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Relief checks news summary: 17 March 2023

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 15: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at UNLV on March 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Biden spoke about his plan to lower prescription drug costs. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Headlines: Friday, March 17, 2023

- Initial unemployment claims fell by 20,000 to 192,000 last week

- SVB Financial Group to begin bankruptcy proceedings

- First Republic Bank shares crash; bank reportedly exploring options, including sale

- New Alaskan oil mining plan despite environmental destruction

- Inflation rose 0.4 percent in February

- Biden administration moves to shore up confidence in banking system after collapse of Silicon Valley Bank

2023 Tax Season 

- Who can claim the additional standard deduction?

- The way to access IRS transcripts to ensure a faster tax refund

- Did you receive a state stimulus check? No need to report the payment as income to the IRS. 

Read more from AS USA:
Ford recalls over 1 million cars over brake issues: How to know if your vehicle is affected?

Ford has announced that it is recalling over one million cars due to a problem with its brakes. How will you know if your car is affected by this issue?

The recall affects approximately 1,167,000 Fusions and 113,000 Lincoln MKZ sedans which were made between 2013 and 2018.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a safety recall report which states that around 2% of these vehicles were believed to be defective.
How to get up to $10,000 for car damage due to California roads

If you have experienced poor road conditions while driving in California and your vehicle has sustained damage as a result, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation with the California Department of Transportation. 

This agency allows individuals who have suffered a financial loss due to Caltrans’ actions or inactions to seek reimbursement of up to $10,000 for damages incurred.

To initiate the claims process, individuals must file a claim for damages directly with the agency.
St. Patrick’s Day 2023 freebies, promotions and deals: Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’, McDonalds…

Are you planning to celebrate St. Paddy's Day? Here are some food establishments that are joining the festivities, and some of them are offering special deals and even freebies.
What is the average Social Security check at age 66?

Retiring at 66 is the full retirement age for some Americans but for others they will need to wait longer to access their benefits without being penalized.

The retirement age when Americans can claim their full benefits has been steadily increasing. Currently, those who were born in 1960 and after will need to wait until they are 67 years old, and one month, to reach the full retirement age.

AS USA's Oliver Povey tells us more about what could happen to your benefits if you retire early

Financial institutions band together to support First Republic Bank

A group of financial institutions has agreed to deposit $30 billion in First Republic Bank as a sign of confidence in the banking system. 

Bank of America, Wells Fargo,  Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase will put in about $5 billion each, while Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will deposit around $2.5 billion. 

Truist, PNC, U.S. Bancorp, State Street, and Bank of New York Mellon will each deposit around $1 billion.

The group says they hope to show their commitment to helping banks serve their customers. The deposits are obligated to stay at the bank for at least 120 days, according to First Republic.

SVB files for reorganization under bankruptcy protection

SVB Financial Group said it has filed for a court-supervised reorganization under bankruptcy protection to seek buyers for its assets, days after its former unit Silicon Valley Bank was taken over by U.S. regulators.

The move to begin bankruptcy proceedings comes as emergency measures to shore up confidence have so far failed to dispel worries about a financial contagion.

Shares of big banks fell between 1.5% and 3% in early trading.

Financial stocks have lost over billions of dollars in value since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last week, while credit stress has worsened for Wall Street's biggest banks.
Why the Social Security COLA may be much lower next year

Benefits are adjusted each year to prevent Americans from being swamped by inflation. This cost of living adjustment (COLA) has been especially important in the last two years, which saw adjustment increases of 5.9% and 8.7% in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

With inflation still doggedly high, as evidenced by another increase in February, attention has turned toward the COLA for 2024. Expectations of the inflation level later in the year mean the adjustment is more than likely to be smaller than the one at the turn of this year.

Who qualifies for a double Social Security payment in March?

For those who receive Supplemental Security Income, they will get a double payment in March. Those beneficiaries who also get Social Security payments will see three payments issued to them in March.
Social Security double payment in March: Who qualifies and what is the amount?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) sent out payments to nearly 71 million Americans in February 2023. Due to the monumental nature of issuing so many payments, the agency spreads out when they are sent depending on date of birth, type of benefit and when a recipient first signed up for Social Security.

This creates a situation where every so often certain beneficiaries receive more than one payment in a calendar monthMarch will be one of those months.

How are Social Security retirement benefits taxed?

To be taxed on your Social Security benefits you need to have a total gross income of at least $25,000, or $32,000 for couples who file jointly. If you earn more than that – at least $34,000 for an individual or $44,000 for a couple – you will see up to 85% of your benefits payments subject to tax.

To calculate whether or not you are liable to pay tax on Social Security benefits, you can do so by completing the IRS’ Figuring Your Taxable Benefits worksheet. You may find that your taxable income has risen by between 50-85% of your annual Social Security benefits amount.
Tax Season 2023: Do senior citizens on Social Security have to file taxes?

With tax season well underway many are asking whether seniors who receive Social Security payments need to file a tax return.

In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year.
What can you do to stop the controversial Willow Project?

The project’s opponents however have said that it could a negative impact on local communities, as well as wildlife and their habitats. There are also concerns about the risk of oil spills and increased greenhouse gas emissions. This includes a projected 9.2 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year.

Online activism against the project has increased the past week, and if you are among those who wish to express opposition to Willow, there are some ways by which you could do it.

Read more

US banks being closely monitored by OCC

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which supervises national banks, is engaging in 'heightened monitoring' of national banks and coordinating with other regulators amid broader turmoil in the banking sector, a spokesperson for the bank regulator has confirmed.

In a statement, the OCC said it is "committed to ensuring that national banks remain safe and sound. In times like these, the OCC engages in heightened monitoring and coordinates with other regulatory agencies in the United States and globally to ensure that the federal banking system remains a trusted source of strength to consumers, businesses and communities".
The list of refundable and non refundable tax credits: the maximum the IRS can return to you

US families are looking at the possible credits they can use to deduct them from the taxes they have to pay this season. For some of these cases, the US Treasury may even return money to households.

There are different types of credits, which are structured in what are known as refundable and non-refundable rates. In this case, it should be mentioned that there may be a series of hybrid models that can be paid partly by the taxpayer and partly by the state to the families.

Read more

Real wages have fallen 0.4 percent this year

The BLS announced earlier this week that real wages fell by 0.1 percent in February, following a decrease of 0.3 percent in January.

This comes as the Federal Reserve point to tightness in the labor market as a driver of inflation. While unemployment remains low, workers are not seeing real increases in purchasing power as a result. 

Compared to February 2022, real wages have fallen by an average of 1.3 percent for workers in the United States. However, there has been some movement towards closing this gap over the last few months, and it is currently down from -2.5 percent from December 2021 to December 2022.

Initial Unemployment Claims increase by 20,000 to 192,000 last week

Last week, initial unemployment claims fell by 20,000 to 192,000. These figures place the number of new unemployment claims at the same level recorded in late February. 

For the week ending on March 4, the total number of claims reached 1,684,000, down from 29,000 from the previous week. States with the highest number of new claims for the same week were New York (+16,244), California (+9,918), Kentucky (+2,789), Oregon (+1,276), and Ohio (+1,209). Claims decreased by the highest levels in Rhode Island (-1,687), Massachusetts (-1,134), District of Columbia (-937), Illinois (-753), and Florida (-428).

Read more from the Department of Labor.

Welcome to AS USA's live blog on inflation relief and financial news

Throughout the day we will bring you the latest updates on measures being taking to bring down inflation and provide relief to Americans coping with rising prices. As well, the emergency measures to shore up the US banking system to avert a crisis after two major bank failures.

We'll keep you informed on the 2023 tax season and tax credits to keep in mind when filing this year.

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