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Financial aid | News summary for 19 February

Update:
All the latest news and information on tax season 2022, Social Security payments and the potential financial consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.

TAX SEASON 2022

Can you claim pets on taxes?

Like raising children, families can incur sizeable expenses taking care of their pets. The federal tax code gives US taxpayers with children and dependents several credits that they can take advantage of when filing, especially on 2021 tax returns.

Uncle Sam however, does not consider it the responsibility of the other US taxpayers to give you a break on your tax bill, except in certain cases, for your pets. Here’s a look at when you can use your pets for tax purposes.

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Inflation really biting Americans

Academics at the University of Michigan are arguing that real inflation is already much higher for many Americans, as the price on essential goods is rising faster than the standout 7.5 percent increase in the last year. In the quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index, which seeks to measure how happy consumers are with the goods and services they spend on, found that there’s been a 5.2% decline in quality since 2018, with the bulk of it coming in the pandemic years.

US NEWS

Are there extra snap benefits in February?

There are emergency measures in place to ensure SNAP receivers get all the money they need. One of these measures covers the covid-19 pandemic, meaning states which meet certain covid-19 qualifiers, such as having high rate of infection, automatically receive the maximum possible money.

If you are from any of these states then expect to receive the maximum payment for February.

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WATCH: Republican senator discusses inflation

US NEWS

What does 'taxes being processed' mean?

The IRS is facing a huge backlog of paper returns and has urged filers to submit as quickly as they can to avoid seeing delays in their refund. However, while filing on or before the deadline is recommended, the tax agency also warns against filing "prematurely" as mistakes can cause serious delays in reviving your refund.

As the agency looks to battle through the unprocessed returns, many are seeing a 'taxes being processed' message...

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Look out for IRS Child Tax Credit letters

Last year the Child Tax Credit was expanded to provde monthly direct payments worth up to $300 per child, nearly doubling the previous annual entitlement. However not everyone received the money that they were entitled to last year and the IRS will be issuing the outstanding funds in the form of tax refunds this tax season. The IRS will be sending letters out to advise all those who may be affected. 

How much will I get from my tax refund?

Tax refunds are distributed to filers who have overpaid on taxes over the past year and are therefore owed money back from the IRS. The tax agency is working overtime to get the payments out as quickly as possible but some filers may be disappointed to learn that they get less than they had expected. This report from CNBC explains why...

How does Tax Topic 152 affect my tax refund?

The IRS is truggling through a backlog of unprocessed tax returns and that delay is having an unfortunately, yet entirely predictable, effect on tax refunds. Millions of Americans are expected to face longer than usual waits for their tax refund this year and the IRS is sending out messages to affected filers warning them of the delay. Known as Tax Topic 152, TurboTax explains what the alert means here...

How to get your tax refund faster

Tax filing season 2022 has been beset by complications and delays, which could see some filers forced to wait months for their tax refund. If you want to give yourself the best chance of a prompt tax refund, make sure to utilise the online e-filing option offered by the IRS. All the details to do so can be found here...

Need help with your IRS tax returns?

The annual tax-filing process can be a confusing one, and one complicated further this year with various additional programmes like the expanded Child Tax Credit to consider. If you have not yet filed your tax return with the IRS this year, check out this handy guide from the Wall Street Journal to make sure your filing is as easy and and swift as possible. 

SOCIAL SECURITY

Does social security pay a month behind?

More than 70 million Americans recieve a payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA) every month, with a range of programmes offering financial support to vulnerable, eldery or disabled people across the country. However the payment structure for Social Security can be mystifying for those not used to the programme. Here's when you expect your payments to arrive...

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Russian invasion could have dramatic consequences for US economy

In this Yahoo Finance interview Douglas Rediker, Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow, outlines the potential consequences of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US is attempting to disuade Russia from an invasion using the threat of financial sanctions but in reality the US could also suffer if fighting were to break out due to the disruption to supplies of oil and natural gas. 

Expect tax refund delays due to huge backlog

Even befoe tax season 2022 had begun the IRS was woking through a backlog of more than six million unprocessed tax returns from previous years. However matter have been compounded as millions of Americans tried to file early this year to quicken the tax refund process and the IRS now has a backlog of close to 24 million unprocessed tax returns to be sorted through. 

Additional IRS staff added to deal with huge tax return backlog

Even before tax season 2022 began, the IRS was bracing itself for delays and longer than usual waiting times. IRS chief Charles Rettig advised filers to utilise e-filing options to speed up the process but with so many entitled to a tax refund this year due to the expanded Child Tax Credit. However despite those efforts the agency has been forced to bring in another wave of additional workers to deal with the workload. 

US NEWS

What are Biden's economic proposals according to the unemployment report?

The January jobs report found that employers added 467,000 new jobs last month, far exceeding experts’ predictions. During previous points of high coronavirus infection businesses had acted by cutting staff or closing premises, but January’s strong numbers suggests that employers are no longer as anxious. How does this affect the rest of the US' economic recovery as restrictions continue to be lifted, and how will it impact on President Biden's legislative agenda?

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Sen. Warren wants to make tax season easier

Progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a new piece of tax legislation which is designed to make filing season easier, and cheaper, for Americans. At the moment studies show that the average American spends around $200 in the tax-filing process, much of which is spent providing data that the IRS has on-file already. 

White House wants Child Tax Credit action

Earlier this month the White House launched a national 'Day of Action' on the fate of the Child Tax Credit, the child benefits programme that was expanded temporarily last year to provide monthly direct payments. Those payments elapsed after the December round but there is still a desire within the Biden administration to see them extended. 

TAX SEASON 2022

IRS tax refunds 2022: What is tax topic 152? Will I still get my refund on time?

The IRS claims that 90% of refunds are issued within 21 days in the agency’s normal timeframe, but disruption caused by the pandemic and underfunding of the agency has complicated matters. Some tax returns will require an additional review, likely delaying your tax refund, so what does it mean if you see Topic No. 152 when checking on your refund status?

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Will cryptocurrency threaten financial markets?

Cyrpto-assets peaked at a total worth of $2.6 trillion in 2021, a huge amount but a drop in the bucket compared to the $120 trillion global stock market. But despite that regulators from 24 countries have warned of systemic risk from the digital assets in a new report. Their concern stems from banks and other financial institutions that are systmeically important are becoming increasingly exposed to the wild fluctuations of the once niche market assets experience.

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to the AS USA Personal Finance and Money News live feed, bringing you all the latest from tax season 2022. Stay tuned for tips on filing your tax return with the IRS and the latest on federal support programmes. 

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