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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will extend its moratorium on student loan payments until May 1, citing the ongoing pandemic.

Why it matters: The current pause would have expired on Jan. 31, when millions of borrowers were set to resume payments after a nearly two-year hiatus.

The big picture: The move is a reversal of the administration's previous stance. The White House said in August that the extension until Jan. 31 would be the final pause on federal student loan payments.

  • A surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the new Omicron variant put pressure on the administration to extend the moratorium, which has included a 0% interest rate and pause on collections of defaulted loans.
  • "[T]oday my Administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days — through May 1, 2022 — as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery," Biden said in a statement.

What they're saying: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) released a joint statement applauding the decision but maintained that the administration should go further.

  • "Extending the pause will help millions of Americans make ends meet, especially as we overcome the Omicron variant. We continue to call on President Biden to take executive action to cancel $50,000 in student debt, which will help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers and accelerate our economic recovery," they said.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Families won't see child tax credit payments for first time in six months

A protest in support of the child tax credit in December. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Millions of families will not receive the monthly child tax credit payments this weekend for the first time in six months as the program expired at the end of last year.

Why it matters: More than 35 million families have received the payments, according to the IRS. The payments were part of the American Rescue Plan passed in 2021 and were seen as one of the largest anti-poverty measures in modern history.

Updated 16 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.