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Senators push home-PC tax credit

A proposed economic stimulus package from the federal government is the perfect vessel to hold a tax credit for family computers, as far as a Virginia senator is concerned.

A proposed economic stimulus package from the federal government is the perfect vessel to hold a tax credit for family computers, as far as a Virginia senator is concerned.

Seven months have passed since Sen. George Allen, R-Va., introduced a bill that would give families a tax credit of up to $2,000 for purchases of computers and related products. Now Allen and the measure's only co-sponsor from the Democratic Party, Barbara Boxer of California, want President George W. Bush to include the tax credit in the economic stimulus plan put forth by the administration in the wake of September's terrorist attacks.

"A short-term version of the Education Opportunity Tax Credit is exactly the type of bipartisan, broad-based, consumer-oriented policy needed to provide our economy with immediate stimulative and positive benefits, without increasing budget deficits in later years," read a statement from Allen and Boxer.

The act originally proposed by Allen would give a tax credit to cover the cost of computers, along with ancillary equipment and services, to any family with students in elementary or secondary schools. Allen's bill caps the credit at $1,000 per child and $2,000 per family.

More than 35 million families would be eligible for the tax credit, Allen and Boxer said. Last year's U.S. Census counted almost 34.6 million families with at least one child under the age of 18.

At the maximum of $2,000 per family, the bill could theoretically pour roughly $70 billion into computer companies and related businesses. The actual figure would probably be much smaller, however, since not every family will buy technology products, and not every family has more than one child. Census figures pegged the average family size at 3.14.

Allen's bill currently isn't included in any of the major stimulus packages being considered by Congress.

Bush has taken no position on Allen's bill, a White House spokesman said Wednesday. The president in the past has said that before adding more items to stimulus plans, Congress should figure out how to spend the $40 billion already authorized for emergency spending following the terrorist assaults.

Besides Allen and Boxer, the bill is co-sponsored by five senators, all Republicans.