Monday, March 10, 2008 | 2:07 a.m.
By now, most Americans know that a majority of U.S. taxpayers are going to receive a federal rebate check of $600 to $1,200 in May, depending on marital status and 2007 annual income.
For that matter, most American taxpayers have planned how they are going to spend or save their rebates, which start going out in May as part of a $168 billion economic stimulus plan.
Still, the Internal Revenue Service is spending $42 million to send letters to tens of millions of Americans just to make sure they know the checks are coming.
Who knew that the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail to those dwelling under rocks?
Google “tax rebate checks,” and the Internet search returns 258,000 hits. These rebates have had so much publicity they’ve prompted their own Internet rumors — such as false claims that recipients would be taxed on their rebates next year or would have to pay back their rebates.
Seeing as how President Bush’s public approval ratings are dismal, maybe the Bush administration figures it doesn’t hurt to remind American taxpayers that the federal government is sending them checks.
Never mind that the money was theirs to begin with or that Congress — not the IRS or Bush — is responsible for creating and passing the legislation.
The Associated Press reports that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “There are countless better uses for $42 million than a self-congratulatory mailer that gives the president a pat on the back for an idea that wasn’t even his.”
Bush administration officials say the letters are necessary to “have as few people as possible confused.”
OK. So why not include the explanation letters with the checks and use the other money for something useful, such as investigating tax fraud?
That, it seems, is the $42 million question — one for which we doubt the Bush administration has a logical answer.