Washington Working to Deliver Speedy Tax Rebates

Whether they supported the Bush tax cut plan or not, most Americans will be happy when the refund check that is part of it appears in the mail.

And it may be coming sooner rather than later. Some economists are saying the checks of up to $300 a person may stave off a recession in just the nick of time, and the Bush administration is listening.

"We may not be able to do better than (September), but I am not satisfied that we can't," Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told reporters Wednesday after a meeting with top officials overseeing the operation.

While the current schedule calls for the first of an estimated 95 million checks to start showing up in mailboxes in late July and be completely distributed before the end of the year, O'Neill said he was applying pressure to IRS officials to get the job done more quickly.

The IRS plans to send the checks out at a rate of 11 million per week, the first such massive tax refund operation conducted since the Ford administration sent out $200 refund checks in 1975.

By July 15, everyone who filed a tax return in 2000 will receive letters telling them how much of a refund they will be getting and an estimate of when the checks will arrive. The actual check mailout will be based on the last two digits of the Social Security number of the taxpayer listed first on the 2000 return, starting at 00 and going through 99.