Work from home, pay tax at the office

And more of the week's best financial insight

A home office.
(Image credit: shironosov/iStock)

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Unemployment fraud on an epic scale

"A sophisticated identity-theft scheme may have siphoned off $650 million" from Washington state's unemployment system, said Paul Roberts at The Seattle Times. With 40 million Americans filing for expanded jobless benefits in recent weeks, outdated computer systems at many state offices have become targets for criminal activity. The largest breach, ­carried out by a Nigerian crime ring dubbed ­Scattered Canary, used stolen password data and Social Security numbers to file bogus unemployment claims in Washington and several other states. After the breach was detected last month, Washington managed to ­recover $333 million of the money. The damage has been so extensive, the state brought in the National Guard last week to scrutinize nearly 200,000 claims for fraud.

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Work from home, pay tax at the office

Your tax bill might depend on where your office is located, even if you are working from home, said Laura Saunders at The Wall Street Journal. Several states, including New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, impose what's known as a "convenience" rule. It says, "in a nutshell, if a person has a job based in one state but lives and works in another state out of convenience rather than because the employer requires it, then the person owes income tax to the state where the job is based." Already ­controversial — a bill repealing it has been stalled in the Senate — the rule could see multiple challenges this year. That's because many people are working remotely not for "convenience" but because offices have closed. Given how state budgets are faring during the pandemic, however, tax attorneys don't anticipate taxpayers will get a break.

Half of retirees run short of cash

A government study found that 49 percent of retirees run out of money to maintain their lifestyle within five years, said Dave ­Kovaleski at The Motley Fool. For the rest, spending in retirement fell by an average of 28 ­percent — largely not through choice but "from an inability to meet expenses." For those who were already in debt, the situation is worse. "Only 42 percent of those who carried auto loans, student debt, significant credit card balances, and other forms of debt were able to meet pre-retirement spending levels." Close to three-quarters of retirees with a defined-benefit pension were able to keep up their spending; unfortunately, "the number of people with a pension these days is dwindling."

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