The Impact of Stimulus Payments on Your Taxes
What a year 2020 has been! New Year’s celebrations were barely over when the coronavirus turned things topsy-turvy. But one bright spot for 159 million people was the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment that appeared in their mailbox or checking account.
If you didn’t receive a payment, you may be wondering, why? And if you did, you may be wondering, what’s the catch? We are here to help put your mind at ease, so let’s tackle your questions, one by one.
Do I owe tax on the money I received? That’s an easy one: No. The stimulus payment was designed to impact the economy, not your taxes, so it won’t reduce your 2020 refund or increase your tax due.
I didn’t get a payment – why? If your income for 2019 or 2018 was over $75,000 ($150,000 if you filed jointly, $112,500 if you were head of household), then your payment was reduced by $5 for every excess $100 you earned. And if you didn’t file a tax return for either year, you may not have gotten a payment. But don’t despair, you still may be entitled to payment.
Really? What can I do now? If you were supposed to file a 2019 tax return and didn’t, file right away. If your income was too low to file, at IRS.gov you can click on the tab marked “Non-filers” and fill in your basic information. If the IRS determines you are eligible for a payment, they will send it to you.
What if my income has gone down? If your 2019 income was too high for you to receive a payment, but your income this year is much lower, you are in luck. You can claim your stimulus payment on your 2020 income tax return, and it increase the refund you receive (or reduce any tax due).
My 2020 income is higher than in 2019 – will the government want the money back? No. If you received a stimulus payment based on lower income in 2019, that payment is yours to keep even if your income increased above the threshold in 2020.
When it's time to file your taxes TurboTax is here to help!
From simple to complex taxes, TurboTax® has you covered. And when you need help, real experts are standing by — and can even do your taxes for you, start to finish with TurboTax Live®. Getting your biggest possible tax refund has never been easier. And as a credit union member you can save up to $15 on TurboTax.
Worksheets and Guides
Looking to create a budget? Want to learn how to improve your credit score? You can download worksheets and guides that can help you to continue to make progress towards your financial goals. Print out the worksheets to complete by hand or save on your own computer to complete electronically.
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Free Credit Reports
Experian and the two other bureaus are offering Free weekly credit reports available to consumers through April 2021. Get your Free Credit Report now.
COVID-19 Phishing email attacks - Beware
The U.S. Secret Service is anticipating an increase in attempted cyber-enabled frauds throughout the time of this pandemic, and in the months and years to follow.
Scammers have already concocted numerous methods for defrauding the public in connection with COVID-19. We are receiving increasing reports of criminals setting up fraudulent websites and posing as healthcare workers to defraud the public seeking treatment for COVID-19. As businesses increase their telework, we are seeing a rise in phishing emails and business email compromises. There is also the significant risk of ransomware, or other cyber-criminal activity, disrupting medical services or government operations essential for responding to this pandemic.
Some examples of frauds linked to COVID-19 include:
- Treatment scams: Scammers are offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
- Provider scams: Scammers are also contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
- Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.
- Phishing scams: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
- App scams: Scammers are also creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
- Investment scams: Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.
Please contact the U.S. Secret Service, Detroit Field Office, (313)226-6400, should your businesses, organizations, or agencies need any assistance with the above listed scams, or any other criminal activities such as business email compromises (BECs), network intrusions, or ransomware.
To protect yourself from scams, please know that we won’t ask for confidential information. Read advice from the Federal Trade Commission.
How Secure Are Your Passwords?
It's important to create strong passwords, here are 10 rules to follow.
Because of visa time limits, many countries require your passport to be valid for 3-6 months beyond your departure date. In a nutshell, this means if you travel out of the country and your passport expires in a month, it might not be valid and you may not be able to board a flight.
New ID Driver Licenses
Before COVID-19 threw the world into a tailspin and put everyone’s life on hold, the travel industry was preparing for an important and long-awaited event on October 1, 2020—the REAL ID card deadline, which would affect U.S. citizens taking domestic flights. However, due to the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security announced on March 26 that the deadline would be extended to October 1, 2021.
Michigan residents will need to present a REAL ID-compliant document to fly within the United States (domestic flights) and enter certain federal facilities, military bases, and nuclear power plants. Residents without a REAL ID-compliant ID will need to show another form of acceptable documentation (such as a passport) prior to entering these facilities or boarding domestic flights. In order to obtain a REAL ID compliant DLN or PID, residents need to bring a valid U.S. passport or certified birth certificate with a raised seal or stamp to the SOS office.
In order to comply with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, Michigan SOS began offering REAL ID Driver Licenses and Personal Identification Cards. Below is an example of what these cards look like (notice the gold circle with a star in the top right corner):
If a resident chooses not to get a REAL ID-compliant ID or an Enhanced Driver License, a standard license card will be given with the phrase “Not for Federal Identification” printed on it (see below). These standard cards will continue to be legal identification for driving, cashing checks, renting vehicles, purchasing alcohol and tobacco, or entering casinos.
3 Advantages of a Good Credit Score
Sure, renting a place to live doesn't require a loan but your chances of getting approved are a lot higher if you have a good credit score. With a low score, you're less likely to find a landlord who's willing to take a chance on you, even if you're financially reliable.
An excellent credit score helps a lot when it comes time to get utilities connected at a new house. There may be a fee associated with your new internet account that is based on your score. Anyone who's ever experienced buying a home knows that any amount you can save is helpful when you're going through the process.
Some employers may conduct a credit check on applicants for a variety of reasons. Late payments, high debt, and being generally irresponsible with your finances are red flags that could make an employer not want to hire you. Keep this in mind if you're thinking about a new job.
The three major credit bureaus are:
Experian experian.com 888.397.3742
Equifax equifax.com 800.685.1111
TransUnion transunion.com 800.888.4213
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