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Tax rebate checks going out to New Yorkers this fall

Taxes and politics are inextricably linked.

Raising them, or even saying you might think about doing so, generally dooms campaigns.

Lowering them, of course, is seen as a political plus.

And actually giving people real tax money back goes a long way toward a ballot box win.

At least that's what some New York incumbents no doubt are hoping happens this election year.

Family tax credit rebates: Millions of Empire State residents soon will be $350 richer.

Tax rebate checks for that amount are going out this week to New Yorkers who, among other things, had a child younger than 17 in 2012 and household adjusted gross income between $40,000 and $300,000.

Rebate money

The checks are part of the family tax relief credit program that was approved by the state legislature and signed into law last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

If you're eligible for the cash back, you don't have to do anything. New York Department of Taxation and Finance officials say they will automatically mail you a check.

If, however, you think you are eligible, but don't get a check, you can ask the state to review your case. The state tax office says the online application for rebate eligibility review will ready in early October.

You also can get a preview of whether you need to stalk your mail carrier by using the tax department's "Do I Qualify?" interactive questionnaire. Pages one through three are a breeze, but you'll need your 2012 state tax return to complete the worksheet on page four.

The family relief tax credit will be around in 2015 and 2016, too, but it will be administered in those years as a credit. That means no checks then; instead, eligible taxpayers will claim the $350 as a credit when they file their state income taxes.

Property tax checks, too: The family tax rebate check is just one of two cash-back payments that will go out in the next few weeks to some New York taxpayers.

The second batch of tax checks will go to folks who paid property taxes, a deal agreed to by state lawmakers this past spring.

You're eligible for this refund if your school district stayed within the property-tax cap, which limited the growth to less than 2 percent. So, for example, if your school district stayed under the tax cap and your school taxes went up $50, then you should get a $50 check.

Most of New York's roughly 700 school districts stayed under the cap, meaning most of the state's property taxpayers could be getting a bit of extra cash soon.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that all this tax money will be in voters' hands before they head to the polls on Nov. 4.

Of course, down the road, New Yorkers might end up paying for this year's tax good fortune. The two tax rebate programs are expected to cost about $750 million this fiscal year, which started July 1.

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