Coronavirus COVID-19 Feed

Image by Bessi via Pixabay Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month. Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks. But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy.... Read more →


Marco Verch via Flickr Halloween's tomorrow. Have your youngsters (and you!) picked out who or what they (and you!) want to be? When I was very young, I went trick-or-treating for several years as my favorite cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. Nowadays, though, kiddos tend to opt for other outfits. Over the years, the hubby and I have opened our front door on Oct. 31 to candy-craving athletes, superheroes and the occasional real-life occupation, such as a firefighter or astronaut or physician. With COVID-19 haunting this Halloween, we all might see more health care costumes sprinkled among the traditional goblins and... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at annual retirement plan contribution amounts, and, for some taxpayers, tax deduction and credit options and limitations. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this... Read more →


Photo via Office of the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General One of the downsides of the Internal Revenue Service closing most of its offices earlier this year as a COVID-19 precaution was that taxpayer returns piled up. And it was a huge pile of mail, estimated at one point to be more than 12 million pieces. Some of that snail mail stack included tax payments. But since they weren't recorded, the compliant taxpayers still got automated tax-due notices. To the agency's credit, when it realized it was sending out erroneous notices demanding already delivered money, it stopped. But now, the... Read more →


The continuing COVID-19 chaos, plus an extended 2020 filing season for those coping with this year's natural disaster onslaught, could create more challenges in 2021 for taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. Are we — and the agency — ready for it? 2020, a year that many of us would just as soon forget, will end in just more than two months. This federal tax filing season, however, will continue for folks who've endured some of the notable natural disasters that have helped make 2020 so terrible. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service issued more disaster-related tax relief in connection... Read more →


While Congress is still, sort of, working on a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments, the Internal Revenue Service is trying to get the first batch out to people who've yet to collect money for which they're eligible. For the most part, these are individuals who usually don't have to file a tax return. Since the IRS is using this tax filing information to distribute the economic impact payments (EIPs), these non-filers are out of luck. But they can get their data to the IRS by using the agency's online registration tool at the IRS.gov special Non-Filers: Enter Info Here... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help is offered through groups like United Way, which partnered with volunteers at this Rutherford County, Tennessee, VITA office. Not only does the IRS train the tax assistors, each year it awards grants to keep the sites running across the country. Meeting your tax responsibilities can be a challenge for many — OK, most — of us. But things can be even more difficult when you can't afford to hire help to finish your returns or your advancing age makes doing your taxes tougher. There are some dedicated volunteers who work every year to meet the... Read more →


For millions of U.S. workers, this month is the beginning of their benefits open enrollment period. This is your annual chance to switch, adjust or cancel usually tax-free company perks for you and your family. The biggest employer-provided benefit is medical insurance. Health coverage has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic. But companies offer many more options that help make their workers' lives a bit easier and less costly. And many benefits experts expect COVID-19 considerations during this open season to alter the usual trend of workers simply letting existing coverages roll into the new year, which is... Read more →


A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


There's been one positive for the Internal Revenue Service this coronavirus-affected tax filing season. The agency says that Free File has hit a record percentage increase in new users. And there's still just more than a week before the partnership between the IRS and tax software manufacturers shuts down on Oct. 16. Free, but previously not that popular: The online tax preparation and e-filing products that, as the Free File moniker indicates, allows eligible filers to complete and electronically transmit their tax returns at no cost, has been available since 2003. However, despite the growing popularity of do-it-yourself tax filing... Read more →


An impending tax deadline just got a little less imposing. The Internal Revenue Service is giving people who've yet to register for a COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP) until Nov. 21 to supply their tax information. The November date is five weeks later than the Oct. 15 deadline the IRS set when it originally sent out letters to the almost 9 million potential stimulus recipients. These individuals didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return because they didn't make enough money to require them to do so. However, they still could qualify for some coronavirus relief. But to get the... Read more →


Millions of U.S. government employees in federal buildings across the country, like this one Sacramento, California, are being forced to participate in the Trump Administration's partial payroll tax deferral. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing their efforts to cobble together a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. Some people, however, don't want the ostensible financial relief they're already getting. They are among the federal workers and military members who've had the Social Security portion of their Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes automatically suspended. Forty-three Representatives say they've heard from these constituents who are... Read more →


Plus, tips on maximizing yard sales and holding safe events during a pandemic. When I went out to get the paper from our driveway this morning, I was puzzled by the amount of traffic on our usually quiet neighborhood street. Especially since it's Saturday. Then I remembered that it was our annual fall community garage sale day. Actually, it's our only community garage sale day this year. The spring 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. And while my immediate neighbors aren't big sellers of their old items, a few tend to participate. This year, though, the cars were... Read more →


Hello, October! You're always welcome at my house. I love your cooler temperatures that let me open windows and doors and put an end to exorbitant air conditioning costs. I love the color changes of trees and shrubs. And I love the candy that I accidentally (really!) over-buy in preparation for the young ghouls and goblins that knock on our front door each Oct. 31. I suspect I'm not alone in appreciating the arrival of autumn. But amid all these annual fall festivities, we need to make at least a few tax moves that could help out our upcoming tax... Read more →


Has the coronavirus pandemic got you stressing? Some ways to relief your COVID-19 anxiety might be covered by health insurance or associated medical savings accounts. (Photo by Gustavo Fring via Pexels) Life is stressful in the best of times. We definitely are not in the best of times. We're dealing with a contentious presidential election during a deadly pandemic. Plus, flu season is almost here. Mother Nature keeps whacking us with disasters. Kids are going back to school or not, both prospects producing parental problems. And way too many folks are unemployed or are worrying about losing their jobs. Whew!... Read more →


Depending on your personal situation, your deadline to claim any or additional coronavirus stimulus money is Sept. 30 or Oct. 15. Miss the deadline, and you'll have to wait until next year for much-needed COVID-19 cash. Since it's still unclear if or when we might get another COVID-19 relief payment, it's even more important that every person who's eligible get all they can from the first stimulus payout. And to do that, a lot of folks need to officially touch base with the Internal Revenue Service. Soon. Like in a couple of days for some families. Wednesday, Sept. 30, is... Read more →


Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service implemented a push to encourage folks who didn't get COVID-19 economic relief payments to touch base with the tax agency to see if they're due any of this money. Overall, nearly 9 million individuals, or 8,863,344 to be exact, might be eligible for the stimulus help. That's a maximum of $1,200 per person, double that for married couples filing joint tax returns, plus $500 for each qualifying child. Millions of these economic impact payments, or EIPs, were sent automatically to qualifying individuals who had filed tax returns for the 2018 or 2019 tax... Read more →


Are you ready to go back to this? Or is working from home working out just fine for you? It's the last weekend of September. Not that calendars matter so much anymore to many of us — including me — who are still coronavirus quarantining. But time measurement and management are still important if you're working, or trying to, from home. States are in various degrees of reopening, meaning more of us have or will be heading back to our offices. Others, however, will continue to work from home, aka WFH. In fact, some companies have said they'll maintain remote... Read more →


OK, this is a bit of tax inside baseball, but I couldn't resist. There are The New Yorker tax cartoon face masks! The Condé Nast publication is selling 17 different tax-related versions of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE). A few are New Yorker cover images, but most are cartoons. My favorite, even though I am more of a feline fan, is the dog accountant one by M.E. McNair. Close behind on my list is Roz Chast's 1040-FI, the form for the financially incompetent, and Bernard Schoenbaum's fatherly tax advice. I can't vouch for their coronavirus pandemic precaution effectiveness. And no,... Read more →


National Small Business Week 2020, like much everything else this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is going mostly virtual. Small businesses always face a lot of challenges. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic posing myriad new operational and financial problems, things are even more difficult. During the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) celebration of this year's National Small Business Week, which runs through Sept. 26, the Internal Revenue Service has been highlighting some tax breaks for these companies. Key among those breaks are credits that can help smaller employers. Tax credits are particularly welcome because they provide dollar-for-dollar tax savings.... Read more →