47,000 stimulus cheques not cashed

47,000 stimulus cheques not cashed

Four years after they were mailed out to save the economy, 47,000 stimulus cheques remain uncashed ready and waiting to be spent.

Figures obtained by The West Australian show there is about $39 million in cheques stuck on fridges, attached to pin boards or hiding in shoeboxes.

The Tax Office distributed 8.8 million payments totalling $7.7 billion in late 2008 and early 2009.

The money was aimed to boost the retail sector in the face of the global financial crisis that plunged the world into recession.

Despite the global headwinds, the Australian economy avoided recession and the retail sector grew more than 6 per cent.

Retail sectors in other countries had substantial falls.

But not all payments found their way into the economy with the Tax Office confirming there were 47,000 stimulus cheques still outstanding, though they continue to be cashed.

In early 2010, the Tax Office reported there were 61,000 of the cheques worth $51.5 million uncashed.

The uncashed cheques are written against a Tax Office bank account which is part of the Government's consolidated revenue fund.

The Tax Office said it spent $51.7 million on processing the tax bonus payments in what became a mini-stimulus package of its own.

More than 4000 staff were involved, including permanent tax officials and many who were employed on a casual basis, on short-term contracts of between one and three months or longer.

The $51.7 million went into processing all the payments, updating personal details, changing computer systems and "marketing, communication and advertising".