- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

The check is in the mail. How many times have you heard that one? Only this time, its not a dodge and not an excuse.

Beginning July 20, the Treasury Department will begin sending out nearly 92 million tax rebate checks for the first time since 1975.

Anyone who pays income taxes will receive a check from the federal government sometime in the next few months. Singles can expect checks up to $300; single parents, checks up to $500; and married couples, checks up to $600.

Yesterday, I was proud to join President Bush at the White House as he signed this historic tax change into law. While getting more of your money back may sound too good to be true, these rebate checks will be in your mailbox by no later than October, and this is just the beginning.

For years, Republicans in Congress have been working to return the budget surplus the billions of extra dollars the Internal Revenue Service collects back to the American people, as opposed to letting politicians spend that money in Washington. So, right before Memorial Day, Congress voted to return $1.35 trillion in overcharged taxes to the American people. Now that President Bush has signed tax relief into law, Treasury says the average American couple will save $1,730 per year.

For instance, income rates will start to drop on July 1 and continue to fall over the next five years. On top of that, the new law will raise the standard deduction for married couples to twice that of single taxpayers, giving relief to more than 25 million couples from coast-to-coast. And according to the Heritage Foundation, another 41 million American children will benefit from the increased Child Tax Credit, which will be raised from $500 to $1,000.

Additional savings will come from the repeal of the Death Tax, which can take up to 55 percent of a deceased person´s property; an increase in the amount of money people can put away in Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k)s; and, a tax deduction of up to $4,000 for college tuition. After years of battling to get this money back to the people who earned it, this is one huge achievement.

Two years ago, the Republican Congress passed a $792 billion tax relief plan only half the size of the President Bush´s plan and Bill Clinton vetoed it. Time and time again, the former president refused to reduce the amount of money Americans paid in taxes; and time and time again, we saw him propose new ways to spend the government´s surplus.

The tide changed with last fall´s presidential election. If you remember, then Gov. George W. Bush made tax relief a centerpiece of his campaign, and suddenly, candidate Al Gore produced a plan only his $500 billion tax relief plan paled in comparison to the one Mr. Bush offered. While meeting with voters, Gov. Bush painted a picture of a responsible government, one that gave people the freedom to make more of their own choices over their own money. It was a dramatic change in the way Washington had work-ed over the previous eight years. And wouldn´t you know, Americans liked the idea and elected Mr. Bush as their 43rd president.

Less than five months after taking the Oath of Office, President Bush signed tax relief into law the fast- est a major tax relief initiative has become law under a new president. Moreover, it is the largest tax reduction Americans have had since President Ronald Reagan cut income taxes 20 years ago. And most importantly, as our president commented during the signing ceremony, this tax relief package is fair and responsible because "we cut taxes for every income taxpayer… . We target nobody in; we target nobody out… . And tax relief is now on the way."

The economy will welcome these tax refunds as much as the taxpayers. It´s no secret that our economy needs some help. More workers lost jobs in the first five months of 2001 than in all of 2000. Economists are already saying these tax refunds could give our economy the boost it needs but best of all, these $300, $500 and $600 checks represent a down payment on broader tax relief over the next decade.

J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, is speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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