February 9, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
6 Social Security Changes for 2021

  • Social Security recipients got a 1.3% raise for 2021, compared with the 1.6% hike beneficiaries received in 2020.
  • Maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax also increased—from $137,700 a year to $142,800.
  • Other changes for 2021 included an increase in how much money working Social Security recipients can earn before their benefits are reduced and a slight rise in disability benefits.
  • Social Security tax rates remain the same for 2021—6.2% on employees and 12.4% on the self-employed.
  • It now takes $1,470 to earn a single Social Security credit, up $60 from 2020.

Paving the Payments Future
Credit unions top Fed survey of small-business lending satisfaction

About 87% of small businesses that applied for a loan, a line of credit or a cash advance in 2020 with a credit union reported being satisfied, according to a Federal Reserve small-business credit survey released Wednesday. That proportion outweighs borrower satisfaction with small banks, defined as having less than $10 billion in assets (81%); large banks, with $10 billion or more (68%); finance companies (60%); and online lenders (43%).

Particularly, when asked about the support they received during the pandemic from their primary financial services provider, 70% of community development financial institution (CDFI) customers reported being satisfied, compared with 61% for small banks, 48% for credit unions, 41% for large banks, 26% for finance companies and 18% for online lenders, the survey found.

Important reminders before filing 2020 tax returns
IR-2021-23, January 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — Following an unpredictable year with many changes and challenges, the Internal Revenue Service today shared important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 federal tax returns.

Choose direct deposit
The safest, most accurate and fastest way to get a refund is to electronically file and choose direct deposit. Direct deposit means any tax refund is electronically deposited for free into a taxpayer's financial account.

Want a bigger stimulus check? Consider filing your tax return early

Many Americans had lower income in 2020 than 2019

WASHINGTON -- The size of your next stimulus check might depend on when you file your tax return.

For many Americans, income in 2020 was lower than it was in 2019 because of the pandemic-induced recession. And because the stimulus payments of up to $1,400 per person will have limits based on household income, it matters which year the payments are based on.

So why would it matter when you file your tax return? That's because Congress is likely to tell the IRS to use 2019 or 2020 income -- whichever the government has when the payment is made, according to the Senate Finance Committee.

Dems to introduce plan to erase $50,000 of student debt

Roughly 44 million Americans, or 1 in 6 people, have debt in the form of federal student loans

Democrats in the House and Senate are planning to introduce a resolution Thursday, calling on President Biden to use executive action to remove $50,000 of federal student loan debt – though Biden’s response to such a demand remains dubious.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York will hold a press conference Thursday morning to announce the initiative alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has been vocal in calling on the Biden administration to take action.

“Canceling student loan debt would immediately put money in the pockets of millions of Americans. It would help dig our economy out of this crisis,” Warren said in a tweet earlier this week. “And we don’t have to wait for Congress: the Biden-Harris administration can get it done with their executive authority,” she added.

PayPal says U.S. consumer watchdog investigating payment app Venmo

PayPal Holdings Inc said on Friday it was cooperating with the U.S. consumer watchdog regarding a civil investigation demand relating to its app Venmo’s alleged unauthorized fund transfers and collections processes.

The demand from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was made last month, the digital payment processor said in a regulatory filing. (

Venmo is a popular mobile app for person-to-person payments in the United States. It competes with apps like Cash, which is run by payments processor Square Inc.

Experiment suggests people pay down debt but keep savings cushion

Personal finance experts and your friends and family may all have an opinion on how you should manage your savings and your debts. We set out to see what people would do when presented with a hypothetical scenario with the opportunity to pay off debt using available savings.

Findings from our online experiment with hypothetical scenarios suggest:

People want a savings cushion. In nine of the ten savings scenarios presented to study participants, fewer than half of participants put the maximum amount of savings toward reducing the debt. The majority of the participants paid off credit card debt completely only when they had twice as much savings as debt.

People also want to pay down debt. The vast majority of study participants—over 90 percent in each of the savings scenarios—used at least some savings to reduce the debt. On average, participants put more than half of savings towards paying down debt, even when savings was only one-fifth the amount of debt.

Nearly 20% of Renters Are Behind on Payments

The coronavirus pandemic has left one in five renters with no choice but to fall behind.

Millions of Americans have been hurt financially in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, a lot of these same people don't have savings to fall back on in the event of job loss.

As such, it's not surprising to learn that 18% of U.S. renters -- roughly 10 million tenants -- were behind on their rent payments at the beginning of January. All told, according to a report by Moody's Analytics and the Urban Institute, these renters owe their landlords an astounding $57.3 billion.

There are protections in place to prevent renters from getting evicted right now. But eventually, those safeguards will run out. The question is: What happens then?

Cities Whose Unemployment Rates Are Bouncing Back Most

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for U.S. employment, but the job market is showing signs of healing due to states reopening partially or fully. The national unemployment rate is currently at 6.7%, which is 54% lower than the peak of 14.7% during the height of the pandemic. However, we might see a slowdown of future growth; the economy actually had a slight reduction in jobs in December, and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been slower than expected. It will likely take a long time for the unemployment rate to return to the historic low it experienced prior to the coronavirus crisis. Some cities’ jobs have weathered the storm better than others, though.

In order to identify where workers have been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, WalletHub compared 180 cities based on three key metrics. We looked at the change in each city’s unemployment during the latest month for which we have data (December 2020) compared to December 2019 and January 2020. We also considered each city’s overall unemployment rate. Read on for the results, additional commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.

2 key filing tips for every American this tax season

Even individuals below the filing threshold may need to fill out a return this year

Tax season kicks off to a delayed start next week, and experts say there are two things every American should do this year to ensure they receive all of the money from the federal government that they are entitled to.

Last filing season was unprecedented as the pandemic took hold in the U.S. But experts expect this year to come with its fair share of challenges as well, triggered by shifting employment statuses, remote work location changes and losses in income.

Further, the government has sent out two rounds of direct payments to eligible households, but some people did not receive their checks – or did not receive all of the money they are entitled to.

Four Ways to Improve Your Financial Wellness in 2021

A look back at 2020 reinforces the importance of planning and saving in 2021.

We’re finally in a new year, 2021 — and with that we can all hope to move past arguably one of the most impactful and memorable years of our lifetimes. But in that year, many of us learned a lot. Yes, 2020 brought its challenges, but with those challenges came an opportunity for change and growth for many individuals, particularly when it comes to the importance of health and wealth.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the shifting priorities of Americans. According to the results of a new survey from Voya, a significant amount (73%) of Americans agree that material goods matter less given their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more, a majority (75%) of Americans have become more focused on their mental health and emotional well-being. This shift in priorities has also brought to light a resource for support that many working Americans may not have appreciated as much pre-COVID: their employer.

How the American middle class is really doing

Do members of the American middle class have enough money? How pressed for time are they? Are they healthy? The Brookings Middle Class Monitor assesses how the U.S. middle class is faring with 12 metrics from the five key domains for a good quality of life: money, time, relationships, health, and respect.

How is the middle class faring? The Brookings Middle Class Monitor answers this question with 12 metrics from the five key domains for a good quality of life: Money, Time, Relationships, Health, and Respect.

Regularly updated, and broken down where possible by race, education, and gender, these data amount to an annual check on the state of the American middle class. Do they have enough money? How pressed for time are they? How strong are their families? Are they healthy? Are they treated with respect?

Dig into the data. But also, hear the voices of middle-class Americans on these questions – and see our proposed policy solutions for making life better for the middle class.

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