Stimulus Checks (Recovery Rebates)

What year will the IRS use to determine my stimulus? The IRS will use your 2018 or 2019 tax returns to determine the amount of your check. The actual credit will be calculated on your 2020 Form 1040. Any advance rebate paid to the taxpayer will reduce the amount of credit in 2020, but not below -0-. The law is written to provide for a payment to taxpayers if the 2020 credit calculation exceeds the rebate already received by the taxpayer. And, if the actual 2020 credit is less than the rebate, the taxpayer is not required to pay back any of the excess cash received. If your income for the year used is higher than your 2020 income you should receive a tax credit in 2020.

What if you tried the “Get My Payment” tool and you received a message that says “Payment Status Not Available”?

According to the IRS:

  • You aren’t eligible for a payment.
  • Your payment is based on your status as a Social Security, disability, Veterans Affairs or Railroad Retirement beneficiary. In this case, the IRS will use your SSA or RRB Form 1099 payment information. Your payment information isn’t available on the Get My Payment tool.
  • You have not filed a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return.
  • You filed your 2019 return, but it hasn’t been fully processed.
  • You used the non-filers tool, but the information you entered is still being processed.
  • There’s a problem verifying your identity when answering the security questions.
  • If you don’t fall into any of those categories, keep checking “Get My Payment.” It’s possible that the system just hasn’t had time to process your information. Information on the site is updated only once a day. The IRS says people who qualify for a payment will receive it by mail if they do not get it through direct deposit.

COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

Economic Injury Disaster Loan via the Small Business Association

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)allows for up to $10,000 of economic relief to small businesses with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19. Funds will be made available within days of a successful application.

The SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time, but you can check the below link daily to stay updated on when additional funds will become available.

Apply Here

PPP (Paycheck Protection Plan)

The PPP provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll since the SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is now accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans.

QuickBooks is now available to a subset of customers, including multi-owner businesses*, using Intuit Online Payroll, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll on QuickBooks 2018, 2019, and 2020, QuickBooks Online Payroll, QuickBooks Self-Employed – users who filed 2019 taxes with TurboTax Self-Employed. Customers who receive notifications in their product should start their application now within QuickBooks Capital so they can submit applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Apply via Quickbooks

Other SBA COVID-19 Relief Options

SBA Debt Relief 

SBA Express Bridge Loan

Local Relief Funds

Loudoun County – Business Interruption Fund
Loudoun County – Facebook Grant
Fairfax County
City of Suffolk
Montgomery Country
Washington D.C.

Unemployment Insurance for Non-traditional Persons

For non-traditional persons applying for UI insurance, you must:

  • Apply and be denied for traditional Unemployment Insurance, with a letter of Monetary Determination via mail,
  • Then apply via the PUA Program (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) and wait for your Monetary Determination letter via mail.

The PUA program is available for 26 weeks plus with the PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) program, that time frame is extended 13 weeks, for a total of 39 weeks of UI that you are eligible for.  Plus under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FBUC) program you are eligible for an additional $600/week until July 31st, 2020.


Virginia – Start Here

Maryland – Start Here

Changes to Your IRA

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) 

If you are age 70 1/2 before January 1, 2020 you are not required to take your 2020 distribution.

If you are aged 70 1/2 last year and were waiting until March 31 to take your 2019 distribution you are not required to take your 2019 RMD or your 2020 RMD. If you took your 2019 or 2020 RMD within the last 60 days you can roll over your distribution to the same or a different IRA within 60 days of the prior distribution and not pay the income tax on the withdrawal as long as you have not made an IRA withdrawal within the 365 days preceding your distribution. Inherited IRAs can take advantage of the RMD suspension for 2020 but they are not eligible for the indirect rollovers within sixty days.


If you are 59 1/2 or younger, distributions of up to $100,000 are not subject to the 10% excise tax in 2020 or on early distributions (only for IRA owners affected by coronavirus).

Distributions of up to $100,000 this year can be reported evenly as income over 2020, 2021 and 2022 and/or repaid.  You will not have to pay the tax on the distribution if you choose to repay the distribution to an IRA or other eligible retirement plan within three years of the distribution (only for IRA owners affected by coronavirus).

Owners affected by coronavirus must meet these requirements:

  • Personally diagnosed with coronavirus
  • Your spouse or dependent is diagnosed with coronavirus
  • Experiencing adverse financial consequences as a result of:
    • being quarantined,
    • being furloughed or laid off,
    • having reduced hours,
    • being unable to work due to lack of childcare,
    • closing or reduced hours of a business owned or operated by the participant, or
    • any other factor determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Tax Deadlines

VA Income Tax Payment Extension & Penalty Waiver – Any Virginia income tax payments due during the time period of April 1, 2020, to June 1, 2020, will now be due on June 1, 2020. This includes individual and corporate income taxes.  Late payment penalties will not be charged if payments are made by June 1, 2020. However, interest will still accrue, so if you can pay by the original filing due date, you should.

The IRS and most states have moved tax return due dates to July 15. Estimated tax filers should pay their second quarter estimated payment by June 15. First quarter payments are due July 15. If you have any questions about deadlines, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Unexpected Loss Financial Checklist

Losing a loved one can be overwhelming and challenging. In the event of an unexpected loss you can turn to The Hopkins Group for guidance and support. A checklist of important financial obstacles is a good place to start and we are here to help you during this difficult time.

  • Family attorney, CPA and Investment Advisor: Consult your trusted team to help settle your loved one’s estate and any final instructions that must be accommodated.
  • File the deceased’s Final Tax Return. Ensure that the executor of the estate has the information necessary to file final income tax returns. Consult with your CPA regarding the requirements for filing estate or trust income tax returns and estate tax returns.  While the 2020 federal estate tax limit is $11.58 million (more if your spouse died previously and you elected portability), the states often have much lower limits for filing.
  • Documents: Locate and review any Estate documents including a will, trust and power of attorney. Gather Financial documents including: stock certificates, title documents, bearer bonds, bank statements, brokerage statements, deeds, prenuptial agreement, life insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts, real-estate ownership, retirement accounts, business ownership, mortgages, owed taxes, credit card debt, unpaid bills, keys to a safe deposit box or home safe.  Collect important Personal documents including: birth certificate, marriage and divorce certificates and Social Security information.
  • Contact Employer: Determine if any outstanding compensation is due. Find out whether surviving dependents are still eligible for health or insurance benefits and whether there is a life insurance policy through the company. Let them know about benefits due to beneficiaries. Check their retirement or pension plans. Notify your employer if this is a death of a spouse which may be a “life event” that may trigger benefit decisions.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): Contact the SSA and any other agency that might be making monthly payments to the deceased. Depending on circumstances, survivor benefits could be payable to you.
  • Veterans Administration (VA): Contact the VA if necessary, they may cover death, burial and memorial benefits. They will also stop any monthly payments that the deceased may have been receiving.
  • Heath and Life Insurance: Contact companies as soon as possible.
  • Change names: Change all property titles and remove your spouse’s name and update insurance policies. Change titles on all jointly-held bank, investment, and credit accounts. Close accounts that were in your spouse’s name only.
  • Credit Bureaus: Send a letter to all 3 major Credit Bureaus and get a copy of your loved one’s credit reports so you’re aware of all debts. The 3 major credit bureaus are EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion. Ask to have a notification in the credit report that says “Deceased – do not issue” so new credit is not taken out in their name.
  • Credit Cards: Notify credit card companies and pay off balances. Work with creditors to pay off any outstanding balances. Usually, the executor of the estate will handle debt liquidation. You are not personally liable for your loved one’s debts unless you’re married (for some debts) or are a co-signer on a loan.
  • College Loans: Call the financial aid office if you have a child in college, you may qualify for more assistance.
  • Utilities: Discontinue if the home will be vacated, ensure that utilities are shut off.
  • Mail: Arrange for the Post Office to forward mail if needed to the executor of the estate.

Document Scanning

Ready to start scanning your documents? There is an app for that too! Clients have personally recommended the CamScanner Basic free app that turns your mobile device into a document scanner and allows you to take a photograph of a document, convert it into a PDF and upload it to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or email it to yourself and others.  Please note that The Hopkins Group will be implementing SmartVault as its secure, document-sharing platform for this tax season.  More details to follow.

ARTICLE: 6 of the Best Document Scanner Apps 

Mileage Tracking

Recent court cases have focused on the taxpayer’s maintenance of contemporaneous records for the deductibility of business mileage and expenses.  This has led the IRS to tighten up on the requirements for record-keeping.  In order to preserve your deduction of business mileage and other costs, please consider using an app as this is an easy way to satisfy these requirements. Our clients are giving us rave reviews about MileIQ. Let us know what you use!

READ:  6 Best Mileage Tracker Apps for Small Business

Retirement Accounts

Changes made by the 2019 SECURE Act to required minimum distributions (RMDs) may affect your retirement accounts. If you turn 70½ after 2019, you can now wait until age 72 to start taking mandated annual withdrawals from your retirement accounts. Updated life expectancy tables proposed by the IRS for 2021 would change how you calculate those amounts. Also, children who draw on a deceased parent’s retirement account now have 10 years to withdraw, effective for distributions starting in 2020.  If you inherited an IRA from an account holder who passed away prior to January 1, 2020, you can continue the current distribution schedule.

The new law also impacts Sec 529 accounts.  Tax-free distributions now include up to $10,000 for repayment of qualified student loans, and expenses for certain apprenticeship programs.  This change was made retroactive to distributions after December 31, 2018.

529 Plans

Now is the time to make a 529 plan contribution before year-end for your child or grandchild!

  • Earnings on assets in a 529 plan are tax-deferred and if the distributions are qualified withdrawals for higher education expenses, they are federally tax free plus tax free in your home state in most cases. Qualified distributions: tuition, room & board, and other related expenses.
  • 529 benefits can now be used to pay for tuition of up to $10,000/yr at elementary and secondary public, private or parochial schools. Tax deduction is possible in over 30 states, including VA, MD and D.C.
  • Plan contributions are gifts from the taxpayer to the 529 beneficiary. The annual gift limit is $15,000/beneficiary ($30,000 if married). You are able to contribute an amount equal to five years of gifts in just one year (up to $75,000, $150,000 for a married couple) with zero gift tax liability.