Entitled to Vaccines, Undocumented Immigrants in U.K. Struggle for Access

LONDON — In early February, the government of Britain announced that every person living in the country would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, free of charge, regardless of their immigration status. Public health experts praised the decision, necessary to ensure the safety of everyone, while others raised alarms at the prospect of noncitizens jumping ahead of eligible Britons.

“No one will get their vaccination out of turn,” Edward Argar, a British health minister, said in an interview. The disease, he added, is “looking for victims, it’s not worried about immigration status.”

As in much of the world, the virus has ravaged immigrant communities in Britain, many of which supply the bulk of frontline workers in grocery stores and domestic care. Many immigrants also live in crowded, multigenerational housing that exposed older family members throughout the pandemic. The government’s so-called vaccine amnesty was designed to encourage even those without legal status to come forward and get vaccinated.

But more than a month after the announcement, many undocumented immigrants said they remained fearful that asking for a vaccine would risk arrest or deportation. Others said they had been denied registration at local doctors’ offices, which often ask for identification or proof of address — although neither is required to access primary care.

hostile environment” policy that aimed to force those without legal status to leave the country by blocking their access to jobs, bank accounts and free medical care.

“It’s all very well to say, ‘Anyone can get a vaccine,’” said Phil Murwill, the head of services at Doctors of the World U.K. “But for years there was a deliberate policy of creating a hostile environment for undocumented immigrants that has put people off from accessing any kind of care. And we’re seeing that play out now.”

Outside estimates put the number of undocumented immigrants in Britain somewhere between 800,000 and 1.2 million, or just under 2 percent of the population. (The British government has not estimated the size of this population since 2005, when it was said to be 430,000.) It is a significant group that includes many at-risk workers, and one that epidemiologists say the vaccination campaign — which has so far given nearly half the population at least one dose — must reach if Britain hopes to safely exit the pandemic.

This month, Ghie Ghie and Weng, two undocumented domestic workers from the Philippines, walked arm in arm to the Science Museum in London, one of more than the 1,500 vaccination sites across the country. (Like other undocumented people interviewed for this article, the women asked to be identified only by their first names for fear of arrest.) Ghie Ghie had gotten her first shot of the vaccine the previous weekend and was hoping Weng could get hers.

booked an appointment online under the category of health and social care workers, which the government defined as “doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff.” (As of last week, those age 50 and older are now eligible in England.)

prioritize vaccinating those in jobs done primarily by undocumented immigrants, like farm work. But Britain did not extend the social care worker category to include domestic workers, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson confirmed in an email.

“We are caring for children and elderly and the disabled,” said Marissa Begonia, founder of the Voice of Domestic Workers. “It’s not a lie. By our definition, we are social care workers.”

Weng works part time for two families, traveling between the households each week. “I want to get my vaccine in case the government asks, so that I can show I am not putting anyone at risk,” she said as she waited in line at the vaccine center. She re-emerged about 30 minutes later, proudly clutching the card showing she’d received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In 2018, the Home Office, the government ministry in charge of immigration, officially withdrew a data-sharing agreement that used patient information from the National Health Service to track down people thought to be violating immigration rules. (Data sharing still exists for deportation cases involving serious crimes.) The Department of Health and Social Care has said that anyone undergoing vaccination, testing or treatment for the coronavirus would not be subject to immigration status checks.

two agencies share patient information, most commonly in cases of undocumented immigrants with an unpaid medical debt of 500 pounds (around $690) for more than two months. Primary care, including treatment by a family doctor, is free whereas secondary care — hospital visits, surgeries, maternal care — is not.

Those working on behalf of undocumented immigrants say that this hybrid health care system only adds to the confusion about what benefits undocumented immigrants are entitled to. “The government needs to suspend all charging and data sharing operations if they want to prioritize the widest possible access to public health,” said Zoe Gardner, a policy adviser for the Joint Council for The Welfare of Immigrants.

When Huseyin, a 30-year-old undocumented chef, found out that he could see a family doctor for free — and eventually be called for a vaccine — he said he immediately tried to register. That was three months ago.

He said a family clinic in London had asked for a valid passport or ID before turning him away. A few weeks later, he moved to Brighton, England, for a full-time job at a restaurant. He tried again with a local doctor there but was told — incorrectly — that he needed an N.H.S. number to register with them.

“N.H.S. guidance says nothing about documentation, but nobody teaches you when you’re in medical school about a patient’s right to access a G.P.,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bates, an associate general practitioner in the West Midlands. “That the N.H.S. is for everybody is something many British people are very intrinsically proud of, but even some doctors don’t understand that their practice may have these policies that prevent people from registering.”

Huseyin is now getting registration help from Doctors of the World U.K., a nonprofit that works to ensure access to health care for those with unclear immigration status. He’s young, though, and is unlikely to be called for a vaccine for months.

“I want the vaccine to protect myself and my community,” he said. “We are everywhere — the corner shops, restaurants, factories, hotels. Undocumented people are everywhere.”

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Police Response at Sarah Everard Vigil Was Appropriate, Investigators Say

It added that “public confidence in the Metropolitan Police suffered as a result of the vigil,” and noted the effect of the images of the officers arresting women.

“A more conciliatory response after the event might have served the Met’s interests better,” investigators said. One line in the report was particularly critical of the “chorus of those condemning the Metropolitan Police, and calling for the resignation of the commissioner, within hours of the arrests,” which it called unwarranted.

It said that while “a certain degree of uninformed commentary, particularly on social media, is inevitable, in this case some of the leading voices were those in positions of some responsibility,” appearing to take aim at politicians, some of whom had called for the leader of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, to step down.

The reaction to the investigation, commissioned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Home Office, the government ministry that oversees policing, has been mixed.

Mr. Khan, who previously said he was “surprised and angry” at the police response, said that he accepted the report, in a statement to The Mirror.

But, he added, “It is clear that trust and confidence of women and girls in the police and criminal justice system is far from adequate.”

Others were more critical. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party who represents a district around the site of the vigil, said she would welcome further reviews because the reportwill offer little reassurance to my constituents” and others who saw “video footage of the disgraceful scenes.”

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Jessica McClintock, 90, Dies; Dressed Generations in Lace and Satin

Jessica McClintock, a fashion designer whose romantic, lacy confections dressed generations of women for their weddings and proms, died on Feb. 16 at her home in San Francisco. She was 90.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said her sister, Mary Santoro.

In 1969, Ms. McClintock was a newly divorced mother and had been teaching science and music to sixth graders in Cupertino, Calif., when she invested $5,000 in a San Francisco dress business called Gunne Sax. (In creating the name, the founders, Eleanor Bailey and Carol Miller, had riffed on the idea of a “sexy gunny sack,” according to Vogue magazine.)

Soon after, Ms. McClintock became the sole owner, designer and saleswoman. She had no design training, but she could sew.

Inspired by those she called San Francisco’s “flower children,” she began making calico, lace and beribboned pastiches known as granny dresses. It was a style — a little bit Victorian, a little bit prairie — that hippies in the Haight-Ashbury section had popularized by putting together the wares of vintage clothing stores.

Dorothy Rodham, said no way: She had to wear something new for her wedding.

Representative Jackie Speier, who serves California’s 14th District, in the Bay Area. Ms. McClintock designed a wedding dress for her. (Ms. Speier called her “the fashion designer for Democrats” because of her inclusive price points, though Ms. McClintock was a registered Republican.)

Vanna White, who has made a career out of elegantly flipping the letters on the game show “Wheel of Fortune” clad in satiny sheaths, did so for a time in Jessica McClintock gowns.

But Ms. McClintock’s bread and butter was also in gussying up young women for their proms and quinceañeras and even elementary school graduations, particularly in the heyday of the 70s, as they danced to Fleetwood Mac or Peter Frampton, their hair done in Dorothy Hamill-style bobs.

As the decades marched along, so did Ms. McClintock’s styles, from pale Victorians and Great Gatsby-esque satins in the 1970s to poofy silk taffeta in the ’80s to more streamlined dresses in iridescent silk in the ’90s and beyond.

In 1999, when her business, a private company, turned 30, sales were at $140 million, according to Women’s Wear Daily. She operated 26 stores around the country, marketed a fragrance, Jessica, and had licensing agreements for handbags, jewelry, china, eyeglasses, bedding and home furnishings.

signed an agreement with Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, a community organization, to promote fair labor practices and establish an education fund for garment workers.

In addition to her sister, Ms. McClintock is survived by her son. Her longtime partner, Ben Golluber, who was chief financial officer of the company, died in 1998.

Ms. McClintock retired from the day to day management of her company in 2013, only to return a year later.

Since the early 1980s, the company headquarters were in a commercial building in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, but Ms. McClintock sold the space in about 2016 and thereafter ran the business from her home office.

She lived in a Queen Anne Victorian house in Pacific Heights, which she bought from the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. With a decorator’s help she turned it into a romantic fantasy, with Venetian chandeliers, billowing pink satin curtains, inlaid marble floors and Aubusson carpets — just the right backdrop for the Old World fashions she favored.

“I have a romantic feeling about life,” Ms. McClintock told a reporter in 2007. “I like Merchant-Ivory movies and candlelight and beautiful rooms. I like the patina of age.”

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Police Find 16 People Hidden in a Truck in England

LONDON — The authorities in Britain have arrested a Turkish truck driver on suspicion of attempting to smuggle people to France from England after discovering 16 people in the trailer of his vehicle.

The 36-year-old driver, who was not identified, was stopped on Sunday at a junction on the M25 highway southwest of London, the National Crime Agency said in a statement. The people who were discovered, including Algerian, Moroccan and Pakistani citizens, were also arrested on suspicion of immigration offenses.

Although there were no deaths, the case had echoes of a fatal episode of smuggling from 2019, when 39 people from Vietnam died in a refrigerated tractor-trailer in southeastern England. The people-smuggling trade is a huge and dangerous market, with people fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa and Asia forced to pay thousands of dollars to smugglers in return for shaky promises of transport across borders to Western Europe.

In the National Crime Agency statement, Chris Hill, a branch operations manager, said, “People-smuggling networks move migrants in both directions across the border, threatening the security of both the U.K. and our European neighbors, but also putting lives at risk.”

agreed to double the number of officers patrolling a 93-mile stretch of the French coast that the countries said was regularly used by smugglers.

The United Nations’ refugee agency has pressed the national authorities to combat the smuggling rings but has also expressed concern at proposals to intercept boats in the English Channel, noting that deploying vessels to “block small, flimsy dinghies may result in harmful and fatal incidents.”

While increasing numbers of people tried to cross the English Channel illegally by boat last summer, the U.N. agency noted in a briefing in August that “the numbers remain low and manageable,” adding that many took on the risky journeys to flee war and persecution. “Saving lives should be the first priority — both on land and at sea,” the agency said.

This month, Britain and France said that they had cooperated in the dismantling of a gang suspected of buying secondhand boats that were deflated and then buried on French beaches for later use in smuggling people across the English Channel. Each boat could carry 10 to 15 migrants, who would be charged 2,500 to 3,000 euros, or $3,000 to $3,600, apiece for the journey, the National Crime Agency said.

The British immigration authorities made 418 arrests and secured 203 convictions in 2019, the Home Office said, with about half of those convicted found guilty of people-smuggling offenses.

Chris Philp, the British minister for immigration compliance, said, “These dangerous crossings are facilitated by serious organized criminals exploiting people and profiting from human misery.”

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The Week in Business: Go Ahead, Put Off Your Taxes

Good morning and happy spring. Here’s hoping you can enjoy another Sunday spent ignoring your tax returns (or, if you’ve already done them, feeling smug about it). But first, here’s what you need to know in business and tech news for the week ahead. — Charlotte Cowles

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

Good news for procrastinators like me, or anyone whose taxes were complicated by the pandemic: The Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline to file taxes by one month, to May 17. The extra time will help people navigate new tax rules that took effect with the passage of the American Rescue Plan. The law made the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax-free for people who earned less than $150,000 last year, a significant benefit for many people whose jobs were disrupted. But if you’ve already filed, don’t worry — the I.R.S. said it would automatically send those refunds to people who qualify.

Relations between China and the Biden administration got off to a rocky start last week at the first face-to-face meeting between diplomats. The United States set a confrontational tone on the eve of the talks by imposing sanctions on 24 Chinese officials for undermining democracy in Hong Kong. In turn, China’s top diplomat accused his American counterparts of being “condescending,” among other claims. The purpose of the three-day meeting, according to President Biden’s team, was to find common ground on climate change and on controlling the pandemic, and to address U.S. concerns about Chinese trade and military encroachments. The tension does not bode well for making headway in future negotiations.

suing the Walt Disney Company for what they call “rampant gender pay discrimination” have added another accusation to their list: that Disney “maintains a strict policy of pay secrecy.” A new section of the lawsuit refers to an episode in which one female Disney employee was “disciplined for disclosing her pay to co-workers.” Pay transparency is considered an important part of closing racial and gender wage gaps, and retaliation for discussing your own salary violates California law as well as the National Labor Relations Act. Disney has denied the claims and vowed to defend itself.

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

Walmart is jumping on the vaccine passport bandwagon, saying it will provide standardized digital vaccination credentials to anyone who gets vaccinated at one of its stores or at Sam’s Club. The retailer will develop a health passport app that people can use to verify their status at airports, schools, sports arenas and other potentially crowded places. Walmart joins an existing push by major health centers and tech companies, including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and the Mayo Clinic, as well as a proposal from the European Union, which would require vaccine verification for travel in certain areas.

How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Taxes?

Nope. The so-called economic impact payments are not treated as income. In fact, they’re technically an advance on a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. The payments could indirectly affect what you pay in state income taxes in a handful of states, where federal tax is deductible against state taxable income, as our colleague Ann Carrns wrote. Read more.

Mostly.  Unemployment insurance is generally subject to federal as well as state income tax, though there are exceptions (Nine states don’t impose their own income taxes, and another six exempt unemployment payments from taxation, according to the Tax Foundation). But you won’t owe so-called payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and Medicare. The new relief bill will make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free if your income is less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only. (If you’ve already filed your taxes, watch for I.R.S. guidance.) Unlike paychecks from an employer, taxes for unemployment aren’t automatically withheld. Recipients must opt in — and even when they do, federal taxes are withheld only at a flat rate of 10 percent of benefits. While the new tax break will provide a cushion, some people could still owe the I.R.S. or certain states money. Read more.

Probably not, unless you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker. The tax law overhaul of late 2019 eliminated the home office deduction for employees from 2018 through 2025. “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the I.R.S. said. Read more.

Self-employed people can take paid caregiving leave if their child’s school is closed or their usual child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak. This works similarly to the smaller sick leave credit — 67 percent of average daily earnings (for either 2020 or 2019), up to $200 a day. But the caregiving leave can be taken for 50 days. Read more.

Yes. This year, you can deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions, even if you use the standard deduction. Previously, only people who itemized could claim these deductions. Donations must be made in cash (for these purposes, this includes check, credit card or debit card), and can’t include securities, household items or other property. For 2021, the deduction limit will double to $600 for joint filers. Rules for itemizers became more generous as well. The limit on charitable donations has been suspended, so individuals can contribute up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from 60 percent. But these donations must be made to public charities in cash; the old rules apply to contributions made to donor-advised funds, for example. Both provisions are available through 2021. Read more.

Chief executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter will be grilled in Congress this Thursday, this time over their failure to crack down on the spread of misinformation. Tech executives were last summoned by lawmakers in November 2020, when Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter faced a firestorm of questioning about content moderation, mostly regarding their attempts to prevent a wave of falsehoods about the presidential election. This time, they will be asked about coronavirus vaccine misinformation and about the election fraud conspiracy theories that continue to spread on their platforms.

The two biggest names in economic policy — the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — will make their first joint appearance this week when they testify before the House Financial Services Committee on the progress of pandemic relief efforts. The hearing comes one week after the Fed revised its economic outlook to project stronger growth and offered more reassurances that it would keep interest rates near zero for the coming years.

jettisoned a Trump-era policy that limited debt relief for students who were defrauded by for-profit educational institutions. The newly hired Teen Vogue editor, Alexi McCammond, resigned over racist and homophobic tweets that she posted a decade ago. And retail sales dropped 3 percent in February as consumers grappled with declining stimulus effects and devastating winter storms.

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The Triple Tax Break You May Be Missing: A Health Savings Account

The federal government’s pandemic relief program expanded what H.S.A.s can pay for, including nonprescription medicine like pain relief and allergy pills, and menstrual products like tampons and pads. (The I.R.S. has a full list of eligible items.)

Some employers match contributions to H.S.A.s as they do retirement savings. But self-employed people and contractors can open them, too.

People often confuse H.S.A.s with other types of health accounts, such as flexible health spending accounts. But unlike F.S.A.s, health savings accounts are portable: If you change jobs or leave the work force, you keep the account. Contribution limits are higher for H.S.A.s, and there is no deadline to spend the cash. Unspent money can be invested for health needs in retirement.

A study published last summer in JAMA Network Open, a journal from the American Medical Association, found that many people with high-deductible insurance didn’t have a health savings account. And more than half who had one had not contributed to it in the previous year. People with health plans bought through a government exchange were more likely to not have an H.S.A., even though the average deductible in the federal marketplace is high enough.

How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Taxes?

Nope. The so-called economic impact payments are not treated as income. In fact, they’re technically an advance on a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. The payments could indirectly affect what you pay in state income taxes in a handful of states, where federal tax is deductible against state taxable income, as our colleague Ann Carrns wrote. Read more.

Mostly.  Unemployment insurance is generally subject to federal as well as state income tax, though there are exceptions (Nine states don’t impose their own income taxes, and another six exempt unemployment payments from taxation, according to the Tax Foundation). But you won’t owe so-called payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and Medicare. The new relief bill will make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free if your income is less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only. (If you’ve already filed your taxes, watch for I.R.S. guidance.) Unlike paychecks from an employer, taxes for unemployment aren’t automatically withheld. Recipients must opt in — and even when they do, federal taxes are withheld only at a flat rate of 10 percent of benefits. While the new tax break will provide a cushion, some people could still owe the I.R.S. or certain states money. Read more.

Probably not, unless you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker. The tax law overhaul of late 2019 eliminated the home office deduction for employees from 2018 through 2025. “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the I.R.S. said. Read more.

Self-employed people can take paid caregiving leave if their child’s school is closed or their usual child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak. This works similarly to the smaller sick leave credit — 67 percent of average daily earnings (for either 2020 or 2019), up to $200 a day. But the caregiving leave can be taken for 50 days. Read more.

Yes. This year, you can deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions, even if you use the standard deduction. Previously, only people who itemized could claim these deductions. Donations must be made in cash (for these purposes, this includes check, credit card or debit card), and can’t include securities, household items or other property. For 2021, the deduction limit will double to $600 for joint filers. Rules for itemizers became more generous as well. The limit on charitable donations has been suspended, so individuals can contribute up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from 60 percent. But these donations must be made to public charities in cash; the old rules apply to contributions made to donor-advised funds, for example. Both provisions are available through 2021. Read more.

The findings suggest that health plans, employers and financial advisers could do more to explain how H.S.A.s work, simplify their use and encourage contributions, said an author of the study, Dr. Jeffrey T. Kullgren, associate professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

“Anything that makes it easier would be a good thing,” he said.

H.S.A. providers increasingly are cutting fees and using technology to encourage use. Fidelity Investments this month will test an app that will allow clients with employer H.S.A.s to track account balances, contributions and spending. The app will also let users scan products to check if they are H.S.A.-eligible.

Others are focusing on workers in the gig economy. Starship, a start-up, promotes its accounts through affiliations with ride-hailing and delivery companies. Its app allows workers to automatically invest contributions in low-cost index funds and exchange-traded funds. Because there is no required minimum balance, users are able to invest all of their contributions. But that would also leave no cash available to cover medical costs, unless the investments are sold. Starship sets the default minimum threshold before investing at $2,000, but users can lower it to zero, said Sean Engelking, the company’s chief executive.

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Tax Day Delayed to May 17, I.R.S. Says

The Internal Revenue Service will again give Americans extra time to file their taxes as a result of the pandemic.

Instead of the usual April 15 deadline, filers will instead have until May 17, the agency said Wednesday, an extension that will ease the burden on filers dealing with the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus, which has put millions out of work or caused their hours to be cut.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the I.R.S. wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic,” said Chuck Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner.

The one-month delay is not as much extra time as the I.R.S. offered last year, when the filing deadline was pushed to July 15. But it should make it easier for taxpayers to get a handle on their finances — as well as tax changes that took effect just this month with the signing of the American Rescue Plan.

reminded taxpayers that they can make contributions until the due date for that tax year’s return. By contributing money to a tax-advantaged account, they can reduce their 2020 income — potentially making them eligible for stimulus money if they were otherwise slightly above the income limits.

How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Taxes?

Nope. The so-called economic impact payments are not treated as income. In fact, they’re technically an advance on a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. The payments could indirectly affect what you pay in state income taxes in a handful of states, where federal tax is deductible against state taxable income, as our colleague Ann Carrns wrote. Read more.

Mostly.  Unemployment insurance is generally subject to federal as well as state income tax, though there are exceptions (Nine states don’t impose their own income taxes, and another six exempt unemployment payments from taxation, according to the Tax Foundation). But you won’t owe so-called payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and Medicare. The new relief bill will make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free if your income is less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only. (If you’ve already filed your taxes, watch for I.R.S. guidance.) Unlike paychecks from an employer, taxes for unemployment aren’t automatically withheld. Recipients must opt in — and even when they do, federal taxes are withheld only at a flat rate of 10 percent of benefits. While the new tax break will provide a cushion, some people could still owe the I.R.S. or certain states money. Read more.

Probably not, unless you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker. The tax law overhaul of late 2019 eliminated the home office deduction for employees from 2018 through 2025. “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the I.R.S. said. Read more.

Self-employed people can take paid caregiving leave if their child’s school is closed or their usual child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak. This works similarly to the smaller sick leave credit — 67 percent of average daily earnings (for either 2020 or 2019), up to $200 a day. But the caregiving leave can be taken for 50 days. Read more.

Yes. This year, you can deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions, even if you use the standard deduction. Previously, only people who itemized could claim these deductions. Donations must be made in cash (for these purposes, this includes check, credit card or debit card), and can’t include securities, household items or other property. For 2021, the deduction limit will double to $600 for joint filers. Rules for itemizers became more generous as well. The limit on charitable donations has been suspended, so individuals can contribute up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from 60 percent. But these donations must be made to public charities in cash; the old rules apply to contributions made to donor-advised funds, for example. Both provisions are available through 2021. Read more.

The I.R.S. expects to process roughly 160 million returns by the end of the year. Nearly 49 million had been processed as of March 5, the 22nd day of the filing season, which started later than usual. Last year, there had been 65 million returns processed by March 6, but that was 40 days into the filing season.

Pressure to extend the deadline had been mounting. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said on Tuesday that the pandemic had created “immeasurable hardship,” making it difficult for taxpayers and practitioners to meet the April 15 deadline.

And lawmakers from both parties had called on the Internal Revenue Service to delay Tax Day, noting complicated changes to the tax code in the recently passed economic relief package.

Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, both Democrats, called the extension “absolutely necessary.”

“Under titanic stress and strain, American taxpayers and tax preparers must have more time to file tax returns,” they said in a statement. “And the I.R.S. itself started the filing season late, continues to be behind schedule and now must implement changes from the American Rescue Plan.”

Mr. Rettig will testify about the 2021 filing season before an oversight subcommittee that Mr. Pascrell leads on Thursday.

The delay was reported earlier by Bloomberg News. A congressional aide familiar with the plan initially told The New York Times the deadline was being extended to May 15; that day is a Saturday, and customarily a weekend Tax Day is pushed to the following Monday.

Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber contributed reporting.

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Police Breakup of Vigil Heightens Scrutiny of U.K. Plan to Toughen Laws Against Protesters

LONDON—Days after the British police were criticized for breaking up a vigil held for a woman kidnapped and killed earlier this month, the U.K. government proposed legislation mandating prison sentences of up to 10 years for demonstrators causing “serious annoyance,” prompting questions over whether the state is eroding civil liberties.

Police in the U.K. were accused of being insensitive after handcuffing women at a gathering on Saturday to commemorate the life of Sarah Everard, who was abducted while walking home in London on March 3.

A police officer was charged with her kidnap and murder after the 33-year-old marketing executive’s remains were found in a woodland. During a vigil in her memory in a London park, four arrests were made after the gathering contravened Covid-19 restrictions, the police said.

The weekend actions have focused attention on a part of wide-ranging legislation that appears aimed at thwarting protests such as those mounted last year in support of Black Lives Matter, in which statues were toppled, and by the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement that caused widespread disruption.

The legislation, which was debated in Parliament on Monday, has been months in the making, but the 300-page bill was published only last week.

The opposition Labour Party has said it would vote against the proposals, with the shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, saying the bill could lead to “harsher penalties for damaging a statue than for attacking a woman.”

Clauses in the law would allow police to impose conditions on protests that are noisy or cause “serious unease” to people who witness them.

This significantly lowers the legal test that must be met to for police to issue restrictions on the protest, according to a U.K. parliamentary briefing on the law. The government is also proposing changing laws to make being deemed a “public nuisance” punishable with up to 10 years in jail and an unlimited fine.

A major worry is that the government could use the law to maintain restrictions on civil liberties that it acquired during the pandemic, said Rosalind Comyn, policy manager at the National Council for Civil Liberties, an advocacy group in the U.K.

“What the events of the weekend have shown is that attacks on protest rights are an attack on women’s rights or anyone who wants to stand up to power,” she said.

Protesters gathered in London on Monday.

Photo: neil hall/EPA/Shutterstock

The U.K. minister of state for crime and policing at the Home Office, Kit Malthouse, said the new law’s sentencing would be limited if protesters damaged an item that was worth less than £5,000, the equivalent of about $7,000. One aim of the law is to stop people defacing memorials and other culturally sensitive sites, he added.

In Britain, rape can lead to a sentence of between four and 19 years in custody, according to Britain’s Sentencing Council. When asked by the British Broadcasting Corp. why someone could get more time in jail for defacing a statue than committing rape, Mr. Malthouse said, “That is a matter for judges…the maximum sentence is much greater than that.”

Ms. Everard’s death triggered an outpouring of anger from women across the U.K. Many took to social media to recount their own experiences of harassment and abuse, and some held online vigils.

A reopened government consultation on Violence Against Women & Girls has received 78,000 submissions since Friday. On Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson presided over a government task force to discuss further steps to protect women and girls.

A wider review of the criminal-justice system and how it treats victims of rape is expected later this year. In July, the Crown Prosecution Service said the number of rape prosecutions in England and Wales in the second quarter of 2020 fell by 34% from the period a year earlier.

The government announced an inquiry into the police’s handling of the vigil but pushed back against calls for the head of London’s Metropolitan Police to resign. However, Mr. Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” by the footage of police dragging women away and trampling flowers at the event. The episode has sparked further protests, including one in London’s Parliament Square on Monday that blocked traffic on a nearby bridge.

“This government absolutely supports freedom of expression,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said Monday.

The bill is aimed at updating laws from the late 1980s to alter sentences for a range of offenses, while also giving police more powers to control mass gatherings and protests. This followed the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests that brought much of central London to a halt when demonstrators trying to raise awareness about climate change camped on streets and set up barricades.

“In recent years we have seen a significant change in protest tactics which have led to disproportionate amounts of disruption,” the government said in a statement, adding that the new laws don’t undermine freedom of expression.

As the ruling Conservative Party has an ample majority in the House of Commons, the law is expected to be passed. The upper house, the House of Lords, could still amend the law and put it back in front of lawmakers.

However, the bill has united libertarian and civil-rights activists in condemnation. A number of pro- and anti-Brexit campaigners, some of whose supporters frequently marched outside Parliament in recent years, jointly wrote to the government accusing it of the “words and actions of authoritarians.”

With the end of the pandemic, protests may spring up as economic reality sets in, Ms. Comyn said: “We could see a wave of activism and it is very tempting to broaden police powers.”

Write to Max Colchester at max.colchester@wsj.com

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Policing at Sarah Everard Vigil Faces Official Scrutiny

LONDON — The mayor of London and the British cabinet minister responsible for policing both called on Sunday for an independent investigation into how the city’s main police force broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old marketing executive whose killing has sparked a reckoning over violence against women, after images of officers clashing with women at the event prompted a widespread outcry.

The mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that “scenes arising from the policing of the vigil,” which had been banned under coronavirus restrictions, “were completely unacceptable,” and that he was “not satisfied” with explanations from the two top officers in the force, the Metropolitan Police.

A spokesman for the Home Office, the government department that oversees policing, confirmed on Sunday that Priti Patel, the home secretary, had asked the Inspectorate of Constabulary, a government body that assesses police forces, for a report into what happened at the vigil.

Mr. Khan said in a statement that he had sought a full inquiry from the same body, and that he was also asking another regulator, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, to investigate the actions of officers at the vigil.

a Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with kidnapping and murdering Ms. Everard, who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham on March 3.

Mr. Khan said that the police had assured him last week that the vigil would be policed sensitively, and that he had met on Sunday with the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, and her deputy, Stephen House, to demand an explanation. “I am not satisfied with the explanation they have provided,” he added.

In a statement overnight, Helen Ball, an assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, said that officers on the ground were “faced with a difficult decision” in the evening after hundreds of people “packed tightly together, posing a very real risk of easily transmitting Covid-19.”

“Police must act for people’s safety, this is the only responsible thing to do. The pandemic is not over and gatherings of people from right across London and beyond, are still not safe,” she said, adding, “We accept that the actions of our officers have been questioned.”

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