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Taxpayers welcome rebate checks

Tim Olson's smile stretches ear to ear. Spending the afternoon with his wife and three young children at West Acres mall, the Fargo man unashamedly reveals his plans for the child tax rebate check on its way in the mail. "I see a big-screen TV in...

Tim Olson's smile stretches ear to ear.

Spending the afternoon with his wife and three young children at West Acres mall, the Fargo man unashamedly reveals his plans for the child tax rebate check on its way in the mail.

"I see a big-screen TV in the future," said Olson, one of

25 million U.S. taxpayers receiving rebate checks of up to $400 per child under age 17.

Friday marks the final wave of check mailings, which began July 25. President Bush has said the rebates will provide $12 billion in tax relief

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for American families.

"Any time I get money back from the government, I'm happy," said Olson, who owns a window-cleaning business. "With school starting soon, I think people will go out and spend the money."

That's what the Bush administration hoped for in aggressively pushing Congress to pass the measure.

The rebates stem from a

$350 billion tax package signed into law in May, which increased the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000 per child.

Eligible families, which generally fall in the $26,000 to $110,000 annual salary range, should receive the difference by next week.

But not every American is in the market for a big-screen television.

"I'm putting the check into savings for my kids," said Brian Ose of Mahnomen, Minn, who has two children and expects to receive $800.

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Ose was hesitant to guess if the rebate would boost the nation's economy, citing current budget problems in Minnesota largely attributed to the massive tax rebates handed out during Jesse Ventura's term as governor.

"It could turn around and bite us," Ose said.

Kari Brock, a middle school teacher who takes care of her three children full time in the summer, said she supports the tax credits, and her family has already spent the money on siding for their Fargo home.

Lynn Braaten will use the rebate check she received Monday to pay credit card bills and some expenses for her stepson's upcoming wedding.

"It's nice to have, but I'd also like to see the government cut back," said Braaten of Kindred, N.D.

Area businesses are welcoming customers to spend their rebate checks, but only a few are marketing directly to them.

The Home Depot launched advertisements to entice rebate holders, but Fargo receiving manager Bill Johnson said he hasn't seen a spike in business.

The rebate check is timely for Illinois resident Alicia Groscop.

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A mother of three, Groscop said her family will use the money to cover moving expenses to Minneapolis, but is unsure what the long-term economic impact of the rebates will be.

"I haven't really thought about it," said Groscop, who is pregnant with a fourth child.

West Fargo's David Lopez plans to take his family out to dinner and buy school clothes for his two children with the rebate.

"It's nice for people like us that are middle-class," Lopez said. "But, yes, this might hurt us down the line."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Nick Kotzea at (701) 235-7311

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