Stimulus, week 8: $6.9 billion

Treasury Department sends payments to another 9.1 million households. Total so far: $70.8 billion.

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By Catherine Clifford, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Who has the most power to lower gas prices?
  • Congress
  • Consumers
  • The President
  • Saudi Arabia

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Treasury Department said Friday that it sent out 9.1 million economic stimulus checks this week, totaling $6.9 billion.

Since April 28, the Treasury has distributed 85.2 million stimulus payments, totaling $70.8 billion, in the government's effort to revitalize the nation's slackening economy.

Only three weeks remain until the majority of the stimulus payments are distributed, according to the Treasury Department.

The stimulus program was enacted earlier this year in the wake of a slowdown tied to the credit crisis and the end of the housing boom.

It is unclear how much the stimulus checks are helping consumers.

"The retail sales data that we saw for May was fairly strong, suggesting that consumers are spending at least some of the money," said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody's Economy.com. "On the other hand, we have seen very little of a pick up in consumer confidence," he added.

Many Americans are using their checks to cover the rising cost of gas and food. "If consumers use their checks to fill their gas tanks and pantries, then it is not going to help the economy that much," said Hoyt.

The IRS said Thursday that about 5 million people who are eligible for stimulus payments have not yet applied for their check. People whose main income is Social Security or veterans benefits may not be required to file a federal tax return, but they are still eligible for a stimulus check.

The IRS said it would continue to reach out to veterans and retirees through the summer attempting to get the stimulus payments to everybody who is owed one.

The Treasury will distribute more than $110 billion to 130 million taxpayers by July. The first payments were made electronically, and nearly all of those were direct deposited into tax filers accounts by the fifth week of the campaign. By July 11, virtually all of the paper checks should be in the mail.

To qualify for a stimulus payment, individuals and households must file a 2007 income tax return. Single taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 last year will get checks of as much as $600. Joint filers with adjusted gross income of less than $150,000 were eligible for a rebate of up to $1,200.

In addition, parents will also receive $300 per child under 17; there is no cap on the number of qualifying children eligible. To top of page

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