to shore up the program for future years, be returned appropriately to workers, or, perhaps, be used to pay down the national debt, which would benefit workers.

Still, the state rebate poses some potential problems. Any Minnesotan (non-dependents) who filed for a 1997 property tax rebate, or filed a 1997 state income tax return should receive the rebate automatically. But those who did not file may not receive a rebate, and it remains to be seen whether the state will extend filing dates. There could also be glitches in the system.

If residents do not have checks in hand by Oct. 1, they should double check their 1997 income tax and property tax rebate files, and then contact the Department of Revenue for help.

The Department of Revenue must also do its part, and make obtaining a rebate check as painless as possible for taxpayers.