Economy Feed

Do you have a big tax bill, but are down to your last bottom dollar? That's the worry of many taxpayers in this coronavirus-affected filing season. But you do have payment options. (Photo by cottonbro via Pexels) Tax Day 2020 is rapidly approaching and a lot of taxpayers are not ready for it. It's not just their Form 1040 filing that's an issue. They are concerned about paying any tax that's also due on this year's July 15 due date that was postponed by coronavirus precautions. The audit defense company TaxAudit reports that more than a third — 37 percent... Read more →


Erin M. Collins took over as National Taxpayer Advocate on March 30, just as the United States was coming to grips with the coronavirus, so it's no surprise that the pandemic and its effects on taxes are part of her first official report to Congress. "Starting in the midst of a pandemic and witnessing IRS offices closing one by one was not the way I envisioned my role when I accepted the position," wrote Collins in the report's preface. But, added Collins, there's been a silver lining. In conference calls with her leadership team, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees and... Read more →


A recent government survey found most people are spending their COVID stimulus money on necessities, like food. (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels) What did you do with your COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP)? If you're like most of the folks who responded to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, you used it to pay household bills. Many in the White House and on Capitol Hill had hoped the funds would help jump-start the stalled economy and then keep it going as businesses started to reopen. Looks like that's a big sorry on both counts. Instead, it appears, at least in... Read more →


A new study says young people looking for summer jobs should see more of these signs, just later in the season. Summer is so different this year. That's especially true for young people, who, depending on their ages, look forward to just messing around, going to camp or getting a job. Most kiddos already have been messing around for months. Hey, parents who are trying to telecommute (or really commute if they have essential jobs) and also home school during a global pandemic can only do so much! On the camp front, many overnight camps are still closed, but some... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service has offices nationwide, like this one in New York City. They were closed, at least partially, earlier this year as the agency took steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now the IRS is calling back more of its workers to deal with the impending July 15 Tax Day. (Photo by Matthew Bisanz via Wikipedia Commons) As Tax Day 2020 nears, the Internal Revenue Service is bringing back more staff — thousands are expected back at their desks on Monday, June 29 — to deal with the added tasks that have been given the agency in... Read more →


Many employees have not been at their workplace cubicles for weeks. Now some, including IRS staff, are starting to return, but under dramatically different arrangements. Most taxpayers deal with the Internal Revenue Service electronically. That's the method that the agency has been encouraging for years. But some things still are handled the old-fashioned way. These are paper documents that are mailed by the IRS to taxpayers — like notices you get as an initial contact, not the money-demanding calls from con artists pretending to be IRS employees — and vice versa. Those paper communications, especially those from us to Uncle... Read more →


Millions of folks — around 152 million of us, by the Internal Revenue Service's latest count — have received COVID-19 economic impact payments, or EIPs as they are called in the acronym crazy federal government (and tax) world. The payments of up to $1,200 per individual and $500 for each eligible child were created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The IRS began sending out EIPs in April. But now, two months after the CARES Act became law on March 27, some EIP-eligible recipients are still waiting for direct deposit or a paper check or a... Read more →


Updated Friday May 15, 2020, 7 p.m. CDT Many found the first $1,200 (at most) of coronavirus relief payments to be too little and a tad too late. This latest round of relief, which calls for additional payments of up to $6,000 for some families, isn't likely to advance beyond the House in its current form, but at least it's a start toward more federal financial help. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens debate on the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Live House video feed screenshot) Today's good COVID-19 relief news is that the House is expected to vote on (and pass)... 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 →


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 →


Newark On Reddit via Twitter The Academy Awards is tonight and although I'm a big film fan, I'll probably skip it. The early awards shows have already spoiled it for me. Sorry, ABC. If Antonio Banderas somehow takes the Oscars statuette from Joaquin Phoenix, which is what I'd love to see, then I'll catch the replay on YouTube tomorrow. Some folks in New Jersey, however, will be closely watching this year's ceremony and pulling for the "Joker" actor. The street where Phoenix's disturbed Arthur Fleck character gets jumped early in the movie is in Newark. Tax breaks, of course, played... Read more →


One of the hallmarks of the Trump Administration is tariffs, either put in place or threatened, on a variety of imported goods. If you have money in the stock market, you're probably pretty happy with 2019. Despite some blips, the market this year maintained its continued upward march. The positive news for investors, however, goes against conventional wisdom that tariffs are bad for the economy. Wall Street bulls say that tariffs eventually will take their toll. And others, including a pair of Federal Reserve economists, cite evidence that tariffs already are costing jobs and hiking prices. No tariff trouble for... Read more →


Greek street market vendors offer just about everything. (Photo: Travels with Gerri-Travellerspoint) Every day, more Americans go digital, at least partially, when comes to their finances. We pay via our smartphone features and apps. Our paychecks or gig earnings are directly deposited. Even the Internal Revenue Service is nudging (and sometimes shoving) us to handle our tax tasks electronically. But we are nowhere near where Greece is going. That Mediterranean country, the one that's been on the financial edge or over it for years, now is forcing its residents to use electronic transactions equal to around a third of their... Read more →


Record-setting Cyber Monday sales means more porches across the United States will look like this. But the remote sales' boost to state tax coffers wasn't as big as some expected. $9.4 billion. That's how much U.S. shoppers spent on the just-passed Cyber Monday. That was nearly 20 percent more than last year's $7.9 billion tally for the annual and over-hyped Monday-after-Thanksgiving online shopping day. Obviously, the $9.4 billion in sales is a Cyber Monday record. Also obviously, all those online transactions will help out the state treasuries that now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair 2018 decision, are... Read more →


Updated Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 Source: PhotoMIX Ltd via Pexels Yes, I know Cyber Monday has come and gone. I also realize that a lot of folks finished up their holiday shopping earlier this week. But there always are those of us who put off picking up that perfect present until the last minute. Or, as Dec. 25 nears, we just happen to see something that our spouse, parents, children or best fiend would absolutely love. So, since we seem to be perpetually logged in, we click on it and we're done. Unless our clicking leads to identity theft. Beyond... Read more →


Some food delivery apps apparently are shorting states when it comes to sales tax on the delivery fees. The 2019 holiday shopping season is officially underway. The kickoff remains Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as many shoppers remain committed to post-Turkey Day sales. Early data from Adobe Analytics shows in-store sales were up 4 percent from last year. But consumer patterns are changing. The store of choice for more and more of us is the internet, which is open 24/7 365 days a year. Online Black Friday sales were up early in the day by more than 19 percent... Read more →


Russia's Tsar Peter I, popularly known as Peer the Great, was a believer in using tax policy to shape people's behavior. He tried to do that with a beard tax. (Image via Wikimedia Commons) Every time we're hit with a new tax, we immediately decry how damaging it will be to us personally. But it's highly unlikely that any of today's Internal Revenue Code assessments will ever hit as close to home as a Russian tax enacted on this day (or thereabouts) 321 years ago. Sept. 5, 1678, is the day according to most accounts that Tsar Peter I, better... Read more →


Some worry that smaller refunds will be a drag on our consumer-driven economy. There's a smidgen of good data news for the Internal Revenue Service. One category the tax agency tracks each filing season has moved into positive territory for 2019. For the week ending Feb. 15, the number of returns that were prepared and submitted directly by taxpayers hit 21.77 million. That was 18,000 more than the third week of the 2018 filing season, or a 0.1 percent increase from last year. Yay all y'all folks who plugged in your tax data on your own and hit send. Unfortunately,... Read more →


One of my favorite recent TV shows was The Americans, FX's series on embedded Russian spies during the 1980s Cold War. For six seasons, we fans watched the couple known to their suburban Washington, D.C. neighbors as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings raise their two U.S.-born children, run their small travel agency and spy, sometimes in deadly fashion, for their native U.S.S.R. One of the underlying themes was how well and easily the Jennings assimilated into the America they were trying to bring down. It's a common trope, but one done well and with nuance by the television program. A radio... Read more →


Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday are the biggest online shopping days. But e-commerce platform Shopify Plus says cyber shoppers this December are expected to spend $7 billion more than they did in November. Crooks also are well aware of the increase in online shopping as Christmas nears. It's the perfect time for them to try to snag financial account information, Social Security numbers, credit card information and other sensitive data they can use to steal individuals' identities. In the short term, cybercriminals can turn the stolen data into quick cash, either by draining financial accounts, charging credit cards or creating new... Read more →