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If your stimulus payment isn't direct deposited, be vigilant and don't throw the check out with your junk mail

Particularly if you receive your payment on a debit card, the envelope may not suggest there's something valuable inside.

Don’t put your treasure in the trash! The second round of COVID-19 relief payments from the IRS has been sent. Many of you will get the money by direct deposit or by check. But some of you may get the payments in the form of a debit card mailed to you. 

When the first round of payments went out in the spring and summer of 2020, the card payments came in a blank envelope, and some people tossed it because they thought it was junk mail. AARP wrote about the phenomenon at the time. So be vigilant.

If you haven’t gotten paid yet, the IRS ‘Get My Payment’ website is active again. USA Today recently answered a lot of relief payment questions.

Oil recovers some lost ground

Since late October, oil has generally been flowing uphill. Recently, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate fetched about $50. That’s the first time it’s done that since before the pandemic started. That trend is good news for Texas because the state budget assumes oil will sell for just $41 per barrel this year.

The higher the price, the more the state can collect in taxes. The Texas Comptroller’s September 2020 report showed that in the last fiscal year, oil tax revenue was down by 16.92%, which equates to a total drop of $546,405,512. In their session that starts next week, state lawmakers in Austin will be reckoning with that hole in the bank account. 

Going forward, the oil industry in Texas could be in a challenging environment. The number of active oil rigs in Texas has gone from 403 in the first week of 2020 to just 161 on Dec. 31, 2020.