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The Arizona Department of Revenue has sent out hundreds of thousands of checks and direct bank deposits from a rebate created by the conservative Arizona Freedom Caucus.
It's not "stimulus" money or a continuation of federal stimulus checks during the pandemic, as some news sites and Facebook posts have called it.
It's also not fully due to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who has repeatedly attempted to take credit for it.
Households with at least one dependent child listed in 2021 tax returns should have received - or soon will receive - $100 per child who's 17 or older, or $250 per child who's 16 or younger, with some exceptions. Taxpayers getting the money had to be full-year Arizona residents for tax year 2021 and have at least $1 in personal income tax liability in tax years 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Over 744,000 families received a total of more than $275 million, said Revenue Department's spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder.
The one-time payment didn't require any work on the part of taxpayers — the state Department of Revenue did all the work. If you think you qualified but haven't received the money yet, it could be because the check is in the mail.
If you think your household qualified, you can check your rebate status at https://familyrebate.aztaxes.gov/.
Not a 'stimulus' check
Some news sites on the web, including MSN.com and Newsweek, have run stories for weeks about "stimulus" money being paid out by states including Arizona. But the payments have nothing to do with the federal stimulus money that Americans stopped receiving two years ago.
"Stimulus Check November Update: People Eligible for Payments in 3 States," says one of several Newsweek headlines for stories about state tax rebates.
"There are three states that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sending checks to. These states are Virginia, Arizona, and Alabama," an article on MSN.com states falsely.
CNN and other news sites earlier this month criticized Microsoft, which runs MSN.com, for publishing automated fake news articles. Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.
The articles apparently sparked misinformation in Facebook posts. One now-deleted post claimed incorrectly that "if your account information in on file with the IRS, you will automatically get your money deposited...The amounts range from $500 to $3,284..."
“There is no fourth round of Economic Impact Payments from the Treasury Department,” an IRS spokesperson who declined to be named told USA Today.
Hobbs sought credit for rebates
Arizona's governor sought to play up her role in crafting the rebate, a move GOP House Speaker Ben Toma labeled as "using taxpayer dollars to take credit for something that you didn't support."
"I promised to make it easier for Arizonans to provide for their families and manage rising costs," she said in an Oct. 31 tweet. "This week, I’m pleased to make good on that promise by announcing qualifying Arizonans can apply for our one-time Arizona Families Tax Rebate."
While Hobbs did sign the bipartisan budget that contained the rebate, she had her own tax credit proposal for low-income families that didn't make the cut.
She agreed to edit a letter to rebate recipients after Republicans complained and threatened legal action. Senate Bill 1734, sponsored by state Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, states plainly that "No letter relating to the Arizona families tax rebate issued under this section shall be sent from the governor's office, be sent on the governor's letterhead or reference the governor's office."
But the bill's language didn't put restrictions on Hobbs' credit-taking on the internet, including the websites of the governor and Revenue Department.
"I made a promise that when I took office, I would take every opportunity to make it easier for Arizonans to provide for their families," she said in an October video.
Freedom Caucus used state surplus to fund rebate
Families can thank some of the state's most conservative lawmakers for the rebate.
A deal between Hobbs and Republican legislative leaders this year ensured support for the $17.8 billion budget Hobbs signed in March by allowing lawmakers to divvy up $2.5 billion in surplus funds. The Arizona Freedom Caucus, chaired by Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, chose to pool their resources for the rebate.
Hoffman, who was one of 11 "alternate electors" for former President Donald Trump in a scheme under investigation by Democratic state Attorney General Kris Mayes, has also spread misinformation through his political marketing businesses.
"Due to Democrats' disastrous policies and crippling inflation, Arizona families are struggling to buy groceries, fill their gas tanks, pay rent, and many are forgoing Christmas gifts," Hoffman told The Arizona R, adding that the rebate was the "right way" to ease their financial pain.
"In contrast, tone-deaf Katie Hobbs has shown she's more concerned with scoring cheap political points."
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona sends rebate checks to over 744,000 families