We’re back with your weekly updates, but this time, AT NIGHT 🌕
Today we’re sharing a mix of new and old information, including: the new Tax Rebate plan passed by the General Assembly, exciting updates on Same-day Voter Registration in the Commonwealth and we take a look back at the Biden Administration news on Student Loan Forgiveness.
Additionally, we share Virginia headlines including: the Reduction in state income taxes for VA Military and Veterans, the Multi-billion dollar transportation projects happening in Northern Virginia and how the VDH is fighting lead contamination in our water supply.
COVID Data Note: This week we couldn’t access the VDH COVID data, but we will return to sharing this information once the website is back up and running.
To read more about today’s newsletter, please visit the link in our bio!
In this week’s newsletter, we have news on:
▪️ Virginia Tax Rebate
▪️ Same-day Voter Registration starting Oct. 1
▪️ Student Loan Forgiveness Reminder
▪️ Virginia Headlines: Military & Veteran Tax Reduction, NOVA Transportation Projects, Fighting Lead Contamination in Water Supply.
💲 Virginia Tax Rebate
In the coming days, rebates will start going out to eligible taxpayers, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation.
The rebate is part of a bipartisan plan passed through the state budget and approved by the General Assembly. The rebates will include one-time payments of up to $250 per individual and up to $500 per married couple. Rebates will be issued via direct deposit and paper checks.
The Virginia Department of Taxation lists the following as rebates that require a check:
Tax returns with no banking information
Tax returns for taxpayers who owed additional tax
Direct deposits that were rejected due to closed bank accounts
Partial rebates due to a taxpayer debt setoff
Virginians may get less than the maximum or nothing at all if they owe money to certain government agencies and institutions. Affected taxpayers will need to resolve those issues with the debt setoff agency.
Note: Virginia Tax’s call center is not staffed to service both rebate and “business-as-usual” calls. To mitigate this, Tax Commissioner Craig Burns said they contracted with a third party to handle program calls.
🗳 Same-day Voter Registration
Same-day voter registration is coming to Virginia!
Here’s what to know:
Same-day voter registration is taking effect in the state just in time for the midterms in November. Instead of the voter registration window closing about three weeks out from an election, the new law HB 185 will allow voters to fill out a registration form and cast a ballot after that deadline, up to and including Election Day. With that, registration after the deadline will only be allowed in person, either at the local registrar’s office or at a polling place.
Ballots cast by late-registered voters won’t go directly into the scanners like a regular ballot would. Those voters will be allowed to cast provisional ballots, giving election officials time to verify paperwork and ensure the vote is valid before it is counted.
Though slightly more complicated for voters, setting the ballots aside for additional review lightens the burden on local election offices and could help alleviate concerns a bad actor could register and cast ballots in multiple cities or counties on Election Day by giving different addresses at each stop.
Virginia polling places have limited Internet connectivity by design, which makes it difficult for poll workers to conduct real-time checks to see if a would-be voter is already registered somewhere else.
Treating the ballots as provisional, said Elections Commissioner Susan Beals, will give local registrars time to use the statewide voter system to perform those checks.
🏦 Student Loan Forgiveness Recap
Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness?
$10,000 for federal student loan borrowers who didn't receive Pell Grants (only applies to those earning less than $125,000 a year or couples earning less than $250,000 a year)
$20,000 for federal student loan borrowers who received Pell Grants
The Biden Administration also announced that the pause on federal student loan repayments will be extended one final time through Dec. 31, 2022. Borrowers should expect to resume payment in January 2023.
How can I apply for loan forgiveness?
The U.S. Department of Education said a simple application to receive forgiveness will be ready by “early October.” In the meantime, borrowers can sign up to be notified when this information is available at StudentAid.gov/debtrelief.
Will loan forgiveness trigger taxes?
Student loan forgiveness won’t trigger a federal tax bill. That’s because the American Rescue Plan of 2021 made student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025 — and the law covers Biden’s forgiveness, too, according to a fact sheet from the White House.
You don't have to wait for student loan forgiveness!
There are plenty of student loan forgiveness programs to consider, according to Federal Student Aid (FSA). See if you qualify for any of the following:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Available to full-time employees of qualifying government agencies or non-profit organizations who have made at least 120 on-time payments.
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan: Allows borrowers to adjust their monthly payments according to their discretionary income; after a certain number of payments, any remaining balance may be forgiven.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Full-time teachers in certain low-income areas may qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness after teaching for at least five consecutive years.
Military Forgiveness: Certain branch members may qualify for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) student loan repayment after qualifying for military service.
There are also many state programs as well as forgiveness options for employees in certain fields. For example, if you are a nurse, doctor, pharmacist, or select other medical professionals and agree to work in specific facilities (such as research hospitals or those serving low-income communities), you may qualify to get a portion of your loans repaid each year.
WDBJ 7: Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed two bills reducing state income taxes for Virginia’s Military and Veteran Community. This will apply to military retirement income for veterans age 55 and older at a phased in rate of $10,000 in taxable year 2022, $20,000 in taxable year 2023, $30,000 in taxable year 2024, and up to $40,000 in taxable year 2025.
WTOP News: Transportation authority weighs $75 billion in Northern Virginia projects. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is looking for feedback from the public on its long-range TransAction plan, which is supposed to guide the region’s transportation project priorities through 2045. Featuring an estimated $75.7 billion in potential projects across all of Northern Virginia, the plan includes 191 road projects, 104 transit projects, 54 intersection/interchange projects and 51 “non-motorized” projects for pedestrians and cyclists, though authority officials often point out that some of the road projects come with additional benefits for those on bicycles and those on foot.
ABC 8 News: Virginia receives $46 million to fight lead contamination in water supply. The Virginia Health Department will receive $46 million in federal funding to replace lead water lines throughout the state, in an effort to fight contamination in the commonwealth’s drinking water. The funding, which came as part of the Infrastructure Act passed last year, goes to the state Office of Drinking Water, which oversees health standards for the patchwork of local systems that provide water to Virginia households.
The funding comes on the heels of a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, where a sudden shutdown of the city’s water services has compounded a long-standing lead contamination issue. There, the Republican-led state legislature has largely refused to lend assistance to the majority-Black city, which faces billions in much-needed repairs to alleviate the crisis.
Thanks again for joining us! Let us know what you thought down below and catch back up with us next week for another VA Updates Newsletter.
- María Reynoso, Editor-in-Chief