FINRA Issues Warning: Pandemic Volatility Highlights Oil-Linked ETPs Unsuitable for Some Investors

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, issued an eye-catching warning in Regulatory Notice 20-14 about a particularly complex and risky type of security: Oil and Gas Exchange Traded Products, or ETPs. High concentrations in the oil and gas sector, especially with complex, risky, and volatile products like ETPs, may become a frequent subject for investor litigation in the upcoming year and fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. To quote FINRA, “the performance of such products may be linked to unfamiliar indices or reference benchmarks, making them difficult for the average investor to comprehend.”

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Helpful Video on Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Application

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and how our clients can maximize the amount that is forgiven. While this is a bit of a moving target, our friends at Geffen Mesher have put together a helpful video on working through the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Forgiveness Application that we wanted to commend to your attention.

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Where’s My Stimulus Check?

The IRS sent out the first wave of stimulus payments this  past week to around 80 million Americans. In order to speed up the process, the IRS has prioritized sending payments to Americans that have previously submitted their direct deposit information with the agency. Those that have not authorized a direct deposit account with the IRS will receive their stimulus payment in paper check form. However, the IRS estimates that it only has the capacity to mail out 5 million checks a week, so many Americans will not receive their payment until likely August or later.

Based on the income level eligibility requirements, at least 90% of Americans should qualify for at least some amount of stimulus payment. If you think you should have received your stimulus payment by now, here are several reasons why the IRS has delayed your payment.

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Treasury Department Releases Additional Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program

On April 8, 2020, the U. S. Treasury Department updated its “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)” guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that is being administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). While this document was previously issued by the Treasury Department, it has been updated to address some of the questions that borrowers and lenders have raised as lenders have been inundated with applications for the forgivable loans under the PPP. Congress is currently considering allocating another $200 to $250 billion to the PPP.

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U.S. Treasury Releases Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application, Additional Information

On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department released the initial loan application for borrowers under the “Paycheck Protection Program,” a Small Business Administration (SBA) forgivable loan program that is part of the CARES Act passed by Congress last week.  In addition, the Treasury Department provided borrowers with an “Information Sheet” for borrowers under the program.

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Changes to Charitable Giving Limits in the CARES Act

The newly passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) contains two provisions that will be of interest to folks who want to help their communities this year.  Section 2104 creates an above the line deduction of up to $300 for contributions made in 2020. This is important because after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) a couple years ago, many folks no longer itemize, which means that they are not eligible to receive a tax benefit for the charitable deductions that they make over the course of the year. So, if you now claim the standard deduction, individual taxpayers can claim a deduction for the amounts up to $300 that they donate to charity. They don’t let you double-dip though, so if you itemize, you would claim your deductions on Schedule A as usual.

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Family Law Experts Issue Recommendations for Co-Parenting During Pandemic

Lots of families are struggling with how to best protect and parent children as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, divorced parents may have additional concerns, such as “Is it safe to allow my children to travel to their other parent’s house for parenting time?,” “How can supervised parenting time continue if it was usually held at a restaurant?,” and “When is spring break, anyway?”

While each family may decide to approach these issues differently, the Oregon Statewide Family Law Advisory Committee (“SFLAC”) has issued recommendations for families who cannot reach their own agreements. Some common issues are addressed.

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