Amid Chaos, IRS Attempts A Return To Normal

E-filing of individual tax returns for the 2022 filing season opens on January 24. The start of e-filing and the April tax filing deadline return to an almost normal schedule while ongoing issues make filing season realities hard to predict.

In 2021 individual e-filing didn’t open until February 12. In 2020 it opened on January 27. This year’s opening appears to be moving the needle back toward the more normal mid-January opening. The April 18th filing deadline is also a return to normal after the July 17, 2020 and May 17, 2021 extended deadlines. Friday, April 15, 2022 is the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C. which is why the deadline has been moved forward to Monday April 18. It almost seems normal. Almost.

While the start and finish lines to filing season 2022 have a whiff of normalcy about them, everything in between stinks. It stinks of expectations bordering on the delusional and it stinks of IRS rot. When it comes to considering “known unknowns” such as the effects of reconciling economic impact payments (stimulus money) and advance payments of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the IRS doesn’t seem delusional.

The Commissioner is taking every chance he is offered to urge taxpayers and tax practitioners to file accurately and electronically. The IRS is using every channel it has to remind taxpayers to watch for Letters 6419 and 6475 (which provide the amounts of the advance CTC payments and EIPs, respectively). It’s the Commissioner’s apparent failure to consider the “unknown unknowns” that reeks of delusion.

While the IRS Commissioner (in a recent statement) and the National Taxpayer Advocate (in her most recent report) have been open about anticipating another difficult filing season, they have not seemed to consider the potential for natural disasters to create yet another patchwork of filing deadlines. In 2021 the May 17th deadline wasn’t the deadline for Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana due to winter storms.

Louisiana’s deadline was re-adjusted after Hurricane Ida. In late April 2021 the May 17, 2021 deadline was extended for some Kentucky counties due to storm effects and the list of affected counties continued to be adjusted until June 28, 2021 (two days before the extended June 30 filing deadline). At the end of April 2021 Alabama taxpayers got an extension until August 2. In September New York and New Jersey got their deadline extended because of Hurricane Ida. That’s just a sample; the list goes on.

The other unknown unknown the Commissioner has failed to consider is the ongoing effects of the pandemic. His statement was issued January 10, 2022 amid the omicron variant surge. At this time it is unclear if that surge has peaked and it is even more unclear what effects the current surge will have on IRS staffing levels during filing season. Whatever the effects are, it is unlikely they will improve return processing or response times.

It’s early January 2022. It’s unlikely that the pace of natural disasters will abate and predicting pandemic surges has proved elusive, so why not plan for the worst and issue a pre-emptive extension of the filing deadline until July? Early filers will still file early. Procrastinators will still procrastinate. Extending the deadline until mid-year would simply mitigate some of the confusion resulting from yet another reactive patchwork of federal deadlines due to yet another bad weather year or more Covid-related staffing issues.

And then there’s the rot. Yes, the IRS has been underfunded for years. Yes, experienced people retired and because of funding cuts, they were never replaced. Yes Congress continues to ask the IRS to do more with less. But at some point the IRS needs to acknowledge certain systemic failures in its procedures and possibly its culture.

One such systemic failure was the continuation of automated notice processing despite the mail and phone backlog. Taxpayers and tax practitioners continue to receive second and third notices, each more aggressive than the last, about issues that were addressed by a mailed response to the first notice that has remained either unopened or unprocessed by the IRS. That’s a procedural failure.

The cultural failure is the idea that temporarily stopping automated notices or providing some sort of blanket penalty relief or temporarily giving more experienced customer service reps (or their supervisors) more autonomy to abate penalties until the IRS clears its mail backlog is some sort of abject moral failing that will result in massive taxpayer noncompliance. It’s the idea that cutting taxpayers some slack in the middle of yet another chaotic filing season will turn otherwise law abiding taxpayers into tax protesting scofflaws.

It’s the idea that their kindness will be considered weakness. Perhaps that is the case, but the fact of the matter is that our tax system is based on voluntary compliance and the complete inability to get assistance when trying to comply voluntarily with one’s tax obligations or exercise one’s rights under the tax laws could be as much (or more) of a disincentive to compliance as lack of enforcement. Unfortunately, heading into the third filing season under pandemic rules it seems we have yet to find rock bottom and a path out of this abyss.

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I own Tax Therapy, LLC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am an Enrolled Agent and non-attorney practitioner admitted to the bar of the U.S. Tax Court. I work as a tax general practitioner preparing returns for individuals and (really) small businesses as well as representing individuals before the IRS and, occasionally, the U.S. Tax Court. My passion is translating “taxspeak” into English for taxpayers and tax practitioners. I write to dispel myths with facts and to explain “the fine print” behind seemingly simple tax concepts. I cover individual tax issues and IRS developments with a focus on items of interest to taxpayers and retail tax practitioners. Follow me on Twitter @taxtherapist505

Source: Amid Chaos, IRS Attempts A Return To Normal

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More contents:

New Higher Estate And Gift Tax Limits For 2022

IRS Announces 2022 Tax Rates, Standard Deduction Amounts And More

Medicare Part B Premiums Rise 14.5% In 2022

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 15, which includes withholding tables for income tax. State requirements vary by state; for an example, see the New York state portal for withholding tax.

Canada Revenue Agency Publication T4001. Canada Revenue Agency also provides significant online guidance accessible through a web index, including an online payroll tax calculator.

IRS Form W-4.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) PAYE for employers: the basics

PAYG withholding web page for details and tools.

Deposit Interest Retention Tax.

26 USC 3406, Backup Withholding.

Dividend Allowance factsheet HMRC, 17 August 2015

PwC Global Tax Summaries: Rwanda, Corporate – Withholding taxes”. 26 July 2018.

Google Hit With $593 Million Fine In France For Failing To Ink Deal With News Publishers

FRANCE-ECONOMY-TECHNOLOGY-VIVATECH

Google was hit with a $593 million (€500 Million) fine by antitrust regulators in France on Monday after the company failed to offer a fair deal to local publishers for hosting their news content on its platform, adding to the list of several large fines the U.S. tech giant has copped in Europe in the past few years.

The ruling comes after Google failed to comply with an April 2020 decision by the French regulators to negotiate a deal “in good faith” with publishers to carry snippets of their content on its Google News platform. As part of the ruling, the French Competition Authority has ordered Google to come up with an remuneration offer for its use of the news snippets within two months.

If the tech giant fails to meet the deadline, it will face penalty payments of up to $1 million (€900,000) per day of delay. In a statement shared with Forbes, Google said it was “very disappointed” with the ruling and it believes it had “acted in good faith throughout the entire process.” The company added that it is about to reach a global licensing agreement with the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), but did not provide a timeline.

Google will be able to appeal Tuesday’s fine, but it is unclear if it will choose to do so.

Crucial Quote

“The sanction of 500 million euros takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the breaches observed and how Google’s behavior has led to further delay of the proper application of the law…which aimed to better take into account the value of content from publishers and news agencies included on the platforms,” Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority said in an official statement.

Surprising Fact

Tuesday’s fine is the second-biggest antitrust penalty a single company has faced in France. Last year, the competition regulator hit Apple with a $1.2 billion fine after the company was found to have signed anti-competitive agreements with two distributors over the sale of non-iPhone products such as Apple Mac computers. Apple has appealed the ruling.

Key Background

Publishers in Europe have clashed with Google multiple times in the past year, accusing the tech giant of luring away billions of euros in advertising money from the publishers while leveraging their content. Particularly contentious has been the company’s Google News platform which hosts snippets of news stories from publishers without paying them. On the flipside, publishers are unable to yank their content from Google’s platform as they rely on it heavily to drive traffic to their sites.

Earlier this year, Google managed to reach a $76 million deal to pay a group of 121 French Newspapers. But the AFP and other French publishers who were not part of the deal expressed anger and slammed Google for being opaque. De Silva has dismissed that deal and criticized Google for limiting the scope of the negotiations, excluding agency content like photos, and offering to pay the same amount for news content that it does for dictionary listings or weather information.

Further Reading

Google Fined $593 Million By French Antitrust Agency (Bloomberg)

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I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay or drop me an email at siladitya@protonmail.com.

Source: Google Hit With $593 Million Fine In France For Failing To Ink Deal With News Publishers

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Critics:

Google said it was very disappointed with the decision but would comply. “Our objective remains the same: we want to turn the page with a definitive agreement. We will take the French Competition Authority’s feedback into consideration and adapt our offers,” the U.S. tech giant said.

A Google spokesperson added: “We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”

The framework agreement, which many other French media outlets criticized, was one of the highest-profile deals under Google’s “News Showcase” programme to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results, and the first of its kind in Europe.

Google agreed to pay $76 million over three years to a group of 121 French news publishers to end the copyright row, documents seen by Reuters showed. It followed months of bargaining between Google, French publishers and news agencies over how to apply the revamped EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news. read more

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