Current Events in November 2020

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2020

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    Walmart, Target, and Amazon roll out deals to kick off Black Friday

    Some deals are available now, others start tonight

    Black Friday might lack some of the excitement and dramatic savings of past years, but Walmart, Target, and Amazon -- the three heavyweights in the retail space -- will still make it worth consumers’ while to shop.

    At Walmart, the Black Friday online deals start tonight at 7 p.m. ET and continue at midnight ET on Friday, with stores opening up at 5 a.m. local time. Walmart’s ad circular highlights the following deals:

    • Fitbit Inspire 2 --  $69.

    • 70-inch Vizio 4K TV --  $478.

    • Nintendo Switch Bundle --  $299.

    • AirPods Pro --  $169.

    • Apple Watch Series 3 --  $119

    Thanksgiving will be a big online shopping day

    Target’s latest Black Friday ad offers discounts on smart products for the home, toys, electronics, games, toys, and apparel. Some of the deals went live at Target.com on Sunday, but the bulk will be available on Thanksgiving day.

    Target stores are closed on Thanksgiving but will open as usual on Black Friday. Here are some of the deals listed in Target’s circular:

    • $70 off Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1-inch

    • $70 off Fire HD 10 Tablet 

    • 50 percent off most board and card games

    • $400 Target gift card with purchase of Samsung Note20 5G, Galaxy s20+5G, or Note10+

    New deals each day

    Amazon, which offered a sneak peek at its Cyber Monday deals earlier this week, has been putting up new deals each day since Friday and will continue the offerings through Black Friday itself. 

    Its deals cover a wide range of categories, from health and beauty products to smart devices for the home. Deals include:

    • $149.99 for the Ring Video Doorbell 3 and an Echo Show 5

    • $129.99 for the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition tablet, a $70 savings

    • Up to 30 percent off on select Adidas activewear, backpacks, and more

    • Up to 40 percent off on Gillette and Venus razors, refills and more

    • Up to 30 percent off on STEM toys from Learning Resources

    Despite the expected high volume of shipping resulting from this year’s massive shift to online shopping, Amazon says Prime members in the U.S. can shop a selection of over 10 million items eligible for Prime Free One-Day Delivery with no minimum purchase, and millions of items available for Same-Day Delivery in 47 major metropolitan areas. 

    Black Friday might lack some of the excitement and dramatic savings of past years, but Walmart, Target, and Amazon -- the three heavyweights in the retail...

    Consumer confidence tumbles heading into the holidays

    The drop coincides with a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases

    Consumer confidence has fallen sharply as the nation’s retailers hope to make up some ground lost to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with a robust holiday shopping season.

    The Conference Board’s overall Consumer Confidence Index declined only slightly, buoyed by long-term expectations for the economy. But as for the short-term, many people are significantly less optimistic.

    The Expectations Index – based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – fell from 98.2 in October to 89.5 this month, a fairly significant one-month decline.

    "Consumer confidence declined in November, after remaining virtually flat in October," said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. "Heading into 2021, consumers do not foresee the economy, nor the labor market, gaining strength. In addition, the resurgence of COVID-19 is further increasing uncertainty and exacerbating concerns about the outlook."

    Spike in COVID-19 cases

    During the time that the survey was taken by Nielson, the country was recording more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day, the fastest rate since the beginning of the pandemic. The surge prompted governors in some states to renew restrictions on some businesses and to limit public gatherings.

    The Conference Board notes that consumers have grown less optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy and their personal circumstances. When asked if business conditions would improve over the next six months, only 27.4 percent said they would. In October, 36 percent gave an affirmative answer.

    By the same token, those predicting things would get worse rose from 15.9 percent in October to 19.8 percent this month. The growing pessimism comes amid a record rally on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 30,000 for the first time on Tuesday.

    Consumers' optimism about the job market also eroded in just the last month. In October, 32 percent expected to see more job opportunities in the months ahead -- this month only 25.9 percent do.

    But the drop in confidence, at this point at least, doesn’t appear to be based on personal experience. While the percentage of consumers expecting an increase in income was virtually unchanged at 17.6 percent, there were fewer people who expect to lose income over the next few months.

    Consumer confidence has fallen sharply as the nation’s retailers hope to make up some ground lost to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with a robust holi...

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      Volkswagen recalls Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport with Continental Cross Contact LX Sport tires

      The tires may have been overcured

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 760 model year 2020-2021 Atlas Cross Sport, and model year 2021 Atlas vehicles equipped with Continental Cross Contact LX Sport tires, size 255/50 R 20 105 T.

      The tires may have been overcured.

      Overcured tires can result in a sidewall break causing a sudden loss of air pressure or the tread separating from the tire. Both conditions increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will inspect DOT date code and mold number on the vehicle's tires to see if they are affected, replacing them -- as necessary -- free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin January 12, 2021.

      Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at (800) 893-5298. Volkswagen's number for this recall is 44Q5.

      Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 760 model year 2020-2021 Atlas Cross Sport, and model year 2021 Atlas vehicles equipped with Continental Cross Con...

      BMW Z4s and Toyota Supras recalled

      A fuel tank weld may fail

      BMW of North America is recalling 49 model year 2020-2021 Z4s and model year 2020-2021 Toyota Supras.

      The weld between the fuel tank halves may have been insufficiently welded, causing the weld to fail.

      The failed weld may allow fuel to leak, increasing the risk of a fire in the presence of an ignition source.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel tank free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin January 4, 2021.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417 or Toyota customer service at (888) 270-9371.

      BMW of North America is recalling 49 model year 2020-2021 Z4s and model year 2020-2021 Toyota Supras. The weld between the fuel tank halves may have bee...

      Toyota recalls model year 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles

      The headlights may be misadjusted

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 413 model year 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles.

      The headlight aiming caps may have been improperly closed, allowing for horizontal adjustment of the headlight beam.

      Adjusting the horizontal headlight beam can increase glare, reducing the visibility of an oncoming driver or the vehicle operator, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will close the aiming caps on the headlights free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin January 4, 2021.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at (800) 331-4331. Toyota's number for this recall is 20TA15.

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 413 model year 2021 RAV4 Prime vehicles.The headlight aiming caps may have been improperly closed...

      More Black Friday deals we love

      Compare top holiday sales this year

      The following companies participate in our Authorized Partner Program: The Bouqs, Byte and Identity Guard

      We already told you about some of our favorite Black Friday sales earlier in the week, but we couldn’t help sharing a few more. More stores are running sales earlier in the week before Thanksgiving, and many will continue to offer discounts next week. Keep reading to find out which retailers we’re keeping an eye on.

      Gifts for friends and family

      Looking for a gift to show someone you’re thinking of them? Save big on fishing and hunting gear, outdoor clothing, camping supplies and more from Bass Pro Shops or take advantage of The Bouqs post-Thanksgiving discounts to make a special statement.

      Bass Pro Shops

      • Save up to 65% + free shipping*
      • Offer valid 11/23 - 11/29

      Shop on Bass Pro Shops

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      The Bouqs

      • 25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY*
      • Offer valid 11/23 - 11/27

      Shop on The Bouqs

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Health and self-improvement

      Health is the greatest gift of all. Starting today, you can save $100 and get a free rod upgrade bundle on the Bowflex X2SE model. You can also take advantage of the Byte’s cyber sale — by this time next year, your smile could be straighter, brighter and ready to dazzle the world.

      Bowflex

      • Save $100 + get free shipping*
      • Offer valid 11/25 - 12/2

      Shop on Bowflex

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Byte

      • Up to off $400 impression kits*
      • Offer valid 11/24 - 11/30

      Shop on Byte

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Pet treats and gifts

      This year, Petco is where it’s at for special seasonal treats and toys, and Chewy is a great place to find discounts on the supplies you need anyway. Plus, you can get an extra treat for your puppy or kitty, like a personalized collar, new toy or a cozy bed.

      Petco

      • 50% off Holiday Tails Collection*
      • Buy one, get one on select treats*

      Shop on Petco

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Chewy

      • Save up to 30% or more*
      • Free shipping on orders over $49*

      Shop on Chewy

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Mattress deals

      If you’ve been dreaming of a better bed, we highly suggest you take advantage of the sales below. Get $300 off plus a free pillow when you buy a new Puffy mattress through the end of November. For a limited time, you can also save up to 35% on a new Cocoon by Sealy mattress. Your back, shoulders and hips will thank you.

      Puffy

      • $300 off all mattresses + a free pillow*
      • Offer valid through 11/30

      Shop on Puffy

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Cocoon by Sealy

      • Save 35% (up to $400 off)*
      • Offer valid through 11/30

      Shop on Cocoon by Sealy

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      Identity theft protection

      If cybersecurity threats have been keeping you up at night (and a new mattress doesn’t help), consider a professional monitoring plan. Get more than half off annual terms when you sign up with Identity Guard.

      Identity Guard

      • 60% off all annual terms*
      • Offer valid 11/23 - 12/1

      Shop on Identity Guard

      *Partner terms and conditions apply

      The new year will be over before you know it. If you’re already thinking about 2021 resolutions, check out our guides on home improvements, weight loss programs or learn how to fix your credit.

      More Black Friday deals we love...

      GM to recall 7 million vehicles due to potentially deadly Takata airbags

      Eighteen people have died and hundreds have reportedly been injured by these airbags in the U.S.

      General Motors Corp. (GM) has announced that it plans to recall 7 million 2007-2014 model pickup trucks and SUVs that contain potentially lethal Takata airbags. Those models include Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups; Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe, and Avalanche vehicles; GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups; and various versions of the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

      Takata airbags have a worrisome, costly, and tragic history. All told, tens of millions of vehicles have been recalled for Takata-related problems. In 2016, U.S. senators petitioned that certain Hondas with Takata airbags be taken off the road. 

      Between 2017-2018, Nissan reached a class action settlement over Takata airbag cases to the tune of $97.68 million, and Ford reached its own at a cost of $299.1 million. Defective Takata airbags claimed their 17th and 18th lives earlier this year.

      Takata’s hazards

      The primary issue with Takata’s recalled airbags is that their inflators are made with ammonium nitrate. This chemical can deteriorate over time, and the process can be accelerated by hot and humid conditions. When deterioration reaches a certain point, it can cause the airbags to explode and shoot shrapnel into the passenger cabin. 

      GM’s recall could very well close the door on Takata’s future since it accounts for the final group of cars manufactured with Takata airbag inflators. The decision comes after Takata submitted four unsuccessful petitions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that sought to stop these recalls. 

      “The GM recall is a huge step in the right direction,” said Grace Brombach, an associate with U.S. PIRG. “Airbags exist to protect drivers, not to do more harm. Vehicle owners shouldn’t have to worry that their car’s airbag could be the thing that kills them during a minor fender bender or a more serious collision.”

      How to check if your vehicle is affected

      Vehicle owners can verify whether their GM vehicle is part of the latest recall by visiting https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering their seventeen digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). 

      It might also be good for any vehicle owner to double check to see if their vehicle, especially previously owned ones, was part of any earlier recall.

      General Motors Corp. (GM) has announced that it plans to recall 7 million 2007-2014 model pickup trucks and SUVs that contain potentially lethal Takata air...

      Nearly 60 percent of older adults say they'd get a COVID-19 vaccine

      Researchers found that there are still mixed feelings around getting vaccinated

      A new poll conducted by researchers from Michigan Medicine explored older consumers’ feelings about a COVID-19 vaccine. Their work revealed that nearly 60 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 would get vaccinated, though many still remain unsure about the safety of a vaccine at this point. 

      “Effective vaccines will be crucial to getting this pandemic under control and preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19, especially among people over 50 and those with underlying health issues,” said researcher Dr. Preeti Malani. 

      “Our findings point to a strong need to communicate effectively and transparently about how well the vaccines work, the safeguards built in to protect the safety of recipients, and the public health importance of widespread vaccination starting with priority groups.” 

      Differing viewpoints about vaccination

      For this study, the researchers analyzed nearly 2,000 responses to a survey created by the National Poll on Healthy Aging. All participants were between the ages of 50 and 80, and they were asked a variety of questions that gauged their perception of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

      Overall, the researchers learned that nearly 60 percent of the participants reported that they would get vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. However, just 20 percent of participants said they’d get vaccinated right away; more than 45 percent said they were interested in a vaccine but wanted others to get it first. Those who were between 65 and 80 were the most likely to want to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

      The poll also revealed that respondents with lower incomes, people of color, and women were among the groups who were still hesitant about getting vaccinated. Conversely, those who had higher education levels and those who lived in houses with many people expressed interest in getting vaccinated. 

      Clarity is key

      The researchers say that clear communication with consumers about the vaccine and its potential side effects is key to getting more people vaccinated. While few participants were swayed by their own personal experiences with the virus, the biggest factors in making a decision were the vaccine’s effectiveness, personal research, and doctor’s recommendations. 

      This means that it’s of the utmost importance for all messaging and official reports to be as clear as possible to ensure that consumers -- especially those who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 -- are getting the most accurate information. In recent weeks, companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have all completed trials of a vaccine that yielded more than a 90 percent success rate, which means that deciding on getting vaccinated could be a reality for consumers sooner rather than later. 

      “Any coronavirus vaccine must be FDA-authorized or approved, safe, effective, and accessible,” said researcher Alison Bryant, PhD. “Once vaccines are available, it will be important for Americans to talk to their providers to understand which vaccine is best for them and make an informed choice, and for public health officials to monitor uptake and the impact on community health.”

      “It is also important to engage higher-risk groups, hear their concerns, and work to address them honestly and with sensitivity,” she added. 

      A new poll conducted by researchers from Michigan Medicine explored older consumers’ feelings about a COVID-19 vaccine. Their work revealed that nearly 60...

      Coronavirus update: Cases could double by Jan. 20, fewer people are dying

      More consumers are looking online for Black Friday deals

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 12,433,676 (12,261,424)

      Total U.S. deaths: 258,172 (256,837)

      Total global cases: 59,401,413 (58,819,529)

      Total global deaths: 1,401,106 (1,391,311)

      Model projects 20 million cases by January 20

      A new model constructed by researchers studying the coronavirus (COVID-19) estimates that the U.S. could reach a total of 20 million cases of the virus in just two months. That’s nearly double the current level of cases in the pandemic that began in March.

      The forecasting model, produced by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, predicted that the U.S. would hit the 20 million infections mark by January 20, the day President-elect Biden is sworn in.

      Cases have been rapidly increasing since early October. The severity of the illnesses is rising along with the number of cases, with a record 85,000 people being hospitalized with COVID-19.

      Death rate appears to be leveling off

      Despite the surge in new COVID-19 cases and the dramatic rise in hospitalizations, researchers say patients are surviving at a greater rate than early in the pandemic.

      STAT News cites health experts who suggest the improvement is driven by a more refined understanding of the disease and how to treat it, along with less strain on the health care system. They cite other factors as well.

      Steroids that help save some lives are being used more widely. Also, many of the recent infections involve younger, healthier people who sought treatment in the early stages of the disease’s progression.

      COVID-19 forces changes in Black Friday plans

      The trend was in place for the last several years, but this year, for the first time, consumers are expected to do more Black Friday shopping online than in stores. A survey by Deloitte suggests that 61 percent of consumers plan to look for bargains online instead of in stores.

      For those who do plan to visit retail stores on Friday, 30 percent said a retailer’s COVID-19 safety precautions are almost of equal importance to getting a great deal on a gift.

      "As COVID-19 brings added health and financial concerns, both consumers and retailers are reimagining Thanksgiving shopping traditions,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte. 

      AAA predicts 50 million Thanksgiving travelers

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) couldn’t have made it any clearer. It “strongly advised” Americans not to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, traditionally one of the busiest travel times of the year.

      Americans appear to be ignoring the warning. AAA estimates that 50 million people will travel over the “Thanksgiving holiday travel period,” the five-day period beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25. 

      The U.S. just recently surpassed 12 million cases of COVID-19, and Dr. Anthony Fauci -- the nation’s top infectious disease expert -- is warning that Thanksgiving travel could have a grim ripple effect this holiday season.

      Boys more at risk of falling behind with remote learning

      When schools closed with most of the economy during the spring, classes became virtual. While it was an adjustment for just about everyone, pre-pandemic studies suggest that boys struggle more than girls with virtual learning and are more at risk of falling behind.

      The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers have now found that students have fallen far behind in math because of the loss of in-person instruction that began last spring. The reading losses weren’t as steep.

      “I expect that remote learning will widen the existing achievement gap between boys and girls, assuming that remote learning demands greater conscientiousness than classroom learning,” Rose O’Dea, a postdoctoral researcher who led the analysis, told The Journal.

      Around the nation

      • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are spending Thanksgiving week in quarantine. The governor’s family is taking that precaution after three of his children were exposed to someone with the coronavirus. 

      • Texas: State health officials have compiled a list of the first health care workers who will get the coronavirus vaccine once one receives government approval. They include hospital-based nurses, doctors, custodians, and other workers who have direct contact with patients, as well as the staff of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities who work directly with residents.

      • New Jersey: New statewide restrictions took effect this week in a bid to slow the surge in new coronavirus cases. The outdoor gathering limit is now 150 people, down from 500.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 12,433,676 (12,261,...

      Here’s what people are shopping for on ‘Black Friday week’

      Consumers’ wishlists appear to be top-heavy with electronics

      This year, thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Black Friday has been extended from just one day to most of the month of November. Deals are increasing this week as the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season approaches.

      According to BestBlackFriday.com, most retailers are staging week-long sales promotions that lack the “OMG doorbuster” deals from previous years. But the savings are there, especially when it comes to technology and gadgets.

      The iPhone 12 is reportedly high on many people’s gift lists this year. Other tech items consumers say they want to find under the tree are video game consoles, which got a workout as people spent a lot more time at home during the pandemic.

      BestBlackFriday’s survey of consumers about what tech gifts they valued most found that 17 percent asked for a Playstation 5. Another 9 percent wanted an Xbox Series X/S.

      Fourteen percent requested smart devices for the home, and 7 percent hoped for a foldable phone in their stockings.

      Just three retailers

      The survey also shows that 64 percent of consumers planned to do the bulk of their shopping at three retailers -- Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

      "We're seeing that U.S. consumers are prioritizing electronics purchases and flocking to online marketplaces as many face new `stay at home' orders," said David Sykes, Head of U.S. at Klarna, a payments and shopping service. "Recent Wish List data from the Klarna app echoes these trends, showing that shoppers across all age demographics are particularly interested in personal electronics, footwear and home items as we enter the holiday season."

      Klarna’s survey of consumers also reveals a gift list top-heavy with technology products. The top 10 requested gifts are:

      1. Apple AirPod Pro

      2. Nike Air Force 1

      3. Nintendo Switch

      4. Gramercy Kitchen Glass Food Storage Containers

      5. Vans Canvas Old Skool

      6. MacBook Pro

      7. Apple iPhone 12

      8. Apple Watch Series 5

      9. Adidas Superstar Athletic Shoe

      10. Food Network Acacia Wood Salad Bowl Set

      Electronics sale growing faster than other categories

      Consumers have already made a lot of electronics purchases. Klarna's app data showed that the share of wallet in the electronics category grew by 15 percent in the week ending November 15 when compared to the previous week - the most of any category during the comparison period. 

      The company said this was especially pronounced among Gen Zers and baby boomers, who increased their share of wallet in the category by 19 percent and 21 percent week-over-week, respectively.

      This year, thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Black Friday has been extended from just one day to most of the month of November. Deals are incr...

      IRS urges taxpayers to get head start on 2020 tax preparations

      There are a number of changes, so planning in advance can save time and stress

      It’s still 2020 and there’s plenty of time before the next April 15 Tax Day, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is encouraging taxpayers to take necessary actions now to facilitate a timely and accurate filing of federal tax returns in 2021.

      The IRS knows what a crazy year 2020 has been because of the pandemic, and it’s certainly been a part of that craziness due to changing tax deadlines and extensions. Its basic reason for urging taxpayers to move ahead now is that there are several changes in forms that many filers will have to address. 

      The agency says it may also help people discover potentially overlooked deductions or credits.

      Changes to start preparing for

      Unemployment, gig economy, or refund interest income: On top of the standard documents such as Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and records of virtual currencies, the IRS reminds taxpayers that “income” also includes unemployment income, refund interest, and any income from the gig economy. For example, this could include if an unemployed person started driving for Uber to try and keep their lives afloat during the COVID-19 intermission.

      Miscellaneous Income form has changed: Also beginning in 2020, some individuals will receive Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, instead of Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, if they performed certain services for and received payments from a business. The IRS suggests that anyone in that position refer to the Instructions for Form 1099-MISC -- for miscellaneous income like from a rental property -- and Form 1099-NEC to ensure they’re filing the appropriate form and are aware of this change.

      The IRS also wants taxpayers who have received substantial amounts of non-wage income like self-employment income, investment income, taxable Social Security benefits, and, in some instances, pension and annuity income to consider making quarterly estimated tax payments. The last payment for 2020 is due on Jan. 15, 2021. Payment options can be found at IRS.gov/payments.

      Stimulus check recipients: Taxpayers may also need Notice 1444, Economic Impact Payment (aka the stimulus check), which shows how much of a payment they received in 2020. The IRS says this particular amount is needed to calculate any Recovery Rebate Credit a taxpayer may be eligible for when they file their federal income tax return in 2021. Conversely, people who didn’t receive an Economic Impact Payment in 2020 may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 taxes in 2021.

      Did you move during the pandemic? It may come as a surprise to those who hunkered down in their own homes since the coronavirus outbreak, but nearly 16 million people moved according to USPS data. Those taxpayers should update their records to avoid delays in tax return processing.

      Double-check tax ID numbers: Taxpayers with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) should ensure it hasn’t expired before filing a tax return in 2021. For example, ITINs not used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years will expire on Dec. 31, 2020. If the ITIN has expired, the IRS recommends taxpayers submit Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, now to renew it. Taxpayers who fail to renew ITINs before filing a tax return next year could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits.

      Consider having more tax withheld from paychecks: It’s not a mandatory requirement, but the IRS encourages everyone to do a “paycheck checkup” by using its Tax Withholding Estimator. This will help you make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld from your paycheck and, if not, you can adjust accordingly before 2020 ends.

      It’s still 2020 and there’s plenty of time before the next April 15 Tax Day, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is encouraging taxpayers to take necess...

      Doctors urge transparency about COVID-19 vaccine side effects

      Physicians say people are ‘probably not going to feel wonderful’ after getting the two-dose vaccine

      With a successful COVID-19 vaccine on the way, doctors are urging CDC officials to make sure patients are prepared for the possibility of side effects after getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

      During a virtual meeting on Monday with CDC advisors, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association emphasized the need for drugmakers and health officials to be transparent about side effects. 

      Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines require two doses in order to be fully effective. Fryhofer expressed concern that patients may decide not to come back for the second dose of the shot due to the side effects they may experience after the first shot. 

      “We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”

      Uncomfortable side effects possible 

      In clinical trials for both of the vaccines, patients reported experiencing symptoms including high fever, body aches, bad headaches, and daylong exhaustion, CNBC reported. However, most patients said the symptoms subsided after a day. Participants also said short-lived side effects were better than getting COVID-19. 

      Pfizer and Moderna have both said their vaccines could cause side effects like muscle pain, chills, and a headache -- symptoms that experts say indicate that the body is starting to develop immunity to the virus.

      One participant in the Moderna study said she got a migraine that interfered with her ability to focus. She reported feeling better the following day after taking Excedrin, but she said Moderna should consider advising people to take the day off after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. 

      “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure,” she said. “You will need to take a day off after the second dose.” 

      States are gearing up to start distributing a vaccine as early as next month. Vulnerable populations, such as elderly people in nursing homes, are expected to be first in line to be given the option of getting the vaccine. 

      With a successful COVID-19 vaccine on the way, doctors are urging CDC officials to make sure patients are prepared for the possibility of side effects afte...

      Polaris recalls RZR ROVs

      The vehicle’s clutch can fail, posing an injury hazard.

      Polaris of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 19,000 model year 2020-2021 RZR ROVs sold in the U.S. and Canada.

      The vehicle’s clutch can fail, posing an injury hazard.

      The firm has received 136 reports of clutch failure, including eight reports of debris and clutch component ejection that damaged nearby parts of the vehicle. No injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves model year 2020 RZR PRO XP and RZR PRO XP 4, and model year 2021 RZR PRO XP, RZR PRO XP 4, RZR Turbo S, RZR Turbo S 4, RZR XP Turbo and RZR XP 4 Turbo recreational off-highway vehicles.

      The two or four-seat vehicles were sold in the following colors: Black, blue, gray, lime (green), sand (light brown), orange, red, titanium (silver) and white.

      POLARIS is stamped on the front grille and POLARIS and RZR are printed on the sides of the vehicles.

      The ROVs, manufactured in Mexico, were sold at Polaris dealers nationwide from March 2019, through October 2020, for between $18,600 and $32,300.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free inspection and repair. Polaris is notifying all dealers and contacting registered owners directly.

      Consumers may contact Polaris at (800) 765-2747 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday or online at www.polaris.com and click on “Off Road Safety Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

      In addition, owners may check their vehicle identification number “VIN” on the “Product Safety Recalls” page to see if their vehicle is included in any recalls.

      Polaris of Medina, Minn., is recalling about 19,000 model year 2020-2021 RZR ROVs sold in the U.S. and Canada.The vehicle’s clutch can fail, posing an...

      Hyundai again recalls model year 2007-2012 Veracruz vehicles

      An oil leak could result in a charging system failure

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 60,097 year 2007-2012 Veracruz vehicles that were previously recalled.

      Oil may leak from the front cylinder bank cover gasket, potentially dripping onto the alternator and causing the charging system to become inoperative.

      An inoperative charging system can result in an engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the valve cover gasket and repair it as necessary free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin January 8, 2021.

      Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at (855) 371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 197.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 60,097 year 2007-2012 Veracruz vehicles that were previously recalled. Oil may leak from the front cylinder bank cove...

      Some parents think visiting family is worth COVID-19 risk, poll finds

      Health officials say parents should consider modifying their travel plans this Thanksgiving holiday

      With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise dramatically, health officials have strongly recommended that Americans avoid gathering with people outside of their household this Thanksgiving.

      However, a new poll finds that a third of parents believe holiday gatherings are worth the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. 

      The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found that more than half of parents are sad that the pandemic has resulted in "a substantial decrease in the time their children spend with extended family members.” As a result, 61 percent of parents said they plan to gather in-person with extended family for the holiday. 

      The Mott poll found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe it’s important to prevent the spread of the virus at a family gathering, but 53 percent of respondents said it was important to them that their child(ren) be able to see extended family this Thanksgiving.

      The researchers recommended that parents consider modifying their Thanksgiving plans in light of the circumstances. 

      "In this unique situation, children may be better served if parents are thoughtful about how to preserve family traditions without an in-person gathering," poll conductors said. "Parents may want to talk with children about their favorite Thanksgiving foods, decorations or activities, and then use that input to plan a virtual celebration that includes family members in different locations." 

      Thanksgiving travel advised against

      On Friday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were concerned about people traveling this Thanksgiving holiday period as it could give rise to a surge in COVID-19 infections. 

      "We’re very concerned about people who are coming together sort of outside their household bubble,” Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said on a call with reporters. The agency strongly encouraged all Americans not to gather in person this year, as indoor gatherings are particularly risky. 

      “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year," the CDC said. "It’s important to talk with the people you live with and your family and friends about the risks of traveling for Thanksgiving."

      With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise dramatically, health officials have strongly recommended that Americans avoid gathering with people ou...