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President Obama signed the $800 billion American Recovery And Reinvestment Act into law today.  The legislation represents the single largest government spending bill in United States history.  Today’s blog will not be my personal or political views about the legislation (I think you all know what that is), but a review of what is in it and how you might benefit.  Since this is now the law of the land, not much of a point in protesting it anymore.  We might as well all get to the trough as quickly as possible to get our share of the money and make the best of it.

1. Will I Get A Rebate Check Like Last Year?

No.  There is no stimulus check on its way to you as the government did last year (the exception: those receiving SSI will get a $250 check).  There is a very modest reduction in the payroll tax that will result in the average employee taking home about $13 more per week throughout the year.  For those that are self employed, you will benefit by a reduction in your payroll taxes as well which should show up when you file your quarterly return.

2.  If I Have A Low Income, How Will I Benefit?

Low income families will see an expansion of the $1,000 childcare tax credit (paid to you whether you pay income taxes or not) and an expanded Earned Income Credit.  There is also additional money set aside to fund food stamp programs.

3.  What If I Am Buying A Home?

There is a tax credit for first time home buyers of $8,000.  First time is defined as those who have not owned a home during the past three years.  This benefit is phased out based on your income ($75,000 single, $150,000 married).

4.  What If I Am Buying A Car?

New car buyers will be able to deduct sales tax paid on the purchase.  This is an ‘above the line’ deduction, so you can benefit from this even if you don’t itemize.  The deduction is phased out based on your income ($125,000 single, $250,000 married).

5.  I Am Unemployed, What Is There For Me? 

For those that are unemployed, there is an extension of unemployment benefits and a modest increase in the amount.  The government will also subsidize up to 65% of the cost of your health insurance if you continue your employer provided coverage through COBRA.  

6.  What Benefits Are There For Homeowners?

 For adding eco-friendly windows and insulation there is a tax credit of up to $1,500.

7.  Is There Any Money For Students?

There is additional funding for educational expenses.  Rather than trying to explain all of those details here, check out this article in Forbes

8.  What About Those Facing Foreclosure?

No help yet.  The Obama Administration plans to deal with the foreclosure crisis in separate legislation to be taken up in the coming days.  So, stay tuned for that.

Feel free to post your questions or comments in the space provided below and we can start a discussion.

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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