RAF MILDENHALL, England — Not only is the check in the mail, for many it has already arrived.

Parents have been opening mail recently to find checks worth $400 for each child claimed on their tax forms this year. The new tax plan upped the exemption per child from $600 to $1,000, meaning parents were owed a rebate.

That was news to 2nd Lt. Rusty and Tracy Clark, parents of Elizabeth, 3, and Emma, 5 months. When the money arrived recently, they had only just heard of the new policy.

“I didn’t know if I had to file any extra paperwork or what,” said Clark, stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England.

He said the money will go into a savings account for now, but added, “We’ll probably spend it.”

Hundreds of parents and children were enjoying the brilliant sunshine at RAF Mildenhall on Sunday where National Kids Day was being celebrated. Bouncy castles and face painting, pony rides and bumper cars were just some of the attractions.

But the smiles on the faces of children were matched by those sported by parents, who have received or soon will some of the 25 million checks being mailed by the Treasury Department. The checks began going out July 25, preceded by a letter advising the families of the coming benefit.

Master Sgt. Gene Yelton, father of Claire, 4, and Emily, 9, got the letter and the check on the same day, both of them coming as a surprise.

“I didn’t know about it,” he said. “I didn’t follow the news.”

He said the money probably means Christmas shopping can begin early this year.

“If not that, we’ll just put it in the bank, save it for a rainy day,” he said.

The idea of the exemption increase is to give families more money to spend, hopefully spurring the sluggish economy. That was the president’s idea, anyway.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Lamb and his wife, Candy, however, plan to stash the money away for the futures of Logan, 3, and Tyler, 7 months.

“It goes into accounts for their education,” said Candy Lamb, whose husband is stationed at nearby RAF Lakenheath.

“It will be spent,” she said, just not as quickly as the president would like.

However, she added, “We just got here. We have done plenty to spur the economy.”

Others will spend the money soon, especially with school about to begin.

“It’s definitely going to be used in a good way,” said Senior Airman Abbi Caben of RAF Mildenhall, mother of Alena, 6, Reanne, 3, and Karrington, 2. “It’s definitely not going to be thrown away.”

She said a family trip to London is now on the schedule, but school clothes also will be bought.

“With three kids,” she said, “any dollar is good.”

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