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April 2020

Some suddenly out-of-work people are taking a double hit. Not only must they deal with the loss of income, but also the loss of their workplace-provided medical coverage. This week's relatively good COVID-19 pandemic economic news is that the latest count of folks who filed for unemployment benefits was down. The bad news? The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week. While that's a drop from the previous week's 4.4 million unemployment claims, overall more than 30.3 million have applied for state help to make ends meet now that... Read more →


The beach obviously is one of the big attractions of Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the coastal vacation spot, like the rest of the Old Dominion, has been under a coronavirus lockdown. So city officials created a tax holiday to help out restaurants. (Image courtesy Visit Virginia Beach Facebook page) There's only so much sourdough you can bake. Man — and woman and children, too — can't live on bread alone. So, if you're like the hubby and me during COVID-19 quarantine, you've had some meals delivered or picked up your curbside dinner order yourself. The food prepared by your favorite... Read more →


April is winding down. That means severe, and some deadly, spring storms are erupting all over the United States. And in just more than a month, hurricane season will officially start. A couple of states — Alabama and Texas — earlier this year offered their residents a sales tax holiday so they could save some money as they stocked up on emergency supplies. But even if you have to pay tax on your bottled water and canned food and batteries, start gathering your supplies now. Also take a pre-disaster inventory of your property. A full, accurate list of your belongings... Read more →


If you had trouble earlier making the IRS' Get My Payment coronavirus tracking tool work for you, give it another shot. The agency has made some upgrades. (Image: Startup Stock Photos via Pexels) It's back and, for many, it's better than ever. It is the Internal Revenue Service's Get My Payment online search tool. And technically, it never went away. It just seemed nonexistent to those who weren't able to make it work. But now, says the IRS, it has improved its online tool designed to help individuals find out whether they would be getting a COVID-19 economic relief payment.... Read more →


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor a global pandemic stays protectively-masked U.S. Postal Service carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. The COVID-19 economic relief payment checks really are in the mail. That means a whole new slew of coronavirus scams also are showing up via phone calls, as well as in people's mail boxes, both electronic and real-life curbside ones. Since millions of actual paper COVID-19 relief checks are being snail mailed, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is involved in the scam-fighting efforts. These law enforcement officers are joining other federal... Read more →


Treasury check image by frankieleon via Flickr CC The Internal Revenue Service is making good progress in getting millions of COVID-19 economic relief payments to eligible individuals. Most of the money so far has been directly deposited into recipients' bank accounts. Some folks, however, will be getting old-school paper checks. Paper check problems: This is a bit of a concern for two reasons. First, as with tax refunds issued by check and snail mailed to taxpayers, there's always the possibility that crooks could steal the relief payments from their curbside mail boxes. Second, some coronavirus crooks have created fake stimulus... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels Have you received your COVID-19 economic relief payment? The Internal Revenue Service says that 88.1 million taxpayers have. Those payments, which were delivered as of April 17, come to a total of almost $158 billion. Both the total checks and the overall amount are worthy of this week's early By the Numbers recognition. Timely turnaround: The coronavirus relief payments were authorized as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted on March 27. That means that in three weeks, the IRS is more than halfway through the 150... Read more →


Even in the midst of a global pandemic, some things must go on. Like state sales tax holidays. Missouri's annual Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday, a week of tax breaks on energy efficient appliances, began April 19 and runs through April 25. As the Show Me State's first sales tax holiday of 2020 winds down, Texas' usual spring emergency supplies tax-free event kicks off. It runs April 25 through April 27. Show me shopping where: Missouri residents who need new appliances could save if they opt to purchase Energy Star certified items. The state's 4.225 percent sales tax won't... Read more →


The hubby and I are self-isolating, meaning I only get out of the house every 10 days or so to pick up some perishables. This week, though, my grocery list was a bit longer. On top of COVID-19 concerns, it's been a bad allergy and sinusitis season for me. I'm relatively lucky, though. Most of the time over-the-counter (OTC) medications do a decent job of stifling the sneezing, sniffles, headaches and itchy eyes. So I loaded up on the shelf ready antihistamines, as well as cold and flu meds that treat many of the same symptoms without as much drowsiness.... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has added a whole other layer of worry for parents. The COVID-19 relief payment of $500 for each qualifying child won't erase those worries, but the money could help ease some financial concerns. (Photo by Julia M. Cameron via Pexels) Parents know that kids are costly. That fiscal fact is especially notable when mom and dad have been laid off during the coronavirus crisis. That's why the Internal Revenue Service is making what it's dubbed the Plus $500 Push. It's an effort to ensure that everyone who's eligible for a COVID-19 economic relief payment gets all the... Read more →


More than 80 million stimulus checks went out last week, mostly to people who filed federal 2018 or 2019 returns and had the Internal Revenue Service directly deposit those tax years' refunds. Millions more have been anxiously checking the IRS' Get My Payment online tracking tool (guilty!) and/or their bank accounts (guilty again!) to find out just how far along their (my) COVID-19 relief payment is in the distribution system. In many cases, people who didn't get refunds, but are eligible for the coronavirus stimulus money are trying to speed up the delivery process by using the online tool to... Read more →


A closeup of the bread line statues that are part of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy National Park Service) Another 5.245 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 11, according to the Department of Labor's report issued last week. These latest applications mean that coronavirus ramifications have wiped out more than a decade of U.S. job growth. Since June 2009, more than 20 million new jobs were reported across the United States. But in just the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million. That 22 million... Read more →


The COVID-19 outbreaks and subsequent worldwide stay-at-home orders have meant empty streets. Hello, Saturday! We made it through not just another week, but not-Tax-Day week, where we saw the arrival of a weird April 15 when neither our federal nor state tax returns were due. Now onward to July 15. Except for some states. A couple, Hawaii and Iowa, have usual personal income tax deadlines later than mid-April, so their extension deadline is later than July 15. A few — Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia — want their personal state filings before mid-summer. And then there's the myriad deadline... Read more →


When your job doesn't pay much, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can be a big help. This tax break for lower- and middle-income workers has been a part of the tax code since 1975's Tax Reduction Act. It was a logical extension of the 1960s-era War on Poverty, creating a way for lower-paid workers to offset the Social Security taxes that take a relatively bigger bite out of their smaller paychecks. Since it's a tax credit, the EITC provides a dollar-for-dollar offset of any tax owed. And since it's a refundable tax credit, eligible recipients can get any EITC... Read more →


IRS Washington, D.C., headquarters photo by Davide Boeke via Flickr CC You've been sheltering in place. You've applied for unemployment benefits. You're alternately checking your bank account and the Internal Revenue Service's Get My Payment online search tool (good luck!) for your COVID-19 economic relief payment. And then there are your taxes. Added COVID-19 tax considerations: Like just about everything during this global pandemic, taxes also are affected. There is, of course, the new July 15 Tax Day deadline, which now applies to a wide variety of tax obligations. But the IRS also is accommodating other tax circumstances, such as... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service said this afternoon that its new Get My Payment online tracking tool is "operating smoothly and effectively." OK. Maybe I just caught Get My Payment, which is supposed to let taxpayers check on the status of their COVID-19 economic relief payment or add banking information so it can be directly deposited, at a brief glitchy moment. Apparently, according to the tax agency's statement, my experience, which I recounted earlier today in my tracking tool troubles post, was not the norm. But then again, what is normal in coronavirus tax time? IRS says things are A-OK: "As... Read more →


Happy Tax Day 2020! But it really isn't, thanks to the coronavirus delay of deadlines to July 15. So it's Happy COVID-19 Payment Day! But apparently, it really isn't that either. While the Internal Revenue Service says that it already has delivered some of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act created payments via direct deposit — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier this week that would be the case today for 80 million of us — many of us are still waiting. And, after checking out bank accounts and finding nothing new from Uncle Sam, we eagerly... Read more →


The first two estimated tax payments for 2020 aren't due this week because of COVID-19 changes, but it's still time to look at how much you owe via 1040-ES and how best to figure those amounts. I've paid estimated taxes for almost as long as I've filed taxes. These payments, in case this tax is new to you, are the equivalent of withholding. With estimated taxes, however, we taxpayers must cover the income (and usually other) tax on things like freelance earnings or investment payouts since we get the money without anything being taken out beforehand for Uncle Sam. There... Read more →


Each of the 50 U.S. states has its own tax system. Most have opted during this year of COVID-19 to follow the federal decision to push Tax Day 2020 to July 15. (Map with state capitals, in case you want to use it for home schooling during the coronavirus stay-home duration, is via SafetyMagnets.) When 2020 began, this week was the target day for millions of taxpayers. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. COVID-19 has upended everything. Obviously, health considerations are paramount. As we individually deal with ways to protect ourselves and our families, tax officials also have been working to... Read more →


Have you checked your bank account? It might have some added money in it. The Internal Revenue Service announced via social media on Saturday that it had delivered the first batch of coronavirus economic impact statements. #IRS deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts today. We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can. For #COVIDreliefIRS updates see: https://t.co/hEEWmgHA9V pic.twitter.com/2bSHOTjMAS — IRS (@IRSnews) April 11, 2020 The turnaround is pretty darn impressive. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that created the (so far) one-time... Read more →