July 1, 2020

HEROES ACT Can Combat Economic Downtown

The HEROES Act, otherwise known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, can greatly improve the benefits for the earned income tax credit (EITC) for eligible workers who don’t have children. This legislation would also help wage earners in the business-to-consumer and leisure sectors of the economy impacted severely by the coronavirus pandemic. Looking at the HEROES Act legislation and how it would help childless wage earners, we need to examine the rules surrounding the EITC and how many additional filers may qualify. While childless students pursuing formal education are still required to be 25 for EITC eligibility, filers as young as 19 (down from 25 years old), as well as filers aged up to 67 (up […]
July 1, 2020

Hiring in the Age of Coronavirus

The U.S. job market gained 2.5 million jobs during the month of May, dropping the unemployment rate to 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s likely been a lot of rehiring, with more to come as the economy continues reopening. However, until social distancing becomes a thing of the past, hiring effectively will take some pivoting during the pandemic. Finding Candidates Virtually Employers looking to interview and hire candidates can take advantage of LinkedIn during the pandemic. Along with providing a branding opportunity, the platform gives businesses a hybrid social media and marketing tool. Leveraging 1st Connections on LinkedIn, participating in discussion groups, demonstrating one’s industry knowledge, or simply looking for prospective candidates are effective uses […]
July 1, 2020

How Likely Would a Second Coronavirus Wave Negatively Impact the Stock Market?

As Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center revealed a recent increase of coronavirus cases in the Southern and Southwestern United States, the VIX ticked up. With fears of the outbreak curve not flattening, how will this impact markets? The Volatility Index (VIX) was established by the Chicago Board Options Exchange in 1993 to gauge volatility in the financial markets. Referred to colloquially as the “fear index”, it measures the next 30 days of anticipated volatility for the U.S. Stock Market via S&P 500 options. For reference, during the peak of the 2008 financial crisis, it topped out at 89.53. During periods of relative calm, it’s not unheard of to trade below 10. On March 16 of this year, […]
July 1, 2020

How To Use Qualified Charitable Distributions For Charitable Giving

Each year, millions of Americans make donations to charitable organizations and receive something in return – a tax break. However, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act curbed this tax advantage because it reduced the number of people eligible to claim a charitable deduction by raising the standard deduction. For 2020, the standard deduction is $12,400 for individuals and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly. If your list of deductions is not greater than those amounts, there is no tax benefit to itemizing – which means you might not be able to claim your charitable donation. Without the ability to claim a deduction, some retirees just take their normal required minimum distribution (RMD) and bank the money, pay taxes on […]
July 1, 2020

Best Part-Time Jobs During Corona

Even though unemployment is still relatively high, there are still some great part-time jobs you can do that will help cover basic expenses. Here’s a list of the industries that are hiring right now: Paid Survey Participant If you like to share your opinions (and who doesn’t), this job is perfect for you. Companies are always looking for consumer opinions on a variety of things such as products, services, etc. Best of all, it’s completely online, so you can work from anywhere. Here’s a list of companies that are looking for your feedback: Swagbucks, PrizeRebel, SurveyJunkie, SurveyPolice, Inbox Dollars, and Toluna. Grab your laptop, kick back, and start earning! Freelance Writers If you’re a writer of any kind, this industry […]
July 1, 2020

Fileless Malware Poses New Threat to Computer Users

With increased cyber threats, there is great awareness of malware that comes attached in files.  Individuals and businesses invest in security solutions to protect against malware. In fact, there are often company policies regarding opening attachments on emails; yet there is an increase in a type of threat (though not new), known as the fileless malware. What is Fileless Malware? A fileless malware attack is a type of threat that doesn’t involve executable files. Instead, these attacks include scripts that run on browsers, command prompts, Windows PowerShell, Windows Management Instrumentation, VBScripts, or Linux (Python, PERL). In other words, fileless malware is a form of cyberattack carried out through software that already exists on your device, in your authorized protocols and […]
July 1, 2020

Helping Small Business Owners, Seniors and U.S. Hostages, and Limiting Intrusive Domestic Surveillance

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (HR 7010) – Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) introduced this legislation on May 26. This Act modifies provisions related to small business loans issued under the original Paycheck Protection Program. Specifically, the bill permits forgiveness of loans used to pay expenses incurred over a 24-week period, longer than the original eight-week limit, and extends the timeframe to pay off unforgiven loans from two to five years. This bill also increases the limit on non-payroll expenses up to 40 percent when used to pay for rent, utilities, mortgage interest, and similar fixed costs. Loan recipients have until the end of 2020 to rehire employees with full access to payroll tax deferment. The bill was signed […]
June 1, 2020

IRS Questions and Answers on COVID-19 IRA and 401(k) Loans & Distributions

The CARES Act stimulus package substantially relaxed the rules around certain retirement account loan and distribution requirements, but with much confusion. As a result, the IRS recently put out a FAQ document to address the COVID-19 rule relaxation around IRA and 401(k) loans and distributions. This important information should come as welcome news for the nearly one percent of all retirement plan holders who have already taken a distribution under the new rules, according to Fidelity Investments. Who’s eligible? If you, a spouse or dependent tested positive for COVID-19, you automatically qualify. You also may qualify under less direct circumstances, such as experiencing economic hardship due to being quarantined, laid off, receiving a reduction in work hours, or missing work […]
June 1, 2020

Understanding the Federal Government’s Proposal for Opening Up Again

After seeing a peak and then a sustained decline in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from COVID-19, the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has rolled out a three-tier approach to get the nation back to its pre-coronavirus economic activities. While this program is led by the Federal Government, it is ultimately up to governors how they will reopen states and localities. However, there are some universal criteria that states must follow to gradually reopen the economy.    Before transitioning from the stay-at-home orders to the three phases, certain criteria must be met. In order to move to less restrictive phases, there must be a dropping trend of documented cases over 14 continuous days or […]
June 1, 2020

Are Dividends Becoming a Luxury During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

According to the futures market, Chicago Mercantile Exchange contracts are forecasting a drop of 27 percent in dividends over 24 months for the S&P 500 index. Dividends are projected to fall to $42.05 in 2021, a drop from 2020’s dividend of $47.55 and 2019’s high of $58.24. Looking forward to 2026, according to CME’s futures contract, the dividend is expected to recover to $56.65. While the latter years are not as likely as what’s up next, it’s worth taking note. Although these dividend levels have already been announced, the future doesn’t look much brighter. According to Goldman Sachs, Q2 economic growth is expected to drop by 34 percent. Even though the COVID-19 economic crisis is expected to be worse, we […]
June 1, 2020

Why Sequence of Returns Risk Matters Now

That year or two when you are closing in on your retirement date, followed by a year or two after you retire, are the worst times for a sustained market decline. Market analysts call this scenario the sequence of returns (SOR) risk – because once your principal has been significantly reduced, there’s not enough time in the market left for you to recover those losses. Two things will likely happen. First, the amount of retirement income you can withdraw each year is irrevocably reduced. For example, if you were planning to withdraw 4 percent a year from a $350,000 portfolio, you would have received a supplementary income of $14,000 a year. But if your principal drops to $280,000 a year, […]
June 1, 2020

How to Stay Productive When Working from Home

Due to the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, the line between our professional and personal lives has blurred. Trying to take care of job responsibilities from home requires new ways of navigating. Here are a few ideas to help you become more productive while working at home – and stay grounded in these uncertain times. Dress for Work As tempting as it might be to stay in your pajamas, don’t. Act as if you’re going into the office: shower put on your work clothes and head to your desk. You’ll feel more focused and professional. According to Heather Yurovsky, founder of Shatter & Shine, one should not underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. “It makes you […]
June 1, 2020

How IT Spending Will Change When Business Resumes

Most states are starting to relax stay-at-home restrictions. As such, businesses are developing plans for bringing employees back to work. Many businesses are already affected by the pandemic and their future looks grim. Specifically, we are going to look at the IT sector and examine what spending might look like in a post-lockdown economy. Disruption The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented disruption in businesses. As a result, management has tried to reduce costs to survive or risk shutting down. IT departments have suffered the most with major budget cuts due to a reduction in revenue. As a result, non-urgent purchases have been eliminated; initiatives have been suspended; and employees have been terminated. Of course, technology also has been […]
June 1, 2020

In the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Congress Passes the Most Expensive Single Spending Bill in American History

Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (HR 266) – This is a multilayered legislative bill divided into four distinct sections. Phase 1 authorized funding for coronavirus preparedness and response; specifically, for measures such as vaccine development and public health funding. Most of the money was allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services. Approximately 81 percent of funds were allocated domestically, with the other 19 percent allocated internationally. Phase 2 allocated $104 billion for three specific objectives: 1) Require private health insurance plans and Medicare to cover COVID-19 testing; 2) Expand unemployment insurance by $1 billion and loosen up eligibility requirements; 3) Provide for paid sick leave at an employee’s full salary, up to $511 per day, […]
May 1, 2020

More Coronavirus Relief, Plus Beefed-Up Security for Technology, the Elderly, and Children Born to U.S. Citizens Serving Overseas

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (HR 748) – This legislation provided $2 trillion of stimulus relief in response to the coronavirus crisis. Provisions of the bill include: $1,200 for each American making up to $75,000 a year Additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits for up to four months $100 billion available for hospitals and health providers; increase Medicare reimbursements for treating COVID-19 $750 million for food banks and food assistance to American Indian reservations, Puerto Rico and other territories $500 billion in loans or investments to businesses, states, and municipalities $32 billion in grants to the airline industry Relief for homeowners with federally backed mortgages Delay for student loan payments This bipartisan bill was signed into law […]
May 1, 2020

Heightened Hacking as Corona Pandemic Worsens; How to Avoid Being a Victim

Since the escalation of COVID-19 cases, malicious activity from cybercriminals is also on the rise. Hackers are taking advantage of the coronavirus fear to carry out attacks. This is done by creating websites that claim to have cures for the virus or by spreading emails that contain links to malware. Consider this research by Check Point, where they found an increase in coronavirus domain name registration. Most of these scam websites allege to be selling vaccines against the virus. At the beginning of this year, one of the reported cases was the Emotet malware that was used in a coronavirus-themed campaign in Japan. Phishing victims received an email purporting to report locations where the infection was spreading. Because the email […]
May 1, 2020

Six Industries Hiring During the Shutdown

During the government shutdown as a result of COVID-19, sadly, millions have lost their jobs. However, there is a silver lining: there are some industries that, because of the shutdown, are actually hiring. Here are a few leads to help those who might have been affected. Shipping and Delivery This industry is hiring at what seems like warp speed. It’s reported that Amazon has created 100,000 jobs, specifically for fulfillment and delivery. UPS is hiring, as are courier services. Search “courier services hiring near me” to find opportunities. You might be surprised by what you find. National Retailers In addition to Amazon, there are other giants that are hiring, including CVS, Kroger, and Walmart. See the entire list here. The […]
May 1, 2020

Prospects for Investing in the 2020s

The third decade of the 21st century started out with a vigorous economy, record low unemployment levels, and benign inflation. But late in the first quarter over the span of two weeks, investors faced the fastest stock market correction in history. With an unpredictable assailant like a global virus, short-term actions by Congress and the Federal Reserve will need time to see if they are effective. Ultimately, the fate of the U.S. and global economies, which in turn will impact the investment markets, is dependent on how long the COVID-19 outbreak continues and if there is a second wave. Clearly, both supply and demand have been dramatically reduced, with a ripple effect on companies, workers, consumers, and investors. Once the […]
May 1, 2020

How Will U.S. Employment Figures, Coronavirus Impact Job Markets?

With the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) signed into law by President Trump on March 27, this set into motion major initiatives by the U.S. government in response to the coronavirus’ economic impact. This Act provides $2 trillion in financial aid to the nation, in big part to soften the impact of the coronavirus’ hit to the country’s unemployment numbers. For the week ending April 11, seasonally adjusted jobless claims came in at 5,245,000, a drop of 1,370,000 from the April 9 revised level of 6,615,000, according to an April 16 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending April 18, seasonally adjusted initial claims were reported at 4,427,000, or 810,000 fewer than […]
May 1, 2020

Understanding the High-Low Method

When it comes to cost accounting, the high-low method is an approach that’s used to break mixed costs into either a variable or fixed cost. Although it’s straightforward, it’s important to do multiple analyses because outlier costs from the available data can sometimes misconstrue operating costs. This calculation occurs by looking at the periods with the most and least activity, as well as the total costs for both the high and low periods. In order to get results for the high-low method, the variable cost and the fixed cost must be determined first. Once these are established, they are entered into the cost model formula. Variable Cost is determined as follows: VC = Highest Activity Cost – Lowest Activity Cost […]
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