Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How COVID-fueled crowdfunding can revive small businesses. Also in the news: How point and mile values have changed over the pandemic, the one trick to traveling cheaply, and this tool tells you what you owe the IRS before they come looking for it.

How COVID-Fueled Crowdfunding Can Revive Small Businesses
Tips for launching an effective campaign.

How Have Point and Mile Values Changed Over the Pandemic?
For the most part, airline miles are worth more than they were last year, while hotel points are worth less.

There’s Just One Trick to Traveling Cheaply: Flexibility
To fly for the lowest price, you should try searching without a specific destination or date in mind.

This Tool Tells You What You Owe the IRS Before They Come Looking for It
Beating the IRS to the punch.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do if your refund is delayed and your bills aren’t. Also in the news: Former Simple customers undergo a rough transition to BBVA, why a credit card’s looks aren’t everything, and how to keep health insurance after losing your job.

What to Do If Your Refund Is Delayed and Your Bills Aren’t
The IRS is running behind.

Former Simple Customers Undergo Rough Transition to BBVA
Things haven’t gone smoothly.

Why a Credit Card’s Looks Aren’t Everything

How to Keep Health Insurance After Losing Your Job
A look at the options.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Navigating car insurance as a transgender or nonbinary driver. Also in the news: How to smooth the transition into retirement, what motherhood taught eight women about money, and how to choose a payment plan when you owe the IRS.

Navigating Car Insurance as a Transgender or Nonbinary Driver
Selecting a gender on a car insurance application isn’t always easy for transgender and nonbinary drivers.

How to Smooth the Transition Into Retirement

What Motherhood Taught Me About Money: 8 Moms Weigh In
Hard-earned wisdom.

How to Choose a Payment Plan When You Owe the IRS
Picking the plan that makes the most sense.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to line up rent aid and a backup plan. Also in the news: Changing the face of the cannabis industry, why you should check your Medicare coverage before traveling again, and when to expect your delayed IRS refund.

How to Line Up Rent Aid — and a Backup Plan
If you owe rent debt, apply for assistance programs but also open talks with your landlord before eviction bans end.

Changing the Face of the Cannabis Industry
The majority of states now have some form of legalized cannabis, whether for medical or recreational use.

Check Your Medicare Coverage Before Traveling Again
Medicare doesn’t cover you everywhere. Make sure you understand where and when you’re insured.

When To Expect Your Delayed IRS Refund
Things are backed up at the IRS.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What gig workers need to know about taxes. Also in the news: 5 credit card red flags to avoid, why financial advisors of color matter, and how to prevent stolen tax returns.

What Gig Workers Need to Know About Taxes
Protect yourself from tax surprises.

5 Credit Card Red Flags to Avoid
Being aware of these credit card warning signs can help you weed out the bad options and potentially save you money.

Why Financial Advisors of Color Matter
Financial advisors of color can help diverse clients gain trust in the financial industry, and ultimately help shrink the wealth gap.

Prevent Stolen Tax Returns With This IRS Tool
Protect your information.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New Medicare Advantage benefits may be hard to find and to qualify for. Also in the news: 4 questions to ask before refinancing your mortgage, why college aid requests have decreased, and what to do if you haven’t filed your taxes in years.

New Medicare Advantage Benefits May Be Hard to Find — and Qualify For
In 2019, expanded benefits for Medicare Advantage were enabled, but so far few providers offer them.

The Property Line: 4 Questions to Ask Before Refinancing
Would you benefit from refinancing? Answer these four questions to decide.

Why Are Fewer Students Seeking College Aid? They’re Not Going
Undergrad enrollment is down 4%.

What to Do If You Haven’t Filed Your Taxes in Years
You can’t dodge the IRS forever.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How hotel prices changed in 2020 vs. 2019. Also in the news: A new episode of the SmartMoney Podcast on emergency loans and the perks of buying local, what to know about EFTs and adding them to your portfolio, and what to do if you receive an unpaid notice from the IRS.

Analysis: How Have Hotel Prices Changed in 2020 vs. 2019?
Hotel prices have dipped significantly.

Smart Money Podcast: Buying Local, and Emergency Loans
How to help local businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

What are ETFs and why you should consider them for your portfolio
Many investments wrapped in a single package.

What to Do if You Receive an Unpaid Notice From the IRS
Don’t panic.

Q&A: Where’s that tax refund?

Dear Liz: Like the writer in a recent column, I received a stimulus check for my late mother and dutifully mailed the IRS a check as the agency requested on May 6. The check finally cleared on Aug. 12. So, yes, the IRS will absolutely eventually cash it. However, I’m still waiting for the federal tax refund for my mother’s final tax return, which I mailed on April 20. I figure if it took them over three months to just cash a check, it’ll be at least a couple more months, if not longer, to process the return.

Answer: You’re probably right, and — as the previous column emphasized — the IRS does not need calls from people about non-urgent matters as the agency slowly works through its massive backlog. If you can wait to talk to the IRS, in other words, you should.

Q&A: IRS pays interest on late refunds

Dear Liz: I filed my return electronically with direct deposit. I have yet to receive my refund or that stimulus relief check. We have to pay interest on any late tax payment. Will the IRS pay interest on late refunds?

Answer: The IRS has said it will pay interest on late refunds if the return was filed by July 15, the extended tax deadline. The interest “will generally be paid from April 15, 2020, until the date of the refund,” the IRS says on its site. Don’t expect to get rich: The interest rate for the second quarter, which ended June 30, is 5% a year, while the interest rate for the third quarter, which ends Sept. 30, is 3% a year.

Q&A: The case for filing a tax return

Dear Liz: A couple on Social Security who hadn’t received their stimulus payments wrote that they “do not make enough income to file tax returns.” It might be worthwhile to let your readers know that, even if one’s income is below the amount where they must file a tax return, they nevertheless may file a tax return. I volunteer at a site where we do free tax preparation, and we encourage filing even when not required. It can help identify or potentially prevent identity theft, and it provides documentation of tax status that may be helpful in the future.

Answer: Thanks for that tip. People receiving Social Security weren’t required to file tax returns to receive their stimulus payments of up to $1,200 each, but as you noted there can be other advantages to filing even when it’s not necessary.

Most stimulus payments have been delivered at this point, although a congressional committee estimated 30 million to 35 million had not been sent. If you got a letter saying your payment had been sent, but you haven’t received the money, you can ask the IRS to trace your payment by calling (800) 919-9835.