Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The IRS’ new tax-filing deadline is July 15th. Also in the news: Tax traps that side hustlers should avoid, what not to do when spring cleaning your finances, and what you need to know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The IRS’ New Tax-Filing Deadline Is July 15. Here’s What to Know Now
You have an extra three months.

Tax Traps That Side Hustlers Should Avoid
Don’t get caught with a big tax bill.

What Not to Do When Spring Cleaning Your Finances
Don’t be too drastic.

What You Need to Know About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Find out how you benefit.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: IRS tax payments are now due in July. Here’s what that means for you. Also in the news: Taking your banking online during social distancing, why a used EV should be your teen’s first car, and what to do about your rewards travel plans.

IRS Tax Payments Are Now Due in July. Here’s What It Means for You
You still need to file by April 15th.

Social Distancing During the Coronavirus? Take Your Banking Online
It’s both convenient and safe.

Your Teen’s First Car: A Low-Cost, Low-Upkeep Used EV
A combination of factors make it an ideal choice.

What to Do About Your Rewards Travel Plans
Sorting through the confusion.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why credit card loyalty is no virtue. Also in the news: the SmartMoney podcast tackles saving for a down payment, how to decide between buying, fixing, or building, and how to talk to a real human at the IRS without waiting on hold forever.

Why Credit Card Loyalty Is No Virtue
At least 1 in 5 consumers are carrying the wrong card.

SmartMoney Podcast: ‘How to Save for a Down Payment’
Look for the best interest rates.

Buy, Build or Fix: What’s Best for First-Time Home Buyers?
Tough decisions.

How to Talk to a Real Human at the IRS Without Waiting on Hold Forever
The best times to call.

Q&A: How IRS Free File works

Dear Liz: I wanted to alert you to the fact that online tax preparation companies are up to their old tricks again this year despite being called out last year for deceptively hiding their free tax filing from eligible filers. My son, who qualifies for free filing, was redirected to the paid “deluxe” version when it turned out he qualifies for a “Savers Tax Credit.” He makes modest tax-deferred contributions through an employer that matched contributions. (He’s a low-income student who works in retail.) He logged out of that website and instead successfully used a competitor provider for free.

Answer: The way to access the IRS’ Free File program is through the IRS website, which directs people to the private tax preparation companies that have agreed to offer this service. Unfortunately, many of those same companies spend a lot of money trying to obscure that fact that most Americans can file for free.

Independent news organization ProPublica reported last year that tax preparation companies were hiding their free file options from online search engines and steering people instead into paid tax preparation. A government report in February confirmed that more than 14 million taxpayers paid for tax preparation last year that they could have received free.

The companies have since been banned from hiding the free option and are supposed to include a link that returns people to the IRS Free File site if they don’t qualify for the company’s free offer. But ProPublica found that they continue to steer people away from free filing in various ways, including advertising that misuses the word “free.”

Also, many people like your son discover only late in the tax preparation process — often after they’ve added most of their information — that they don’t qualify for that company’s free option, although they would qualify elsewhere.

Here’s what people need to know about free filing:

People with adjusted gross incomes under $69,000 a year can qualify for free filing, but they should start their search at the IRS Free File webpage.

People in the military and their families can use MilTax, provided by the Department of Defense.

They can also get advice from a tax professional at (800) 342-9647.

In addition, people may qualify for the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance if they make less than $56,000, live with a disability or speak limited English. Use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locator tool or call (800) 906-9887.

People who don’t qualify for the above services can still use free fillable forms. In addition, some tax preparation companies may have free options for people filing basic forms. The types of income and credits that allow someone to file for free should be prominently displayed on the company’s free file page.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How the IRS knows if you cheat on your taxes. Also in the news: 3 reasons to pay for spring break with a travel credit card, alternative options if you can’t find an affordable FHA-approved home, and why the bank holds your deposit for 9 days on new accounts.

How the IRS Knows If You Cheat on Your Taxes
They’re always watching.

3 Reasons to Pay for Spring Break with a Travel Credit Card
Racking up points.

Can’t Find an Affordable FHA-Approved Home? You Have Options
Alternative options.

Why the Bank Is Holding Your Deposit for 9 Days
The downside of a new account.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Mastering the awkward financial talk. Also in the news: Co-signing a student loan with bad credit, younger consumers getting a credit boost from their elders, and one in five fear they’ll owe the IRS money this spring.

Mastering the Awkward Financial Talk
Tackling tough topics with ease.

Can I Co-Sign a Student Loan With Bad Credit?
It’s not a good idea.

Younger Consumers, Get a Credit Boost From Your Elders
Authorized user status could give you score a bump.

One in five fear they’ll owe the IRS money this spring
Are you one of them?

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to choose the right health plan. Also in the news: Your data is out there: how to take action, 7 retirement savings mistakes financial advisors see too often, and what to do if you haven’t filed your taxes in years.

How to Choose the Right Health Plan
Open enrollment season is here.

Your Data Is Out There: Don’t Freak Out, Do Take Action
Taking preventative measures.

7 Retirement Savings Mistakes Financial Advisors See Too Often
How they help their clients recover.

What to Do If You Haven’t Filed Your Taxes in Years
Time to come clean.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Your guide to earning bonus miles with airline promotions. Also in the news: 4 important features to finding the perfect home, why some people don’t mind overpaying the IRS, and this cash-envelope budgeting system turns back-to-school shopping into a money lesson.

Your Guide to Earning Bonus Miles With Airline Promotions
Check out these limited-time offers.

Look for these 4 important features to find the perfect home
Sometimes good enough is perfect.

Here’s why these people don’t mind overpaying the IRS
They’d rather get a refund.

This cash-envelope budgeting system turns back-to-school shopping into a money lesson
Letting your kids make the decisions.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 cheaper alternatives to popular vacation spots. Also in the news: How credit unions fit in your financial life, how to prepare for an economic downturn, and the fee the IRS is waiving for more than 400,000 filers.

5 Cheaper Alternatives to Popular Vacation Spots
Save some money while still having a great trip.

How Credit Unions Fit in Your Financial Life
An alternative to traditional banking.

How to Prepare for an Economic Downturn
Don’t be caught off guard.

The IRS will waive this 2018 tax penalty for more than 400,000 filers
Waiving the underpayment fee.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Apps that encourage you to spend. Also in the news: Advice for weaning your grown kids off your credit cards, why some people don’t mind overpaying the IRS, and how to protect yourself from falling interest rates.

These Types of Apps Could Prompt Impromptu Spending
You don’t need extra help spending money.

Advice for weaning your grown kids off your credit cards
Time to cut them loose.

Here’s why these people don’t mind overpaying the IRS
Yes, you read that correctly.

How to Protect Your Savings From Falling Interest Rates
A few options.