Fourth stimulus check | News summary 17 January
Tax filing deadline in Massachusetts and Maine on 19 April
The federal income tax filing season in the US starts on Monday 24 January with filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed on Monday 18 April.
However in Massachusetts and Maine, the filing dealine is Tuesday 19 April - a day later than in the rest of the country. The filing date was moved back a day in Massachusetts due to the Patriot's Day holiday, which falls on 18 April.
This year’s extension deadline is Monday 17 October.
Senator Bernie Sanders commends labor actions taken by workers around the country
In other words, the challenges we face are enormous and it is easy to understand why many may fall into depression and cynicism. This is a state of mind, however, that we must resist – not only for ourselves but for our kids and future generations. The stakes are just too high. Despair is not an option. We must stand up and fight back.
And here is some very good news. While the corporate-owned media may not be actively reporting it, working people all over the country, with extraordinary courage and determination, are taking on corporate greed, and they are winning.
Workers at John Deere waged their first strike in more than three decades, stayed on the picket lines and eventually won a contract with strong wage increases, a ratification bonus and improved health insurance.
Striking nurses in Buffalo won raises that moved all workers to at least $15 an hour and a reduction in staff shortages. These nurses fought not only for themselves, but their patients – and they won.
Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers won a major victory after rejecting a contract that would have given new workers lower wages and benefits.
Nabisco workers, struggling against forced overtime, inadequate wages and pensions, a two-tier health system and the outsourcing of jobs, went on strike and won. Once again we saw workers fighting not just for themselves, but for the next generation of workers.
More than 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Nebraska went on strike for months and won, fighting back against a plan to give new workers lower wages and benefits.
Starbucks employees in upstate New York, for the very first time, organized a union shop in a fight against a giant corporation that did just about everything it could to stop them.
Those are just some of the inspiring efforts that took place last year. Let me tell you about what’s happening right now as workers continue to stand up to some of the most powerful corporate interests in the country.
The Department of Labor breaks down the average number of weeks workers experience unemployment
In December 2021, the BLS reported that the total "number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 185,000 to 2.0 million." From the rate recorded from two years ago, the number of long-term unemployed workers has decreased from "4.0 million in December 2020 but is 887,000 higher than in February 2020, when the long-term unemployed totaled 1.1 million."
Of the total unemployment population, "the long-term unemployed accounted for 31.7 percent of total unemployment in December 2021, down down from 36.9 percent in December 2020."
When the federal government issues you a student loan, it is often serviced by a private company. One of these companies, Navient, which formally was a unit under Sallie Mae, has reached a settlement with the attorney generals of several states after a lawsuit was filed against them for engaging in years of predatory practices.
Now more than 60,000 borrowers will have their student debt canceled in the coming months.
IRS helping those who got a stimulus check or Child Tax Credit advance payments
A week from Monday taxpayers can begin to file their 2021 tax returns. There may be some information filers need that is still on the way to get an accurate tax refund.
In late December the IRS began sending recipients of the advance Child Tax Credit payments Letter 6419. "This letter includes the total amount of advance child tax credit payments taxpayers received in 2021 and the number of qualifying children used to calculate the advance payments," the IRS said. You will need that information to reconcile the remaining credit you are due on your 2021 tax return.
In January the agency began sending Letter 6475 to Americans that received a third Economic Impact Payment, or stimulus check. "This letter will help Economic Impact Payment recipients determine if they are entitled to and should claim the recovery rebate credit on their 2021 tax returns when they file in 2022."
The IRS advise taxpayers to hold on to both letters so that they or their tax preparer can reduce errors and delays in processing when they file 2021 tax returns.
Infrastructure upgrade could ground flights, airlines call on Biden to intervine
The US is set to roll out 5G across the nation on 19 January, just one glitch, the improved connectivity for mobile devices causes disruptions to airplanes’ instruments.
Executives of major carriers sent a letter to Biden administration officials warning them that most of the nation’s large airports will be under 5G-related flight restrictions from the FAA. Only around 45 percent of the US commercial fleet has been cleared to perform low-visibility landings at airports where the new 5G service would be deployed.
This could result in over 1,100 flights being subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays according to the letter. That would affect more than 100,000 passengers as well as the global supply chain.
The third round of stimulus checks saw more than 169 million payments sent out to eligible Americans, and some are pushing for a fourth as inflation continues to bite.
The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) is calling on Congress to approve an additional round of direct payments for senior citizens to mitigate the effects of inflation.
Build Back Better would help with inflation woes
Joe Wiener talks to Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect on US inflation and how the Build Back Better will help Americans deal with its consequences on the Living in the USA podcast.
According to Meyerson, the high inflation that the US is experiencing, 7 percent year-on-year in December, is the result of many factors but mainly comes down to the pandemic and its effect on "already screwed up supply chains." He says the pain at the pump that Americans are feeling isn't President Biden's fault, instead a shift in fracking production in 2021 has taken away an important anchor on fossil fuel prices in the US as investors seek returns on investments.
Most of the measures in the Build Back Better Act wouldn't immediately help Americans with the current inflation woes but would in the long-run. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices would help lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans. Also provisions to help families with the cost of childcare and universal pre-K would lower parents' out-of-pocket expenses as the programs go into effect. Additionally, there are proposals to build more affordable housing which would slow the rise in housing cost that have gone through the ceiling.
One measure that would help households with children reduce out-of-pocket costs would be the enhanced Child Tax Credit. The monthly payments would give family finances a boost to help meet the increased price of purchasing necessities.
While initial unemployment claims did hit a record low towards the end of 2021, more than twenty million workers still claimed benefits throughout the year.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed in March 2021, included a measure that allowed those who had received unemployment compensation to withhold the reporting of $10,200 when filing 2020 tax returns. This year no bill that includes and provision like this has been passed, meaning that when those who received unemployment benefits file 2021 tax returns with the IRS they will have to pay taxes on all compensation they were distributed.
If you got a stimulus check or Child Tax Credit payments, you've got mail
the 2022 tax filing season begins a week from today and if you received in 2021 a third Economic Impact Payment (EIP3), better know as the $1,400 stimulus check, or advance payments of the Child Tax Credit the IRS will be sending you a letter or two. You'll want to hang on to any mailings that you receive from the tax agency so that you can correctly fill out your 2021 tax return.
The letters will inform taxpayers how much they received from each of the programs so that they can reconcile that amount with how much they can still claim. If you received less than the full $1,400 amount for the third stimulus payment and your income decreased in 2021 from 2020 you may be able to get more through the Recovery Rebate Credit.
Parents will be able to claim whatever portion of the Child Tax Credit they were sent in 2021. Most families received half of the amount they were eligible for last year, the remainder will be tacked onto your tax refund, after subtracting any taxes owed that is.
Fearing mid-term rout swing district Democrats want to break up Build Back Better
A recent CBS/YouGov poll showed that voters are not happy with the state of the country. Their primary concern is inflation which they don't feel that President Biden and Democrats are doing enough to tackle.
Worried about a potential rout in the mid-term elections in the fall, Democrats from swing districts are calling on their party to pass portions of the Build Back Better Act separately. They argue that passing narrowly focused measures like lowering prescription drug prices and extending the Child Tax Credit will show voters that they are trying to do something to ease the ecnomic pain Americans are feeling.
Future of enhanced Child Tax Credit uncertain
With the changes to the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 fiscal year having expired at the end of December the credit will revert to its $2,000 maximum for each kid. That is down from the up to $3,600 per child taxpayers can claim on their 2021 tax returns this year minus any of the credit they received last year as part of the advance payment scheme included in the American Rescue Plan.
Around 36 million households benefited from the program in 2021 which reached approximately 90 percent of intended recipients. Its estimated that the changes to the Child Tax Credit cut childhood poverty by 40 percent last year.
It's up to Democrats in the Senate will determine the future of the Child Tax Credit but some Republicans have their own ideas for increasing the amount that families can receive. The major hold-up for the Democrats' version is Senator Joe Manchin's objections to the lack of a work requirement to receive the credit and concerns that it is going to families with high incomes. Without his vote in the evenly divided Senate the Build Back Better Act, which includes an extension of the expansion, can't be passed with a simple majority.
Stimulus checks and other pandemic support boosts personal savings
Since the start of the pandemic the IRS has sent out three rounds of stimulus checks to eligible Americans, with a maximum of $3,200 on offer for each individual. In mst instances this was needed right away to pay for essential costs, but some where able to shield themselves against financial uncertainty in the future and save some of the money. Over the course of the last two years it appears that Americans have put away an extra $2.5 trillion, with a sharp increase visible across 2020 in particular.
Social Security benefits provide support for tens of millions of Americans every month, with most receiving the money in their retirement to supplement any pension funds they may have. Individuals can choose when they wish to start claiming their Social Security monthly payments and some opt to delay the start so they can receive a larger monthly payment in the future.
However this also gives the option to claim back some of the delayed payments in a lump sum, allowing eligible Americans to get a large payment worth up to six months of the support.
How should the Social Security increase be calculated?
Every year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is issued for Social Security benefits, giving recipients an increase on their payments to reflect the annual rate of inflation and price rises. After the rampant inflation seen throughout much of 2021 a COLA increase of 5.9%, the highest in nearly 40 years, was decided for the 2022 payments. However with inflation currently even higher than that, there is concern that vulnerable Americans will still be out of pocket.
It is nearly one year since the American Rescue Plan was signed into law by President Biden, ensuring that around 170 million Americans received a payment as part of the third round of stimulus checks. With the federal government appearing unlikely to pass another national round of the direct payments, some states have opted to pass their own legislation providing direct payments and other forms of financial support for residents.
Will California consider another Golden State stimulus check in 2022?
At at recent press conference California Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked if the state's residents could expect another round of direct payments in the coming year. The state is expecting to end the fiscal year with another budget surplus, leading some to suggest that it could be used to fund another round of Golden State stimulus checks.
IRS chief gives his thoughts on tax season 2022
"Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare.
"The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don't face processing delays. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays."
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is implementing some changes for the retirement benfits programme this year to help seniors deal with the financial consequences of the pandemic. These changes could affect how much money you recieve from the SSA for the rest of your life.
Your tax refund could be smaller this year
The pandemic has caused disruption for much of American life and tax season 2021 is no different, with the various financial relief programmes altering how tax returns are filed this year. The advanced Child Tax Credit has brought forward 50% of the money that recipients would usually be able to claim at filing time, and reduce their tax bill or increase their refund. Fortunately the IRS is sending out letters this month to households affected by the new-look programme, so they are aware of the change.
Tax season 2022 is nearly upon us and many are looking to proactive with their filing to ensure they receive their refund promptly. This could be a very smart idea with the IRS warning of serious delays as the agency looks to work through a backlog of colossal scale.
The start date for tax return processing is 24 January, and the IRS is sending out letters to millions of Americans explaining how to include stimulus check and Child Tax Credit payments in their filing.
IRS sends out stimulus check and Child Tax Credit letters
This month the tax agency is sending out letters to millions of households, explaining how the 2021 stimulus check and the boosted Child Tax Credit will affect their returns. In some instance it may mean that the recipient has to pay an increased level of tax due to an income increase during the last 12 months, but for some it could mean good news. A significant number of Americans did not receive their full entitlement in 2021 so are eligible for an additional payment.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service provides monthly payments to add to the food budget of low-income families. It is designed to ensure that households can purchase healthy food and avoid periods of food instability, a particular issue during the pandemic.
The outlines its central aim to improve “access to food, a healthful diet and nutrition education in a way that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence.”
This month, certain recipients will be eligible to receive a boosted SNAP payment, but how can you get it?
Is someone using my Social Security Number?
Tax filing time can be a stressful time for many people, but the notion of being caught up in some kind of scam can make things particularly fraught. Unfortunately unscruplous fraudsters use this time to target unsuspecting filers, but what can you do if you suspect someone else is using your Social Security Number?
Democrats may water down the Child Tax Credit to ensure passage
Sen. Joe Manchin's decision not to support the Build Back Better bill last month was a major blow for President Biden and to the Democrats in Congress, particularly as we enter an election year where they will be required to prove their credentials during the first two years of Biden's presidency. In the hope of passing an Child Tax Credit expansion in the coming months, some Democrats are reportedly considering slimming down the programme to win back Manchin's support.
Are you still waiting for your Golden State stimulus check? Last year the massive $100 billion California Comeback Plan passed by Gov. Gavin Newsom provided an additional direct payment worth up to $1,100 for around two-thirds of residents, but not everyone has yet received the support.
Pandemic continues to disrupt the tax filing process
The last two tax seasons were thrown into uncertainty by the pandemic with IRS staff unable to go into the office, a variety of stimulus and support measures introduced, and loss of income for millions of Americans. The IRS had hoped to be better prepared this year but there is understandable concern that there may still be delays to the process.
How has the end of the Child Tax Credit boost affected your family?
Despite its short livespan the expanded Child Tax Credit had become popular amongst recipients and there was a significant amount of lawmakers in Congress who were pushing for the programme to be extended. Across the six months of direct payments, estimates suggest that food poverty amongst recipients fell by around 40%.
NewsHour wants to know how the sudden ending of the programme has affected your family...
Welcome to the fourth stimulus check live feed
Good morning and welcome to AS USA for all the latest updates on the financial support on offer, the upcoming tax season 2022 and the fate of President Biden's Build Back Better bill.