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USA finance, taxes and payments live updates: $2,753 monthly check, income tax deadline 2022, gas stimulus check, Social Security...

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USA finance and payments: latest news

File electronically, the IRS urges taxpayers as deadline looms

As the 18 April deadline approaches for most filers to submit their federal tax return, the IRS is reminding Americans that their best bet is to file electronically. Taxpayers who file online are likelier to avoid delays in having their return processed than those who turn in a paper return, the agency says.

Take a look at your options for filing electronically

The IRS has also put together a video explainer on the benefits of e-filing

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

US NEWS

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

Three federal stimulus checks have been distributed in the US since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic just over two years ago.

AS USA takes a look at each of the checks, officially known as Economic Impact Payments.

Tax Deadline 2022: when is the last day to file the documentation?

2022 TAX FILING SEASON

Tax Deadline 2022: when is the last day to file the documentation?

The 2022 tax season is wrapping up with the Monday 18 April deadline just days away. Most filers will need to submit their 2021 tax returns or request an extension, which would give them six more months to get their fiscal declaration in order.

Similarly, the deadlines in most states that tax income fall on 18 April. The filing date is slightly later than normal due to the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia falling on the typically 15 April deadline.

There won’t be any extension like the past two years, except for some taxpayers in areas that were affected by natural disasters. Those that do ask for extra time will still need to pay any outstanding taxes they may owe to avoid additional penalties.

Full details

Proposal to change the workweek to 32 hours instead of 40 in California. Can it be approved?

US NEWS

Proposal to change the workweek to 32 hours instead of 40 in California. Can it be approved?

The British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that thanks to increased productivity, the average workweek would be just 15 hours “a hundred years hence.” That clearly is not the case today, although the amount of time American worker put in on the job decreased by the 1980s, they worked almost 200 hours more per year in 2007.

However, a new bill introduced in the California Assembly could cut the workweek, at least for employees at large companies in the state. The standard workweek at companies with more than 500 employees would be shortened by eight hours to 32 without reducing pay.

Full details

Can't file by IRS deadline, ask for an extension

The federal income tax deadline filing deadline is fast approaching, with just over one week to go. If you won't have your 1040 Form ready by 18 April, you'll need to ask for an extension by then. That will give you an extra six months to submit your 2021 tax return, but you'll need to pay any taxes you may owe by 18 April to avoid penalties.

You may have to file a 2021 state income tax return as well. The District of Columbia and 41 states require residents to submit an income tax declaration. While the deadline to file in most is 18 April, six states have later filing dates.

19 April: Maine & Massachusetts

30 April: Iowa

2 May: Delaware & Virginia

15 May: Louisiana

Most Social Security offices open for in-person services

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020 Social Security offices nationwide closed to the public for face-to-face business except by appointment and only in limited circumstances. After a little over two years that changed on Thursday 7 April.

The Social Security Administration announced that it would restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment. However, a small number will remain temporarily closed or only provide in-person services by appointment. You can use the link below to see if the office in your area is one of them.

The agency "strongly encourages" people to call ahead to make an appointment even for offices that are open to walk-in visits if you need to speak to a representative in person to avoid waiting in line. As well, to use the online services for those that can.

Gas prices continue gradual decrease, Great Lakes area might see increase

The price of gasoline in the United States has been gently falling over the past three weeks. Patrick De Haan an analyst at Gas Buddy predicts that the national average could drop below $4 per gallon as soon as next week. However, the price of crude oil has gone back over $100 per barrel on Tuesday. De Haan warns that the Great Lakes region could see a price increase in the next few days.

A "glimmer of hope" in March inflation report

Havard professor Jason Furman took a look at the higher-than-expected inflation recorded in March, coming in at 8.5 percent. Shocking as that year-on-year number is, he recommends looking at the core monthly data, to see the current state of the economy and remove volatility. At 0.3 percent, it's the lowest since September, but welll above the Fed's desired level at 4 percent over 12 months.

Looking at the recent annual inflation, "real wages fell 2.8 percent over the last 12 months. That is a larger decline than any pre-pandemic year in the last forty years." However, taking a longer view of real wages since February 2020, they are "not nearly as historic an aberration as the last 12 months have been but nothing to brag about" having changed little.

Furman gives a "glimmer of hope"  that the worst may be behind us.

Biden to announce waiver on summer ethanol ban: will this bring down gas prices?

FINANCIAL NEWS

Biden to announce waiver on summer ethanol ban: will this bring down gas prices?

The United States and its allies have levied tough economic sanctions against the Putin regime due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However by hitting the Russian energy industry, a significant contributor to global supplies, the sanctions have sent gas prices soaring.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce a significant new step to bring the price of gasoline back down, lifting a ban on year-round sales of E15 gasoline which contains a high concentration of ethanol

Full details

What are the requirements and how to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

SOCIAL SECURITY

What are the requirements and how to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration oversees two key programs that provide financial support to Americans with disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are both available to individuals who meet certain medical criteria but have differing requirements to qualify.

While payments for the former are based on one’s work history the latter is a needs-based program. Contrary to popular belief, the severity of the recipient’s disability does not affect the size of the payment for either. Recipients may be eligible for both programs at the same time but receiving both, along with other income may affect the amount paid.

Full details

2023 Social Secuirty COLA could be highest since 1981

Inflation so far in 2022 has outpaced the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that boosted Social Security beneficiaries monthly payments. the most recent Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, report in March put year-on-year inflation at 8.5 percent, far higher than the 5.9 percent increase to benefits that went into place at the start of the year. 

According to the Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan advocacy group, the average Social Security recipient has lost $162.60 in purchasing power so far in 2023. The group had predicted that the 2023 COLA could be 7.6 percent, but has upped that estimate to 8.9 percent after the most recent data. That would be the highest since 1981 when Social Secuirty benefits were raised by 11.2 percent.

How can I check my first, second and third stimulus payment history?

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

How can I check my first, second and third stimulus payment history?

AS USA's Will Gittins explains how to check how much you've received as part of three rounds of federal stimulus checks paid out in the US since early 2020.

Biden pays the price for economic struggles

The American economy has struggled to adapt to the post-pandemic conditions in recent months with rampant inflation slashing the purchasing power of low- and middle-income households. This has combined with the economic sanctions on Russia to send gasoline prices sky-high, hitting motorists at the pump. This will be of major concern for President Biden in an election year and his approval ratings are taking a hit ahead of the midterms. 

Biden to allow the use of high-ethanol gasoline to address prices rises

The high price of gasoline has brought considerable pain for Americans over the past few months, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the associated sanctions on Russian energy producers. In response the the high prices President Biden is expected to announce a waiver on the use of E15, a type of gasoline made with 15% ethanol blend, during the summer months, despite concern about the air polution it causes. 

Could the US afford to cancel all student loan debt?

The United States' student debt crisis represents a major economic issue as the nation looks to rebuild post-pandemic, preventing graduates from entering the housing market and making a college education unattainable for millions of Americans from low-income households. There have been numerous calls for the federal government to simply wipe off the oustanding loan repayments, which are thought to total more than $1 trillion, and Sen. Sanders is at the forefront of that effort. 

How to spot a Social Security scam

Unfortunately, tax filing season is often a peak time for fraudsters looking to part vulnerable Americans from various forms of financial support. Federal programs are often a vital lifeline for eldery residents and the Social Security Adminstration has outlined some of the most commons forms of scams that aim to target recipients. Here's what you should watch out for...

$2,753 monthly check: who has to approve it for the payment to be effective?

US NEWS

$2,753 monthly check: who has to approve it for the payment to be effective?

Every month the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends out millions of payments to retirees, the disabled, with close to 70 million beneficiaries received some form of financial support from the Social Security Administration. Around 72 percent of that figure are retired workers and they could be benefitting from a substantial raise in the payment this year. 

The more generous sums could equate to a serious boost to household finances across the full 12 months. 

Read more

Elon Musk leaves Twitter board despite his large stock holdings

Billionaire Elon Musk recently purchased a considerable number of shares of Twitter, giving the world's richest man a 9.2% share in the social media platform. It had been reported that Musk would be appointed as a director to the company's board but there has been a swift turnaround after he posted a series of tweets relating to the platform's future. 

Sen. Warnock calls for a rethink on student loans

The issue of student loan repayments is a contentious one, and one which could have huge rammifications for millions of Americans. Last week it was confirmed that President Biden would extend the student loan moratorium until at least 31 August, the progam which has been in place since the start of the pandemic. 

However many lawmakers believe that this initiative does not go far enough and Sen. Raphael Warnock is one prominent voice to call for action on the student debt crisis to alleviate the financial burden on students and graduates. 

How to get a tax refund quickly

The IRS is facing a huge workload this filing season with many more American choosing to file a tax return to trigger payment of new programs like the expanded Child Tax Credit. With this in mind, the IRS is struggling to fulfil its normal obligations on time and many have already reported that they are facing a longer than normal wait for their tax refund. Here's how to minimise that waiting time...

Mortgage interest rises 5%. What is this rise due to and how does it affect buyers?

US NEWS

Mortgage interest rises 5%. What is this rise due to and how does it affect buyers?

Leaving the grip of the covid-19 pandemic was supposed to herald an exciting future, free of the shackles of lockdowns, business closures and record unemployment. However, the current situation is far from that. Inflation is spiking at levels not seen in 50 years, and it is not expected to slow down anytime soon.

In reaction, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in two years in a bid to curtail the rise in prices. While its effect on inflation may not be felt for another year, the interest rate rise is already being felt by those who are trying to borrow money. Namely, prospective homeowners.

Full details

How to make a complaint to the Federal Reserve

Have you felt short changed by a financial transaction or agreement? The Federal Reserve is raising awareness of your rights as a consumer what you can do to file a complaint with your financial institution or a merchant. They recommend the fastest way to resolve any issue is to contact the the customer service staff of the merchant or financial institution which you have had a problem. Here's what you need to know...

For complaints about:

A bank, credit card, or online bank, contact Federal Reserve Consumer Help

A credit union, contact National Credit Union Administration

An online merchant, contact the Federal Trade Commission

54 years ago, the landmark Fair Housing Act was signed into law to protect every American from discrimination when buying or renting a home. There's still much more we can do to expand access to affordable housing and help secure housing justice for all.

Tammy Duckworth, US Senator for Illinois

How much can I claim for child dependents from the IRS?

Families with children will need to file a 2021 tax return this year to claim their entitlement from the enhanced Child Tax Credit. But beyond that, you should also check out the other tax credits that were beefed up under the American Rescue Plan.

One may be of particular interest to families that have older dependents as well as children they claim on their tax filing. Although the Child Tax Credit gives taxpayers up to $3,600 per child, the Child and Dependent Care Credit could be worth up to $8,000 for a family with two or more children or dependents. Half that amount if they have just one.

In order to access any of the credits available you must file a 2021 tax return, the deadline is Monday 18 April, less than a week away.

Hello and welcome to the AS USA financial news live feed, bringing you all the latest information ahead of tax day 2022. The IRS is thought to have a substantial backlog of unprocessed tax returns which could affect the distribution of tax refunds for millions of Americans. 

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