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Is My Stimulus Payment Taxable? And Other Tax Questions

Ms. Long generally recommends that people getting unemployment benefits choose to have at least 10 percent withheld for taxes to avoid unwelcome surprises.You’ll probably also owe state income taxes on the unemployment benefits, unless you live in one of the nine states that don’t have a state income tax or a few others that exempt jobless benefits, including California, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Wisconsin exempts jobless benefits for state residents, but taxes benefits paid to nonresidents, according to the Tax Foundation.Here are some questions and answers about income tax season:I don’t remember getting …

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Continuing Job Losses Put Spotlight on Economic Relief

Mr. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would include $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits and money for hard-pressed states and cities.In written testimony released Thursday as part of her Senate confirmation process, Janet L. Yellen, Mr. Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, reiterated the urgency of renewed aid.“Unemployment remains troublingly high, and millions of families are facing hunger or the risk of eviction,” Ms. Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, told a questioner. “Additional relief is needed to strengthen the economy, address our public health challenge and provide relief to communities that have …

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How Our Unemployment Benefits System Failed

The nation’s unemployment insurance program, conceived during the Great Depression, was meant to keep jobless workers and their families from suffering drops in income that could tip them into poverty or force them to liquidate their assets to afford food, rent and other necessities.Its goals included allowing the unemployed to wait for a productive job to materialize, rather than take the first one that appeared, and providing stability to the economy in recessions, mitigating the expected drop in consumption when millions of workers lost their jobs.The tussle in Congress last month over whether to extend emergency unemployment …

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Unemployment Claims Rise Sharply, Showing New Economic Pain

Ten months after the coronavirus crisis decimated the labor market, the resurgent pandemic keeps sending shock waves through the American economy.Though more than half of the 22 million jobs lost last spring have been regained, a new surge of infections has prompted shutdowns and layoffs that have hit the leisure and hospitality industries especially hard, dealing a setback to the recovery.The latest evidence came on Thursday when the Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, exceeding one million for the first time since July.Just days earlier, the government announced that employers …

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Why Markets Boomed in a Year of Human Misery

The central, befuddling economic reality of the United States at the close of 2020 is that everything is terrible in the world, while everything is wonderful in the financial markets.It’s a macabre spectacle. Asset prices keep reaching new, extraordinary highs, when around 3,000 people a day are dying of coronavirus and 800,000 people a week are filing new unemployment claims. Even an enthusiast of modern capitalism might wonder if something is deeply broken in how the economy works.To better understand this strange mix of buoyant markets and economic despair, it’s worth turning to the data. As it happens, the …

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Unemployment Claims Dipped but Remained High During Christmas Week

The labor market remains in distress as the pandemic limits consumer activity across the country.Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped modestly last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, though they remained very high by historical standards.The Christmas holiday likely affected filings because of the shortened workweek, a phenomenon that also occurred during Thanksgiving week. “They bounce up and down a lot during the holidays,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.There were 841,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 873,000 the previous week. Another 308,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded …

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Stimulus Money Should Have Gone to the Jobless, Economists Say

But in terms of the multiplier effect, it’s likely to pale in comparison to the impact in the spring, when the unemployment rate was much higher and there were real fears the country could experience a second Great Depression.“The more you hit the stimulus button, the less impact you see,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. And the hardest hit sectors — dining, entertainment and travel — are unlikely to see much of a boost now, since consumers are wary of going out or live in states like California and New York where …

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Trump Signs Pandemic Relief Bill After Unemployment Aid Lapses

House Democrats plan on Monday to vote on legislation that would provide for $2,000 direct payments, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Mr. Trump should “immediately call on congressional Republicans to end their obstruction” and support the measure. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said he would move to pass the bill in the Senate, but such a maneuver would require Republican support.But during the negotiations, Senate Republicans have resisted increasing the payments, citing concerns about the deficit. In a statement applauding the president’s signature, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, made no mention of …

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As Bills Pile Up, Many Anxiously Keep Tabs on the Stimulus Bill

“It’s the worst thing I could possibly imagine,” she said. “If you told me a year ago that the entire country would be suffering the way it is now, with no help from the government, I would have told you that would never happen. We live in America.”More than 20 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits and the unemployment rate stands at 6.7 percent. A year ago, before the pandemic hit, the jobless rate touched 3.5 percent, tying a 50-year low.For those living on the edge, the recent political gamesmanship has been infuriating.“We don’t have time for them …

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New Signs of Economic Distress Emerge as Trump Imperils Aid Deal

With the fate of a federal aid package suddenly thrown into doubt by President Trump, economic data on Wednesday showed why the help is so desperately needed.Personal income fell in November for the second straight month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, and consumer spending declined for the first time since April, as waning government aid and a worsening pandemic continued to take a toll on the U.S. economy.Separate data from the Labor Department showed that applications for unemployment benefits remained high last week and have risen since early November.Taken together, the reports are the latest evidence …

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