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Checks of $600 to $1,200 from IRS

By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, April 28, 2008) - Finance Secretary Eloy Inos says the rebates that will be provided by the US$152 billion federal economic stimulus package will not benefit nonresident workers, but some of them will receive checks.

"The general rule is that (the U.S. rebates) do not apply to nonresident aliens," he said in an interview.

But there are some alien workers who may get paid.

"The key is your Social Security number. There are only certain people who are considered eligible. Residents and resident aliens, those are determined by their Social Security numbers assigned by the Social Security Administration," he added.

He said individual income tax returns filed with their office are also submitted to the Social Security Administration for verification purposes.

"When you file your return, we send it to the network to validate your SS number," he said.

An undetermined number of foreign workers on the islands have received letters from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service with instructions on how to determine the amount of stimulus payments they may receive.

One of them showed this reporter the letter from the IRS which states: "We are sending this notice to let you know that based on this new law, the IRS will begin sending the one-time payments starting in May. To receive a payment in 2008, individuals who qualify will not have to do anything more than file a 2007 tax return. The IRS will determine eligibility, figure the amount and send the payment."

The stimulus package entitles a single taxpayer a rebate of up to US$600, and US$1,200 for married couples, plus additional amounts for each qualifying child.

According to a tax briefing from CCH, a Wolters Kluwer Business: "Rebates will also be available to qualifying taxpayers who reside in U.S. territories or possessions with tax systems that mirror or do not mirror the Internal Revenue Code. Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have mirror Code tax systems. American Samoa and Puerto Rico do not, but the Treasury Department is authorized to forward an equivalent amount to those jurisdictions to implement their own rebate program similar to the new law’s rebates," it added.

The federal government will send out rebate checks to an estimated 130 million Americans next month under the economic stimulus package law that also includes US$44.8 billion in business incentives and help for homeowners facing foreclosure because of the mortgage meltdown.

Inos advised CNMI taxpayers; including nonresident workers who may be eligible, to just wait.

"You will know when you get it," he said.

Northern Marianas hosts approximately 19,000 documented foreign workers.

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