This program will distribute $500 million to lower-wage frontline workers who put themselves at risk with admirable commitment to their communities. The one-time Essential Employee Premium Pay Program $500 payments will be delivered to 500,000 people in March in Massachusetts, with the first receivers being essential workers.
On December 13, 2021, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay Program. The Legislature allocated $460 million for premium payments to Massachusetts workers, which will distribute a $500 payment to 500,000 low-income workers across Massachusetts, according to the state’s website.
- Filed a 2020 tax return
- Been a Massachusetts resident in 2020, or a part-year resident that lived in Massachusetts between March 10, 2020, and December 31, 2020
- Earned income of at least $12,750 in 2020 employment compensation
- Had a total household income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level in 2020
All eligible individuals will automatically receive a check in the mail, according to the state’s website.
However, individuals who received unemployment compensation in 2020 will not be eligible for the first round of payments, nor will Commonwealth executive branch employees who received or will receive a one-time payment from the state as their employer.
The $12,750 income requirement equates to working 20 hours a week for 50 weeks at minimum wage as of 2020 ($12.75). For example, the maximum total income for a single filer with no dependents will be $38,280; a resident who files with a spouse and two dependents, or with no spouse and three dependents, could be eligible with a household income up to $78,600. Married filers can each be eligible, provided each independently qualifies, the website notes.
A future round of payments will be based on 2021 tax returns, and additional rounds are also on the table.
FAQ’s Regarding the Payments
HOW THE PAYMENTS WORK
Q. Do I need to take any action to receive this payment?
No. If you are eligible to receive a payment from this program, you will automatically receive the payment in the form of a check that will be mailed to you.
Q. How many rounds of the premium pay program will there be?
The first round of payments will be made based off 2020 returns. Following tax filing season, the next round of payments will be made using information from 2021 returns. After that, the program will be evaluated for any additional rounds.
Q. Are payments being sent to workers in certain industries?
No, your eligibility is not determined by the industry in which you work. You are eligible for a payment if your income from employment in 2020 was at least $12,750 and your total income puts you below 300% of the federal poverty level, based on filed 2020 Massachusetts tax returns.
Q. How do I find out what my gross income was in 2020?
Gross income is defined as federal adjusted gross income for tax year 2020. To find your federal adjusted gross income, look at your 2020 Massachusetts Form 1, or at line 11 of your 2020 U.S. Form 1040.
Q. What is income from employment?
Income from employment means compensation paid in connection with work you did in 2020, as opposed to retirement income, investment income, or other income not associated with a job. More specifically, income from employment would have been reported on Line 3, Line 6a, Line 6b, or Line 7 (non-passive income only) of your Form 1 for 2020.
Q. I filed for unemployment in 2021 and 2019, am I eligible for a payment?
If you claimed unemployment compensation in 2020, you are not eligible for a check in round 1 of the premium pay program. However, unemployment compensation in 2019 or 2021 does not affect eligibility for a round 1 check, so long as you are otherwise eligible based on residency and income.
Q. What does three times the federal poverty level mean?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services creates a table each year as a guideline for gauging the “poverty line”; income below this level implies a household is living in poverty. The poverty level increases for households with more people living in them. This table is used by states and the federal government to set eligibility for various programs, including this program, often by using a multiple of the Federal Poverty Level in order to set a uniform cutoff for lower or middle income households.
Here’s the chart for 300% of, or three times, FPL for 2020:
|Persons in family/household||300% of FPL|
|Persons in family/household||300% of FPL|
For family size greater than 8, add $13,440 for each additional member to calculate 300% of FPL.
Q. My spouse works part-time, and we file jointly. Are we both eligible to receive a payment?
Each spouse must be independently eligible in order for that spouse to receive a payment. In other words, each spouse must 1) be a resident on or after March 10, 2020; 2) have 2020 earnings from employment of at least $12,750; and 2) have no unemployment compensation in 2020. Additionally, you and your spouse’s total income (federal adjusted gross income) cannot be greater than 300% of the federal poverty level ($51,720 for a family of two, or more if you claim other dependents on your taxes).
Therefore, it is possible that neither spouse, or only one spouse, or both spouses would be eligible for a payment.
Q. I made below the minimum threshold in 2020 but was within the range this past year. Will I be eligible in a future round?
Further information on future rounds will be available this summer. Please note that income thresholds may be adjusted for 2021, as both the minimum wage and the Federal Poverty Level figures changed from 2020 to 2021.
Q. What should I do if I have questions about my eligibility?
A call center is available to answer questions about eligibility at (866) 750-9803 Monday through Friday, 9am – 4pm.
A premium pay call center is available at (866) 750-9803 to answer questions Monday through Friday, 9am – 4pm.
It’s April already. Are your taxes done? If your answer to the question is no, you are not alone. The Internal Revenue Service says as many as 25 percent of taxpayers file their returns the final two weeks before the filing deadline. And with the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic that we have been experiencing as well as the multiple stimulus programs offered, that percentage is probably quite higher.
If you have not completed your taxes yet, here are some stress-relieving ideas:
Don’t Procrastinate Anymore – Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Your return takes time to prepare and your preparer may need to request certain documents from you, which will take additional time.
Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay – If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late-payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, however the processing companies charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.
Request an Extension of Time to File,- But Pay on Time – If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 15, 2022. The extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date (normally, but see exception above). Contact your tax professional for a variety of easy ways to apply for an extension.
To get an estimate of what you owe, you generally have to do a dry run of your tax return—which probably means you will have almost everything you need to file anyway. If they’re 90 percent done, it’s really in your best interest to just get it done and file by April 15th (and for this current tax season, you have until April 19th if you live in Massachusetts or Maine).
Contribute to (or Open) an IRA Account or HSA Account
You can make previous-year contributions to a Traditional or Roth IRA, or SEP-IRA through the filing deadline. If you still need to open an account, be warned that some companies’ processes are not instantaneous. If you are under 50, you can contribute up to $6,000 into your Traditional or Roth IRA accounts and add an additional $1,000 if you are over age 50. SEP-IRA contributions can not exceed $58,000 but the actual amount depends on your specific situation. Best to seek professional advice on this.
If you’re covered by a high-deductible health plan—defined as a minimum deductible of $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family—you can also deduct contributions made to a Health Savings Account (HSA). You have until the tax filing deadline to make a deductible contribution. For 2021, you can contribute up to $3,600 to an HSA if you have self-only coverage or $7,200 for family coverage. People aged 55 or older can make an additional $1,000 “catch-up” contribution.
If you are needing assistance, please reach out to us here at Northeast Financial Strategies ASAP.
For the first time, the maximum educator expense deduction rises to $300 in 2022; limit $250 for those filing 2021 tax returns
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today reminded teachers and other educators planning ahead for 2022 that they’ll be able to deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses when they file their federal income tax return next year.
This is the first time the annual limit has increased since the special educator expense deduction was enacted in 2002. For tax-years 2002 through 2021, the limit was $250 per year. This means for people currently filing their 2021 tax returns due in April, the deduction is limited to $250. The limit will rise in $50 increments in future years based on inflation adjustments.
For 2022, an eligible educator can deduct up to $300 of qualifying expenses. If they are married and file a joint return with another eligible educator, the limit rises to $600. But in this situation, not more than $300 for each spouse.
Educators can claim this deduction, even if they take the standard deduction. Eligible educators include anyone who is a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during the school year. Both public- and private-school educators qualify.
Educators can deduct the unreimbursed cost of:
- Books, supplies and other materials used in the classroom.
- Equipment, including computer equipment, software and services.
- COVID-19 protective items to stop the spread of the disease in the classroom. This includes face masks, disinfectant for use against COVID-19, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, tape, paint or chalk to guide social distancing, physical barriers, such as clear plexiglass, air purifiers and other items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Professional development courses related to the curriculum they teach or the students they teach. For these expenses, it may be more beneficial to claim another educational tax benefit, especially the lifetime learning credit. For details, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, particularly Chapter 3.
Qualified expenses don’t include expenses for home schooling or for nonathletic supplies for courses in health or physical education. As with all deductions and credits, the IRS reminds educators to keep good records, including receipts, cancelled checks and other documentation.
Reminder for 2021 tax returns being filed now: Deduction limit is $250
With the tax deadline just around the corner, the IRS reminds any educator still working on their 2021 return that they can claim any qualifying expenses on Schedule 1, Line 11. For 2021, the deduction limit is $250. If they are married and file a joint return with another eligible educator, the limit rises to $500. But in this situation, not more than $250 for each spouse.
Jeffrey Schweitzer Of Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc. Honored As Wrentham’s 2022 Local Business Person Of The Year
BOSTON, MA: February 16, 2022 — The largest online referral network for small businesses, Alignable.com is announcing the results of its national search for leaders who’ve gone above and beyond guiding peers and supporting entire communities as they strive to recover.
Today, Alignable’s network has chosen Jeffrey Schweitzer of Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc. as Wrentham’s 2022 Business Person Of The Year for the second year in a row!
The 2022 contest is the most popular competition Alignable has ever hosted, marking a 64% increase in participation over last year. In all, 2,400+ small business owners were elected by their peers to be their Local Business People Of The Year across the U.S. and Canada.
During the contest, which ran from Jan. 10 to Feb. 11, 2022, 160,000+ votes and 32,000+ testimonials were posted praising thousands of local leaders for helping their peers and communities through a turbulent year with many challenges: skyrocketing inflation, labor shortages, supply chain problems, and COVID variants.
Because of these issues, 70% of small businesses have yet to recover and recovery rates have declined 13% since December, according to Alignable’s latest poll of 6,305 small business owners. This recovery reversal highlights how important it is for the contest winners to continue their work helping even more businesses bounce back from pandemic-era hurdles.
Giving Is The Glue Holding Us Together
“In our tight-knit community, you almost always get back what you give,” said Schweitzer. “And the challenges we’ve all encountered have compelled many of us to offer counsel and other support to peers struggling to keep their businesses afloat. While I’m thrilled to receive this award, it’s really a testament to our entire community. And it reinforces my resolve to push toward a full recovery for everyone here in Wrentham by the end of 2022, if not earlier.”
Schweitzer received a special badge on his Alignable profile, recognizing this big win. In past years, the awareness generated through similar contests has spurred expanded connections, as well as new business for many winners. Schweitzer received the same award for the 2020-2021 contest.
Driving Recognition Is Key
“This has been a fun and rewarding contest to watch unfold,” said Alignable’s President & Co-Founder Venkat Krishnamurthy. “Local business owners are the heart and soul of their communities and they ought to get way more recognition for all they do. Friendly competition aside, this contest generated some incredible peer testimonials (to the tune of 32,000+), showing exactly why small business owners are stronger together.”
To arrange interviews with Jeffrey Schweitzer and/or an Alignable representative, please contact Chuck Casto at email@example.com. He also can offer JPEGs and other visuals, as well as local winner testimonials.
About Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc.
Northeast Financial Strategies Inc. is a financial services organization with highly trained professionals working together to provide products and services to individuals & business owners. The firm is dedicated to problem solving which is reflected in their diversified portfolio of resources. NFS offers Financial & Estate Planning, Investments, Insurance, Accounting, Payroll, Income Tax Preparation, & Notary Public Services for Individuals & Small Businesses.
Since opening their office in Wrentham in the Fall of 2010, Northeast Financial Strategies has consistently been voted by readers #1 in the Wicked Local Awards in the categories of Accountant, Financial Planner and Insurance Agency. NFS have also brought home Regional Favorite Awards in the Accountant & Financial Planner categories consistently since 2016. Jeffrey Schweitzer was also awarded the 2020-2021 Local Business Person of the Year Award by Alignable and identified as a Top 31 Insurance Agency in the Providence area by Expertise.com.
Alignable.com is the largest online referral network for small businesses in the U.S. and Canada. With 7 million+ members across 35,000+ local communities, Alignable is the network where small business owners drive leads and prospects, generate referrals, land new business, build trusted relationships, and share great advice.