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Personal finance live updates: Social Security payments, Child Tax Credit, tax refund deposit date, inflation, gas prices...

Update:
Personal finance live updates: Social Security payments, Child Tax Credit, tax refund deposit date, inflation, gas prices...

US personal finance, benefits and money news: live upates

Headlines:

- Raise taxes on working people and end social security: GOP reported plan

- Slump in auto sales expected as inflation hits

- Study disproves Manchin claim about Child Tax Credit

- Amid Ukraine-Russia war and soaring inflation, US gas prices reaching record highs.

- Consumer Price Index increased 0.8 percent in February, Bureau of Labor statistics says.

- Federal Reserve set to raise interest rates this week to tame inflation.

- Tax season 2022: most Americans have until 18 April to file their return.

Useful information

- How long does it take for taxes to be processed?

- Medicare:a brief history

- Does Social Security have a healthy future?

Grubhub boosts drivers pay to help with sky-high gas prices

Gas prices have gone through the roof up over the past 12 months with the national average now at $4.32 per gallon. To help drivers see ing their wages eaten into by the high gas prices, Grubhub says it will increase what it pays drivers per mile starting 9 March.

There aren't specifics on how much the boost to per-mile pay will be but it will take into account regional cost increases in the price of gas.

Average US tax refund higher in 2022

The IRS has now processed over 53 million 2021 tax returns as of 4 March, an 8.3 percent improvement over last year. Nearly 38 million of those resulted in a refund with the tax agency sending out a total of $129.2 billion to taxpayers. 

This time last year the average refund was $2,990 according to IRS data compared to $3,401 this year, an increase of $411.

High number of job openings little changed in January

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released data are from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Monday. The number of job openings remained above 11 million in January with the largest drop seen in accommodation and food services reducing by 288,000. 

The number of people quitting their job came down by 151,000 for a total of 4.3 million switching jobs or leaving the workforce.

US NEWS

Costco rate hike: what are the reasons and how much could it go up?

Prices have been going up on just about everything and recently Costco indicated that its membership fee will get a hike in the near future.

Full details

Key groups that benefit from Child Tax Credit may miss out

The enhanced Child Tax Credit for the 2021 fiscal year depended on families having filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020 in order to be automatically enrolled in the advance payments which parents could opt out of. For those who normally aren't required to file a tax the IRS set up an online portal enabling parents to sign-up.

However, many still fell through the cracks and even those who received the first half of the credit may miss out on the remainder. The only way to get whatever portion of you qualify for requires filing a 2021 tax return. 

Don't miss out on important tax credits on 2021 tax returns

Having a child or dependent taken care of so that you can go to work or study can be exptremely expensive these days. In Rhode Island the annual average amount is well over $10,000 spent on child care for a four-year-old.

Legislation passed last year greatly expanded several tax credits that American households with school age children and younger can claim. On 2021 tax returns filers can claim a credit for up to $4,000 for one qualifying dependent and $8,000 for two or more through the Child and Dependent Care Credit, roughly four times more than the previous limit.

In addition to the boost in its value the credit was made fully refundable for 2021, so any amount beyond what you owe in taxes will be added to your tax refund.

"Bringing back the enhanced CTC would reduce child poverty"

"Reestablishing last year's now-expired enhanced child tax credit (CTC) — including paying the credit as a monthly benefit and providing the full benefit to low-income families — could provide significant assistance to families struggling to make ends meet," writes Elaine Maag, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington, in an opinion piece for CNN Business.

S&P 500, Dow rise with focus on Russia-Ukraine peace talks, Fed

Gains in financial and healthcare shares bolstered the Dow and the S&P 500 index on Monday, as investors pinned their hopes on Russia-Ukraine peace talks, while shifting their focus to the upcoming Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The conflict has roiled global financial markets and fueled concerns about runaway inflation as prices of oil and other commodities skyrocket in the face of tough Western sanctions against Russia.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia paused on Monday and will continue on Tuesday, one of Kyiv's negotiators said on Twitter.

Ukraine had begun "hard" talks with Russia on a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees, despite the fatal shelling of a residential building in Kyiv.

"We clearly have done a lot of multiple contraction across the board. You have this market that's going to continue to be held hostage by the headlines coming out of Russia-Ukraine," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

"Energy prices have pulled back a bit and that helps mitigate some of the inflation fears. The Federal Reserve is likely to have that first rate increase and getting that behind us will likely be a positive but that's not until Wednesday."

At 11:43 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 240.53 points, or 0.73%, at 33,184.72, the S&P 500 was up 4.40 points, or 0.10%, at 4,208.71, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 114.83 points, or 0.89%, at 12,728.98.

File electronically and seek direct deposit to get refund faster

This tax season, the IRS is reminding Americans to file their return electronically and seek their refund - if they're due one - by direct deposit. This is the fastest way to get your return processed, the agency says.

See also:How long does it take to process your taxes?

US NEWS

When was Medicare established?

Medicare, a public healthcare program for seniors, is one of the most popular government programs in the United States.

AS USA's Maite Knorr-Evans takes a look at the history of the scheme

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

Daylight saving time 2022: how much can you save on your electricity bill with this change?

The question of how much you can save on your electricity bill with Daylight Saving Time depends on where you live and what you do with your extra daylight.

AS USA's Greg Heilman has the lowdown

GOP new plan to raise taxes, lower social security

'They’re at it again: Republicans want to raise taxes on poor and working-class Americans, end Social Security and Medicare, jack up pollution and corporate profits, all while continuing to pamper their billionaire donor base.'

That's Thom Hartmann's opening to a piece focused on the efforts of Florida Senator Rick Scott.

Know your Earned Income Tax Credit

Did you know that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) helps low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break. If you qualify, you can use the credit to reduce the taxes you owe – and maybe increase your refund.

Find out if you are eligible and what do do if you receive a letter from the IRS about the EITC?

Market update

For those interested in a daily market and price update...

US stock index futures rose today as investors clung to hopes of Russia-Ukraine peace talks, with bank stocks higher ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting this week where it is widely expected to raise interest rates. Most global stocks firmed, while safe-haven gold lost some of its charm as Ukraine said it would seek to discuss a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees with Moscow.

Market watchers sounded a more cautious note as Russia continued bombardments and widened its assault on Sunday with an attack on a base near the border with NATO member Poland.

'We had talks last week as well, but they quickly fell apart. The conflict continues and thus, with regards to the broader market sentiment, we maintain the view that the risks remain tilted to the downside,' said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD.

Big banks gained as investors expect the Fed to announce the first rate increase since 2018 at its March 15-16 meeting to curb surging inflation. Bank of America rose 2.3% in premarket trading, in line with the US 10-year Treasury yield hitting 2.10%, its highest level since July 2019. Data last week showed US consumer prices grew at their fastest pace last month in 40 years, following a sharp rally in crude prices due to the Ukraine crisis. Traders see a 91% chance of a 25-basis-point hike at the central bank meeting. Shares of megacap growth companies Microsoft Corp and Google parent Alphabet Inc added more than 1% each.

Energy shares slipped with Occidental Petroleum down 5.4% as Brent crude fell below $110 a barrel, just a week after it scaled as much $139 in the wake of Western sanctions on Russian oil over its invasion of Ukraine. At 6:23 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 340 points, or 1.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 36.75 points, or 0.87%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 87.75 points, or 0.66%. The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street's fear gauge, inched lower but still remained stubbornly high over 30 points.

Inflation impacts on Ford and GM

In what is a very challenging macroeconomic environment, Jefferies has suggested that the legacy United States automotive manufacturers could see a significant slump.

Child tax credit just one GOP defining factor

Given the Republicans general voting record and stance, human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid has called them out for hypocrisy.

Americans cut back as gasoline prices bite

US consumers plan to cut spending on restaurant meals and movies if gasoline prices keep rising as Russia's invasion of Ukraine rattles the global economy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed this week.

Some 54% of US adults expect to spend less on meals out if gasoline prices rise to between $6 and $7 per gallon, the poll found. Forty-nine  percent said they would trim spending on movies and other entertainment. Some 60% said they would not drive as far for leisure activities.

Automobile club AAA said the average price at the pump on Thursday was about $4.32 per gallon, up from $3.48 a month ago.

People pushed towards poverty in UK

With concerns in the US growing about the impact on households of Russia's unlawful and brutal invasion of Ukraine, it's worth keeping a close eye on affairs in other countries.

The UK, for example, was bracing for its biggest squeeze on living standards in decades even before Russia invaded Ukraine. The impact of the war is now threatening to deepen a crisis for the poorest households and pull millions more into financial trouble.

Full story

Interest rates to rise next Wednesday

The US central bank is expected to start raising interest rates next Wednesday. Economists expect as many as seven rate hikes this year.

"The stability of the longer-term inflation expectations measure is a slightly more encouraging sign, providing further tentative evidence that underlying inflationary pressures are starting to level off," said Andrew Hunter, a senior economist at Capital Economics.

The government recently reported that consumer prices recorded their largest annual increase in 40 years in February.

US consumer sentiment near 11-year low

US consumer sentiment fell more than expected in early March as gasoline prices surged to a record high in the aftermath of Russia's war against Ukraine, boosting one-year inflation expectations to the highest level since 1981.

The third straight monthly decline reported by the University of Michigan on Friday pushed consumer sentiment to its lowest level in nearly 11 years. It said 24% of respondents "spontaneously mentioned the Ukraine invasion in response to questions about the economic outlook."

Tax deadline is 18 April

The Internal Revenue Service reminds patrons that the filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, 18 April, 2022, for most taxpayers.

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

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

The US suffered, like most of the world, through waves of covid-19 infections, and in the past this led to the federal government stepping up to help Americans left struggling in the disruption the pandemic has wrought on livelihoods and household finances.

The Internal Revenue Service put out its annual report highlighting the efforts of its employees in 2021. One of the accomplishments touted by the agency has been successfully delivering “more than $1.5 trillion to people across the nation through Economic Impact Payments, tax refunds and advance Child Tax Credit payments.”

We look at the three Economic Impact Payments, better known as stimulus checks.

Finance and money blog USA: welcome

Hello and welcome to our daily live blog on finance news, with a particular focus on the US, for Monday 14 March.

We'll be bringing you the latest on how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is affecting global markets. We'll also keep you up to date on tax season 2022 in the US, and domestic financial aid schemes such as Social Security benefits.

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