Coronavirus COVID-19 Feed

We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →


If you've yet to file a 2019 or 2020 tax year return, you should get to work on that oversight soon. Like get them done by Sept. 30 soon. By meeting that end-of-this-month date, you may be able to avoid the usual late-filing penalty. It's typically assessed at a rate of 5 percent per month, up to 25 percent of the unpaid tax. And since the 2019 and 2020 due dates are long gone, that could be a substantial abated amount, depending on how much tax you owe. Helping both taxpayers and tax agency: The Internal Revenue Service's penalty relief... Read more →


Black's, an iconic Central Texas barbecue chain, was caught improperly distributing tip money to managers, instead of the 270 employees to whom it should have been paid. Those restaurant workers now have their proper gratuities, which are taxable income. Being a restauranteur has always been a challenge. The same can be said for eatery staff. Then along came the COVID-19 pandemic, amped up the workplace issues both owners and employees face. So what else could complicate things? Tips. In one famed Central Texas BBQ joint, it was the way tips were collected and distributed among workers. The U.S. Department of... Read more →


Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. The Child Tax Credit was expanded in 2021 to help families coping with the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) temporarily bumped up the amount available via the already popular CTC. It went from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600 a year for children younger than age 6, and $3,000 per child for youngsters ages 6 to 17. The credit amounts were phased out once tax-filing families hit certain income levels. More of the increased CTC also was refundable, meaning that if the... Read more →


You have lots of choices when it comes to helping your neighbors and community. There's even an option if taxes are of particular interest to you. Hey, it happens. You are, after all, reading my tax blog right now. If that's you, then the Internal Revenue Service wants you to fill up your free time by helping people prepare and file their tax returns next year. The IRS and its community partners are recruiting people to be a part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs during the coming 2023 tax season.... Read more →


The COVID-19 pandemic ignited an explosion of side hustles, with many folks cobbling together multiple independent operations to replace traditional jobs lost to the virus. The U.S. economy has picked up, and many businesses are forcing bringing their former and work-from-home staff back into the office. But side hustles remain popular. Most side hustle for more than money: Even where they have wage-paying work, many Americans also have side jobs, according to a survey by Insuranks, a small business insurance marketplace. Ninety-three percent of the adults surveyed by Insuranks said they have an added job alongside their main employment positions.... Read more →


More companies are pushing to get employees to leave their home workspaces and return to the office. Until that happens fully, tax professionals are asking for updated tax guidance on dealing with hybrid and work from home arrangements. Summer's over. Schools are back in session. And more businesses are telling employees to return to the office. But many companies expect that at least some of their workers won't comply. And how will they handle these in-office holdouts? Office returns sought: Overall, more firms now are firmly nudging workers to return. A recent survey by business consulting firm Gartner, and reported... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service says it has made progress this summer in reducing its COVID-created paperwork backlog. In fact, it has caught up on last year's stacked up filings that didn't have issues. "The IRS is opening mail within normal timeframes and all paper and electronic individual returns received prior to January 2022 have been processed if the return had no errors or did not require further review," according to an update today, Sept. 2, on the agency's webpage that tracks its operations during the pandemic. Making progress on 2022, too: As for returns filed this year, the IRS says... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell So how was your summer? Yep, that season officially ended today with the start of Meteorological Fall, which runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Wait, you say. It's not sweater weather yet. You're not alone in still feeling the heat. First day of meteorological fall in USA doesn't look like fall at all in over 90% of the country,just the opposite: One of the hottest September weeks on records is starting with a flurry of 100F in Montana,North Dakota and Washington. Very hot also in Canadian Saskatchewan. pic.twitter.com/HXZXO2YpFL — Extreme Temperatures Around The World (@extremetemps)... Read more →


I suspect everyone involved in this ceremonial big check delivery is much happier than they appear in this Secret Service photo. COVID-19 federal financial assistance was a boon to many businesses that struggled during the pandemic's height. Now it's Uncle Sam who's getting relief. The U.S. Secret Service today announced the return of around $286 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The loans were granted based on fraudulently submitted applications that contained fabricated or stolen employment and personal information. Debit cards to hide, move funds: The investigation was initiated by the Secret Service's... Read more →


Taxes and COVID-19 have been inextricably linked since the coronavirus reached the United States in 2020. Several federal relief packages were enacted, with the Internal Revenue Service given the task of distributing the payments. The agency had mixed success with this added responsibility. Then there was the backlog of filings that resulted from COVID-related IRS office closures. This was, by all accounts, an unmitigated disaster. The agency is still digging out of its coronavirus paperwork accumulation, and taxpayers are still dealing with problems created when automatic nonpayment penalty notices were issued. Now the IRS is trying to make that somewhat... Read more →


Photo by Zaji Kanamajina on Unsplash Here in the United States, sin taxes were the lone revenue bright spot for many states, at least early during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it's a different story in Japan. Alcohol consumption among younger Japanese already had been dropping pre-COVID, in part due to a national plan launched in the 1990s to reduce alcohol-related health and societal problems. When COVID spread across the globe, drinking in Japan, especially among younger people, dropped even more. The result is that current liquor tax collection in Japan has plummeted. Japan's liquor tax revenue... Read more →


Colorado, Oregon, New York, and Montana are the latest states selected for State Small Business Credit Initiative funds. Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash Small businesses revitalization is a key component of the U.S. economy's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. To help that sector's efforts, Uncle Sam continues to provide financial support. Some of the federal money comes from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was first established in 2010. The SSBCI was reauthorized and expanded in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The newly-reauthorized small business program has nearly $10 billion in federal... Read more →


Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash A lot of people are, as the catch phrase says, done with COVID. They've returned to the office, sent their youngsters to classrooms, and are spending free time at events filled with other people. But there's still something to be said for remote connections. Or at least that's the thinking of the Internal Revenue Service's Independent Office of Appeals. COVID prompted, but liked: During the height of the coronavirus in 2020-21, IRS Appeals expanded access to video conferences. Taxpayers were able to make their cases remotely, visually sharing documents without going in person to... Read more →


Coming back from an appointment today, I saw school buses roaming my neighborhood. Classes for my local school district start Wednesday, so I guess the drivers were just on reconnaissance runs. Students, their parents, and of course teachers are making preparations, too, not just here in the Austin, Texas, area, but nationwide. Much has been written (or, in my case, blogged) about state sales tax holidays (a few are still on the horizon) and the savings on school-related items. In most cases, we tend to think of students and their families taking advantage of the no-tax events. However, teachers also... Read more →


Photo by Mikhail Nilov Just when you thought it was safe to go to your mailbox, the tax bogeyman is back. The Internal Revenue Service says it has — again — sent out some confusing, and potentially incorrect tax notices. This time it's balance due notices. This is getting to be a bad habit. Earlier this year, taxpayers who had filed and paid taxes while the IRS was operating under COVID-19 pandemic constraints received automatically issued notices that the IRS couldn't find their 1040 forms. The problem then was due to the millions of backlogged paper returns that stacked up... Read more →


Summer's winding down, with schools opening their doors across much of the country in just a few weeks. So of course, you're thinking of one last getaway to escape the sweltering dog days. But before you head out to a beach retreat or cooler mountain cabin, take a few minutes for taxes. August is a good time to make some tax moves that could save you some dollars and future headaches. Here are four to consider. 1. Make your tax holiday shopping list: The return this fall of students to classrooms is most welcome by COVID-weary parents who saw much... Read more →


HMRC warns United Kingdom citizens that tax avoidance is when people bend the rules of the tax system to try to pay less than they owe. The tax agency has created a guide to help spot tax avoidance schemes. Regardless of where we live, people essentially are the same, especially when it comes to taxes. Some of us tend to push the tax envelope, perhaps too much. That's what United Kingdom tax officials think. And they've had enough, especially in these difficult times. Tracking down tax cheats: Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the UK's version of our Internal Revenue... Read more →


Figuring out how to pay off student loans is a math problem that goes well beyond school days. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska) The payment pause on student loans expires in six weeks. As that Aug. 31 deadline approaches, former students also are waiting for President Joe Biden to take further action to help lessen, or eliminate, their higher education debt. In addition to the political ramifications of any White House action, especially in an important midterm election year, there also are tax implications. Taxable forgiven debt: The tax code generally treats forgiven or canceled debt as taxable income. It's officially... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →