AICPA’s Financial Literacy Program Offers Resources to Help Americans Weather Financial Impact of Coronavirus

April 14, 2020

  • AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website empowers Americans to make better  financial decisions  
  • For members of the media, CPA personal finance and tax experts are available to assist with stories

NEW YORK (April 14, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a public health crisis, and people’s safety and wellbeing should be their primary concern. However, as the pandemic strains the U.S. economy and impacts millions of Americans, it underscores the precarious financial situation that many in this country live in every day. Americans are encouraged to take advantage of the free tools and resources available on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website to help them develop better money management skills and take control of their financial lives.

Americans began 2020 with record levels of personal financial satisfaction. However, as COVID-19 spread across the country and businesses closed, more than 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last three weeks alone. While experts are split on how long the current economic situation will last, many Americans are faced with difficult financial decisions in the short-term.

“Despite near record low unemployment and a booming stock market, the impact of COVID-19 has been a reminder that many Americans are just one or two missed paychecks away from being unable to meet their basic financial necessities,” said Gregory J. Anton, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “Times of crisis and stress increase the likelihood of making short term financial decisions that wind up having a severely negative impact in the long run. The AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program has free resources to help Americans make sound financial decisions and understand their options during this critical time.”

The AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website offers free tools, articles, calculators, videos and resources – many of which will help people managing the financial impact of COVID-19 - such as:

Make the most of your economic impact payment (aka your stimulus check)
As eligible Americans prepare to receive their stimulus checks, the AICPA wants to remind taxpayers that now, more than ever, sound money management skills are crucially important. Check out this 360 article that details a range of options for how to best use the funds to help weather this unprecedented economic shutdown while protecting your financial future. The article also covers who is eligible, what you need to do to get your check, and other frequently asked questions about how the payments work.

Do’s and Don’ts for Getting Cash in a Pinch
It is understandably hard to think clearly in a financial crisis. For those Americans who have found themselves in a financial pinch where they need money ASAP, this 360 article shares 10 available options, listed from ‘best’ to ‘only as a last resort’ along with pros and cons for each.

Don’t be fooled by Coronavirus-related scams
Disasters have the potential to bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, disasters also bring out the worst in some people. To help Americans avoid falling victim to scammers using the COVID-19 outbreak to try to steal their personal information and money—this 360 article details the types of scams being perpetrated and provides tips to help Americans navigate them and avoid being targeted.

Tax Deadlines Delayed – Use Traditional ‘Tax Day’ for a Check-Up
Traditionally, Americans rush to file their federal income tax returns by April 15. With the deadline to file/pay 2019 taxes extended to July 15th, Americans can use ‘Tax Day’ to look at their financial plan and see what opportunities they have to lower their tax liability for 2019 and beyond.

  • Calculate your 2019 return– if you need money and are due for a refund, consider filing now. If you will end up owing, wait and come up with a plan to make sure you have money when you do file closer to the July 15 deadline.
  • The extension of the federal tax filing and payment deadline also extends the amount of time to make contributions to IRAs and HSAs for 2019. These savings options are excellent ways to put money aside for retirement or medical expenses. Plus, many savings vehicles allow for tax deferrals or deductions.
  • If you haven’t revisited how much federal income tax to withhold from your paycheck in the past year, this is a good time to fill out the new W-4 form.

Q&A with a CPA!
For Americans in crisis, now is the perfect time to check in on their money situation and brush up on their financial education. Developing better money management skills makes it more likely that individuals will reach their financial goals. The 360 website features an ‘Ask the Money Doctor’ section where Americans can submit their specific personal finance questions to be answered for free by a CPA financial planner.

Brand New “Money Minutes” Video Series
Improve your personal finance know-how in just minutes. Members of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission have provided their input in a new personal finance video series. Topics such as how to boost retirement savings, prepare for an emergency and understanding employee benefits are explained in an engaging and easy to understand format.

Spanish-language Resources Available
To help educate Spanish-language speaking Americans, popular personal finance issues and questions are addressed on the 360 website’s Spanish-language portal. Several areas are covered such as fraud, paying for an education, how to raise a saver, tips for online shopping and more. Get started with, ‘Lo Basico’ an overview of six key areas where many people have the most difficulty.

Financial Checkup with free Budget Analysis Calculator
Knowing how much you have coming in compared to how much you’ve committed spend on things like rent, car payment, insurance and other bills is key to better understanding how much you actually have to spend on things like groceries, fun, and other financial goals like paying off debt faster. Americans who need help managing a monthly budget can use the AICPA’s budget analysis calculator to run a report that will show them where their money is going and identify areas for improvement.
 

To speak with a financial literacy expert for stories to help Americans make positive financial choices, members of the media may contact Jon Lynch jonathan.lynch@aicpa-cima.com (212) 596-6033.