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When a refund isn't a refund

WASHINGTON--Did you think that check from the government was a tax refund? Not exactly.

Though Washington is not talking much about it, the $300 or $600 checks mailed to taxpaying individuals or families this summer aren't refunds on last year's taxes--but an advance on what you may or may not get back when you file next April.

If you get a refund on your taxes next year, it'll be $300 or $600 smaller because of the advance. And if you owe money, this summer's supposed "rebate" will be tacked onto the bill.

Obviously, the Bush gang has little interest in clearing up the confusion. And they plan to keep it that way.

Next year's tax forms will be designed to hide the fact that your final tax payment or refund is off. Refund? Better to call it a shell game.

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