Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

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Six weeks into Joe Biden’s presidential tenure, and momentum is finally picking up on his $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The so-called American Rescue Plan received House approval in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and the Senate began debating it on Monday.

Yet, with the finish line on the horizon, conservative Democrats (looking at you, Joe Manchin) and even some left-leaning economists appear slightly more ambivalent, thanks in part to a rapid vaccine roll-out that could repair the economy more quickly than anticipated. And markets—once tickled at the thought of an extra $1,400 in each consumer’s hands—can’t decide if they want this much stimulus after all, leaving major indexes volatile.

With 12 months of uncertainty under our belts, what’s a little stimulus ambivalence?

Senate Vs. Stimulus

Nearly 17 million fewer Americans will receive stimulus checks under the income cap revision reportedly agreed to by Senate Democrats and President Biden. (Individuals making $80,000 or more, and couples earning at least $160,000 will receive no stimulus check under the deal, down from $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, in the House version of the relief package.) As Senators continue to debate the legislation, they should consider refining unemployment insurance while scaling back transfers to state and local governments, Contributor Ben Ritz argues.

Still waiting on overdue unemployment benefits? Bureaucratic inefficiencies are likely to blame. Here’s how you can advocate for yourself. Some good news for small businesses: Schedule C filers can now use gross income rather than net, as previously specified, when filing for forgivable PPP loans—substantially increasing loan amount eligibility.

Risky Or Not, Here We Come

Bitcoin isn’t known as the safest investment, so why would you want it in an endowment or retirement portfolio? As the popular cryptocurrency gains institutional backing, Forbes Senior Contributor Bill Baldwin lays out the cases for and against adding bitcoin to an investment account.

Markets plunged again today following a tepid week, after the Fed’s chief Jerome Powell emphasized that he won’t touch interest rates until the U.S. reaches “maximum unemployment.” Already, investors are opting for safer bets, leaving tech stocks (including meme stocks like GameStop

) sitting out at room temperature.

Novel Graphic: Crypto Kitties have given birth to a booming Non-Fungible Token (NFT) market mostly centered around digital art.

Source: DappRadar

Will We Ever See Retirement Reform?

Older workers (ages 55 and over) were hit harder than mid-career workers in the early months of the pandemic recession, and older labor force participation rates reached their lowest point in January 2021. Countless retirement plans have been impacted as a result, and systemic reforms are necessary to end retirement insecurity for generations to follow.

Even those who do have ample savings face risks when dealing with the complexity of retirement accounts. Senior Contributor Bob Carlson shares little-known rules and strategies for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from IRA accounts to help you avoid paying higher fees or penalties.

IRS Intricacies

Speaking of confusing…it’s tax season. The IRS made things trickier by releasing FAQs suggesting you may not need to report cryptocurrency purchases on your 1040, despite a question that seems to ask for that information. Contributor and tax lawyer Guinevere Moore suggests you still report the digital transactions, given that—get this—you can’t use reliance on erroneous IRS FAQs to defend yourself in a tax case.

Essential businesses may be in for an unwelcome surprise, after the IRS finally clarified requirements for claiming the Employee Retention Tax Credit because of a full or partial shutdown. Divorced and unmarried parents may find better tax fortunes this year. Senior Contributor Peter Reilly explains how, if they cooperate, the duos could pick up an extra $1,100 per dependent child when they file their 2020 returns.

Student Debt Upset

Student loan borrowers have a new advocate in Washington. Dr. Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as Secretary of Education on Monday, formally replacing Betsy DeVos, who led the Education Department for four years under President Trump. While Cardona stopped short of specifically committing to widespread student debt cancellation in his confirmation hearings, he has signaled a desire to provide relief to borrowers.

Can’t wait for politicians to sort out student loan forgiveness plans? Neither could a medical school graduate who was able to delete $430,000 in student debt through an unusual bankruptcy case in Southern California. You might want to take notes.

By senior