Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of March 22, 2021.
Tax time delayed. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced last week that it would extend the tax filing deadline by one month, to May 17, 2021 to accommodate new stimulus payments and a backlog of tax returns. The IRS also gave individuals who owe money on their 2020 tax returns until May 17, 2021, to make those payments. This extension does not include state tax filing, where deadlines may be different. Taxpayers who request an extension of the deadline will have until October 15, 2021, to file, but they still must pay any taxes they owe by May 17.
- The takeaway: The IRS pushed the filing deadline in response to provisions in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The stimulus bill included direct payments for Americans, which the IRS is responsible for administering, as well as changes to the tax code. The American Rescue Plan waived federal income tax on the first $10,200 individuals earned from unemployment benefits. The IRS is expected to release guidance for taxpayers who qualify for that exemption who have already filed their taxes.1
Morgan Stanley takes a bite of bitcoin. Morgan Stanley, which holds $4 trillion in assets, will become the first big U.S. bank to offer cryptocurrency investments to its wealthy clients, reportedly in response to increasing pressure from clients to provide cryptocurrency investment opportunities. The bank will offer two funds from cryptocurrency company Galaxy Digital, as well as one from FS Investments and bitcoin company NYDIG. Only clients with at least $2 million in assets will be allowed to invest in cryptocurrency through Morgan Stanley.
- The takeaway: Morgan Stanley is the latest big financial institution to offer access to cryptocurrency products and services. In February, 2021, Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon Corporation announced that it would start holding, transferring, and issuing cryptocurrencies. And credit card company Mastercard also announced that it would begin supporting certain cryptocurrencies. Historically, big banks have been wary of cryptocurrencies and the potential risks and regulatory concerns that could accompany them. Keep in mind that cryptocurrencies can be volatile, meaning they’re subject to big swings up and down.
Magic returns to Disneyland. Starting April 30, 2021, Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park will be open to the public at a limited capacity. Beginning on April 1, 2021, counties in California with the second-highest level of risk can be open at 15% capacity. The Anaheim, California theme park has been closed for more than a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When the park reopens, more than 10,000 employees will return to their jobs. Disneyworld, located in Orlando, Florida, reopened on July 15, 2020, following an initial shutdown.
- The takeaway: The pandemic has been a drain on Disney’s park and cruise businesses. In the first quarter of 2021, Disney’s revenue from parks, experiences, and products fell 53% to $3.58 million. Disney estimated that Covid-19 has cost the division $2.6 billion in revenue during the first quarter. In September, 2020, Disney laid off 28,000 employees from its Parks, Experiences and Products, line of business, 67% of which were part-time workers.
A vax comeback. AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% effectiveness against Covid-19 illness, and 100% effectiveness against severe illness and hospitalization in a phase 3 trial, the company announced on March 23, 2021. The biopharma company, which developed its vaccine in conjunction with Oxford University, reportedly plans to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval of its shot in the second half of April.
- The takeaway. The use of AstrasZeneca’s vaccine was temporarily halted in parts of Europe earlier in March, following reports of blood clots in some recipients after inoculations. Health experts later determined the clots were unrelated to the shots. If approved by the FDA, the AstraZeneca vaccine would be the fourth available in the U.S., including shots from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.