Short Bits

FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN RELIEF

Individuals with federal student loans can defer their payments for up to six months under the CARES Act. If you’re facing hardship, you can suspend your payments until September 30, 2020 without accruing additional interest. This will happen automatically, meaning you don’t need to contact your loan services to take advantage of federal student loan forbearance.

CHARITABLE GIVING FOR COVID-19

The CARES Act includes a provision to increase deductions for charitable giving during the crisis. If you don’t itemize your taxes, you can take an above-the-line deduction of up to $300. In other words, you don’t have to pay taxes on that amount. If you do itemize your taxes, you can deduct gifts up to 100% of your adjusted gross income, rather than the usual 60%.

PUBLIC TRUST

Trust is high in public health officials like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), according to a recent Gallup poll. Government health agencies earned an 80% approval rate, while hospitals topped the list with 88% approval. The bottom of the list was the news media, which only had a 44% approval on its response to the coronavirus.

MORTGAGE REFINANCES SPIKE

With the Fed lowering the federal funds rate to near-zero in March, mortgage rates have also dropped significantly. As a result, homeowners have been scurrying to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of this savings opportunity. In the last week of March, refinance applications jumped 168% from the previous year. They also increased 26% compared to the week before. Mortgage applications for new homebuyers dropped 24% year over year, as measured by the MBA Purchase Index. This is largely due to the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.