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Tax Season Is Under Way. Here Are Some Tips To Navigate It.

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NEW YORK — Tax season began Monday, and for many filing US tax returns — particularly those doing so for the first time — it may be a difficult chore that is sometimes pushed until the last minute. But, if you want to escape the stress of the approaching deadline, get organised as soon as possible.

Whether you do your taxes, go to a tax clinic, or hire a professional, navigating the tax system may take time and effort. Courtney Alev, Credit Karma’s consumer financial advocate, suggests you take it easy on yourself.

“Take a breath. Take some time, set out an hour, or work through it over the weekend. “You’ll hopefully realise that it’s much simpler than you think,” Alev added.

If you need more clarity on the process, there are numerous free tools available to assist you navigate it.

Here’s what you should know:

tax

When is the deadline for filing taxes?

Taxpayers have until April 15 to file forms for 2023.

What do I need to do to file my tax return?
While the required documents may vary by situation, here is a broad outline of what everyone needs:

—Social Security Number

– W-2 documents, if you are employed.

– 1099-G if you are unemployed.

— 1099 paperwork if you are self-employed.

—Investment and savings records

—Any allowable deduction, such as educational costs, medical bills, charitable contributions, etc.

—Tax credits, such as the child tax credit and the retirement savings contribution credit.

The IRS website provides a more detailed document list.

Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals, recommends gathering all of your paperwork in one location before beginning your tax return and having your records from the previous year if your financial status has significantly altered.

To protect themselves from identity theft, O’Saben recommends taxpayers create an identity protection PIN with the IRS. Once you’ve created a number, the IRS will require it when you file your tax return.

How Do I File My Taxes?
You can file your taxes online or on paper. However, there is a significant time gap between the two methods. The IRS can process paper filings for up to six months, whereas electronic filings take only three weeks.

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WHAT RESOURCES ARE THERE?

For those earning $79,000 or less yearly, the IRS provides free guided tax preparation that handles your arithmetic. If you have any issues while completing your tax forms, the IRS has an interactive tax aid tool that can provide answers depending on your information.

Aside from famous corporations like TurboTax and H&R Block, taxpayers can use licenced professionals such as certified public accountants. The IRS provides a directory of tax preparers around the United States.

The IRS also finances two programs providing free tax assistance: VITA and Tax Counselling for the Elderly (TCE). People who earn $64,000 or less per year, have disabilities, or speak little English are eligible for the VITA programme. People over the age of 60 are eligible for the TCE programme. The IRS has a website where you may find organisations that host VITA and TCE clinics.

If you have a tax problem, clinics nationwide can help you handle it. These tax clinics typically provide services in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.When will the IRS accept 2024 returns? Here's when you can start filing  your taxes. - CBS News

HOW CAN I AVOID MISTAKES ON MY TAX RETURN?

Many people are concerned about getting in trouble with the IRS if they make errors. Here’s how to avoid some of the more popular ones:

—Confirm your name on your Social Security card.

When working with customers, O’Saben always requests that they bring their Social Security cards to double-check their number and legal name, which can change when people marry.

“You may have changed your name, but you didn’t change it with Social Security,” he remarked. “If the Social Security number doesn’t match the first four letters of the last name, the return will be rejected, and that will delay processing.”

—Look for tax statements if you’ve opted out of paper mail.

Many people prefer to avoid receiving snail mail; however, doing so may result in your tax paperwork being included.

“If you didn’t get anything in the mail doesn’t mean that there isn’t an information document out there that you need to be aware of and report accordingly,” he said.

—Be sure to record all of your income.

If you worked more than one job in 2023, you’ll need the W-2 forms for each.

What about the Child Income Credit?
Last month, Congress announced a bipartisan deal to expand the child tax credit. The tax credit is $2,000 per kid, with just $1,600 refundable. The plan would gradually boost the maximum refundable child tax credit to $1,800 for 2023 tax returns, $1,900 the following year, and $2,000 for 2025 tax returns.

According to the Centre for Budget and Policy Priorities, if this deal is implemented, around 16 million low-income children will benefit from expanding the child tax credit. Lawmakers hope to move this bill as quickly as feasible.

What if I make a mistake?

Mistakes happen, and the IRS takes a different response in each case. In general, if you make a mistake or leave something out of your tax returns, the IRS will audit you, according to Alev. An audit indicates that the IRS will ask for additional documentation.

“Generally, they are quite understanding and willing to collaborate with others. “You won’t be arrested if you type in the wrong field,” Alev stated.

What if it has been years since I filed?

You can file taxes late; if you were expecting a refund, you may still receive it. If you last filed years ago and owe money to the IRS, you may face penalties, but the agency can work with you to set up payment plans.

How Can I Avoid Scams?

Tax season is a perfect time for tax scams, according to O’Saben. These frauds can be delivered via phone, text, email, or social media. The IRS does not use any of these methods to reach taxpayers.

Tax preparers can sometimes be fraud perpetrators, so ask many questions. According to O’Saben, this could be a warning sign if a tax preparer tells you you will receive a greater refund than in past years.

If you need help seeing what your tax preparer is doing, request a copy of the tax return and ask questions about each entry.

How long should I keep copies of my tax returns?
It’s usually a good idea to preserve a record of your tax returns in case the IRS audits you on something you reported years ago. O’Saben recommends retaining copies of your tax returns for up to seven years.

How Do I File a Tax Extension?
You can request an extension if you run out of time to file your tax return. However, remember that the extension only allows you to file your taxes, not pay them. Pay an estimated amount before the deadline to avoid penalties and interest if you owe taxes. If you expect a refund, you will still get it when you file your taxes.

Filing an extension gives you till October 15 to file your taxes. You can file for an extension using your preferred tax software or preparer, the IRS Free File tool, or by mail.

What happens if you file your taxes late?
You may face several fines if you miss the tax deadline and do not file for an extension. If you miss the deadline, you may face a failure-to-file penalty. According to the IRS, the penalty will be 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month the tax return is late.

You will face a failure-to-pay penalty if you owe taxes and fail by the deadline. Interest will be levied on both outstanding taxes and penalties. If you are eligible for a refund, you will not be penalised and will get your tax return payment. If you had unusual circumstances that prevented you from filing or paying your taxes on time, you may be entitled to waive or decrease your penalty.

You can apply for a payment plan if you owe too much in taxes. Payment options will allow you to repay over time

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Apple’s New China Problem: ChatGPT Is Banned There

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iOS 18 Update

Apple is depending on its planned AI features to improve iPhone sales, particularly in China, where demand has been slow. But there’s a problem: ChatGPT, which will soon be integrated into Siri, is illegal in China.

In a presentation earlier this month, Apple (AAPL) demonstrated its proprietary technology called Apple Intelligence, which will enable exciting new AI features, and announced a partnership with OpenAI to use their viral ChatGPT tool in a limited capacity. (When Siri is enabled and requires more assistance with a query, ChatGPT can come in.)

The move demonstrated Apple’s efforts to accelerate the latest buzzy technology at a time when major rivals such as Microsoft, Google, Meta, and Samsung have already established their AI foothold. An agreement with OpenAI could help Apple bridge the gap.

However, China is one of the first countries in the world to govern the generative AI technology that underpins these popular businesses. In August, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top internet watchdog, issued new industry guidelines requiring enterprises to seek approval before deployment. As of March, the organization had authorized over 100 AI models, all from Chinese enterprises.

chatgpt

ChatGPT | The Street Image

Apple’s New China Problem: ChatGPT Is Banned There

According to a Wall Street Journal article published Thursday, Apple is looking for a Chinese AI company to collaborate with ahead of the iPhone’s projected September release, although an agreement has yet to be made.

Apple did not return a request for comment.

The need to find a partner—and quickly—comes at a time when Apple’s smartphone sales fell a staggering 10% in the first quarter of this year, according to market research firm IDC. This was owing primarily to a steep decline in iPhone sales in China, which is the company’s second-biggest market. Nationalism, a difficult economy, and more competition have all contributed to the company’s decline in China.

Resurgent competitors.
Meanwhile, according to Counterpoint Research, Huawei’s smartphone sales increased by 70% in the first quarter.

If a solution is not developed by the autumn, Chinese consumers may feel shortchanged and opt to wait until they can have the complete AI experience with Apple, she noted.

“Apple is very likely to seek a local partner in China in place of OpenAI, because simply put, it needs to,” said Nabila Popal, senior director at IDC Research. “Chinese consumers are expecting their premium phones to have the latest AI functionality and may hesitate to spend over $1000 for devices that don’t have all the AI bells and whistles.”

“The real growth in China for Apple will come in the long term, as Apple Intelligence evolves offering more use cases, extends language support beyond English and when Siri can leverage other local AI models to provide the ChatGPT-like function,” according to Popal.

chatgpt

ChatGPT | CNN Image

Apple’s New China Problem: ChatGPT Is Banned There

Meanwhile, Reece Hayden, an analyst at ABI Research, suggested that some AI businesses in China may be better suited to target their customers by offering more local dialects than what is currently seen in overseas AI models.

Apple would be one of many foreign businesses collaborating with the Cyberspace Administration of China on AI and smartphones. In January, Samsung collaborated with Chinese tech giant Baidu (BIDU) to deploy its AI model to power its translation service. It collaborates with another AI business, Meitu, on photo editing tools. In other parts of the world, Samsung employs its proprietary AI technology, and Google’s (GOOGL) AI model, Gemini, is banned in China.

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung accounts for less than 1% of China’s total market share.

Although the clock is ticking for Apple to sign a collaboration before its autumn software launch, Jeff Fieldhack, a research director at Counterpoint, believes it will be able to do so on time.

“Apple should be able to have a partnership aligned very quickly because it has such a strong global install base, and it would be a gem for these companies to work with them,” he added, saying that they will soon be identified as an AI powerhouse in the country.

Meanwhile, Reece Hayden, an analyst at ABI Research, suggested that some AI businesses in China may be better suited to target their customers by offering more local dialects than what is currently seen in overseas AI models.

chatgpt

ChatGPT | Unilad Image

Apple’s New China Problem: ChatGPT Is Banned There

Apple would be one of many foreign businesses collaborating with the Cyberspace Administration of China on AI and smartphones. In January, Samsung collaborated with Chinese tech giant Baidu (BIDU) to deploy its AI model to power its translation service. It collaborates with another AI business, Meitu, on photo editing tools. In other parts of the world, Samsung employs its own proprietary AI technology and Google’s (GOOGL) AI model Gemini, which is also banned in China.

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung accounts for less than 1% of China’s total market share.

Although the clock is ticking for Apple to sign a collaboration before its autumn software launch, Jeff Fieldhack, a research director at Counterpoint, believes it will be able to do so on time.

“Apple should be able to have a partnership aligned very quickly because it has such a strong global install base, and it would be a gem for these companies to work with them,” he added, saying that they will soon be identified as an AI powerhouse in the country.

SOURCE – (AP)

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So Long Plastic Air Pillows: Amazon Shifting To Recycled Paper Filling For Packages In North America

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Amazon | AP News Image

Amazon is switching from plastic air pillows used for packing in North America to recycled paper because it is more environmentally friendly and claims paper works better.

The company announced on Thursday that it has already replaced 95% of plastic air pillows in North America with paper filler and plans to eliminate them by the end of the year.

“We want to ensure that customers receive their items undamaged, while using as little packaging as possible to avoid waste, and prioritising recyclable materials,” Amazon’s statement read.

amazon

Amazon | AMAZON IMAGE

Amazon Shifting To Recycled Paper Filling For Packages In North America

It is the company’s largest plastic packaging reduction program in North America to date, removing about 15 billion plastic air pillows from use each year.

According to Amazon, almost all customer deliveries for Prime Day this year, next month, would feature plastic rather than air pillows.

Environmental groups, notably the nonprofit Oceana, have long criticized Amazon’s usage of plastic packaging.

Matt Littlejohn, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Oceana, said that Amazon’s attempts to eliminate plastic packaging are encouraging, but the corporation can still do more.

“While this is a significant step forward for the company, Amazon needs to build on this momentum and fulfil its multiyear commitment to transition its North America fulfilment centres away from plastic,” Littlejohn said in a previous statement. “Then, the company should expand these efforts and also push innovations like reusable packaging to move away from single-use packaging everywhere it sells and ships.”

Amazon investors have also received widespread support, who have encouraged the corporation to clarify how it will cut waste.

amazon

Amazon | CNBC Image

Amazon Shifting To Recycled Paper Filling For Packages In North America

For the first time in 2022, the firm released the entire amount of single-use plastic used throughout its global operations in response to investor inquiries on trash reduction initiatives. The company used 85,916 metric tonnes of single-use plastic that year, representing an 11.6% drop from 2021.

In October, Amazon began phasing out plastic air cushions at an automated fulfillment center in Ohio. The company stated that it was able to test and learn at the center, allowing it to move fast towards shifting to recycled paper filling.

The move involved replacing machinery and educating personnel on new systems and machines.

Amazon established through testing that the paper filler, which is manufactured from 100% recyclable content and is curbside recyclable, provides the same, if not better, protection during shipment than plastic air pillows.

Christian Garcia, who works at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bakersfield, California, stated in a press release that the paper filler is easy to use and that the machinery allows employees more space to pack orders.

Amazon

Amazon | Investopidia Image

Amazon Shifting To Recycled Paper Filling For Packages In North America

The company noted that one of its ongoing attempts to reduce waste is a push to distribute things without additional packaging. In 2022, 11% of Amazon’s international packages were shipped without additional delivery packing.

Other efforts include piloting new technologies with artificial intelligence and robotics company Glacier, which will utilize AI-powered robots to automate recyclable sorting and collect real-time data on recycling streams for businesses. It collaborates with the United States Department of Energy on innovative materials and recycling initiatives.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

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Jeff Bezos | CNN Image

When will Jeff Bezos confront the crisis in his newsroom?

The Washington Post’s owner and Amazon millionaire has yet to take any meaningful action to address concerns at his newspaper, which continues in disarray while explosive reports are published on a daily basis, calling the outlet’s new publisher, Will Lewis, into severe question.

Staffers at The Post are losing patience with Bezos, whose only response to the Lewis disaster so far has been to send a 138-word, single-paragraph memo from his Mediterranean yachting vacation to a few leaders at The Post, assuring them that he wants standards to remain “very high.” That is the root of the problem, according to The Post staff. They, too, want standards to stay “very high” and are concerned that Lewis constitutes an active threat to that common goal.

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Jeff Bezos | Variety Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

More drama occurred Friday when Lewis said that Robert Winnett, whom he had identified as the paper’s incoming editor, would not be coming to manage the Post. This comes after The Post published a 3,000-word front-page exposé this week, revealing that Winnett had previously utilized documents from a self-described “thief” for reporting.

Frustrations and concerns are so severe at the outlet that two of the institution’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists have chosen to come out publicly, pushing for a change in leadership, an unprecedented move at the venerable newspaper. David Maraniss, an associate editor at The Post for nearly 50 years, said he doesn’t “know a single person at the Post who thinks the current situation with the publisher and the supposed new editor can stand.” Scott Higham, who has been with The Post for over two decades, concurred and urged for Lewis’ dismissal.

“Will Lewis needs to step down for the good of The Post and the public,” Higham posted on Facebook. “He has lost the newsroom and will never win it back.”

To summarise, Maraniss and Higham express what many in the newsroom believe. In meetings with more than a dozen people inside and close to The Post this week, it became evident that Lewis, in his brief six months on the job, has completely alienated personnel and now confronts insurmountable odds in regaining the employee base he hopes to lead. Whether or not he has strong business ideas is irrelevant. He has lost the respect of his staff. And any successful leader will tell you that without the credibility to lead, it is impossible to accomplish anything, let alone perform a Herculean company revolution.

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Jeff Bezos | CNN Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

Bezos’ spokeswoman did not reply to demands for comment on Thursday. But certainly, the millionaire realizes the grave predicament that has gripped The Post. And it’s hard to imagine he truly feels his brief memo to The Post’s leadership was sufficient to quell the worries that have sparked the extraordinary outrage at the newspaper. In fact, it’s worth noting that Bezos has not expressed support for Lewis recently, providing him options as he assesses the deteriorating situation and decides how to stop the bleeding.

Staff at The Post are eagerly awaiting Bezos’ action. Since Lewis’s fury flared earlier this month, CNN employees have repeatedly warned the outlet that the ongoing turmoil has diverted attention away from the newsroom’s essential job. With a high-stakes election just months away, it is far from ideal to have the attention of one of the country’s leading news organizations diverted by internal strife.

It’s “a massive distraction,” one Postie told me Thursday, adding that The Guardian’s eye-catching story accusing Lewis of allegedly advising then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “clean up” his phone amid the so-called “Partygate” controversies is “the talk of the newsroom.” (Both Lewis and Johnson refuted the story.)

“I don’t think the mood will change until something else changes,” the employee explained.

bezos

Jeff Bezos | CNBC Image

Jeff Bezos Is Under Fire At The Washington Post As Patience Wears Thin Among Staffers

In Bezos’ absence, reports questioning Lewis’ ethical integrity continue to emerge. According to the Financial Times, Lewis “retains links” to a public relations agency that advises powerful corporate and political figures on negotiating difficult circumstances. While the FT reported that Lewis had sold his ownership part in the company, it also stated that the firm had “continued to distribute regular emails from Lewis,” producing “confusion among people in contact with the agency.”

While the FT’s Thursday story lacked the weight of other news outlets’ recent reports, it did raise new questions about Lewis’ past and entanglements.

Meanwhile, as The Post and other sources, including The New York Times, continue to investigate Lewis’ past, many more concerns will arise. And as the inquiries continue, those at The Post will undoubtedly have one in particular for Bezos: What are your plans for restoring your newspaper’s reputation and status?

SOURCE – (CNN)

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