The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently signed into law provides a one-time payment, among other items, to individuals to help ease the economic strain caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Here are the details of the stimulus payment initiative.
- WHO QUALIFIES TO RECEIVE A PAYMENT? A one-time payment of $1,200 will be sent to most adults. For every qualifying child under age 17, families will receive an additional $500. Retirees and people on disability are also eligible to receive a payment.
- WHEN WILL I GET MY PAYMENT? The IRS hopes to get the first batch of payments out the week of April 6. It may take up to a month for everyone to get their checks, assuming everything goes as planned.
- HOW ARE PAYMENTS BEING MADE? If you included your bank account and routing information on your 2019 tax return, you will receive your stimulus payment via direct deposit. If you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return, the IRS will use information from your 2018 tax return. If you did not include your bank account and routing information on either your 2019 or 2018 tax returns, the IRS will allow you to request direct deposit from a screen (under development) from their website. All others will receive their payment via a check in the mail.
Alert! Invalid bank information. If you have not filed your 2019 tax return AND the direct deposit information on your 2018 tax return is no longer valid (i.e. you opened a new bank account), you will need to take action immediately! If you do nothing, the bank deposit will, hopefully, be rejected and you will receive your check in the mail. Expect a delay, however, as it may take several months to receive a check by mail. You can also try calling the IRS to update your information.
- WILL I GET THE ENTIRE AMOUNT? As with other government programs, there is an income phaseout. Here are the thresholds:
Single adults with income of $75,000 or less get the full $1,200. The $1,200 payment is reduced by $5 for every $100 in income above $75,000. Full income phaseout is $99,000.
Married couples with income of $150,000 or less get the full amount of $2,400. The payment is reduced by $5 for every $100, making the full payment phased out at $198,000.
Head of Household adults (normally single adults with children or other dependents) will receive the full $1,200 payment if they earn less than $112,500. Reduced amounts will go out to Head of Household adults who earn up to $136,500.
- HOW WILL MY INCOME BE CALCULATED? Your 2019 tax return will be used to determine your income for purposes of whether you receive the full amount of the stimulus check and how many qualifying children you have. If you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return, your 2018 tax return will be used.
Alert! Don’t use my current situation. It may make sense to get your 2019 tax return in immediately OR DELAY IT. Figure out which tax return gives you the best payment! if phaseouts using last year’s information lowers your payment amount get your 2019 tax return filed. If your 2019 return lowers the payment, delay filing it. So pull out last year’s return NOW and take a look!
- ARE THE PAYMENTS TAXABLE? No. These payments are not taxable.
Remember, this is only one of the many relief components in recently passed legislation. There are also unemployment benefits, small business benefits and much more to come.
Washington – Following President Donald J. Trump’s
emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury
Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today issued guidance allowing
all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of
federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15,
2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. The guidance
also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of
federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15,
2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change
the April 15 filing deadline.
“Americans should file
their tax returns by April 15 because many will receive a refund. Those
filing will be able to take advantage of their refunds sooner,” said Treasury
Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “This deferment allows those who owe a
payment to the IRS to defer the payment until July 15 without interest or
penalties. Treasury and IRS are ensuring that hardworking Americans and
businesses have additional liquidity for the next several months.”
Today’s guidance will
result in about $300 billion of additional liquidity in the economy in the near
term. Treasury and IRS will issue additional guidance as needed and
continue working with Congress, on a bipartisan basis, on legislation to
provide further relief to the American people.
and resources regarding COVID-19.
to assist taxpayers.
GA DOL Establishes Emergency Unemployment Claims
Process – Employers Must Take Action
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an emergency
Rule 300-2-4-0.5 Partial Claims, effective March 16, 2020. The rule
mandates all Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their
employees for any week during which an employee (full-time/part-time) works
less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the
COVID-19 public health emergency. Any employer found to be in violation of this
rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment
insurance benefits paid to the employee. Download the How
Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid found on the GDOL Alert Page and
follow the step-by-step instructions.
Filing partial claims results in your employees
receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within
48 hours for claims filed electronically. Employees for whom you file a partial
claim are NOT required to report to a Georgia Department of Labor career
center, register for employment services, or look for other work.
Please continue to monitor the Georgia DOL website at gdol.ga.gov for any updates to these
You’re working at the office, getting stuff done around the house, or hanging out with family when – wham! – a phone call, email or text alerts you that something is wrong with your finances. When a negative financial event hits, don’t let it take you down. Here are some common mistakes and steps to remedy each situation:
- You overdraw your bank account. First, stop using the account to avoid additional overdraft fees. Next, manually balance your account by reviewing all posted transactions. Look for unexpected items and fraudulent activity. Then, call your bank to explain the situation and ask that all fees be refunded. Banks are not obligated to refund fees, but often times they will. The next steps vary based on the reason for the overdraft, but ultimately your goal is to bring your account back to a positive balance as soon as possible.
- You miss a credit card payment. Make as big a payment as possible as soon as you realize you missed it. Time is of the essence with late credit card payments – the longer it goes, the more serious the consequences. Then call the credit card company to discuss the missed payment. You might be able to get a refund of the late fees, and perhaps a reversal of the interest charge.
- You forget to file a tax return. Gather all your tax documents as soon as possible, and file the tax return even if you can’t pay the taxes owed. This will stop your account from gathering additional penalties. You can then work with the IRS on a payment plan if need be. The sooner you file, the sooner the money will be in your bank account if you’re due a refund. If you wait too long (three years or more), any potential refunds will be gone forever.
- You lose your wallet. Start by calling all of your debit card providers, then your bank and the credit card companies. Next, set up fraud alerts with the major credit reporting companies and get a new driver’s license. Finally, if you think it was stolen, file a report with the police.
- You miss an estimated tax payment. Estimated payments are due in April, June, September and January each year. If you are required to make estimated payments and miss a due date, don’t simply wait until the next due date. Pay it as soon as possible to avoid further penalties. If you have a legitimate reason for missing the payment, such as a casualty or disaster loss, you might be able to reduce your penalty.
Remember, mistakes happen. When they do, stay calm and walk through the steps to correct the situation as soon as possible
5 keys to better cash management
Focusing solely on sales and profits can create a surprise for any business when there is not enough cash to pay the bills. Here are five key principals to improve your cash management.
- Create a cash flow statement and analyze it monthly. The primary objective of a cash flow statement is to help you budget for future periods and identify potential financial problems before they get out of hand. This doesn’t have to be a complicated procedure. Simply prepare a schedule that shows the cash balance at the beginning of the month and add cash you receive (from things like cash sales, collections on receivables, and asset dispositions). Then subtract cash you spend to calculate the ending cash balance. If your cash balance is decreasing month to month, you have negative cash flow and you may need to make adjustments to your operations. If it’s climbing, your cash flow is positive.
Bonus tip: Once you have a cash flow statement that works for you, try to automate the report in your accounting system. Or even better, create a more traditional cash flow statement that begins with your net income, then make adjustments for non-cash items and changes in your balance sheet accounts.
- Create a history of your cash flow. Build a cash flow history by using historical financial records over the course of the past couple of years. This will help you understand which months need more attention.
- Forecast your cash flow needs. Use your historic cash flow and project the next 12 to 24 months. This process will help identify how much excess cash is required in the good months to cover payroll costs and other expenses during the low-cash months. To smooth out cash flow, you might consider establishing a line of credit that can be paid back as cash becomes available.
- Implement ideas to improve cash flow. Now that you know your cash needs, consider ideas to help improve your cash position. Some ideas include:
- Reduce the lag time between shipping and invoicing.
- Re-examine credit and collection policies.
- Consider offering discounts for early payment.
- Charge interest on delinquent balances.
- Convert excess and unsold inventory back into cash.
- Manage your growth. Take care when expanding into new markets, developing new product lines, hiring employees, or ramping up your marketing budget. All require cash. Don’t travel too far down that road before generating accurate cash forecasts. And always ask for help when needed.
Understanding your cash flow needs is one of the key success factors in all businesses. If your business is in need of tighter cash management practices, now is the perfect time to get your cash flow plan in order.
Your credit score is one of the most important aspects of your financial health. It is used by potential lenders, landlords and even employers to analyze your financial situation in one way or another. Here are some tips that might help you improve your score:
- Review your credit report and, if necessary, fix errors. You are entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting company per year at Annual Credit Report. It is important to check for reporting errors that could be negatively affecting your score. If you find an error, contact the company reporting the information and the credit reporting company to challenge the report. Common errors include closed accounts showing as open, incorrect balances or limits and accounts opened by someone else due to identity fraud.
- Pay off your credit card each month. By making purchases on a credit card and paying the entire balance each period, you are developing a positive credit history and displaying sound financial management skills. This will increase your credit score. To meet this goal you will need to keep your spending under control. If you are unable to pay off the card, you will start to accumulate revolving debt that will hurt your credit score.
- Make your payments on time. Late payments, even by one day, can be one of the most damaging hits to your score. If possible, set up automatic payments for as many bills as possible to lower the risk of forgetting to make a payment. The longer your history of paying on time, the more your score will improve.
- Pay down your debt. Another large chunk of your credit score is calculated based on the amount of debt outstanding. Mortgage lenders specifically use a debt-to-income ratio to determine loan eligibility. In addition to the amount of debt you have, you also need to pay attention to the debt limits you have on your accounts. The closer your debt is to the limit, the worse your score will be.
- Don’t allow an account to go to collection. Collections will stay on your credit report for seven years! Avoid having any of your accounts go to collections if at all possible. Medical bills and other one-time expenses are often the types of accounts that find themselves in collections. If you are unable to pay a bill in full by the due date, call the company and see if they have payment plans or other programs to get the bill paid without going to a collection company.
Regardless of where you are on the credit score spectrum, you should actively monitor your credit. Implementing these ideas will improve your credit score as well as your long-term financial well-being.