August 20, 2020

Employee retention credit available for businesses affected by COVID-19

The employee retention credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The amount of the credit is 50% of qualified wages paid up to an annual limit of $10,000, which equals a maximum credit amount of $5,000 for each employee for the year.

Who is eligible for the credit?
The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. Federal agencies, state and local governments and businesses that receive Paycheck Protection Program loans do not qualify.

Eligible employers are employers who operate a trade or business and has experienced one of these:
  • Fully or partially suspended operations because of a government order due to COVID-19
  • A significant decline in gross receipts in a calendar quarter when compared to 2019 

Banks rethink office space, branch strategy to sync with new customer, employee habits

With 70% of bank staff working remotely and more clients using digital channels, cutting back on square footage is the new efficiency.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused thousands of bank branches to temporarily close and limit hours and visits, as local governments enact social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus.

The new normal has introduced bank customers and their employees to new habits and digital options, and some experts say banks are reevaluating the value of their branches and corporate offices as a result.

"With this forced mobile experiment of the COVID-19 pandemic fresh in their minds, I think it's going to accelerate timelines for taking action on the cost side," said Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) Managing Director Michael Perito on branch consolidation in the banking sector.
Read more at BANKING DIVE

AFSPA Partner

Paving the Payments Future

Las Vegas pawnshop owner: Downturn can create real opportunity

For Michael Mack, a former Las Vegas city councilman and owner of Max Pawn, there are silver linings to be found amid trying times, not only as a businessman but as a human being.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about such a time for the his pawnshop, his staff and his industry.

"We've always been customer-focused, but this situation has taught us to cherish them even more and to continue to treat each person with dignity," Mack said. "There is a stigma with pawnshops and the treatment people expect to get; that doesn't need to be the standard.

"We see a lot of customers in tough situations, and my team works hard to provide service and respect to everyone." Read more at VEGASINC


Why Google's checking accounts appeal to midsize institutions

The tech giant's co-branded accounts give smaller players a chance to leverage tech and branding to scale business away from the larger banks, experts say.

While the details surrounding the features of Google's yet-to-be-launched checking accounts have been sparse, its latest announcement shows the tech giant is turning to midsize institutions as partners in the venture.

Earlier this month, six new financial institutions signed on as partners for the checking accounts, expected to launch in 2021. BankMobile, BBVA USA, BMO Harris, Coastal Community Bank, First Independence Bank and SEFCU make up the latest cohort to sign on to offer the co-branded bank accounts, joining Citi and Stanford Federal Credit Union (SFCU), which were named as the project's first partners in November.
Read more at BANKINGDIVE



WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) issued today a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create a new category of seasoned qualified mortgages (Seasoned QMs) in order to encourage innovation and help ensure access to responsible, affordable in the mortgage credit market.

To be considered a Seasoned QM under the proposal, loans would have to be first-lien, fixed-rate covered transactions that have met certain performance requirements over a 36-month seasoning period. Covered transactions would also have to be held on the creditor's portfolio during the seasoning period, comply with general restrictions on product features and points and fees and meet certain underwriting requirements. For a loan to be eligible to become a Seasoned QM, the proposal would also require that the creditor consider and verify the consumer's debt-to-income ratio (DTI) or residual income at origination.
Read more at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Derailment of small business rescue clouds U.S. recovery

The collapse of pandemic relief negotiations has brought complications for the massive emergency lending program.

The Paycheck Protection Program, which has kept millions of small businesses afloat during the pandemic, is in limbo, creating a new source of uncertainty for the country's economic recovery.

The collapse of pandemic relief negotiations has brought complications for the massive emergency lending program, which shut down on Saturday to new loans after doling out more than $520 billion in funds, leaving banks and borrowers unsure of how to proceed with a key phase of the rescue.

Before talks between congressional Democrats and the White House fell apart, there was clear bipartisan support emerging for revamping the program, which offers government-backed small business loans that can be forgiven if employers maintain their payroll. One major revision would make it easier to convert the smallest loans - those for $150,000 or less, which account for most of the program's volume - into outright grants, making life easier for both borrowers and lenders.
Read more at POLITICO


Denying federal aid to state, local governments could put neediest residents at risk

Republicans and Democrats are split over supplying more COVID-19 relief funds.

Like their residents, state and local governments are finding themselves cash-strapped as they contend with the novel coronavirus pandemic. Whether to provide them with more assistance is a key point of contention as negotiators on Capitol Hill work to broker a deal on the next relief package.

Where they land could have a major impact on whether millions of people keep their jobs and stay in their homes.

States rely heavily on personal income and general sales taxes, and both are expected to decline drastically through the end of the next fiscal year. By that point, the total tax revenue shortfall for all 50 states will add up to an estimated $200 billion, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. Read more at ABC NEWS


Will Congress fix credit report problem CFPB won't?

Our latest report, last week, found that July set yet a fifth consecutive month of record consumer complaints to the CFPB. Complaints about credit report mistakes, always among the leaders, have surged dramatically during the pandemic. The CFPB hasn't done anything about it, but Congress has an opportunity in its next relief package to ban negative credit reporting.

Yup, I'm still reading the CFPB's mail. The numbers are astonishing. For the fifth consecutive month, in July a record number of consumers filed complaints recorded in the CFPB's public consumer complaint database. Complaints since the national onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (March-July 2020) are up 50 percent over the same five-month period in 2019.

And while credit reporting always has been among leading complaint categories, during the pandemic the total number of credit reporting complaints has surged by 86 percent.
Read more at U.S. PIRG

Dreher Tomkies LLP

Kamala Harris's Tax Policy Proposals

Since she could be a heartbeat away from the presidency next year, you might want to know where Kamala Harris stands on taxes.

We've come to know a lot about where Kamala Harris stands on the important issues of the day since she kicked off her run for the presidency back in January 2019. She told us that she wants an easier path to legal status for "Dreamers." She promoted a phased-in "Medicare-for-All" plan. She pressed for an increase in the minimum wage. And, in a debate exchange highlighting her views on race relations, she even called out Joe Biden for opposing busing in the 1970s and for working with other U.S. Senators who supported segregation.

But what about tax policy? Actually, we know a fair amount about what Sen. Harris would like to do when it comes to the U.S. tax code. During her campaign for the Democratic nomination, we learned that Harris is no fan of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). "Get rid of the whole thing," she once said. Read more at KIPLINGER


Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) Adds Three to Board of Directors

WASHINGTON (August 17, 2020)-The Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) announced today the addition of three members to its Board of Directors, which is charged with advising, governing, overseeing policy and direction, and assisting with the leadership and general promotion of the organization. Effective immediately, James Celli, Susan Perlmutter, and Sam Spratt will join OLA's Board.

James Celli is the founder and CEO of LoanPaymentPro, bringing a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry. LoanPaymentPro is a fintech leader in payment acceptance technology, developed by experienced lenders for lenders and utilizing proprietary patent pending technology to develop a compliant and cost-effective Bankcard, ACH, and RCC/Check21 acceptance platform for both brick and mortar and online lenders.

Susan Perlmutter is the Chief Revenue Officer of REPAY, where she oversees the company's overall sales and marketing strategy. Her role includes forging integrative partnerships with providers of loan management and dealer management systems and other enterprise technologies. She is also charged with architecting and implementing new payments solutions, such as IVR systems and pay-by-text.
Read more at OLA


'I'm too old to find a new career': More than half of Americans fear job losses

Denise Tindall has spent nearly three decades driving children to school. But this fall will be different.

Tindall, 58, was a school bus driver with a private contractor in the Shelby County School District in Memphis, Tennessee, where fall classes are set to begin online. When schools shuttered in April, she filed for unemployment . But she hasn't received a dime yet, she says.

"I'm barely making it," says Tindall, whose brother and daughter have been giving her money to cover more than $1,000 in monthly bills including rent, utilities and phone costs. "If it weren't for my family, I'd be homeless."

Tindall is concerned about her future since she won't be able to return to work for the foreseeable future. Read more at USA TODAY


US consumer sentiment largely unchanged in August

The final reading of the index of consumer sentiment stood at 72.8 in August, up from July's 72.5

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. remained almost flat in August, according to a University of Michigan survey released Friday.

The final reading of the index of consumer sentiment stood at 72.8 in August, up from July's 72.5. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the indicator to be at 71.0.

Two significant changes since April have been that consumers have become more pessimistic about the five-year economic outlook and more optimistic about buying conditions.
Read more at FOX BUSINESS

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