In late December 2020, Congress passed an additional Coronavirus Relief Package as a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The bill contained guidance on the original Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was made available to small businesses in April 2020 as well as announced an additional round of the loan program for certain eligible businesses.
Businesses who received PPP loan under the first round finally have guidance on the taxability of their forgiven loans. All forgiven loans are still not subject to income tax. Congress also cleared up that any qualified expenses paid by the loan proceeds are still deductible in 2020.
For any businesses that haven’t used their first round of funds, there are new additional expenses that the loans can be used for: operations expenditures (software that assists with the operations of the business), property damage costs (related to vandalism or looting that occurred in 2020), supplier costs (payments to suppliers of essential goods), and worker protection expenditures (costs associated with meeting CDC guidelines such as masks, sneeze guards, etc.).
If a business missed out on the initial round of PPP loans, additional funds have been allocated to the program and applications should hopefully begin to processed the week of January 11th.
The second round of PPP loans are available to businesses that have already received and spent the first round. Applications should likewise begin to be accepted in mid-January 2021. The caveat with the second round of PPP is the business must have experienced a drop in revenue of more than 25% in any quarter of 2020 compared to that same quarter in 2019. This second round is also only available to businesses with less than 300 employees (down from 500 employees in round one).
While the biggest shopping day of the year is this week and Christmas is right around the corner, this article talks about ways that you can shop this Friday while Covid cases have been on the rise. Normal Black Friday’s have shoppers in massive crowds and in close proximity to each other – most likely not this year! With Covid deaths averaging 1,300 per day, public health officials have issue bold warnings not only about shopping, but getting together for Thanksgiving day itself. The ideas that this article explores are as simple as spreading your shopping out over several days versus just one day and doing more of your shopping online. Be safe and happy shopping.
Now that we have hopes for a vaccine to fight against COVID-19 from Pfizer, a Goldman Sachs analyst is saying that this is an even more important development than the US presidential election and the new policies that may come from that. Goldman boosted their year-end price target on the S & P 500 Index to 3,700 from 3,600. They are also targeting 4,300 by the end of 2021 and 4,600 by the end of 2022. One reason why this is so significant is that they are seeing positive markets and a positive economy over the next two years. I think we would all agree that as little as 6 months ago, a lot of people were expecting a prolonged recession that could last years.
The presidential election may take weeks to resolve itself but we believe after we have a resolution, another stimulus package will come to the American people. Mitch McConnell wants a package no more than $1.5 Trillion while Democrats are wanting a package in excess of $2.2 Trillion. This article takes a look at different scenarios on whoever is elected and whoever takes the Senate. We believe that the package could come as early as December and as late as February. A lot of economists fear that the longer we wait for a stimulus package, the more the economy could be hurt.
Amazon Prime day begins today and will run through tomorrow evening as shoppers begin to look for deals and prepare for the Holiday season! Americans are expected to spend billions of dollars in the next two days as they start seeking out bargains. The discounts are not only expected to run on high ticket priced items but also on Amazon-brand essentials. Unfortunately, shoppers won’t see major bargains this week on some items because of the Covid pandemic such as high-demand items. Some extra advice from the article is not to buy oversize items like TV’s and furniture and to wait until later to buy toys and winter clothing. Happy shopping.
We all know that the airlines industry, along with cruise lines, hotels and restaurants have been some of the hardest hit industries since Covid-19 hit but we are starting to see some recovery in some of these companies. United Airlines 52 week high was $95.16. They are currently trading at 1/3 of that price at just $36.88. Unless Congress approves another $25 Billion bailout in the airlines industry, United is planning on furloughing as many as 16,000 workers – this is fewer than originally expected. The reason for the number being significantly less than originally expected is that many employees have already taken early retirement, buyouts or long-term leaves of absence. Any way that you look at it, this is better news for the airline industry and we hope that travel picks up sooner rather than later.
When it comes to going to the Social Security office, a lot of people cringe at the thought. Long lines and wait times are just the beginning and it doesn’t get much better. In today’s age, you can manage your own Social Security profile and execute many critical moves yourself online. By setting up a free MySocialSecurity account at www.ssa.gov, you can manage many details as well as protect against fraud. On this site you can do things like estimating your Social Security benefits, reviewing your earnings history, apply for Medicare benefits and even appeal a Social Security decision. Take a look at the website and pull up your current benefits statement.
The IRS announced Monday that it has begun accepting Forms 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, electronically, which it calls a “major milestone in tax administration” (IR-2020-182). According to the IRS, it has put years of effort into developing the ability for taxpayers to e-file Form 1040-X, “and the enhancement allows taxpayers to quickly electronically correct previously filed tax returns while minimizing errors.” The IRS announced in late May that Form 1040-X e-filing was coming sometime this summer.
I have personally been curious to what people did with the $1,200 stimulus checks they received earlier this year. More than half of the people who received checks used it to pay down debt while another one third saved their check. One of the major goals for these checks was to help spur economic activity via consumer spending which is one of the driving forces of the U.S. economy. So, it appears that only approximately 15% of people who received checks used the funds for this purpose. We await to see if there will be more stimulus after the last round.
Dividend investing has been big in the last several years and it was looking like it was going to be another great year. Well, I think we all know what changed this – yes, the Coronavirus. U.S. Gross Domestic Product fell at a 5% rate in the second quarter and could go down as much as 39.5% according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve. With that being said, companies cut dividends by $5.5 Billion in the first quarter of the year. In the second quarter, dividends were cut by $42.5 Billion. Most companies made this move to preserve cash and we do feel when the pandemic is over that dividends will be back on the way up. However, this could be a 3-5 year period before we get back to the levels that we were at pre Coronavirus.