Web/Tech Feed

House Oversight Committee members also investigating ID.me contracts, verification methods Photo by cottonbro In early February, the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to transition from ID.me's facial scanning identity verification system. The third-party service's scanning technology raised privacy concerns. A few weeks later, the IRS elaborated on its taxpayer identity process. It said the facial recognition would remain, but as an option, not a requirement. Taxpayers instead could participate in a live, virtual interview to prove they are legitimately opening their own online taxpayer account. The IRS also indicated that it eventually would join other federal agencies in using Login.Gov,... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels If you're not comfortable with facial identification being part of the Internal Revenue Service personal taxpayer account creation process, you've now got other options. The tax agency, which earlier this month said it would end the controversial validation system used by contractor ID.me, says you can prove you are you via a live, virtual interview. "No biometric data — including facial recognition — will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview," the IRS said in its brief statement announcing the move. Other ID OK options: Or you can wait... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels A planned conversion of taxpayer accounts to a system that required use of a third-party facial recognition system apparently is no more. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig announced the about face today in a brief statement. "The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised," said Rettig. "Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition." The agency is, in its words, transitioning away from its deal with ID.me, although that wasn't specifically... Read more →


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels The Internal Revenue Service is rethinking its decision to force taxpayers to use a private identity verification company in order to access their online accounts. The 180 came after blowback from Congress and consumer and privacy advocates. The reassessment doesn't mean the IRS is giving up on ways to strengthen its online security. Rather, according to a Treasury statement reported by Bloomberg, the IRS is looking at ways to "balance ease of taxpayer access" with increased protections against criminals who use stolen taxpayer identities to file for fraudulent tax refunds. The increased security raised public... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service will go beyond its current multifactor authentication online access protocol when it comes to signing in to taxpayer accounts. The Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to get more of us to interact with it electronically. It also wants to make sure those transactions are secure. So later this year, the IRS is implementing a new security protocol for folks who want to set up or manage an online taxpayer account. But it appears, at least based on anecdotal online and social media reactions, that the move might backfire. More steps to get info: Last week,... Read more →


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 →


UPDATE, May 1, 2022: Good news, Turnip Boy fans. He's coming to your mobile devices this month. The App Store listing confirms it will be a universal game playing on iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. You can read more about Turnip Boy and his tax adventures below, and more about his platform expansion at Touch Arcade. 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... 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 →