COVID-19/Coronavirus Tax Relief News

I was Furloughed temporary and now I’m Back at Work. How does this Affect my Taxes?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

When the pandemic struck earlier this year, millions of Americans were either laid off or furloughed by their employers. If you are wondering what the difference is, employees that have been laid off are let go by their employer permanently and will most likely not be re-hired by the same company. If you have been furloughed by your employer, it means that you have been temporarily laid off with the intention that you will be returning back to work in the future when conditions change. For those who have been furloughed, they don’t have to go through the re-hiring process again and some employees may be eligible to continue their benefits such as health insurance throughout their furlough period.

If you were furloughed, you most likely applied for unemployment to financially assist you during the period of time that you were out of work. If you received unemployment benefits, it is important to understand whether or not this will need to be placed on your tax return. Taxpayers will also need to know if their unemployment income is considered taxable and how it will affect them once they return back to work and start receiving a paycheck again.

If you previously received refunds for past tax years that you have filed for, expect to possibly receive a smaller refund when you file for future taxes if you have also received additional income from working throughout the year. Your refund will be determined on how much taxes were taken out of your regular paycheck for income tax withholding. If you had more taxes taken out each period than the taxes owed, then you can expect to receive a refund once your tax return has been filed.

For those that received fewer paychecks this tax year because they were furloughed for part of the year, it can be expected that they will receive a smaller refund in comparison to previous tax years. If a taxpayer has been furloughed, they can also expect to have fewer paycheck withholdings which will result in a much lower refund amount.

Taxpayers who didn’t withhold any federal taxes from their unemployment may have not had enough withheld to convert their tax rate which could cause them to either: 1) owe a tax balance or 2) receive a much smaller refund in order to make up for the taxes that weren’t deducted from their income. While receiving unemployment compensation, taxpayers can request to have 10% withheld from their unemployment by filling out a W-4V form, also known as the Voluntary Withholding Request form.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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The COVID Pandemic could Cause 1 in 4 Hotels to be Financially Impacted

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

With record low demand for travel as well as the hotel industry, more than 25% of hotels in the U.S. are at risk of foreclosure. 

A report sent to Congress shows that the total percentage of hotels that are 30 days or more delinquent on their loans is at 23.4% as of last month. In comparison, the percentage of home loans that were 30 days or more delinquent is 2019 was at 1.3%.

Due to the current pandemic, travel has increasingly slowed down due to consumer’s fears of catching Covid-19. Because of the slow in travel, delinquency rates in the commercial mortgage-back securities market are now at the highest it has ever been. 

As of July, $20.6 billion in hotel commercial-mortgage-backed security loans were more than 30 days delinquent. To compare, a financial crisis that hit decades ago, the highest volume of delinquent hotel loans was at $13.5 billion.

A letter signed by more than 4,000 hotel owners as well as several trade groups sent over to Congress has asked for support for the Helping Open Properties Endeavor Act. The HOPE Act is meant to provide financial assistance for small businesses that operate under the commercial real estate market and would shift funds from the CARES Act Economic Stabilization Fund. 

The HOPE Act would allow businesses to keep their doors open and continue running as well as to retain and rehire any employees that have been impacted by the pandemic. If hotels don’t receive assistance soon, America could see a large wave of hotel closings or permanent job losses for thousands of employees still hoping to return to work. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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$600 Unemployment Benefits Expected to Fall to $200 or $300 a Week

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

With unemployment due to end this week, unemployed workers may see their additional benefits cut in half to $200 or $300 a week. This proposal outlined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was announced last Thursday and negotiations are still proceeding to work out the finer details.

Currently, a new coronavirus relief package is being put together to assist millions of Americans who are financially struggling during the pandemic. The prior bill passed in March provided out-of-work Americans with an additional $600 per week, funded by the federal government. 

Discussions regarding the extension of unemployment benefits have been ongoing. It is expected that Congress will announce a new plan to provide the unemployed a reduced amount of $200 or $300 a week depending on data that is collected to determine what is feasible to distribute. 

Although taxpayers should expect a lower amount of unemployment funds coming their way, it is still expected to help them get by month to month. In addition to extending the length of time to receive unemployment checks, those out of work will also most likely receive a stimulus check to ease their current financial burdens. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Will Taxpayers Receive More Money in their Next Stimulus Check?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

Time is drawing near for a decision to be made as to whether or not a second stimulus check will be distributed to millions of Americans. Multiple bills have been proposed to provide relief to those that are financially struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has worked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a relief package that would distribute stimulus checks only for those who have been financially impacted the most during the ongoing pandemic.

Negotiations have been ongoing throughout this week to make a decision as to who will qualify for the second round of stimulus checks as well as working out the details on how they will build upon the CARES act in order to assist businesses and Americans that are currently struggling to make ends meet.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin confirmed that the proposed second stimulus check will be the same as the first, meaning taxpayers who qualify will receive up to $1,200. The guidelines for who qualifies for the stimulus check have not changed and will remain the same as the first: 

  • Single filers who earn less than $75,000 a year will receive the full $1,200. For those earn more than $75,000 should expect to see their check reduced by 5% of the amount they earn.
  • Joint filers who earn less than $150,000 a year will receive the full check however those who earn more will see their check reduced by 5% of the amount they earn over $150,000.

As negotiations continue, there is a general expectation that a decision regarding the expansion of the CARES act, as well as when the second stimulus check will be distributed, should be made before the end of July.

We will continue to update you with new information as this story develops. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Trump Backs Tax Breaks for Baseball in Order to Increase Fan Attendance

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

White House officials have been discussing a possible approval of new tax breaks for baseball games to encourage Americans to return to the ballpark. 

Many are questioning whether the baseball season itself will even occur this year.  Minor League Baseball has already announced that no additional games will be played this year, and there is the expectation that many Major league baseball stars may opt out of the season due to fears of the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, the two teams that faced off in the World Series last year, were forced to cancel their Monday workouts due to complications they have been having with player testing. Not only have the amount of baseball games scheduled to be played this season already been greatly reduced, fans will not be permitted to attend any games for the foreseeable future. 

The White House, as well as President Trump, have been pushing for a spectrum of tax breaks that are meant to assist Americans with the transition back to normal economic life as well as assist businesses that are currently suffering due to the pandemic. 

President Trump has also endorsed the Explore America tax credit which would reimburse taxpayers up to $4,000 should they choose to travel within the U.S. This credit is meant to boost the economy by encouraging Americans to travel throughout America and shop local in order to revitalize struggling businesses – which could allow Americans the opportunity to fly to the city where their favorite team plays and catch a game.

Although the White House strongly supports tax breaks to taxpayers who want to travel within the U.S. and attend tourist attractions, their plans may fall flat as many of the businesses that were meant to be a part of the proposed plan, such as Major League Baseball teams, are now operating in a much different manner – or have even closed their doors – during the ongoing outbreak. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Taxpayers will Stop Receiving an Extra $600 in Unemployment by July 31

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, our government provided not only stimulus checks to taxpayers, but also an increase in unemployment benefits to assist those who were suffering financially. But the tens of millions of Americans that are currently on unemployment (with the additional boost of $600) may have to prepare for an extreme reduction in their benefits as the unemployment package may be ending sooner than expected. 

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program was originally passed by Congress as part of the $2.2 trillion Cares Act in late March, which is scheduled to end on or before July 31, 2020.

Because unemployment benefits will be ending on July 31, which falls on a Friday, it could greatly affect those currently receiving unemployment. States typically pay these benefits out on a weekly cycle that ends on Saturday or Sunday, but because of wording stipulated in the CARES Act, states will end their additional payments of $600 on July 25 or 26 rather than on the last day of the month.

With an estimate of 33 million Americans who are still receiving unemployment benefits, many will be left with whatever unemployment compensation they received prior to the CARES Act. This will be a dramatic decrease in the amount of money they will receive from unemployment on a monthly basis, which could leave many Americans struggling to stay financially afloat. 

If the extra $600 in unemployment benefits expires, it could potentially cause more job loss than already has been seen in either of the recessions that took place in the 1990s and early 2000s. Because of the widespread impact of the coronavirus and the massive amounts of Americans that are applying for unemployment, there will likely be a push for federal lawmakers to extend the benefits in order for taxpayers to pay their monthly expenses. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Taxpayers May Not Receive a Second Stimulus Check. Here’s What to Do.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

Discussions of a second stimulus check have been ramping up in order to provide additional relief for taxpayers during the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump has even voiced his support for another round of checks ever since the announcement of a recession and record high unemployment rates were released. 

Even if another stimulus check is passed, Americans will most likely not know until the end of July. In addition to this, the stimulus check will not cover most monthly household expenses meaning that you could be left to handle the rest of your bills on your own. It is important for taxpayers to avoid relying on receiving a stimulus check and to create a backup plan in order to avoid any financial struggles during the ongoing pandemic. 

  1. Review your spending habits. Most people tend to pay for services that could be considered a luxury rather than a necessity. Taxpayers should review their monthly expenses several times a year in order to ensure that they are not spending excessively on food, shopping, cable, or anything else that may be considered frivolous. It is also advised that you start reviewing what your necessary expenses are every month in order to determine what your disposable income is. 
  2. Reduce your debt. A lot of the time we may not realize how much we spend on a monthly and weekly basis. Make sure that you look at the amount of debt that you are accruing on a monthly basis as well as your total overall debt. Focus on lowering your overall debt and creating a budget for yourself in order to stay within your financial means.
  3. Look for ways to earn more. With such a high number of Americans going on unemployment, it may seem odd that there are companies that are still hiring. Luckily, there are tools available for people to use when looking to make some side cash, and many job websites offer job listings for temporary or remote work. Even places like Uber or Lyft are constantly hiring people, letting you choose your own hours and work when it’s convenient for you.
  4. Put extra money on the side. Although this may seem like an obvious solution, it can be difficult to do, especially during these difficult times. It’s never too late to start saving and putting money aside every paycheck. Ideally, you should have at least six months’ worth of living expenses saved up in order to have some cushion room just in case of an emergency. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Taxpayers Could Receive a Stimulus Check or a $4,000 Vacation Credit

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

With the U.S. officially in a recession, more than 40 million Americans filing for unemployment, and the tourism industry taking a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many are hoping for a second stimulus check. 

Multiple proposals have been made to distribute another stimulus check; however nothing has been set in stone and negotiations still continue. The proposed $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROS act, would authorize an additional round of stimulus checks to be distributed to households again. The bill passed the House in May and is now at the senate awaiting debate. 

The Trump administration has also made it known that they are open to including another round of stimulus checks in the next Covid-19 bill in order to offset the financial pain that the coronavirus pandemic has caused so many Americans.

President Donald Trump has also proposed the idea to give Americans a credit that can be used towards a vacation taken within the U.S. This credit will be used to help boost the economy and provide taxpayers perks when spending money towards travel expenses. 

The proposed credit would be called “Explore America” and could potentially give Americans up to $4,000 to use on vacation expenses as long as travel is within the U.S. The credit would be applied to hotels, theme parks, restaurants, and other tourism-related locations through the end of 2021.

We will continue to update you with new information as this story develops. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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The IRS Extends dates on Notices Due to Covid-19

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

Taxpayers who received a balance due notice from the IRS will have more time to respond now that the IRS has extended the due dates.  The IRS has allowed for this extension because they were unable to mail out preprinted notices due to office closures and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The IRS has been slowly opening up their facilities across the U.S. in order to accommodate those who are in need of assistance. Because it will take the IRS even more time to print out a recent version of balance due notices, some taxpayers can also expect to receive older notices in the mail since IRS offices were unable to mail them out prior to the pandemic. Each notice that is mailed out will come with an insert confirming that the due dates on the notice have been extended, and those seeking further information on how long they will have to respond can call the IRS directly.

The IRS recently released possible deadlines for balance due notices that will either fall on July 10, 2020 or July 15, 2020, depending on the type of tax return and original due date. It is important for taxpayers to read the insert that comes with their notice, as it will explain the delay as well as the corrected payment due dates. 

Taxpayers who want to know more about the extended due dates can go to the IRS website or contact the IRS directly. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Taxpayers Have Until May 13 to Submit Direct Deposit Information in Order to Receive Their Stimulus Check

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Millions of stimulus checks are still being sent out to taxpayers via direct deposit or ground mail.
  • Individuals will receive their checks much quicker if they fill out their information for direct deposit on the IRS website.
  • Taxpayers have until noon on May 13, to submit their direct deposit information in order to receive their check through their preferred bank account.

If you have yet to receive your stimulus check and would like to receive your money directly in your bank account, there is still time to do so. The IRS announced last Friday that taxpayers will have until noon on Wednesday, May 13, to submit their direct deposit information. 

For those that fail to set up direct deposit before the deadline, the government will send out paper checks that will arrive sometime in May and in June. 

Individuals who qualify for the stimulus check will receive up to $1,200, or a maximum of $2,400 for married couples, in addition to $500 for each child under the age of 17. The check is meant to assist taxpayers that are struggling financially due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The IRS has provided the Get My Payment tool that allows individuals to not only check the status of their payments, but to also request that their stimulus check be sent to them via direct deposit. 

For those who are not required to file their taxes, the IRS has also provided a non-filers tool that allows taxpayers to submit their basic tax information  such as their bank account number, in order to receive their check through their preferred bank account.

If you receive government benefits through Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement or Veteran Affairs, you will not need to fill out any information to receive your money. These individuals will have their stimulus check automatically sent out to them.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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