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American Finances Updates: Latest news on the Gas Prices Stimulus Check, 2022 Social Security COLA payments

Our live blog this Saturday March 19 brings you all the latest financial news from across the USA, outling the various benefits programs on offer, the latest developments in Social Security payments and the government’s response to rising gas prices and inflation.
Many people in the United States have been left wondering what financial support is available in 2022, with stimulus checks now a thing of the past while some programs, like the expanded Child Tax Credit, have not yet been renewed. In this March 19 live blog, we will bring you the latest news and updates on the financial situation in the USA and what is on offer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away but now no longer carries the same threat as it did, so many of the programs available are for more general needs, such as helping citizens against the rise in inflation, the increase in gas prices and so on.

In response to the rising gas prices, there have been calls from Democrats in California for taxpayers to receive a 400 dollar tax rebate stimulus check, designed to help combat rising inflation and rising costs at the pump. That and other similar initiatives are discussed in more detail below.

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The Lifetime Learning Credit is for qualified tuition and related expenses paid for eligible students enrolled in an eligible educational institution.

The LLC can help pay for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree courses, including courses to acquire or improve job skills.

There is no limit on the number of years you can claim the credit. It is worth up to $2,000 per tax return.

If your Modified Adjusted Gross Income is between $59,000 and $69,000 ($118,000 and $138,000 if you file a joint return).

https://www.marca.com/en/lifestyle/us-news/2022/03/19/6236010f46163fac848b45aa.html
The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 in the United States was a 40-year high of 5.9 percent due to the higher rate of inflation brought about due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this percentage is set to drop in 2023.

So far, following five months of the measuring period ahead of the January 2023 COLA for retirees, it currently stands at 3.9 percent – a decrease of two percent.
This is, however, a rise of 0.9 percentage points from February in the inflation index utilised to calculate the adjustment.

Read more about the COLA 2023 prediction.

The IRS is inviting U.S. taxpayers to file their taxes electronically this year, and it will be processed promptly.

The agency says Americans should apply for tax refunds – if they are due one – by direct deposit.

Mortgage rates rose above 4%, which hasn’t happened since May 2019, as a result of the Federal Reserve moving to curb inflation.

The move ends the Fed’s pandemic-era easy money policy after the central bank announced it would raise interest rates for the first time since 2018
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.16% in the week ending March 17, compared to 3.85% the previous week.

There are millions of Social Security recipients across the USA who have begun to receive increased payments this year thanks to the 5.9 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase.

The most recent payments went out on March 16 to those retirees born between the 11th and the 20th of the month. Anyone born from the 1st to the 10th has already had their money come through this March, while those with a birthday between the 20th and the 31st of the month will see their money arrive on March 23.

There are approximately 70 million Americans claiming Social Security payments, with the aforementioned 5.9 percent rise due to the COLA, which is a 1.3 rise compared to last year. Also, the maximum amount of money subject to the Social Security tax has also increased, going from 142,800 dollars in 2021 to 147,000 dollars in 2022. The Social Security tax rates are staying the same, which is 6.2 percent for employees and 12.4 percent for self-employed workers.

Read more about the latest batch of Social Security Payments.
As a result of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions put upon Vladimir Putin’s country, gas prices in the USA have risen at a sharp rate.
In fact, for the first time in a decade, gas prices even went as high as four dollars a gallon. The previous high was set at 4.103 dollars per gallon back in 2008, but now a new high has been set with 4.104 dollars.

Nevertheless, oil prices are continuing to fall. In the last week the oil price decreased by 30 percent, following the spike caused by Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Democratic state lawmakers in California have suggested that taxpayers could receive a 400 dollar tax rebate check to help with the high costs of everyday expenses such as gas.

Read more about the Rising Gas Prices.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the standard mileage rate for the use of an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes
Taxpayers are advised to apply for the standard mileage rate in the first year that they are using the car for business purposes. Then, they will have the option to choose between this rate and the actual expenses.

The new rates came into effect back on January 1, 2022, and they are related to the use of cars including vans, pick-ups and panel trucks.

Read more about the Mileage Reimbursement Rate in 2022.
Many people across the USA will have been keen to get in their tax returns on time, knowing that down the line they are likely to receive a tax refund.
After all, the sooner that it is filed, the sooner you will get a refund. Since tax season got underway on January 24, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have returned at least 78 billion dollars to the US public.

In February 2021, the average tax refund was 2,880 dollars. However, this year it is 3,536 dollars on average. Therefore, the average amount received as a tax refund has increased 23 percent compared to last year.

Read more about IRS Tax Refunds.

The expanded Child Tax Credit payments has now come to an end in the United States, having been made available during the second half of 2021.

Families were able to receive 3,600 dollars for each child aged under the age of six, and 3,000 dollars for each child aged between six and 17. There was then the option to either receive half of this money on a monthly basis, or it could be received as a full lump sum once the individual had filed their 2021 taxes.

However, this expanded program has not continued into 2022 after an agreement could not be struck across all Democrats to support Joe Biden’s Build Back Better initiative. In particular, Sen. Joe Manchin was the opposing vote that caused the plans for the expanded Child Tax Credit program to fall through.

Read more about the plans with Child Tax Credit.

There has been a proposal from Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah for a new stimulus check to be made available for American families.

Through his Family Security Act proposal, eligible families with children up to five years of age would get $350 per month, while families with children between the ages of six and 17 would get $250 per month.

«Now is the time to renew our commitment to families to help them meet the challenges they face as they take on most important work any of us will ever do-raising our society’s children,» Romney said. It remains to be seen, though, if this measure will pass.

Read more about the Family Security Act 2022.

Given the way in which prices are rapidly rising in the USA, the US Federal Reserve have taken the decision to raise interest rates for the first time since 2018 in a bid to bring things back under control.

The benchmark rate will be lifted by 0.25 percent by the US central bank, and they have warned that further rate rises could follow in the months ahead. This comes against the rise in inflation in the USA, which hit a 40-year high of 7.9 percent in February.

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Fact check: Here’s the truth about crime in Manhattan

As former President Donald Trump and his allies attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Monday in Manhattan to castigate Bragg for his handling of violent crime.

But Trump and other Republicans, including committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Vice President Mike Pence, have made false claims about the crime situation in Manhattan and New York City. Contrary to their claims in recent weeks, neither the borough of Manhattan nor the city as a whole has been even close to a record level of crime, violent crime or murder since Bragg was sworn in as Manhattan’s top prosecutor in 2022.

And Bragg’s office is correct when it points out that Manhattan has experienced declines in key crime categories so far in 2023 compared with 2022. However, it’s also true that many of Manhattan’s crime numbers increased in 2022 compared with 2021.

It’s impossible to quantify how much Bragg had to do with either the 2023 decrease (it’s early in the year) or the 2022 increase (which was a continuation of a trend that began months before Bragg was elected in 2021); in general, it is extremely difficult to determine how much any jurisdiction’s crime numbers, positive or negative, can be attributed to the local district attorney. There is always a complicated mix of factors at play, from the economy to policing to the corrections system to social policy to the weather to, since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have a tendency to want to blame one person, or credit one person, when in reality these are complex systems that rise and fall for often complex, random reasons that we don’t have the ability to explain – but it’s easier to say, ‘It was Joe Schmoe over there,’” said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and consultant and co-founder of the firm AH Datalytics.

Here’s a look at what Manhattan crime numbers actually show and do not show.

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Global EV sales jump 66% in 2022, lifting market share to 9.5%

Global electric vehicle sales climbed 66.6 percent in 2022 from a year earlier to 7.26 million units, data from a research firm showed Saturday, reflecting a rapid shift in the industry to zero-emission vehicles to meet stricter emission regulations.

The number accounts for 9.5 percent of overall auto sales of 76.21 million vehicles last year, expanding from 5.5 percent in 2021, according to Tokyo-based MarkLines Co.

European and Chinese automakers are boosting EV sales, while Japanese carmakers strive to catch up with global rivals.

Honda Motor Co., for example, has teamed with Sony Group Corp. to set up a 50-50 venture to make new electric vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp. plans to expand its all-electric vehicle lineup and boost its EV sales to 1.5 million vehicles annually by 2026.

Excluding EVs, global sales fell 7.4 percent to 68.95 million vehicles.

By market, China posted an about 80 percent surge in EV sales to 4.53 million vehicles while Western Europe including Germany and Britain saw EV sales soar by about 30 percent to about 1.53 million vehicles.

Approximately 800,000 EVs were sold in the United States last year and 50,000 in Japan.

Among EV makers, the leading manufacturer, Tesla Inc., boosted sales to around 1.27 million vehicles in 2022 from about 880,000 the year before. Chinese EV giant BYD Co. sold approximately 870,000 vehicles last year, compared with 320,000 the previous year.

The alliance of Nissan Motor Co., French partner Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. ranked seventh with sales of about 280,000 EVs.

Toyota, the world’s largest auto seller, sold 24,000 EVs in 2022, according to the company.

==Kyodo.

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Saints had options at wide receiver in Mel Kiper’s latest two-round mock

The Saints add two offensive players with their first three picks.

Another day, another mock draft. This time it’s ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr.’s recent two-round mock draft (Insider required) that has the New Orleans Saints address their top three positions of need with their first three picks.

A run of receivers in the first fifteen picks, including Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (8th overall to the Atlanta Falcons), USC’s Drake London (10th overall to the New York Jets), and Ohio State WR Chris Olave (15th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles), left the Saints without a bunch of options at the 16th pick. Tackles Ikem Ekwonu out of NC State (5th to the Giants), Alabama’s Evan Neal (9th to the Seattle Seahawks), and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross (13th to the Houston Texans) left the Saints without many options there either. Quarterback Malik Willis out of Liberty was also off the board, landing in the NFC South to the rival Carolina Panthers 6th overall.

This left some of the top prospects on the board as LB Nakobe Dean out of Georgia, LT Trevor Penning out of Iowa, DT Jordan Davis from Georgia, Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, and Alabama WR Jameson Williams, all of whom fit with the Saints needs.

In Kiper’s mock, the Saints passed on Kenny Pickett and instead opted to replace Terron Armstead on the left side of the offensive line by selecting Trevor Penning:

16. New Orleans Saints (via PHI/IND)

Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Speaking of the Saints, I have a hard time believing the trade with the Eagles was to take a quarterback. Why wouldn’t they try to move up higher? (Unless there’s another move to come.) It’s possible they think they are NFC contenders this season and could be put over the edge with two more starters. With that in mind, here’s a tackle who could replace Terron Armstead on the left side. Penning is a nasty, physical blocker who is ready to play immediately.
In the two picks immediately following the Saints’ selection at 16, the pair of Georgia defensive players – Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis – were picked, leaving the Saints with yet another opportunity to draft Kenny Pickett if the team so desired.

Instead, the Saints take the best receiver on the board, picking Alabama’s Jameson Williams:
19. New Orleans Saints (via PHI)

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Even if Michael Thomas comes back healthy, the Saints should address wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks. Williams would have been in the discussion to be the No. 1 wideout in this class, but he tore his ACL in the national title game in January and could miss a little time in 2022. He could be a superstar once he’s healthy; he has explosive speed and was uncoverable for the Crimson Tide last season. ACL injuries aren’t even close to career-ending anymore, so I don’t see this as a risky pick. Williams is worth it.

Pickett ended up going one pick later to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and fellow RAS-star, Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, was the first quarterback taken in the second round, 40th overall to the Seattle Seahawks.

When the Saints were on the clock with the 49th pick, they had plenty of options still at quarterback (North Carolina’s Sam Howell, anyone?), and grabbed Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral:

49. New Orleans Saints
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Corral is a tough evaluation. He wants to play like Josh Allen but doesn’t have the size — he’s only 6-foot-2. He was the only player in the country last season with 3,300-plus passing yards and 500-plus rushing yards. Will he be able to consistently make every throw in the NFL? That’s why I think he’s a safer bet on Day 2. He would make a lot of sense in New Orleans, where he could get an evaluation year behind Jameis Winston.

Options available for the Saints at 49 if they passed on Corral included wide receivers like Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, Alabama’s John Metchie III, and Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce; Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III; and a pair of tight ends in UCLA’s Greg Dulcich and Colorado State’s Trey McBride.

That left the Saints with QB Matt Corral, LT Trevor Penning, and WR Jameson Williams from their first three picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Other possible sets include QB Kenny Pickett, WR Jameson Williams, and T Abraham Lucas; DT Jordan Davis, WR Christian Watson, TE Trey McBride; or even LT Trevor Penning, QB Kenny Pickett, and WR Jalen Tolbert.
Which set would you prefer? Would you be happy with Mel Kiper’s mock draft if the board fell that way for New Orleans? Let us know in the comments. Send me presents.

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