Weekly Digest – May 5 2021
Fall’s visual attraction is colored leaves, while spring’s comparable pleasure comes from waterfalls, as this guide to waterfalls describes. In New Hampshire, Crawford Notch State Park is home to 10 waterfalls, ranging from 200’ Arethusa Falls to smaller Silver Cascade. In California, the most well-known is Yosemite Falls, while Rainbow Falls near Mammoth Lakes won’t be accessible until snowplows clear the roads around mid-June. Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is home to more than 150 waterfalls.
THE AMERICAN RECOVERY PLAN ACT (ARPA)
Economic Impact Payments (aka Stimulus Checks)
A seventh batch of around two million stimulus payments went out last week, bringing the total of payments sent by the IRS to around $384 billion. This latest batch of payments went out primarily to two groups. The first group is people for whom the IRS did not have contact information, but who recently filed a tax return. The second group includes people who received stimulus payments based on their 2019 tax returns, but who were eligible for a larger amount, based on a recently filed 2020 tax return. Nearly 730,000 payments in this latest batch were these “plus-up” payments.
The best way to track your payment is using the IRS Get My Payment tool which has been updated for third round payments. If you didn’t receive the full amount of your 2020 stimulus payment, you can claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
After months of waiting, the SBA is finally accepting applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, beginning Monday, May 3. This $28.6 billion fund will offer grants of up to $5 million to restaurants, bars, caterers, and other food and beverage. Days 1-21 will be reserved for applicants from priority groups: businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially disadvantaged. To make it easier to apply, the SBA allows businesses to apply through a number of Point of Sale (POS) vendors, such as Square, Toast, and Aloha, as well as directly through the SBA website, where you can also find a program guide and webinars about the program.
Expanded Child Tax Credit
President Biden’s ARPA expands the 2021 child tax credit and will allow many families to receive monthly advance payments. However, eligibility and income phaseouts are a bit different than usual, so Kiplinger put together a compilation of FAQs and created a child tax credit calculator to figure out how much you may receive. For example, individuals with income over $75,000 won’t be eligible for the additional $1,000 or $1,600 over the usual $2,000 credit, but will be eligible for a credit of $2,000 if AGI is below $200,000. This credit will be fully refundable for those who have spent at least half of the year in the U.S.
REMOTE WORK IN THE POST-PANDEMIC ERA
Even before the pandemic, the digital nomad lifestyle was popular among freelancers. As more people were forced to work remotely during the pandemic, this lifestyle has become newly possible for many traditional workers. Here are seven tips from long-time digital nomads to make living and working from anywhere in the world a better experience. For example, plan to stay at least a month in each location. Another tip is to carry multiple debit and credit cards in case one is lost because many financial institutions are not able to ship a new one abroad overnight.
As more people are vaccinated, companies around the world are trying to figure out what the new hybrid model of work will look like. Some employees are willing to forego traditional benefits like health care coverage, paid time off, and cash bonuses to remain remote, while others are struggling with mental health issues brought on by an always-on, hyper-productive remote work experience. Some companies will demand that workers return to the office to facilitate in-person collaboration, while others are leaving the decision to return up to the team, the individual, or to upper-level management, depending on the situation. What is clear is that remote work as an option is here to stay.
Employers who want their teams back in the office full time in the post-pandemic era should expect to pay their employees 8% more. On the other hand, employees are willing to take a 5%-10% pay cut to keep the same job with a work from home option. Those stats are from a new working paper by a team including Nicholas Bloom, who has been studying working from home since well before the pandemic. The study authors estimate that 20% of total workdays will be from home in the future. The reasons for this shift include the massive, forced experiment in working from home, which overall exceeded expectations in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction. Another reason is the time and money that workers and employees invested in technology resources to make the switch. This investment is estimated at 0.7% of U.S. GDP, which is comparable to the amount spent by the government on defense. A large part of the increase in productivity comes from the reduction in commuting time, which is not visible by standard measures of worker productivity.
- IRS resources for stimulus payments:
- Use the Get My Payment tool to check on t payment status
- Eligibility and general information about Economic Impact Payments
- A list of frequently asked questions for stimulus payments
- The best source for up-to-date and accurate health information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- The CDC also has recommendations for businesses and employers
- Intuit QuickBooks has a dedicated page to help small businesses
- Entrepreneur put together a listing of free tech resources for remote work
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warnings about COVID-related scams
- Fast Company has a listing of the best productivity apps for 2020
- The New York Times has an online newsletter on K-12 and higher education
- The Wall Street Journal has a collection of articles on education
- The Atlantic has a state-by-state coronavirus tracker
We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!