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Economic Forecasts

How the Stimulus Helps You

Your finances could benefit from breaks on home and car purchases, college aid, and taxes.

The economic-stimulus plan President Obama signed isn't going to feel like a windfall to most Americans. For those who collect a paycheck, the $45 extra per month will be more like a pleasant surprise. But it's still smart to know the timing and amount of tax breaks and other benefits.

For example, if you're considering buying a car or your first house, making your purchase sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars. If you're one of the 26 million additional taxpayers who will be able to dodge the onerous alternative minimum tax for 2009, your tax savings could help you tweak your budget. And if you're struggling to finance a child's college education, you can count on more money for grants and jobs—if you qualify.

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Here's another boon: The stimulus provides a one-time payment of $250 to recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement and veterans' benefits, which should start to arrive in May. You'll receive the money electronically or via check. Federal-government retirees who don't get Social Security should receive a $250 credit when they file their 2009 tax returns.

Guide to the Stimulus

The New Stimulus Tax Credit

This tax break puts up to $400 in your pocket.

New Car Sales-Tax Deduction

Car buyers have till the end of the year to grab this above-the-line deduction.

New College of Florida

Better Benefits for the Unemployed

Qualified filers get an extra $25 a week.

New Homebuyer Credit

Take up to 10% off your purchase price.

Health-Care Subsidy for the Unemployed

Now there's extra help for paying COBRA coverage.

AMT Tax Relief

Taxpayers get a one-year fix on the alternative minimum tax.

College Aid Gets Fresh Funding

Rather than introduce big new ideas, this bill mostly replenishes underfunded programs and increases amounts available to families.

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