Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Nearly 800,000 rebates worth about $290 million have been issued to New Mexico taxpayers by the state’s tax department, under a financial relief plan approved by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
While the majority of rebates have already been sent or paid via direct deposit, some checks have been delayed, including those that have been returned as undeliverable, and an estimated 60,000 rebate checks have not yet been delivered to New Mexico taxpayers eligible to receive them.
But about 24,000 rebate checks were mailed out this week and should hit the mailboxes of intended recipients in the coming days, said Taxation and Revenue Department spokesman Charlie Moore.
The rebates represent the first of three rounds of cash relief intended to assist New Mexico residents dealing with inflation and rising gas prices.
Under the first round, single taxpayers who already filed their 2021 tax returns receive a $250 tax rebate – married couples filing jointly get $500 – regardless of their income level. Similar rebate checks of the same amount will be sent in August.
In addition, tax rebates of $250 for New Mexicans who reported making less than $75,000 last year – or $500 for married couples filing jointly who made less than $150,000 – will be sent out starting next week and could take about a month to process, Moore said.
Combined, the three rounds of rebates will mean up to $1,500 in financial relief this year for an estimated 1.1 million New Mexico taxpayers.
In all, the rebates are projected to cost the state slightly more than $1 billion, though some of the money will go toward paying off individuals’ tax debts.
Even with the rebate spending, New Mexico is on track to have a hefty budget surplus at the end of the fiscal year – July 1 is the first day of the new state budget year – due to an ongoing surge in oil production and a larger-than expected increase in statewide wages and employment levels that have boosted personal income tax revenue.
Meanwhile, New Mexicans who filed their 2021 tax returns late or requested a time extension will get their rebates after they’ve filed and their returns have been processed, Moore said.
The rebate plan approved by lawmakers this year also created a $20 million pool to provide payments to residents who don’t file taxes, such as low-income seniors. That entire pool is expected to be used up, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department.
The Republican Party of New Mexico has blasted the rebates as a “political stunt,” despite that 21 of the 35 legislative Republicans – both senators and representatives – who were present voted in favor of the rebate legislation during a single-day April special session.
New Mexico has one of the nation’s lowest per capita income levels at $49,320, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.