ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ About 1,050 recipients of mistaken tax rebate checks faced a Wednesday deadline for returning the money or being billed with interest.

The checks, mailed this summer, average $612 and total about $643,000, state officials said.

In all, about 3,500 people ineligible for the rebate _ almost all of whom have addresses outside Minnesota _ got checks totaling $2.3 million.

Those affected had business income in Minnesota and filed 1999 returns, but they didn't meet residency requirements.

Most of the checks were returned or left uncashed after the department sent out letters in late August acknowledging the mistake.

People who already cashed them were told they had 60 days to give the money back or they could be billed for the amount plus interest. Revenue Department spokeswoman Carrie Resch said that 9 percent interest would be charged retroactive to the date of the notice.

Last year, 33,000 erroneous checks worth $2.9 million were issued to children, senior citizens and some dead people. About $800,000 still remains outstanding from that round of checks.

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On the Net:

Department of Revenue: http://www.taxes.state.mn.us