Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
The 5 percent savings yield returns
Savers have a golden opportunity to "earn more money on their cash" in 2023, said Lorie Konish at CNBC. The Federal Reserve has used a string of interest rate hikes "to combat record-high inflation." The latest quarter-point increase came just two weeks ago, and after the blockbuster January jobs report "the interest-rate increases are expected to keep coming." The Fed's hikes are letting banks raise the rates they pay on savings accounts. Primis Bank's online savings account last week became the first to top 5 percent in 15 years. Rates on certificates of deposit also are soaring, with one and two-year CDs paying up to 4.85 percent. And this is happening as the Fed's actions pull inflation down, so "the after-inflation return on cash is poised to get a lot better this year."
Nightmare layoff for H1B workers
The wave of layoffs in the technology industry is hitting foreigners with temporary work visas especially hard, said Te-Ping Chen in The Wall Street Journal. Under the terms of the H1B visa program, they have 60 days to find a new job. After that, they have to leave. If they are traveling abroad when they're fired, they can't use these visas to get back into the country, unless they find a new position from abroad. Tech firms are increasingly reluctant to hire. And with the number of tech jobs in the U.S. falling by 32,000 last month, according to IT industry trade group CompTIA, it's extremely hard to land a new job before the grace period runs out. The workers on H1B visas include not only recent grads but also some tech specialists who have been in the U.S. for years, including Indian nationals who have been waiting decades to gain permanent residency.
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IRS flummoxed by state rebate rules
Tax season is underway, said Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times, but the Internal Revenue Service wants you to "hold off on filing your income tax return" if you are one of the millions of people who got a one-time rebate from your state in 2022. Nearly two dozen states sent payments to taxpayers last year as relief against high inflation. The IRS is still determining whether the money "should be treated as taxable income on their federal returns." While disaster relief and social benefits for low-income households generally aren't taxable, other payments might be; tax experts say the IRS has to wade through the programs state by state.
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