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State will send rebate checks in three phases over the coming year

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Delaware lawmakers approved a rebate program last week that will provide every state resident a one-time direct payment of $300 to help cover the rising costs of gas, groceries and other essentials.

The first round of checks go out at the end of May to residents who filed 2020 income tax returns.

But the $230 million rebate program, funded by Delaware's nearly $1 billion revenue surplus this year, will eventually provide checks to an estimated 175,000 to 200,000 residents who haven’t recently filed taxes, including low-income senior citizens and incarcerated people.

Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger says his office will begin searching for those residents in databases from agencies like the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Corrections this summer.

He added that eligible residents who owe money to courts and other state agencies will still receive their full $300 rebate.

The legislation specifically exempted any debt obligation to other state agencies, so there will be no deduction in these payments," he said.

The third phase of the rebate program will begin in October, when the Department of Finance will roll out a website where residents who did not receive checks can apply for their rebate.

Geisenberger added that his department hopes to identify as many residents as possible during the early phases of the program to avoid receiving a flood of fraudulent applications for checks later on.

“It’s that end part when you open up a website for the public to apply that is obviously the most at-risk for the types of things that occurred with the stimulus payments," he said. "That’s why our goal is to have as few fall into that category as possible.”

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.