News You Can Use

Successful AstraZeneca vaccine trial, advice on tax withholding: Here's how the headlines could affect your money

Taxpayers have several moves they can make before December 31 to trim their tax bill.

A medical syringe and vials in front of the AstraZeneca British biopharmaceutical company logo in this illustration photo taken on 18 November 2020.
STR | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Markets rebound from weekly losses, experts urge caution around Thanksgiving, and now's a good time to check your tax withholdings. Here's how the headlines could affect your money.

Another effective vaccine

Friday's closing bell left the Dow and S&P with their first weekly declines in three weeks; the Nasdaq also dipped. 

Monday, AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced their Covid vaccine was up to 90% effective in trials. That's the third positive vaccine announcement in as many weeks, including those made earlier by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The three major indexes were up in morning trading. 

Be careful traveling or shopping around Thanksgiving

The CDC urges Americans to stay home on Thanksgiving and celebrate with people in their households. Still, some 1 million Americans plan to fly. Health experts remind travelers to check the Covid numbers and rules for the state they're visiting and to try to keep risks low.

If you go to the mall on Black Friday, they say, treat it like a quick grocery run: Wear your mask and go fast. 

You may not need to go in person at all. Online Black Friday sales have already started, and many retailers have extended return policies.

Take advantage of year-end tax planning moves 

Taxpayers have several moves they can make before December 31 to trim their tax bill, including charitable donations and business deductions for their side hustles.

It's also important to review the withholding on your paycheck to make sure you won't be surprised by extra taxes and penalties. Talk to your HR or payroll department to find out how to update your W-4. You can also use this IRS withholding calculator.

Here's how tax brackets actually work

Video by David Fang

Words you've heard: Withholding tax

A withholding tax is one that your employer takes out of your paycheck and pays the government on your behalf. The withholding amount is based on factors like your filing status, number of dependents, and income from all sources. You should view it as an estimate only; come filing time, some people receive a refund check while some find that they owe. 

Although the daily news can have an impact on your wallet, remember to take a long-term outlook when it comes to decisions on spending, saving, and investing.