Stimulus Check – How to Cope With the End of Unemployment Insurance and Other Covid Safety Nets
Usually, these plans can offer only a limited grace period to use money that you didn’t spend during the regular 12-month period. If you don’t use the money, you forfeit it. But in 2021, employers can (although are not required to) offer up to a 12-month grace period for leftover money — or simply let people carry unused amounts to the next year.
Moreover, if your employer allows it, you can also change the amount it is taking out of your paycheck each period — if, for example, you guessed wrong about your needs or wish to boost your set-aside to maximize the $10,500 limit on dependent care account contributions that is that high only this year. You may be able to put money into an account even if you missed the annual enrollment period amid pandemic distractions.
HealthEquity, a benefits administrator, published a plain-English guide with more information.
Internet Service Subsidy
Thanks to one of the recent relief packages, a $50-a-month discount is now available on broadband service (and $75 for people on qualifying tribal lands).
There are two catches: First, you have to be eligible, though the rules are fairly broad. Most low-income people will qualify. So will anyone who lost a job or was furloughed after Feb. 29, 2020; experienced a “substantial” income decline; and had 2020 income below $99,000 for people who filed taxes as a single person and $198,000 for people who filed joint returns.
The second catch is that the subsidy will last only until the nearly $3.2 billion that is available for the program runs out. (You can track the money at a website that the Universal Service Administrative Company maintains.)
So the obvious conclusion is this: Sign up today.
Charitable Donation Tax Deductions
If you’re married and file your taxes jointly and don’t itemize your deductions, you have until the end of the year to avail yourself of a $600 deduction for charitable contributions (though not the sort that you can sometimes deduct when you donate appreciated securities or physical goods). Single filers still get the $300 deduction.
Given how many people may still be struggling as some of the pandemic relief goes away, this lingering opportunity for subsidized altruism can assist others who are losing more than you are. Our guide to pandemic giving from last year should help, if you need ideas for organizations to support.