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Lisa Napoli: Uncle Sam is starting to hand out those tax rebates today. More than 130 million Americans will get a stimulus check in the next few months — anywhere from $600 to $12,000. President Bush hopes the extra cash will spur consumer spending and boost our sagging economy. Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner says that money won’t necessarily end up in the shopping cart.
Sarah Gardner: Consumer researcher Britt Beamer says his recent surveys suggest the average taxpayer will spend at least 70 percent of the rebate paying off debt.
Britt Beamer: A single man who may get $600 will most likely put $450 away on their credit card debt, take their girlfriend out to dinner and maybe have $75 left to spend on something they want.
Barbara Hobbs of Winston-Salem, N.C., doesn’t think she’ll have any money left over.
Barbara Hobbs: I will pay off one credit card, which it will do.
But Hobbs says she has three others to pay off too. Taxpayer Jack Pfitzer of St. Louis says he and his wife will put their check into a college savings plan.
Jack Pfitzer: We have four granddaughters, ages one to eight, and we think this might be the best use and value for this rebate check.
But the nation’s retailers will still try to grab some of those rebate dollars. Some are even offering bonuses to taxpayers who spend their entire rebate at their stores.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
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