money·3 min read

Skimm Money: Tax Refunds, Student Loans, and Swiping Right

Woman sitting at her desk on Zoom
Mar 19, 2021

Hey. Did your bank account get greener on St. Paddy's Day? That's when about 90M direct-deposit stimulus payments hit, and 150K checks were mailed out. If you're looking for smart ways to use that (or any extra) money, here's one that comes with karma points: donate it to Stop AAPI Hate, the Asian Pacific Fund or other worthy causes.

Headlines, Skimm’d

  • Tax Day: it's gonna be May 17. The IRS extended the deadline (for federal, not state, returns) to take some pressure off Americans coping with the pandemic. And to make time to figure out tax law changes introduced by the stimulus bill. Also, sending "stimmies" has slowed down processing tax returns and delayed refunds. The IRS stays busy.

  • The Fed says 'calm down, everything's fine.' Investors have been worried that economic growth will drive up inflation and make the Fed raise interest rates. (Hint: that's something the central bank may do when the economy's hot.) But the Fed confirmed this week it will keep rates low for a while. Here's what that means for your wallet.

  • Two women are taking their seats in DC. This week, the Senate confirmed Isabel Guzman as the head of the Small Business Administration, set to lead Main Street biz owners through the recovery. And Katherine Tai will be the first Asian American and woman of color to serve as US trade rep. She'll review Trump-era trade policies and tariffs, which (yep) can affect your wallet.

  • Take me out to the ball game...if you own Bitcoin. Last Sunday, the Oakland A’s became the first sports team in the US to price a ticket in crypto. One bitcoin buys you a six-person suite season pass worth about $64K. Whether that's a bargain depends on how Bitcoin's doing at the time of sale. An hour ago, it was worth more than $58K.

  • Swipe right for COVID-19 tests. Tinder's giving out free mail-in tests to the first 500 couples who match by 7pm ET tomorrow. Because apparently COVID-19 tests are the new STD tests. (PS: you can always find free COVID-19 testing sites near you here.)

Make Good (Money) Choices

If you were hoping your student loans would disappear...

Keep hope alive. Stimulus 3.0 didn't cancel out any loans, but it did include a provision to make any debt discharged through 2025 tax-free. Before this update, you'd owe regular income taxes on any forgiven student debt. But not anymore, whether the debt goes away because of current income-driven repayment plan rules or new legislation. Read: big savings. In the meantime, make the most of the current pause on federal student loans. Some ideas here.

If you’ve got spring (cleaning) fever…

Start with your finances. Toss old financial docs. Cut subscriptions you don't use. And cross "pay bills" off your to-do list forever by setting up auto-pay. Turn on a money podcast and get. it. done.

If you got unemployment benefits in 2020…

Take a (tax) break. Typically, you owe regular income tax on unemployment. But the latest relief bill says up to $10,200 per person won't be taxed as long as your household income is under $150K. If this affects you, but you already filed 2020 taxes, the IRS says to wait for special instructions before filing an amended return.

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