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1st tax refunds in mail

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WASHINGTON — The first batch of tax refund checks are in the mail today, the IRS says.

Taxpayers whose Social Security numbers end in the digits 00-09 will likely begin receiving the checks next week. The mailings will continue each week through the end of September, when people whose Social Security numbers end in 90-99 should receive their checks.

The checks of up to $300 for individuals, $500 for heads of households and $600 for married couples filing jointly represent part of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last month.

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 8 million checks worth a combined total of $3.4 billion will go out in this first wave.

In all, the IRS expects to return about $39 billion to taxpayers through 91.6 million checks.

Earlier this week, the IRS mailed separate letters to taxpayers detailing the amount of their checks and, in some cases, why they wouldn't get one.

People who were claimed as dependents on someone else's 2000 return, to cite one example, are not eligible for a check.