October stimulus checks: $976 million

Government's plan to boost economy enters its 6th month. Another 1.42 million checks mailed. Total: $95 billion.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal government issued another $976.5 million worth of economic stimulus checks to American households in October, the Treasury Department announced Friday.

As of Friday, 117.37 million payments were distributed totaling more than $95 billion since disbursements started April 28.

The checks are part of the Treasury's $168 billion plan to boost economic activity by putting money directly into consumers pockets and offering business tax incentives. The program was enacted in February.

To qualify for the stimulus payment, individuals and households were obliged to file a 2007 income tax return. As a result, the majority of the checks went out in July.

However, the Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to defer the deadline to file an income tax return, which was April 17 this year, to as late as Oct. 15.

Andrew DeSouza, a Treasury Department spokesman, said the government will continue to mail checks next month and will announce updates through the end of the year.

"Since the extension date for filing tax returns was October 15, there will be more batches going out of checks as those returns are processed," DeSouza said.

Single taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 last year as well as joint filers with adjusted gross income of less than $150,000 were eligible for a rebate.

For a single filer, the minimum payment is generally $300, and the maximum payment about $600. For married taxpayers filing jointly, the minimum payment is $600 and the maximum is $1,200. Taxpayers with children will receive an additional $300 per child under 17.

Americans have dramatically reduced spending as economic conditions have deteriorated. Falling home prices, rising unemployment and volatile financial markets have weighed on household budgets.

Consumer spending, which makes up more than 70% of the nation's gross domestic product, took a serious toll on GDP in the third quarter.

The government reported Thursday that GDP, the broadest measure of economic activity, shrank at an annual rate of 0.3%, after a 2.8% growth rate in the second quarter.

A sharp 3.1% annual rate of decline in consumer spending contributed to the contraction in GDP and many economists expect fourth quarter reading to be even worse. To top of page

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