GUAM WOULD GET $65 MILLION UNDER REBATE MEASURE

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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Jan. 31, 2008) – Guam taxpayers can expect to find new cash flowing into their pockets as the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed the $146 billion White House-proposed economic boost package that would speed rebates of between $600 and $1,200 to American taxpayers.

Acting speaker Eddie B. Calvo, R-Maite, expects about $65 million to $75 million to roll toward Guam once the rebate package proposed by H.R. 5140 is signed into law.

"That amount is based on the initial calculation of the Department of Revenue and Taxation. We would like to see Congress appropriate that amount to Guam, and, of course, if that occurs, that would be a good shot in the arm for our economy," Calvo said.

President Bush and House leaders urged the Senate to approve the bipartisan agreement and pass it quickly. According to the Associated Press, congressional leaders are aiming to send the measure to Bush by Feb. 15.

The tax relief bill titled "Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008," is aimed at enhancing Americans' spending power.

Clearing the House on a 385-35 vote, H.R. 5140 is designed to stimulate the nation's economy, which is on the brink of recession.

"Guam itself was in recession for a decade. We have been seeing positive signs in our economy and this tax rebate bill will be another boost to our island's economy," Calvo said.

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo said the bill contains a provision that requires the federal government to offset the tax rebate cost to U.S. territories using a tax system that mirrors the federal tax code.

The bill directs the secretary of the treasury to pay U.S. territories with "mirror code tax systems" the amount equal to the loss that would otherwise be incurred by the local treasury.

Such provision was incorporated into the bill at the urging of Bordallo and her colleagues representing other territories, according to a press release from the congresswoman's office.

"The tax rebates called for under the bill passed today will help our families cope with the rising costs of living, and the safety provision for our local treasury eases our concerns over the payout of the rebates," Bordallo said.

"The bill says the federal government will cover the costs of the payout by our local treasuries. Ultimately, this means our people will benefit from this economic stimulus package and contribute to economic growth," she added.

The plan would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.

H.R. 5140 also calls for tax cuts for small businesses, doubling the amount small businesses can immediately write off their taxes for capital investments.

"Small businesses power Guam's economy," Bordallo said. "This bipartisan bill gives businesses incentive to step up investment in their workers, services and products. This is about maintaining confidence in our economy, and the stimulus proposal is good for our families and our economy too on Guam."

According to the AP report, the bill still faces a murky future in the Senate, where Democrats and some Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples.

That plan, written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, was a product of collaboration between Bush and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Majority Leader Hoyer of Maryland, and Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

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