Stimulus payments starting early

Treasury Department says it will deposit the first 800,000 payments four days earlier than expected in effort to boost economy.

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By Catherine Clifford, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal government, eager to boost the flagging economy, will start distributing special stimulus payments Monday - four days earlier than expected.

"Beginning Monday, the effects of the stimulus will begin to reach households," President Bush said Friday. "This money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump and at the grocery store."

The department announced the early arrival of the payments Thursday after saying last month that it would begin sending out the money on May 2.

As of next week, 800,000 tax filers daily will begin to have their checks directly deposited Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. No checks will be distributed Thursday, and 5 million payments will be made Friday.

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 payments 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. Filers who do not owe income taxes but have at least $3,000 in income would get a $300 payment.

Payments to taxpayers slated to get paper checks will start to go out May 9 - one week earlier than originally planned.

The order in which tax filers will receive their payments will be based on the last two digits of their Social Security numbers.

Issue #1 - America's Money: All this week at noon ET, CNN explains how the weakening economy affects you. Full coverage.

Under the government's economic stimulus plan, 130 million people will receive tax rebate checks for $300 and up, starting Monday. What do you plan to do with your check? How do you think the stimulus plan will affect the economy? Send us your photos and videos, or email us and tell us what you think.  To top of page

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