That’s the way it was sold, anyway but, as is so often the way with government, it is not exactly so.
First, you have to file taxes, even if you haven’t had to for years because you are on Social Security and/or don’t make enough money to file. No file, no rebate!
Even if you file, you may not get it as you have to prove $3,000 in income. (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=179095,00.html) Now, that’s not much for most folks, but for the truly poor it. My Social Security only started in December of 2007 so there was only 1 check for $691. The only other cash income I had for the year was an Alaskan Permanent Fund of $1,640 so I didn’t qualify.
For the rest of the year, I worked as an all around handyman for room and board, which is a kind of income but just subsistence at best. So, I thought I might just fudge a little and add a minimal $700 so I could qualify for the rebate – not legal, ‘tis true but when you’re down as far as I was, it was an acceptable gamble.
Not so fast says Mr. IRS. You have to fill out a Self Employment form for that $700 but you now might qualify for and Earned Income Credit. OK, says I but the Self Employment tax on that $700 is $98.91. Hopes are high that the Earned Income Credit will cover that. Nowadays, it is not necessary to have children at home to get the EIC so maybe that’s the final answer.
Nope, the EIC without Children for $700 only comes out to $50. I still owe $48.91 to be paid on submission of the tax form to collect my $300. Those of you who have been reading along know that $48.91 in cash to a person who only saw $2200 in cash for the previous whole year is not an option. It could have been $20 or 2 million – it would have been the same to me.
The last year I worked a regular job(2005), I worked with the homeless in Alaska. Before you ask, yes, we do have a significant homeless population even at 20 below zero. Some of those people make a few bucks doing odd jobs, some panhandle and most do without but whatever they get, you can bet $50 bucks isn’t going to the feds in February on a possible $300 in June or so. That $50 could buy a couple meals, some warm socks and a new tarp to wrap around you at night in the snow.
So, who isn’t going to get the rebate for the poorest of the poor? Well, those who only had some unemployment to live on this last year, those who are on SS only and don’t know they have to file, the elderly mentally stressed who can’t figure out the forms and have nobody to help them, the homeless, struggling artists, migrant workers, a lot of young people, probably the majority of the mentally ill and the many, many I know of who just simply are getting by – barely – and are out of options.
Recently I read a poll that about 42% of those who plan on receiving it are simply going to pay bills, another 30% are putting it into savings, so there is about 28% who are going to go out there and spend it on products to raise the economy.
That $300 for me would have bought one fourth (1/4) of a tank of heating oil – not enough to get through the winter but good for a couple weeks anyway. Guess it is not meant to be.