Weekly Digest – August 25 2021
The FDA has now granted Pfizer and BioNTech full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for persons aged 16 and up. This means this vaccine has met the agency’s standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. This approval was based on close examination of six-months of follow-up which revealed no additional long-term safety concerns. This approval may now spur major companies to require employees to be vaccinated. Based on clinical studies, this vaccine is 91% effective in preventing serious illness.
THE AMERICAN RECOVERY PLAN ACT (ARPA)
Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
An unspecified glitch at the IRS resulted in some people receiving their advance Child Tax Credit Payment by paper check in August, even though they received their July payment by direct deposit in July. The IRS plans to have that issue resolved in time for the September payment, scheduled to go out September 15. If you haven’t received your August payment, check the IRS portal for the advance Child Tax Credit. No action is needed if you already signed up for direct deposit to receive your September payment as a direct deposit.
You can now update your mailing address at the IRS Child Tax Credit portal. The IRS will use the most up-to-date address they have to send out paper checks to those who request paper checks. The agency will also use this address to send out an end-of-year summary of the payments received, which will be needed for filing 2021 tax returns. This portal can be used to verify enrollment status, update banking information and mailing addresses, and to unenroll from future payments.
As a reminder, if you want to opt out of future payments, you must opt out by the deadline for the next month’s payment. Check out the IRS FAQs where you’ll find everything you need to know about opting out in Section J.
A new report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center shows that 61% of all taxpayers, more than 100 million households, paid no federal income taxes during 2020. This is an increase from the steady 44% of taxpayers who paid no federal income taxes for the last decade through 2019. The increase was fueled by pandemic-related unemployment, stimulus checks and generous tax credits. Most of these will expire after 2022, which will result in a decrease in non-taxpayers starting next year. Only an estimated 20% of households paid neither income tax nor payroll taxes. The Tax Policy Center estimates that nearly everyone paid some other form of taxes, including state income taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, and excise taxes.
If you’re having a hard time hanging on to your best employees, you’re not alone: a recent survey by PwC found that 65% of employees are looking for a new job, up from 35% in May. Workers say the top reasons for leaving are higher pay, better benefits, and more workplace flexibility, including options for full-time remote work or a hybrid schedule. The current labor market may be an opportunity for some workers to close pay gaps, which has resulted in women, Hispanic, Black, and other groups being paid less than male or white, non-Hispanic workers. Employers should consider these factors if they want to retain and recruit the best people. In the same survey, 88% of employers said they were seeing higher turnover than normal. Employers should expect that new hires will negotiate hard for compensation and perks.
Providing useful and timely performance reviews can help small businesses retain employees. Younger employees are especially receptive to regular feedback that focuses not just on performance but helps them to define and achieve career goals.
Besides offering higher pay, offering childcare to employees can solve one of the primary reasons workers are not returning to work. According to a recent survey, the main reason many parents are not returning to work is childcare obligations. Many employers are finding that offering childcare can be a potent selling point, whether the worker is on-site or remote. Some large employers are building on-site facilities, while others are contracting with outside providers.
REOPENING THE OFFICE AND REMOTE WORK OPTIONS
With the latest wave of COVID-19 re-opening delays, some companies may be closed for a full two years. As people stay home longer, executives fear that it may be even more difficulty to bring them back when – and if – offices eventually re-open. Some, including the CEO of Intel, predict that hybrid and remote work will be the norm for years to come, and that there is no going back to the way things were.
Some Generation Z workers who started work during the pandemic have never worked in an office. While some younger employees are disappointed at missing the experience of working in an office where spontaneous collaboration and coaching are normal, others don’t feel they are missing out on as much. Many new college graduates spent months in virtual classrooms, which prepared them for a remote work experience. Additional screensharing zoom calls, or short de-briefing sessions after conference calls can help mentor and teach new employees.
Making the most of hybrid work will require adjustments for employees. Being intentional about your days in the office so that you have face-to-face meetings with team members and mentors can help ensure that you make the most of your time in the office. Some tasks, such as reading and writing, may be better at home with fewer disturbances, while tasks that require collaboration are better done in the office.
The rise of the delta variant of COVID-19 is apparently causing consumers to cut back on purchases: retail sales in July decreased by 1.1% after increasing in June by 0.7%. However, even this month-over-month decline is still 15.8% higher than a year ago. Eating and drinking establishments are 38.4% above where they were a year ago. This slowdown is persisting into August, as factory activity and service providers are reporting sharply slower growth in the U.S.
Meanwhile, new jobless claims fell last week to the lowest level since before the pandemic. However, with more than 10.1 million job openings, many employers report having a difficult time filling jobs.
- IRS resources for stimulus payments:
- The best source for up-to-date and accurate health information is the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Entrepreneur put together a listing of free tech resources for remote work
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warnings about COVID-related scams
- Fast Company has a listing of the best productivity apps for 2020
- The Wall Street Journal has a collection of articles on education
- The Louvre has digitized 482,000 artworks from its collection
- PC Magazine explains how to carry your vaccination card on your phone
- How to create a strong password
We sincerely hope that you and your family are well and remain well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are all in this together!