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Financial aid: Social Security, Child Tax Credit, IRS Tax Refund deposit date... | 1 March

Breaking news and latest information from filing season 2022, including Social Security payments, the IRS tax return backlog and tax refund status.

US finance and benefits: latest news


- President Biden set to give first State of the Union on Tuesday

- Price of oil rises to over $104/bbl. BP and Shell exit Russia, calls for Exxonmobil to follow suit.

-IEA members will release 60m barrels from strategic reserves to avoid shortfall from Russia

-Social Security to reopen 1,200 local offices, helping many of those most vulnerable.

- Volatility in US stock markets, as sanctions on Russia startle investors.

- Unemployment rates deceased in 42 states from November to December

- Medicaid enrollment shot up 15 percent during the pandemic as millions lost their jobs.

- Child poverty rates increase to seventeen percent from twelve after families miss one payment of the child tax credit.

Helpful links and Information

- As gas prices continue to rise, many ask if there a certain day of the week when it is usually cheaper.

- Does Medicare pay for assisted living?

- Do SNAP benefits expire? All the information you need to check your balance online.

- What are the eligibility requirements for the Child Nutrition Program?

- What is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program? eligibility and more

Related news articles:

Child Tax Credit approved as part of Michigan House $2.5B tax plan

Today the Michigan House approved a roughly $2.5 billion plan to reduce taxes, including cuts to the personal income tax rate, tax exemptions for seniors and a $500 child tax credit. 

The plan combines aspects of proposals advanced by Republicans in the House and Senate, as well as a separate spending bill that would push about $1.5 billion to supplement underfunded government pension plans. 

The tax bill passed 62-42 with the help of Democratic lawmakers after three Republicans voted against the legislation and the majority fell short of the 54 votes they needed to get the bill across the finish line.

In all, the tax plan cuts the personal income tax from 4.25% to 3.9%, or a total of $1.1 billion the first year the tax reduction is in place; expands tax exemptions for seniors, which is worth about $600 million annually; and provides a $500 tax credit per dependent child, worth about $750 million. 

Beth LeBlanc brings you more.


How Russia-Ukraine war fits into Biden's State of the Union

In a few hours the State of the Union address will be delivered by U.S. President Joe Biden, his first in office. And what a time to do it.

Biden must convince viewers at home that the economy is, in fact, in solid shape despite inflation concerns, and that tough sanctions imposed by the Washington and allies are worth the pain. Russia's invasion of Ukraine could cause gasoline prices to skyrocket in the United States, adding to the highest inflation rate in 40 years.

About two-thirds of Americans support Biden slapping Russia with economic sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

At the same time, security at home is an issue. Federal authorities are reinstalling fencing around the Capitol as Washington prepares for planned trucker protests inspired by demonstrations in Canada against pandemic-related restrictions. It is unclear how disruptive the convoys, coming from various points around the country, will be. At least one of the planned convoys is still in the Midwest and not expected to arrive in Washington until the weekend, local media reported. The Pentagon last week approved the use of 700 National Guards members to help with traffic control support.

Biden can also trumpet his $1-trillion infrastructure bill that was passed last year with some Republican support.

File taxes eletronically and use direct deposit, IRS urges taxpayers

The IRS is urging Americans to avoid delays this tax season by filing electronically and seeking their tax refund - if they're due one - by direct deposit. This follows a 2021 tax season in which the agency endured a major backlog in processing paper returns, which have to be dealt with by hand.

Most US taxpayers have until 18 April 2022 to file their 2021 tax return.


Is Medicaid a state and federal partnership?

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership but administered by the states, giving them flexibility meaning there is wide variation in programs across the US.

AS USA's Greg Heilman has the full lowdown

Biden to tell Congress "it's time to act" on social spending

In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Biden is expected to tout the achievements of his first year in office, such as the American Rescue Plan and the Build Back Better infrastructure bill.

The former, signed into law in March 2021, included a $1,400 stimulus check for qualifying Americans - the third issued by the US federal government since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Biden’s $2tn infrastructure bill was then passed in November.

However, having failed to get his Build Back Better social spending bill through Congress, the president is expected to urge Congress to push through support for US households in 2022.

"What you can expect the president to lay out is how his plan, the ideas he's put forward, lowers costs for families, can reduce the deficit and that it's time for Congress to act," an administration official told reporters, according to CBS. "It's time for Congress to get him a piece of legislation that addresses those core challenges for families right now."


President Biden's 2022 State of the Union address: times, how to watch

US President Joe Biden is due to deliver his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Take a look at our preview of the address, and find out how you can watch it live.


How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

The US federal government has sent out three stimulus checks to qualifying Americans since the start of the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

We take a look at each of them


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 for your pets, except in certain cases. Here’s a look at when you can use your pets for tax purposes.

IEA members agree to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves

The Governing Board of the International Energy Agency made up of 31 countries agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves. The move is meant to send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall in supplies as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Together IEA members hold emergency stockpiles of 1.5 billion barrels. The initial release of 60 million barrels represents 4% of those stockpiles. It will provide the equivalent of 2 million barrels a day for 30 days. Russia produces 11 million barrels of oil per day, 5 million of which it exports.

New polling on Biden's handling of the economy and Russia-Ukraine crisis

President Biden is set to give his first official State of the Union address tonight. He had wanted to address the economic successes over the past year and address how his administration will work to tackle high inflation which has been hitting pocket books. However, world events have overtaken domestic matters. 

After enjoying high approval ratings at the beginning of his first term, the withdrawl from Afghanistan seriously dented his popularity. Democrats' failure to pass the Build Back Better package and soaring inflation have kept Americans confidence in his handling of the economy low.

Although his ratings have risen slightly for his handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis more Americans disapprove of his performance than approve.

Could cryptocurrencies provide Russia with "escape hatch" from sanctions

The US and its allies have leveled crushing sanctions on Russia including barring any transactions involving the Russian central bank, Russia’s National Wealth Fund or the Russian Ministry of Finance. Russia had amassed over $600 billion in reserves prior to the invasion of Ukraine. But with the new restrictions its ability to use its international reserves to support its currency has been curbed and on Monday the ruble tanked.

Concerns have been aired that Russia could use cryptocurrencies to evade the unprecedented sanctions imposed on it, but that might be easier said than done. Because of how crypto exchanges work it would be extremely difficult for Russia's central bank to move $50 billion per day necessary to prop up the economy with liquidity for ruble-to-bitcoin limited to just $200,000 per day.

Price of gasoline up 7¢/gal since start of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Although the US has not imposed any sanctions on oil and gas imports from Russia yet, jitters in the market sent the price of crude oil briefly over $100 last week. Despite coming back below that mark, BP's announcement on Sunday, followed by Shell, that the two oil majors would pull out of Russia has sent the price of a barrel rising again.

So far Exxonmobil has not followed suit. Russia relies on Western oil companies' technology to extract crude and natural gas.

Canada bans Russian oil imports

Canada took further actions to punish Russia for Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, banning all crude oil imports from the nation. The measure was announce by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday along with further military aid to the beseiged country.

Banning oil import is largely symbolic as Canada is the world's fourth largest oil producer and only imported around $230 million worth of Russian energy products last year.

The United States purchases over $1 billion worth of Russian oil per month, which supports Putin’s war machine. While banning Russian imports will surely increase the price of fuel, we should do so immediately and identify ways to mitigate the impact to American families.

Rep. Dean Phillips, (D) Minnesota's 3rd US congressional district

US markets stung by war in Europe

Investors have been on a bad run since the turn of the year as markets have seen continued volatility. February was no exception with the broad-market S&P 500 dipping into its first 10% correction in almost two years as Russia invaded Ukraine.


Do SNAP benefits expire? How can I cancel my SNAP benefits online?

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is one of several programs administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service agency. SNAP benefits are managed by each state’s public assistance agency and although similar, each state has its own rules.

Likewise, the name of the program and the state agency that recipients need to contact can vary depending on where you live. This can make it confusing for the over 41 million people across the United States who receive nutritional assistance through SNAP as of 2021. 

Here’s a lookat some of the basics when it comes to your benefits.

Social security offices reopen

The covid pandemic has presented older Americans with plenty of grim news, from staffing shortages in long-term care and hospices to the punishing effects of loneliness and isolation. But there have been encouraging developments too — the kind of incremental progress that can take years to achieve, as lawsuits wend their way through courts, bills die in state legislatures and rise again, and the pandemic complicates everything.

The results are not always dramatic, but they can improve lives and health for older people, especially those with low income.

Paula Span reports on three: new right to appeal Medicare decisions, California easing of Medicaid qualifications and the reopening of Social Security offices.


Which day of the week is the cheapest to put gas in your car?

Gas prices shift from day to day depending on the available supply relative to real or expected demand or consumption, even when the price of crude oil is stable. However, if there is a disruption, such as the fear of sanctions being imposed on Russian oil after it invaded Ukraine, gasoline prices can change rapidly.

This is bad news for consumers who have watched the upward march of gasoline prices since the end of the pandemic. That’s been the result of fuel supplies worldwide being tight as production is brought back online but not fast enough to meet surging demand. 

That trend is expected to continue for the near future but if you shop smartly, you can still save at the pumpby filling up on the right day.


Have US sanctions worked in the past?

The US and its allies have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia in response to President Putin's decision to invade its sovereign neighbor Ukraine unprovoked. On Monday the Russian stock exchange didn't open and the country's currency the ruble plummeted now equal to 1 cent.

Economic sanctions are one of the most common tools used in foreign policy. But under what conditions have US sanctions been the most successful?


Today, 1 March, our team at AS USA will be bringing you all the latest news and information on the 2022 tax season, including information on IRS delays, the enhanced Child Tax Credit, and other benefits and credits that you should keep in mind when submitting your 2021 tax return.

Additionally, we will be tracking closely any impact that US sanctions on Russia could have on consumers here.


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