This editorial appeared in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times:
The Internal Revenue Service, typically associated with bad news, couldn't resist a rare chance to be the bearer of good news. It is sending letters to all U.S. taxpayer s to tell them they will get immediate tax relief under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. As if any taxpayer could be unaware of this tax cut by now.
"Immediate," alas, is a relative term. Unless you've got a lucky Social Security number, you won't actually get your rebate check with your letter. Most taxpayers will just get a letter saying when their checks will be mailed and what the amount will be.
It's been well publicized that, as part of the $1.3-trillion tax cut that President Bush pushed through Congress, those who paid taxes last year will receive checks for up to $600. The checks will be mailed from now until late September.
What taxpayers don't know, given the stalled economy, is how much of the anticipated federal surplus will be left after the tax cuts -- a question that has led many of those polled to wonder whether the money might not have been better spent bolstering Social Security, Medicare or other safety nets.
Surely the $30 million laid out for these flowery, self-congratulatory letters could have been better spent. The letters could have been sent with the checks, saving the cost of an additional mailing.
At least the IRS resisted the urge to come up with a form for taxpayers to fill out to get the rebate. Now that is good news.
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