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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes I’ve been asked a lot recently about section 230 – a phrase that’s been tossed around a lot with respect to stimulus checks. Section 230 isn’t a tax provision (in fact, there isn’t even a section 230 in the Tax Code): it’s actually a telecommunications law. And I’m not a tech or intellectual property lawyer: my focus is tax. But in the spirit of trying to explain what section 230 has to do with stimulus checks – which are tax-related – I’m going to give you a quick summary. If you need a deeper dive, there’s some good stuff out there from tech lawyers. What is Section 230? Section 230 is part of a law – the Communications Decency Act (CDA of 1996) – which was passed in 1996. It provides liability protection for social media companies like Twitter and Facebook with respect to content…

Earlier this week, the President suggested that he might not sign the stimulus package/spending bill (you can read about what happened – and what it meant – here). However, tonight, the President did sign the bill into law. The bill would do a few things, including: Issue stimulus checks of $600 per person;Extend unemployment benefits; andExpand PPP, offering more loans, and allowing for deductibility. You can read my summary and related bills here: Congress Takes Lead On PPP In New Stimulus Bill, Defying TreasuryHere’s A Look At What’s In The Massive Covid-Response Stimulus BillAll You Need To Know About Round Two Of Covid-Related Stimulus Checks On Monday, the House still intends to introduce a bill to raise the stimulus checks to $2,000 per adult. The Senate has not indicated that it will take up the bill, though the President says that, “The Senate will start the process for a vote…

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes If you’ve been reading the news, you know that there is some controversy surrounding the recent stimulus/spending bill passed by Congress. (You can read my summary of the complete bill here, and you can find more detailed information about stimulus checks here and PPP here.)It hasn’t yet been signed into law. Here’s what you need to know. Background On Sunday, December 20, 2020, Congress reached an agreement on the stimulus package. The House voted on the measure on Monday, December 21, 2020, where it passed by a vote of 359-53. The Senate voted on the measure just before midnight, where it passed by a vote of 92-6. That same day, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin went on a morning talk show to promise that stimulus checks would start showing up in bank accounts next month. Mnuchin even took to Twitter on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, to praise…

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes (Author’s Note: The bill passed in the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, after this piece originally appeared.) Congress has finally agreed on a COVID relief package. It is the first significant stimulus action from Congress since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act was signed into law in March of 2020. There’s no text available yet (I’ll post a link when it’s available), but based on reports from those involved, here’s a quick look at what likely made it in the bill – and what didn’t. Note that this could change, since there has not yet been a vote, with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promising to do it as soon as possible (I’ll update when I have more details). What’s In. Unemployment Assistance. The bill would extend the pandemic unemployment insurance programs – those created under the CARES…

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes (Author’s Note: The bill passed in the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, after this piece originally appeared.) When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in March of 2020, the law included provisions intended to help businesses. One of the most popular is known as the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. The program is precisely what it sounds like: billions in (potentially) forgivable loans to keep workers on the payroll. The loans were targeted to businesses and that included sole proprietorships, independent contractors, gig-economy workers, and self-employed individuals. Businesses could use the money for employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments. Funds could also be used for family, medical, and sick leave. The money went quickly: the program opened on April 3, 2020, and closed on April 16, 2020. An additional…

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes (Author’s Note: The bill passed in the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, after this piece originally appeared.) So you know how folks throw around adjectives and superlatives all of the time? And sometimes you just don’t believe them? If you hear anyone describing the latest stimulus bill from Congress as “huge” or “giant” or even “ginormous,” believe them. It’s so large that aides had trouble printing it: https://twitter.com/elwasson/status/1341072138237820928 And again while trying to upload it to the internet: https://twitter.com/JakeSherman/status/1341078170754310144 Eventually, the text was made available on the House website. It’s 5,593 pages long. You can take a peek here (downloads as a PDF). The bill passed in the House and the Senate. In the Senate, the late-night vote was 92-6, with only the following Senators voting no: Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and…

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes Remember the flurry of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notices that got sent out in mid-November? Many of those notices – especially those notices of intent to levy (CP504) – were sent out without regard for individual taxpayer circumstances, with tax practitioners reporting receipt by taxpayers previously marked as CNC (currently not collectible), taxpayers with pending offers, and taxpayers who have already resolved liabilities. Many practitioners – like me – responded by reaching out to Congress and demanding action. It appears that Congress heard our pleas. A group of senators have sent a letter to the IRS, asking for some relief. The letter, which is addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, begins, “The pandemic has created unique challenges for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), tax practitioners, and taxpayers alike. It is clear that Americans need a concerted effort by the IRS…

Congress is making some progress on a COVID relief package. If it advances, it would be the first significant stimulus action from Congress since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act was signed into law in March of 2020. A second relief bill was introduced and passed in the House in May of 2020; the bill, known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, was not taken up by the Senate with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that the timing was not right. In July of 2020, the Senate unveiled a series of proposals referred to as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act, or HEALS Act, which also did not move forward. And then, mostly crickets. Now, a bipartisan group has rolled out a package that has garnered some interest. It’s called the Bipartisan Emergency…

#TaxTwitter has been abuzz about a flurry of notices of intent to levy (CP504) sent to taxpayers this week. The notices appear to have been sent out without regard for individual taxpayers circumstances with tax practitioners reporting receipt by taxpayers previously marked as CNC (currently not collectible), taxpayers with pending offers, and taxpayers who have already resolved liabilities. Typically, when you receive a notice like this, the best plan is to reach out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) even if you aren’t sure that you know. Taxpayers are directed to call the number on the notice (for a CP504, that’s 1.800.829.8374); alternatively, some practitioners opt to dial in to the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS). I tried both. For two days. More often than not, I received a recording advising that “due to extremely high call volume,” no one could answer. Then, a disconnect. I finally got a real person…

Our schools stopped in-person instruction due to the pandemic in March. Within a few weeks, it was evident that we were going to have to make some changes. My daughter, who was studying for the German AP exam, was encouraged to practice at home. Since I could – at best – only order a Kolsch and a pretzel in German, it was clear that we would need some outside help. Ditto for Calculus: even though I love math and yes, was on the math team in school (insert geek joke of your choice here), I could not, years later, be reliably depended on to calculate the derivative of an indefinite integral without a refresher. We eventually signed up with an online tutoring service to help fill in the blanks. Several weeks later, I started receiving questions from parents in similar situations. Many asked whether parents could claim a tax deduction…

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