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New Year-End Tax Provisions

In late December, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which in addition to providing COVID-19 relief provisions also included many tax provisions and extenders. The Act contained many COVID-related tax provisions, as well as a slew of extenders ranging from one year to permanent. This article will focus on the miscellaneous tax and disaster relief provisions, which are more applicable to most taxpayers. Miscellaneous Provisions Charitable Contributions – For tax years 2020-2022, non-itemizers can deduct $300 in charitable contributions ($600 for married couples filing jointly). Full Business Meals Deduction – Typically, business meals are only 50 percent deductible; however, the new tax law provides for a 100 percent deduction for… Read More

Prosecution for Use of Performance Enhancement Drugs, Modernizing Government Technology, and Enhancements for Veterans and Their Caregivers

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 (HR 835) – This bill was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) on Jan. 29, 2019. The purpose of this legislation is to give U.S. officials the power to prosecute individual athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs at international sports competitions involving American athletes. The legislation has been criticized by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as undermining the global anti-doping movement based on international cooperation, and because no other nation has extra-territorial jurisdiction in this field. The bill passed in the House in October, the Senate in November, and was signed into law by the president on Dec. 4. IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020… Read More

Standalone 5G Networks: Potential Vulnerabilities that Could Result in Denial of Service for Customers

5G networks promise high speeds, lower latency, and more robust security compared to its predecessors – and this has created a lot of buzz. As a result, there is a lot of competition among operators to roll out the network while manufacturers are already producing 5G devices. The deployment of 5G around the world has also been facilitated by a need for always-connected computers, widespread internet of things (IoT), and dependence on smartphones. All of this is constraining the 4G LTE technology. With the current uptake in remote working due to COVID-19, 5G is expected to see more deployment. However, despite the promised benefits, there are varying concerns about the… Read More

Deciding if a Roth IRA Conversion is For You

Roth IRAs can be a powerful tax tool, but they are often misunderstood and misused. Investment income in Roth IRAs compound tax-free and most distributions are tax-free as well. Another benefit is that there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) throughout the original owner’s life. Long-term Roth distributions are tax-free to the beneficiaries who inherit the IRA as long as they fully distribute the Roth within 10 years of inheriting. As the annual contribution limits are rather small, most Roth IRA contributions are made by converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The downside to conversion is that you’ll have to pay tax on the gross amount converted. Considering… Read More

What To Know About Filing For Bankruptcy

About one million Americans file for personal bankruptcy each year, with one in 10 households having filed at some point. Given the loss of jobs, reduced income, and the coronavirus recession in 2020, those numbers could increase this year if the economic recovery is not both swift and omnipresent. There are two main types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7, which is the more common option, will liquidate the filer’s assets in order to discharge all or a portion of the outstanding debt. People generally choose this route because they are in way over their heads and do not earn enough income to pay their debts… Read More

How Will the Biden Administration’s China Policy Impact Markets?

The Obama and Trump administrations couldn’t have had a more different approach when it came to U.S. relations with China. As the Institute for China-America Studies (ICAS) explains, under the Obama administration, the United States favored a trade and investment approach when dealing with China, while the Trump administration had a national security focus. The ICAS believes the Biden administration will address trade and economic imbalances through a modified approach, including reducing tariffs on imported Chinese goods over time to decrease inflation for American consumers. Another example is maintaining pressure on China to cut government subsidies for competing industries, currency games, and exporting products to the United States at artificially… Read More

COVID-19 Vaccination Considerations for Employers

Looking at a 2009 letter from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers may be able to require their employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine, with a few exceptions (such as the likelihood of a life-threatening reaction to it). With the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out, how can employers balance workplace safety, maintain productivity and stay within the law? According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the early vaccination stages will likely focus on those who are at particular risk of severe and life-threatening complications from COVID-19. This is expected to include elderly individuals, especially those who live in nursing homes. It’s… Read More

Paying the Price for Vice: The Evolving Landscape of Excise Taxes in America

While excise or vice taxes have long been a part of the American tax landscape related to alcohol and cigarettes, the recent invention of vaping and legalization of marijuana and other substances is changing the landscape. What Are Excise Taxes? Excise taxes are taxes on specific types of consumable products such as alcohol or tobacco for one of two reasons. First, as vice taxes in order to raise revenue to cover the costs related to consumption; and second, to deter consumption itself. Unlike other types of consumption taxes such as sales tax, these are specific to certain products. Do They Change Behavior? Theoretically, when you increase the price of a… Read More

A Flush of Protections for Veterans and Native Americans

Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020 (HR 6168) – Introduced by Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) on March 10, this bill increases Vet compensation benefits by 1.3 percent (the same as for Social Security recipients). The increase impacts veteran disability compensation, compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. This bill passed in the House in May and the Senate in September, and was signed into law by the president on Oct. 20. Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act (HR 2372) – Designed to improve mental health care for veterans and reduce suicide rates, this bill was introduced by… Read More

Will StarLink be the Next Disruption to the Telecommunication Industry?

With every new project comes expectations, uncertainties, questions, opposition, and more. Elon Musk’s StarLink internet is one such project. Just last month, on Nov. 24, SpaceX launched 60 StarLink internet satellites – making a total of more than 900 of its flat-panel satellites already on low earth orbit (LEO). This also marked the company’s 23rd space launch since the start of 2020. But just what is StarLink; why is it a big deal; and will it replace existing internet infrastructure? Follow along for information already in the public domain that will help answer some of these questions. What is StarLink? StarLink is an initiative by SpaceX that aims to provide… Read More