- Income tax credit: $400 for individuals, $800 for couples. The tax credit phases out for singles with income over $75,000 and couples earning over $150,000. Problem: You won't see the money until you file taxes next year, unless your employer is willing to readjust withholding schedules!
- Car-buyer sales-tax deduction: Deduct state and local sales and excise taxes even if you don't itemize. Problem: Applies only to new cars and may not be enough to make much difference.
- First-time home-buyer credit: Refundable tax credit of 10% of purchase price up to $8,000 for purchases in 2009. Phases out at incomes over $75,000 single, $150,000 couple. Problem: Credit maxes out at $80,000 home price, too low a limit. Must be repaid if house is sold within three years.
- Pell grants increased by $500: Max grant is now $5,350 in 2009. Problem: Nice headline, but not enough to help the poorest students, and where's the stimulus effect?
- Higher-ed tax credit: Spend up to $4,000 on higher education, and get a $2,500 credit. Problem: Limited to those already spending college money, and doesn't make borrowing -- or repayments -- easier.
- COBRA health insurance help: Employer will pay 65% of costs to extend your health-care coverage after you're unemployed. Problem: Very helpful to those who lose jobs, but may still leave them with significant monthly cost. And, again, where's the stimulus?
Stimulus Plan Needs Better Ideas
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