Web/Tech Feed

Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels A cell phone provider's television ad that's on heavy rotation here in the Austin area touts that it has no added fees or taxes. What it really means is that those charges, aside from sales tax, are included in the price of whatever company plan you choose, rather than listed as separate line items in your monthly bills. So, despite that Mad Men-style ad sleight of hand, you're going to pay taxes, fees, and state and local government surcharges for your mobile phone services. And you're paying more than ever toward these amounts. Taxes... Read more →


But despite the technical problem, IRS says still use online tool to make changes, including stopping Advance Child Tax Credit payments for the rest of the year. You'd think that by the time the Internal Revenue Service issued the third Advance Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) payment, things would be automatic. Well, you've got another think coming. The IRS did deliver in mid-September around 35 million AdvCTC payments totaling $15 billion. But unfortunately for some eligible families, their money didn't show up on time. The explanation was the usual one. It was a technical issue. Yeah, I rolled my eyes, too.... Read more →


UPDATE, Aug. 9, 2021: A last-minute push to limit new cryptocurrency tax reporting requirements in the $1 trillion infrastructure package (see Aug. 4 update below) failed today, despite a bipartisan agreement and a frenzied lobbying push, per The Washington Post. UPDATE, Aug. 4, 2021: In response to the concerns elaborated on in the rest of this post, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has offered an alternative cryptocurrency revenue-raising plan. The amendment was crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (more on his complaints later in this post) of Pennsylvania and Cynthia Lummis of... Read more →


IRS image Last fall, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it was adding QR, or Quick Response, codes to some of the notices it sends taxpayers. Specifically, the codes are going on tax due notices. The goal, says the IRS, is to make it easier for taxpayers to deal with the notices. Recipients of the QR coded correspondence can use their smartphones to scan it and go directly to IRS website. From there, they can access their taxpayer account, set up a payment plan, or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Basically, the digital option eliminates the tax middleman or woman.... Read more →


TurboTax won't be a Free File option when the 2022 tax filing season arrives. Taxpayers who used TurboTax to complete and e-file their returns at the Internal Revenue Service's Free File website are going to have to find a new program in 2022. The popular tax software is leaving the Free File program next filing season. It will, however, remain on the IRS.gov site for use by taxpayers who got an extension until Oct. 15 to finish their 2020 returns. TurboTax is the second major tax software provider to leave the Free File Alliance, the nonprofit coalition of tax software... Read more →


I know tax season still has a little more than three weeks until this year's May 17 filing deadline. But everyone, even tax geeks, need a break now and then. And although I'm not a gamer, I've found a diversion in that area. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. Game offshoot of a real issue: The game from Snoozy Kazoo was released yesterday, April 22. It is, per one tagline, where vegetables get serious about tax evasion because, as Mayor Onion of Veggieville informs Turnip Boy, it is real. From a player's perspective, according to the reviews like Joey Ferris' for... Read more →


Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, left, and Committee Chairman Charles Grassley at a hearing in February to question Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the president's fiscal year 2021 budget. (SFC hearing video screen capture) The two men who head the Senate Finance Committee want answers about whether the Internal Revenue Service was among the agencies hacked by foreign agents and they want them now. Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) sent a letter today to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig seeking, in their words, "an immediate briefing on the IRS' efforts to discover whether... Read more →


We all have enough to worry about right now and I don't want to add to anyone's anxiety, but I know some in the tax world are wondering about the implications of the Treasury Department being among U.S. agencies breached by apparently foreign hackers. Multiple news sources reported this weekend that cyber intruders made their way into Treasury, Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security. Word of the U.S. government hacks come on the heels of an announcement by a global cybersecurity firm that it had been breached. Right now, we don't know exactly what happened at Treasury. We're still... Read more →


Hi, I'm Kay and I'm a smartphone addict. I carry my phone from room to room in my house. Back pre-COVID-19 when I left my house, if I realized I somehow forgot to pick it up, I had to turn around, regardless of where I was in my journey, and go back and get it. And its apps are crucial to my coronavirus increased streaming, letting me find out where I saw that "Hey, it's that guy!" actor before or find out more about a great soundtrack tune. I am not alone in my dependence on this iteration of Alexander... Read more →


Among the many things COVID-19 has changed, possibly forever, is how and where we do our jobs. The work from home trend also has provided cyber criminals new ways to steal our identities and money — corporate cash, too — using telework security lapses and system flaws. TGIF! Yeah, workers still say this. However, there's a little less exultation in the announcement nowadays, what with many of us still working from home due to continuing coronavirus pandemic precautions. Plus, COVID-19 means our prior welcome weekend happy hours now are via Zoom. The work from home (WFH) shift also has created... Read more →


It's no surprise that bad people take advantage of bad situations. That's why as we continue to cope with COVID-19, pandemic-related scams — tax and otherwise — proliferate. The latest coronavirus tax scam arrives via a text message. COVID-19 text scam warning: It was created by thieves who are trying to trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment (EIP), according to the Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners. This scam's text message tells recipients: "You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


My local H-E-B Grocery smartphone app's barcode reader helps me discover the price of a product if it's not shown on the item packaging or store shelf. I love the technology almost as much as I love potato chips! I love my grocery store app. Not only does it offer digital coupons, it lets me make shopping lists, find the aisles where the products I want are located and if there's no price sticker on the item the shelf, I can use the app to scan the package's barcode code for that info. Now the Internal Revenue Service is becoming... Read more →


Video conferencing is becoming more acceptable, even in IRS communications with some taxpayers. It's possible that a few good things might come from COVID-19. We might be able to adapt our infection precautions to post-pandemic processes that are more worker friendly and business efficient. Yes, I am talking about expanded use of technology. And yes, I mean beyond subscribing to every streaming service to fill your days while you were (or are) in isolation mode. The latest example comes from the Internal Revenue Service. Uncle Sam's tax collector has for years been urging us taxpayers to file our returns electronically... Read more →


Some food delivery apps apparently are shorting states when it comes to sales tax on the delivery fees. The 2019 holiday shopping season is officially underway. The kickoff remains Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as many shoppers remain committed to post-Turkey Day sales. Early data from Adobe Analytics shows in-store sales were up 4 percent from last year. But consumer patterns are changing. The store of choice for more and more of us is the internet, which is open 24/7 365 days a year. Online Black Friday sales were up early in the day by more than 19 percent... Read more →


Governments are always looking for ways to raise more revenue. That's true at every level. Those lawmakers also are always looking for ways to get the cash without antagonizing too many taxpayers, aka voters. So they come up with some creative taxes. Chicago leads the way with its unique tax of businesses on their use of remote computing services. Innovative tech tax: Known as the Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax, it applies to company data held on out-of-state provider stored on the internet — that still mysterious cloud that so many of us still don't understand — instead of on... Read more →


The only thing that comes close to the chaos that is tax law is a telephone bill. Especially a cell phone bill. In addition to the phone charges — Remember those? That's when you use your device to talk to another person. — there are, among lots of other line items, things such as data charges, text charges and, of course, taxes. My monthly mobile phone bill is six pages long. One of those pages, thankfully sent digitally, is full of taxes and user fees. That's an excerpt of some them in the photo at the top of this post.... Read more →


No, that's not me. I would be the person face down on my exercise mat next to this woman. (Photo by Stefano Montagner via Flickr) My exercise class instructors are trying to kill me. OK, not exactly and not me specifically, but for all practical purposes I'm on their hit list. My fitness club's new teachers are real feel-the-burn, you-can-do-it types. Plus, due to some recent pressing personal matters, I haven't made it to my regular classes for a while. Now that I'm attending again, my out-of-practice aging body is having a harder time keeping up with the reps. I'm... Read more →


Emmanuel Macron, left, and Donald J. Trump at the beginning of the just-completed G7 session in France. As the international gathering closed, the pair announced a deal had been reached to ease U.S. concerns over France's digital tax and French worries about possible U.S. tariffs on Gallic wines. Good news for French wine fans. Donald J. Trump and Emmanuel Macron apparently arrived at a rapprochement at the G7 meeting in France this weekend. The threatened tariffs on French wines won't be imposed. That means the only taxes we wine drinkers will face are the long-standing U.S. federal and state-levied excise... Read more →


Do you simultaneously use multiple digital devices? Me, too. Our online addictions are big money for tech giants and now France and other European nations want to get a piece of the tax pie from the global conpanies. Poor Facebook and Twitter and Google. (You noticed the sarcasm font, right?) They were shut out of Donald J. Trump's Social Media Summit on Thursday, July 11, which didn't end too, well, sociably. Worse, that same day France approved a measure to tax the tech giants. Since most of us live inordinately digital lives nowadays, I'm giving an early Saturday Shout Out,... Read more →