Rescue plan may help borrowers

The federal government has enacted a new economic rescue plan that's intended to ease the nation's credit crunch and enable lenders to make more loans. That could be good news for individual borrowers, corporations and small businesses.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, known as the “rescue plan,” aims to free up more credit for people who want to buy a home or car, refinance their existing mortgage or get other types of loans. Easier credit also could help businesses borrow money to expand their operations, buy raw materials for manufacturing or hire more employees. A business boom could help to reduce unemployment.

The rescue plan creates a federal Office of Financial Stability (OFS) in the U.S. Treasury Department. The OFS has been authorized to buy up to $700 billion of mortgage-backed securities and other financial assets from banks. The idea is that the rescue plan will grease the wheels of the financial system, so lenders will have more confidence and be able to make more new loans.

Plan aims to help taxpayers as well as businesses
The rescue plan also requires the OFS to encourage lenders and loan servicers to participate in Hope for Homeowners, a federal loan refinancing program. That program might help some homeowners keep their homes and indirectly contribute to more stabilized housing markets.

The rescue plan also increases the federal bank deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000 until Dec. 31, 2009. This insurance is backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and protects depositors in the event of a bank failure. To find out whether your accounts are fully insured, call your bank or credit union or contact the FDIC at (877) 275-3342.
 
The rescue plan also updates a number of tax breaks for individuals and business. Millions of taxpayers will get relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT) this year, and a property tax deduction for homeowners who don't itemize their deductions has been extended. Ask your tax advisor for more information about whether these changes apply to your personal situation.

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