Web/Tech Feed

Yelena Blinovskaya and Alexei Blinovsky in happier times shared on her Instagram account. I'm confident that the hubby loves me. But does he love me enough to head off to war? I don't ever want to find out that answer for many reasons, including the "what the what?" follow-up questions it would raise. But that startling scenario just played out in Russia. And yes, it involves taxes. Influencer tax evasion charges: Yelena Blinovskaya, a self-help coach and Instagram influencer, was arrested at the Russian-Belarus border in April 2023 for allegedly trying to flee her native country to avoid paying a... Read more →


Today's post on the second half of the 2024 Internal Revenue Service's Dirty Dozen tax scams looks at a wide range of schemes and potential victims. Tax pros are targets, as are high income earners in schemes 7 through 12. Together with the Dirty Dozen's first six scams posted last week, there's a scam for almost all of us taxpayers. Take notice and don't become a Dirty Dozen victim. Last Friday, I shared the first six of the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list. As promised, this post wraps up schemes, cons, and scams 7 through 12. This compilation... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Danny Werfel recently spoke to a group of students, faculty, and IRS guests at the Kogod Tax Center at American University in Washington, D.C., revealing what has been dubbed the IRS' generational digital transformation plan. That plan is part of what the Biden Administration said it expects from the federal tax agency when it offered Werfel the commissioner job in the fall of 2022. "They told me, the next commissioner could lead the IRS through the most important tech-enabled transformation of a government agency in U.S. history," said Werfel. "So again, my jaw dropped to the... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has held two special walk-in Saturdays this year at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) across the United States. Two more are scheduled for April and May. The no-appointment-needed sessions are welcomed by taxpayers who need help (note, however, that the TAC reps aren't offering tax return filing assistance), as long as you can find them. A recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that's not always easy, especially if you search online for a TAC office. Issue reported by the IRS: To the IRS' credit, the agency brought this concern to... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich A new tax season also brings the resurgences of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners earlier this month alerted tax professionals to watch out for a new round of filing season-related email schemes where cybercriminals pose as potential clients. Now FinCEN, the Treasury Department bureau that focuses on financial crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism, reports that there have been fraudulent attempts to obtain information from individuals and entities who may have to comply with new Corporate Transparency Act reporting requirements. Here's a look at these two schemes popping up as... Read more →


People are increasingly falling for a new scam known as pig butchering. The scheme involves cryptocurrency purchases, and the promised outcome is as reliable as flying pigs. (Photo by Daniel Novykov on Unsplash) The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI) unit has some advice as the holiday season nears. Don't be a pig. No, the warning has nothing to do with over-eating, starting with next week's Thanksgiving spreads. Rather, IRS CI says crooks are reaching out on social media, typically seeking those looking for romantic partners, to get the targeted victims' help in cryptocurrency schemes. These targets, whom the fraudsters... Read more →


This summer, the Internal Revenue Service warned us of a surge of tax scams. Identity thieves were sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems. Apparently, the scammers are continuing into the fall. Fake IRS text: I got the fake IRS text at left this week. This crook apparently was trying to convince me to click on the StatementClaim.pdf document. I was curious, but not that curious. However, I did like how the crook tried to pique my interest by annotating the fake text as an internal tax agency message.... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Philip Oroni Get ready fellow taxpayers. Our robot tax overlords are here. Or rather, getting more here. The Internal Revenue Service began using artificial intelligence (AI) bots last year to help taxpayers complete some tax tasks, such as setting up a payment plan. Today, the agency announced that it is expanding its use of chatbots to help answer some tax notice questions. Specifically, the technology should help quickly answer basic questions for people who get notices about possibly underreporting their taxes. Those are CP2000, CP2501, and CP3219A mailings that tell taxpayers the information the IRS received... Read more →


IVIX says its artificial intelligence (AI) software, which was designed with input from tax authorities, helps illuminate shadow economies. It does that, according to the company, by collecting publicly available business activity data and turning that information into credible leads for tax authorities to follow. IVIX, an Israeli venture with offices in New York, was founded in 2020, and touts itself as "the first AI-powered platform designed to address tax evasion in the shadow economy." Several former top Internal Revenue Service officials were and are among its advisors. Don Fort, former IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) chief, currently is IVIX's chief... Read more →


Photo by Cash Macanaya on Unsplash Any great change brings hopes and fears. The possibilities and threats of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming a regular part of our lives have ramped those hopes and fears up to level gazillion. On the positive side, tasks that take up an inordinate amount of time for us humans to do can be accomplished much more quickly by AI. That can make everyday life more convenient and enjoyable for many of us. The downside of that is that some of those tasks are paying jobs for people. Those folks are out of luck (and work)... Read more →


Mike Mozart via Flickr CC In April 2019, the online investigative news site Pro Publica revealed that some major tax software companies who were part of the Internal Revenue Service Free File partnership instead used computer code to funnel taxpayers to their products' paid filing options. State officials soon started their own investigations into the tax preparation marketing tactic. The following year, Intuit, the corporate parent of the popular TurboTax tax prep program, reached a settlement agreement with all 50 states (via 49 state Attorneys General and the Hawai'i Office of Consumer Protection), and the District of Columbia. That deal... Read more →


Young woman getting ready to record an online video. (Photo by George Milton) Being an influencer apparently isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when the tax collector gets involved. Sure, some of those ubiquitous TikTok videos are just for fun. Others, however, can make big bucks for their online creators. That happens when the viral stars are paid influencers. In most cases, the influencers work as independent contractors for the companies they endorse. SE and income tax due: This self-employed status, reminds the Internal Revenue Service, means the online promoters must pay self-employment (SE) tax in addition to... Read more →


Artificial intelligence has long been a part of our lives, although most of that has been in popular culture depictions. The recalcitrant Hal who wouldn't open the pod bay doors in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner's deadly replicants evolved into Star Trek's more loveable Commander Data and all his TV and movie cousins, like I, Robot's Sonny, Voice-only Samantha in Her, and very human Dorian in Almost Human and Mia and pals in Humans. And bad bots are still out there, at least for entertainment purposes. This month, a warrior nun takes on an all-powerful, and evil, artificial... Read more →


Image via CFI Even before film makers began sticking extra scenes at the end of credits, I sat in the darkened theater until the last credit rolled. I do the same when I screen movies and television shows at home … when I can. As I tweeted today, I'd love it if streamers used an artificial intelligence (AI) program to note that I like to watch full show openings. And recaps. And all the closing credits. OK, not so much the information about who's dubbing the actors when the shows are streamed in other countries, but I do use that... Read more →


The IRS has implemented a document upload process to deal with certain tax notices that looks so easy, you shouldn't need your cat's, or any other, help to use it. (Photo by Ruca Souza) I've spent the last few days online, downloading documents we need to file our tax return, which I'll eventually do electronically. I am not alone. More of us handle most of our lives' issues online. In addition to taxes, we shop, bank, watch entertainment programs, and communicate with friends and family digitally. Now the Internal Revenue Service has expanded our electronic tax interaction options to help... Read more →


If you've missed me, it's because the hubby and I are among the 150,000 households without electricity. Then our cell service went all wonky and I couldn't hotspot. Plus, it seems really cold temps do a number on all types of batteries. I don't want to waste either computer or phone batteries, but I was able to update the ol' blog's February tax moves sidebar, over there to the right. More on this short month's tax task and, well, more tax stuff, as soon as we get full power restored. And my fingers thaw. For others in our same frigid... Read more →


Ice image by Scott Rodgerson via UNSPLASH No, not the slamming of Austin government and utility officials noted in the Tweet below, although the local newspaper did that. What happened was that the hubby and I were among the 170,000+/- Austin Energy customers who lost power. For almost four and a half days. In a rare front-page editorial, @statesman sharply criticizes the city and Austin Energy response to this week’s ice storm. “Public transparency during a massive power outage allows people to make potentially life-saving decisions.”https://t.co/thMtIN8rUW pic.twitter.com/IRySYh1F9o — Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) February 3, 2023 During the Texas grid collapse and... Read more →


Nothing ever disappears on the internet. Even, or especially, tax related posts. Take the bad legal take on taxes that tops this post. It was retweeted on Sunday (Dec. 11) by, you guessed it, Bad Legal Takes. But there's no indication of when Dave Champion originally blasted out his bad tax advice. It might have been before he was barred by a federal court in 2012 from promoting a tax fraud scheme. Or maybe he's back, since this Tweet apparently went up in October. His books also are still for sale online. Either way, that item this weekend spurred a... Read more →


Technology is great, except when it isn't. And technology can be potentially dangerous, especially when taxes are involved. We all know that our tax data is a prime target for crooks. They can use the information on our 1040s to file fake returns and too often, despite improved Internal Revenue Service security measures, collect fraudulent refunds. They also can use the info on our tax paperwork — earnings, investments, Social Security numbers for us and our family members — to steal our identities and ruin us financially. And now we've learned that major tax software and e-filing companies have been... Read more →


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 →