Whatever your situation, whether you work or are unemployed, the government has something for you in the $787 billion stimulus package. Plus there are extra benefits to help compensate for some of those major life expenses such as a house or a car, and yes, your kids.
Whether the money is intended to help you survive the recession or entice you to spend money, you'll want to be smart about maximizing your potential benefits. Through a little tax planning, you can begin to put more money in your pocket now. That planning may include adjusting the amount of taxes taken out of each paycheck so you can benefit from even a slight bump in take-home pay, rather than receiving a lump sum when you file your 2009 tax return early next year. Getting the money sooner accomplishes the goals of the stimulus — putting more money in your hands now to help boost the economy.
"The government would encourage that," said Susan Carlisle, a Woodland Hills, Calif. certified public accountant. "We're trying to encourage people to have more money and to loosen up."
A word of caution, though. Be sure you don't overdo it and reduce your tax withholding by too much or you'll risk owing the government money.
The Internal Revenue Service is still working on some of the details of how it will implement the bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday. It promises to provide frequent updates on its Web site.