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Gov. Tim Walz talks rebate checks, legislature's other tax moves ahead of end of session

Talking Points: What exactly is “middle class” these days?
Talking Points: Who exactly is in the “middle class” these days? 02:59

MINNEAPOLIS -- Democrats are calling it the most productive legislative session in Minnesota history. Republicans are crying foul, saying voters will punish the DFL at the polls for a gross overreach.

Democrats say their bills together make up the largest tax cut for the middle class in history. But some of the tax cuts have cutoffs that have some wondering: what exactly is middle class these days?

READ MORE: Minnesota House passes tax bill, Senate returns Sunday for possible vote

Minnesotans are finally getting those rebate checks. But there is a strict cutoff on who gets them and who doesn't. Checks for $260 will go to single filers who make less than $75,000 a year, and couples who makes less than $150,000 will get $520.

Parents in those income brackets will get another $260 dollars per child up to three kids. But what about that cutoff? Is a single filer making $80,000 rich? How about a family making $160,000 dollars a year?

Additional child tax credits will be income-linked phasing out, after $90,000 in earnings.

And what about that Social Security tax cut? Minnesota is one of 12 states that still taxes Social Security income. Legislators this session cut in half the number of people who will be paying taxes on Social Security checks. If your joint income is less than $100,000 you are now exempt and if you are single making less than $78,000 you will also be exempt.

Couples making between $100,000 and $140,000 will still have to pay but will get a phaseout cut. 

Interview: Gov. Walz speaks on historic legislative session 13:05

READ MORE: Minnesota Senate sends bill to legalize marijuana to Gov. Tim Walz's desk

Again, is a couple earning more than $100,000 well off, or are they deserving of the full tax break intended for the middle class? Gov. Tim Walz was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning at 10:30 a.m.

WCCO asked Walz if a couple that makes $150,000 really rich. 

"I don't believe they're rich, but I do believe that encompasses about 80% of Minnesotans make less than that, focusing on those children, and those that make at the very bottom are going to see the most," Walz said. "Minnesota's tax the top they do pay a little more, but our tax code is rated as one of the fairest in the country, meaning that if you're below $150,000 it's much cheaper to live here than it is to live in other places."

There are some notable tax hikes. There will be a gas tax increase that will automatically be linked to inflation, there will be a 50-cent fee for deliveries over $100, an additional .25% sales tax in the metro to fund housing needs, and an increase in corporate taxes. Higher earners will also pay more -- that's anyone who is single earning more than $600,000 a year and households earning more than $800,000.

You can watch WCCO Four News with Esme Murphy and Joseph Dames every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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