Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley has introduced a bill to address a backlog of requests for those digital TV converter box coupons. Braley says the bill would allow Americans who have not received a coupon yet to claim a one-time credit of up to $80 on their 2009 tax returns.
The $80 credit would be the equivalent of two coupons that are used to buy the converter boxes to make TV’s compatible when all television stations switch to a digital signal on February 17th.
The government offered two free $40 coupons to all U.S. residents, but Braley says the program has had problems. Braley says the program has run out of money and people requesting coupons have been put on a waiting list. He says the list currently has up to one million people on it.
Braley says there are estimates the coupon waiting list could reach five million as the deadline for the switch to digital TV approaches. If you have cable or satellite TV — or a new TV set that’s uses the digital signal — you don’t have to worry about a converter box.
"One of the things that we know is that in Iowa the number of households that rely on broadcast only TV is around 225,000, that represents about 19% of the population," Braley says. Braley says it’s estimated that there are 7.8 million Americans who have not upgraded their TV’s as of December, and they will not be able to get the new signal without a converter. Braley says 50-million people have requested converter coupons, but only 19-million of them have been used.