Turbotax

22 Jul 19
Mother Jones
One of the most powerful Democrats in Congress officially has a 2020 primary challenger, and progressives are hoping the race will be a repeat of the political earthquakes that sent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) to Capitol Hill last year. “Our democracy is dying right before us, and we need members of Congress that are there to uphold the Constitution.” On Monday, Alex Morse—the 30-year-old, openly gay mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts—announced his bid to unseat Rep. Richard Neal, who represents the 1st congressional district in the western part of the state. Neal chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxation, Medicare, Social Security, and welfare programs. Progressives have accused the 15-term congressman of using his position to slow-walk their priorities, and Morse plans to run as an unabashed proponent of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. As he kicked off his campaign, Morse didn’t hesitate to align himself ideologically with Pressley, AOC, and their fellow “Squad” members, Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). “It’s not members of Congress that have been there for 20 or 30 years that are setting the agenda and changing the conversation and impacting where the country is going,” he told me. “It’s those members who have been there as short as seven months.” Morse added that he’d “be thrilled to be welcomed into the Squad.” Morse’s team already includes veterans of Pressley’s successful 2018 bid against 10-term Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano. Among them is Gina Christos, who served as Pressley’s finance director and is now working as a general consultant for the Morse campaign through Rivera Consulting, which provided political strategy for Pressley. That’s important, since Morse will have to work around the so-called “blacklist” that Democratic leadership imposed earlier this year to discourage consultants and vendors from signing on with candidates waging primary challenges against the party’s incumbents. Morse’s outspoken progressivism stands in sharp contrast to Neal, whose voting record has consistently been somewhere in the middle of the Democratic caucus. According to David Greenberg, a member of the local grassroots group CD-1 Progressive Coalition, activists have repeatedly met with Neal to push him to support progressive priorities like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, as well as to hold a town hall meeting in the district, which he hasn’t done since the fall of 2017. Greenberg added that Neal appeared to harbor a particular dislike for his party’s outspoken progressive members, telling activists in April that he hopes “we are not going to have a progressive tea party” in Congress. A source close to Neal told me the congressman was trying to make the point that the tea party had caused Republicans to lose sight of what had won them their majority and that the 40 Democrats who flipped House seats in 2018 are very important for keeping President Donald Trump in check. But keeping Trump is check is precisely what progressives say Neal hasn’t been doing. He’s irked liberals who want to see him use his position to conduct tougher oversight of the president. Neal had the power to demand Trump’s federal tax returns; he finally did so in April after months of demands from activists who thought he should have done so sooner. Recently, New York state passed a law allowing Neal to request Trump’s state tax returns, but Neal hasn’t accepted the offer, arguing that doing so would undermine his ongoing legal battle to get the federal returns. Neal has racked up quite a rap sheet with progressives when it comes to policy, as well. In April, he drew heat for green-lighting legislation that permanently banned the Internal Revenue Service from developing its own free tax preparation software, a provision widely seen as a boon for tax preparation companies such as Turbotax and H&R Block. Neal dragged his feet on holding a hearing on Medicare for All legislation, and liberals have complained that he has thrown up road blocks to progressive plans to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen Social Security. “Richie Neal had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the most obvious thing in requesting Trump’s tax returns and hold[ing] hearings for Medicare for All,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which will likely endorse Morse in the race. “He’s in the pocket of big corporations, in addition to being an entrenched member of the political establishment who isn’t in touch with the times.” Defeating Neal won’t be an easy task: Neal is is a favorite son of Springfield, the district’s largest city, where he worked in city government for 15 years, including four years as mayor. He’s been a member of Congress since 1989 and was originally sworn in 26 days days before Morse was born. Neal has nearly $4 million in cash on hand and has won almost all of his races this century with more than 70 percent of the vote. In the 2018 primary, he steamrolled attorney Tahrirah Amatul-Wadud, who raised just $146,000. But unlike Amatul-Wadud, Morse is no political newcomer. He’s been the mayor of Holyoke since 2011, when, at age 22, he ousted a 68-year-old incumbent who had been in politics for 30 years. Morse spent the spring of his senior year at Brown crashing on his friends’ couches and floors as he commuted back and forth between Providence and Holyoke to launch his campaign. His early political mentors include Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D), the first openly gay mayor of Providence. “I felt like there was all of this excitement and vision from the grassroots,” said Morse, when I asked about why he first ran for mayor. “But that energy and excitement and vision wasn’t matched by anyone in City Hall.” His reasons for challenging Neal are similar. “When I think about this race, I think about the people in this district who are being left behind and excluded from the process—who don’t feel like their member of Congress is responsive to their everyday lives,” he said. Morse, who grew up in a working-class household in Holyoke, boasts an impressive list of accomplishments from his time as the helm of the once-bustling manufacturing center known for its paper mills. During his first months in office, he worked with HUD to halt the slated demolition of a public housing complex that served 467 people, something Morse described as a “bleak displacement project of a largely Puerto Rican community that knew no other home for generations.” He implemented a needle exchange program in response to the area’s crisis-level opioid epidemic, and he declared Holyoke a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. In addition to backing Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, Morse supports opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump, another opportunity to draw a contrast to Neal. “I can’t purport to know the congressman’s strategy, but people are angry and scared,” Morse said. “Our democracy is dying right before us, and we need members of Congress that are there to uphold the Constitution. And if we don’t begin impeachment proceedings against this president, then I think it sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for any president that comes after.” But in Morse’s view, the race will transcend national politics. “Western Mass, by all accounts, is far behind,” he told me, comparing declining economic conditions in the district to the exploding growth in Boston. “You can say you’ve been in Congress for 30 years and you have this power and seniority. But when you look at educational outcomes, air quality, asthma rates, the opioid epidemic here, people that are uninsured, what do we have to show for it?”
22 Jul 19
Squeeze the Nickel

You don’t have enough money. Why? It’s very simple. You spend more than you earn. Understanding how much you bring in each month versus how much you spend each month is essential. The easiest way to track this is by creating a budget. You can use a ton of different methods to track your expenses […]

22 Jul 19
The TurboTax Blog
College can be very expensive and many students rely on scholarships and grants to help lower the cost of higher education. When I attended Carnegie Mellon University, I had the help of need-based grants and a handful of merit-based scholarships. Back then, I was just glad to receive help and never even considered the tax implications. Fortunately, the tax code looks favorably at scholarships and grants. If you are a student who received college scholarships or grants, here are some tax tips to help you understand how scholarships or grants impact your taxes. Do you really have to pay taxes on a scholarship? The answer is… maybe. Scholarships and Grants That Aren’t Taxed The good news is that you won’t pay any taxes on scholarships or grants for what the IRS calls “qualified education expenses.” What qualifies as a non-taxable education expense? Any funds you receive to pay for tuition, school fees, books or any supplies required for courses at your school. The IRS also notes that to qualify, you must be a “candidate for a degree at an educational institution that maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where it carries on its educational activities.” There are no taxes to pay if you received a scholarship or fellowship as part of the National Health Services Corps Scholarship Program or the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship and Financial Assistance Program. This also applies to anyone who is part of a qualifying work-learning-service program. So what scholarships and grants ARE taxable? Taxable Scholarships and Grants If you paid for your qualified education expenses and have scholarship funds left over, that money counts as taxable income. Any scholarship funds that go towards your room, board, or utilities are taxable. Any funds used for college expenses outside of the required supplies for your education are taxable too and applies to any school-related travel that is paid for by the scholarship or grant funds. If your grants, fellowships or assistance programs require you to provide some type of service while enrolled in school, this could make them closer to a stipend or payment rather than a scholarship. For example, if you received a $10,000 scholarship and $4,000 was designated as compensation for teaching or research while at school, that piece would be taxable income. The remaining $6,000 may not taxable if used towards qualifying education expenses. Paying Taxes on Scholarships and Grants If any of the funds count as taxable income, you should receive a Form W-2 from your scholarship’s provider. The W-2 will show you the taxable amount to claim on your taxes. If you don’t receive a W-2, it’s a great idea to reach out to your scholarship provider to find out why. Also, keep in mind that you cannot “double-dip.” If you paid for qualified education expenses with tax-free scholarship funds, you can’t also claim an education tax benefit like the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax asks you simple questions about you and gives you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are available in English and Spanish and can also review, sign, and file your tax return.
21 Jul 19
Financhill

In both the U.S. and Japan, most workers have taxes withheld from each paycheck. But get this: Japan employs “precision withholding.” Come tax time, workers receive a postcard summarizing their withholdings and taxes due, and the numbers are so correct that most people simply accept them. Overpayments are automatically directly deposited, and amounts due are […]

19 Jul 19
Daily Republic

The process by which government regulators getting cozy with the businesses they’re supposed to regulate is a time-worn and familiar problem. There’s even a name for it — “regulatory capture.” But no government agency in our new gilded age seems to be plunging into this dishonorable relationship as gleefully as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. […]

19 Jul 19
Herb Dusk

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19 Jul 19
Self Savvy

and I’m so SO happy you’re here. Because if you’re here, that means we most likely have a couple things in common and I’ve got a feeling we’re about to become fast friends. Self Savvy is for you if you: Want to keep learning and educating yourself. Where are my podcast and book junkies at?? […]

18 Jul 19
TurboTax Blog Español

Back-to-school season is just around the corner! Depending on where you live, your state may be offering huge savings with a sales tax holiday shopping weekend on specific purchases. With most state sales tax ranging from about 4 – 10%, that means more money in your pocket. Dates vary, but this year many states are […]

18 Jul 19
TurboTax Blog Español

Last year, we hired a contractor to help us tackle a big home renovation project. Since I’m self-employed and my husband works from home a few days a week, having a dedicated space for us to work became a necessity. We decided that converting the basement into a home office space was the way to […]

18 Jul 19
Tech and Life Science

TurboTax Started Charging the Disabled, Unemployed and Students To Make Up For Trump Tax Law Published on July 18, 2019 at 04:45AM The 2017 tax overhaul directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, so it pushed students, the disabled, and unemployed to a paid tier to make up for the lost […]

17 Jul 19
Fortune
The CEOs of two fast-growing tech companies, PagerDuty and Intuit, confessed on the stage of Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, Colo. to a shared obsession—with understanding customer pain points. It’s not as kinky as it sounds. The revelation came at the top of a conversation on “leadership” led by Fortune’s own CEO, Alan Murray, who asked both to share the secret of their success. PagerDuty boss Jennifer Tejada, who joined as CEO shortly after the company became a unicorn—the techie term for private companies valued at $1 billion or more—and guided it through a successful initial public offering in April, cited customer focus without a moment’s hesitation. “Every hour of every day, you’re thinking about your customer,” she said. Sasan Goodarzi, CEO of online tax preparation software maker Intuit, which has navigated several waves of technological change since it premiered in 1983, readily agreed. “We were born in the era of DOS,” he said. “The only way to do that is to fall in love with consumer problems, not our solutions.” But the two also agreed keeping customers happy is getting harder as technology plays a greater role in daily life. Tejada’s company produces a software-as-a-service incident response platform for IT departments for more than 11,000 companies, including a third of the Fortune 500. PagerDuty has built a thriving business around the proposition that customers have come to expect so much from the cloud. But it can be a nerve-wracking line of work. She sketched the nightmare scenario: “Imagine it’s tax season, people are filing, the website, the mobile site goes down. It’s the spinner of death. Consumers will give you about three seconds before they start to flood the phone bridge. Almost everything we do with our daily lives is running and in some ways dependent on the cloud. You expect to work perfectly all the time. And when it doesn’t, you’re angry!” Goodzari said Intuit, famed for TurboTax, a consumer tax preparation application, and QuickBooks, an accounting program used by millions of small businesses, is so focused on how customers use its products that executives often ask to follow to customers to their workplace or home for observation. “It’s something we get really rigorous about.” Both CEOs hailed artificial intelligence as a vital tool to help them manage complexity, improve their understanding of customers and be more responsive to their needs. Goodzari called A.I. the “third platform,” after electricity and the Internet, that will “fundamentally change the world.” AI capabilities, he added, are “critical to helping our customers get paid the next day.”