Weekly Digest – October 21 2021
The pandemic may change business travel as we know it forever. The Global Business Travel Association reported a nearly 90% drop in business travel last spring, as businesses were forced to conduct business via video chat software like Zoom or Webex. While travel is increasing compared to a year ago, it is still sharply down from pre-pandemic levels. Post-pandemic, virtual business meetings may continue to be the norm, but those special conferences may be scheduled for in-person or hybrid. I just attended a planning meeting for my professional group’s annual tax and accounting symposium and we voted to hold our November 2022 conference in person. Travelers who are willing to venture out may be able to reap substantial savings. Just last night I booked a trip to visit my daughter and son-in law and his family in Michigan for the thanksgiving holiday and was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable fares.
I am so glad that the major stress of the October 15th deadline is behind me and it is still so nice out that I do not have to travel to go to the beach.
I can still enjoy a beautiful sunrise by just walking down the block and …
I can still walk barefoot in the sand and in the water, which as crazy as it sounds is still warm at the end of October in NYC.
It does seem that fig season is coming to an end as I pick the last few that are now ripening at the rate of 6 to 8 a day.
A far cry from the 30-40 fig harvest days of just a few weeks ago.
THE AMERICAN RECOVERY PLAN ACT (ARPA)
Monthly Advance Child Tax Credit Payments
The IRS has been making a huge effort to alert eligible taxpayers about the program, however they are still having problems with the payments. Some families are reporting delayed payments, payments in the wrong amounts, or extra checks sent by mail. Some families have had all these issues. The unpredictable nature of payment amounts and timing makes it difficult for the families who need the funds most to make financial plans.
As a reminder, if you want to opt out of future payments, you must opt out by the deadline for the next month’s payment. Check out the IRS FAQs where you’ll find everything you need to know about opting out in Section J.
Data Reporting Requirements May Increase
One proposal to help fund the Biden administration’s infrastructure and social policy bill, is to require banks to report data to the IRS for accounts with total annual deposits or withdrawals worth more than $600. The intent behind this proposal is to identify accounts with large discrepancies between bank activity and income reported to the IRS. This may help the IRS to identify more players in the underground economy, those taxpayers who are not paying their full tax obligation. If enacted, it is estimated that this proposal could bring in as much as $460 billion in additional revenue over a decade. Outcry from banks and their customers is pressuring the administration to scale back the proposal and raise the reporting threshold to $10,000. Many are concerned about the invasion of privacy and the merit of providing additional data to the IRS, which already cannot keep up with its current obligations.
Tax Filing Deadlines Extended for Victims of Hurricane Ida
October 15th has come and gone but is it really the end of tax season 2021? Not, not for those of us in designated areas of New York State and City and certain parts of New Jersey.
Although the filing deadline has been extended to January 2022, please be reminded that the IRS and most state efile portals close in mid-November. If you have not filed plan to do so in the next few weeks or be prepared to file a paper tax return which could take months or years to process.
NEWS FOR OUR MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS
Phase 4 of HRSA Funds Application Portal is Now Open
We have watched webinars regarding this stimulus package; here is my summary of the program take-a-ways:
This program is available to providers who serve patients with any of several different types of public coverage including Medicare parts A, B, and C Medicaid fee for service or managed-care or children’s health insurance program. Dental service providers and behavioral health providers and assisted living facilities are also eligible. This program is funded with $17 billion.
Please note the following:
- You may need to reset your password If you have not accessed the portal within 90 days
- The application portal opened on September 29, the deadline to submit a completed application is October 26, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
- If you are approved to receive a phase 4 payment it can be used to cover lost revenues or eligible expenses dating back to the beginning of the pandemic.
- If you receive a payment, the payment can be used for lost revenues and increased expenses that no other sources (PPP #1 & 2, EIDL, HHS phase 1-2-3) were used for and dating back to January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.
- This program was established the provide more support to smaller providers.
- Call the support hot line (866-569-3522 extension 711) for information on the progress of your application or other issues
Please use the following links and telephone number:
https://www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief/future-payments application portal
https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/about-us/definition/index.html – if not in a rural area, but you service patients who live in a rural area
https://www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief resources- fact sheet, guides
Help Hot Line: 866-569-3522 dial 711
Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Report is Now Due
You may have received a request to submit your Provider Relief Fund (PRF) report for the period that ends on September 30, 2021. This report must be submitted on line and is due by November 1, 2021. If you have not filed yet, please check your email or mail for that notice.
We have assisted several of our clients with this application, let us know if you need our assistance and we can work with you as well. Please be advised that the process is a bit time consuming so be prepared to spend at least 1 1/2 hours on a video-chat with us as we supply the necessary information for your submission. We may also need to us fill in on certain employee information and patient care data.
Annual Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
This is a reminder to those New York State based businesses that your boards, management and employees must receive the annual mandatory sexual harassment prevention training by December 31st. New York State businesses must maintain proof of training in the same manner you do for other payroll compliance documents.
You can contact your payroll service provider to see if they offer these classes, alternatively if you need additional recourses, my professional group is holding four sessions over the next three months and you can email me and Ramona for a link to register for the classes (I am hosting the first one this morning).
THE GREAT REASSESSMENT
We often hear that millions of younger workers leaving their jobs, and wonder why. Many of the theories arise from conjecture about what Millennial and Gen-Z workers want and their concerns about a proper work/life balance, structured work days, burnout and exhaustion. However, simply listening to these younger workers can dispel several of these notions. One myth is that younger workers are more prone to burnout. However, research indicates that younger workers are simply more willing to admit to or talk about mental health issues at work. Simply opening a dialogue about mental health issues and helping employees of all ages access assistance can help retain key employees.
It seems that workers in sectors from manufacturing to healthcare have been increasingly going on strike to protest long work hours, poor pay, unpredictable schedules, and poor benefits. Even with millions still unemployed, many are staying out of the workforce due to health concerns and lack of childcare, giving workers leverage with employers that they have not had in years.
It’s not just younger people who are leaving their jobs in record numbers. It has been reported that mid-career employees with five to 15 years of experience are also leaving at a fast clip. Retention efforts that apply the same pre-pandemic strategies that worked well as a one-size-fits-all approach aren’t working anymore. A tailored response that seeks to identify and address individual employee concerns can help reverse the tide of departures.
A record 4.3 million fewer people are working, since the pandemic began while employers struggle to fill 10 million job openings and satisfy consumer demand. Women, workers without college degrees, and workers in low-paying jobs are leaving in the highest numbers. Some economists fear that this may become a long-term trend that won’t reverse for several years, if ever. The usual pattern after a recession is that consumers are reluctant to spend, employers are slow to hire, and unemployed workers are eager to find jobs. Instead, that has reversed: consumers are eager to spend, employers can’t find enough workers, and the unemployed are reluctant to return to work. Employers are variously responding by increasing wages, employing labor-saving technology, requesting that workers to work overtime, or curtailing business hours.
REOPENING THE OFFICE AND REMOTE WORK OPTIONS
Now that some people are returning to the office, hybrid workplaces are encountering technical hiccups as they try to ensure equal participation between remote and in-person workers during meetings. With in-person meeting attendees masked, it may even be difficult for remote participants to tell who is speaking or to easily join in the conversation.
Nearly 40% of U.S. households faced serious financial challenges during the pandemic, according to a recent survey. Of those who earn less than $50,000 a year, nearly 60% report serious financial challenges, and 30% have depleted all their savings. The survey also found that people and businesses that were doing well before the pandemic have had fewer problems, with 49% reporting no change, 32% reporting that their situation was worse, and 20% reporting improvements in their financial situation. This could be due to many factors: companies who were early adopters to technology, had solid business plans and/or great processes in place were able to pivot quickly.
Pandemic-related shortages in labor and materials are causing the highest rate of inflation seen in the U.S. in over a decade. The consumer-price index rose by 5.4% in September from its level a year before. Rising prices for food, energy, and housing are expected to keep inflation higher than normal though the first quarter of 2022.
For the first time since the pandemic began, initial jobless claims dropped below 300,000 to a total of 293,000 for the week ended October 9. Continuing claims also fell by 134,000 to 2.59 million, another low for the pandemic era. However, household employment is still more than five million less than the pre-pandemic level.
- IRS resources for stimulus payments:
- Use the Get My Payment tool to check on EIP payment status
- Eligibility and general information about Economic Impact Payments
- A list of frequently asked questions for stimulus payments
- IRS information about the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments
- Portal to update information
- A list of frequently asked questions on the advance Child Tax Credit Payments
- The best source for up-to-date and accurate health information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Our Covid-19 Resource Center with relevant blog posts, videos and prior weekly newsletters
- Payroll, HR and benefits company Gusto has put together An Employer’s Guide to Navigating the Coronavirus
- Accounting Today has a special page for articles on COVID-19
- 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 Louvre has digitized 482,000 artworks from its collection
- PC Magazine explains how to carry your vaccination card on your phone
- How to create a strong password
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!
Complementary Discovery Session
If you need help with your accounting, want to create a tax minimization plan, want to discuss your business growth plan or your finances, are concerned about retirement goals or need to be held accountable for your 90 day action plan, contact us for a complimentary discovery session or an appointment to just get started.