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The stimulus-check shopping has begun

Post by News Tribune Staff on April 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm with No Comments »
April 30, 2008 3:16 pm

The Internal Revenue Service is sending economic-stimulus checks to more than 130 million households. Even with plenty of taxpayers using direct deposit, the checks and envelopes to send the payouts still likely requires a forest’s worth of paper.

Maybe Ella Herron is just following the IRS’ lead.

The 74-year-old Tacoma woman is using her payment to remove a 40-foot maple tree in her yard. Neither she nor her husband can chop it down and haul it away, so the money will go toward the landscaping bill.

"I don’t need two trees," Herron said Wednesday. "I only need one. But it’s gonna cost a lot more than that check to cut it down."

The IRS began depositing the payouts, part of a $152 billion economic-stimulus plan, on Monday. Individuals will receive up to $600 and married couples up to $1,200. Parents will receive extra payments based on the number of children younger than 17 they have, according to the IRS’ Web site. The last two digits of one’s Social Security number dictate when taxpayers will receive their checks.

Many South Sound residents already had decided on what they’ll spend the windfall.

Lakewood’s Jason Burke is moving into a new apartment soon, and he’ll use the money to help furnish it.

"Six hundred bucks will definitely help with that," the 19-year-old said.

Others also had furniture on the shopping list: Hector Batriz, a 22-year-old Fort Lewis soldier, said he received his check earlier this week and purchases a king-sized mattress with it.

The interest in big-ticket items like plasma televisions has spiked since the people began receiving the checks, said Greg Lynch, the general manager at the Best Buy near the Tacoma Mall.

John and Tammy Broussard of Gig Harbor were looking at high-definition TVs at Costco in Tacoma. The two are nearing their 15th wedding anniversary and were shopping for a gift to each other. The gift from Uncle Sam was lagniappe.

"We’re going to buy one regardless," John said, "but it’ll help."

The idea of the checks is to encourage consumers to spend the money and help revive the slowing economy, but Jim and Esther Obsurn (cq) of Spanaway plan to deposit the money in a savings account.

The couple was also looking at big-screen TVs at Costco in Tacoma on Wednesday, but Esther said the incoming check didn’t play a role in their purchase.

"It’ll just go into savings," she said, "and later, if something comes up, then we’ll use the money. But we won’t use the money on something like a TV."

Brandon Danneffel plans to save his money – for about a month. The Seattle resident will use his payout toward a vacation in Arizona and San Diego this summer.

"It should be here in May, based on my Social Security number," he said. "And it’ll be spent in June."

One man believes the checks are a bad idea; they’ll just expand the nation’s debt, Dick Beeson said. So he plans to donate the money to a charity that supports homeless children and families.

"I can see direct benefit to my target audience, people in need, when I give directly," he wrote in an e-mail. "If we have to spend it to stir up the economy, why not stir it on the lower end and see what bubbles up from there?"

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