Monthly Archives: December 2017

Ducati calls MotoGP's late testing rule changes 'disrespectful'

Ducati has called MotoGP’s late decision to change its testing restrictions “disrespectful”, after the Italian manufacturer had to alter is arrangements to suit the new rules.

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Curiously aligned cloud formations stream across the Atlantic as Arctic air blows above warm ocean waters

Baby, it’s cold outside!

If you live pretty much anywhere in Canada, or in the United States east of the Rockies, that wonderful song from the 1940s pretty much sums up

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Carnival Triumph Officially Fails USPH Sanitation Inspection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally published the report of its sanitation inspection for the Carnival Triumph.  As you can read in the official report posted on the CDC website, the Carnival cruise ship received a failing score of 78. During its November 11, 2017 inspection, USPH

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Super Formula title needed for F1 move – Honda junior Matsushita

Honda protege Nobuharu Matsushita says he must win the 2018 Super Formula title to stand a chance of graduating to Formula 1

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'Predator' Vision Drones Get AI to Spot Poachers

Poachers illegally hunting elephants and rhinoceroses under the supposed cover of darkness may soon find themselves being tracked by “Predator” vision drones armed with artificial intelligence. The new AI system

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Want to Know if You’re in Good Standing with the IRS? Here’s How.

Most people would rather walk on hot coals than call the IRS.

In fact, the IRS Oversight Board reports that 59% of Americans fear the IRS. But that doesn’t change the fact that, every year, 43% of taxpayers (that’s 70 million people) need to get in touch with the IRS. They may need to ask a question, understand more about their tax situation, or solve a problem.  

For most people, their status with the IRS (good, bad, ugly?) is a complete mystery. Why? Because the IRS doesn’t send you a tax scorecard telling you the details about your account history and the status of your compliance situation.

And it’s not always easy or quick to try to get your information directly from the IRS. You may have to wait on hold, jump through hoops online, or wait several weeks for your paper transcripts. Here are four options to find out your status with the IRS.

1. Ask the IRS.

Call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040, or go in person to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

But beware, the IRS doesn’t readily answer tax law questions about your situation. Phone lines will usually divert taxpayers to for answers.

Also, getting through to speak with an IRS representative isn’t always easy because of long wait times. If you are successful, the IRS representative can provide you with information about your status. Start with one simple question about your overall status: “Can you do a compliance check on my account to see if there are any outstanding issues?”

2. Get your IRS transcripts.

IRS transcripts (“IRS speak” for tax records) show your tax history, including tax returns you’ve filed, your income information, and your account activity. 

Account transcripts can be particularly useful if you have questions about your status. You can see any audits, CP2000 notices, payment amounts and dates, filing information, penalties charged, and other activity on your account transcript. 

Words of caution:  If you have any issues with the IRS, such as audits or back taxes, transcripts don’t provide much insight into your status and interactions with the IRS. If you’re not sure what the transactions on your account mean, it’s best to call the IRS to speak to a representative who can give you more details.

Transcripts are written from the IRS point of view and include codes and language that isn’t always easy to translate. You may want to consult a tax professional for help.

3. Review your IRS online account for tax information.

In your online IRS account, you can view tax bills, see payments you’ve made in the past 18 months, and download your transcripts. If your transcripts show any unusual activity, you’ll have to contact the IRS to learn more.

Tip: The IRS uses a complex set of authentication measures to verify your identity and allow you to set up an online account. Many taxpayers have trouble making it through that process. If you have trouble logging in, you’ll need to call the IRS or get a tax pro to help.

4. Outsource the research to a tax professional.

Tax professionals have a special IRS hotline to get their clients’ account information. Experienced tax pros can interpret IRS transcripts and know if something is amiss. They can also interview IRS representatives to fully understand your tax situation – saving you time and potentially headaches.


Understanding whether you’re in good standing with the IRS isn’t easy – but it’s important. That’s why many taxpayers get a tax professional to help them interact with the IRS, whether they have a simple question, want to do a compliance checkup, or need to solve a problem.

If you want to start the new year knowing your status is good with the IRS, follow one or more of these options to get your tax information from the IRS.

Learn about H&R Block’s Tax Audit & Notice Services. Or make an appointment for a free consultation with a local tax professional by calling 855-536-6504 or finding a local tax pro.

The post Want to Know if You’re in Good Standing with the IRS? Here’s How. appeared first on Tax Information Center.

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Gilles Villeneuve's first winning Ferrari Formula 1 car

Ferrari lost one legend after the 1977 season when Niki Lauda left for Brabham, but gained a new one for the following year in Gilles Villeneuve

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Right before Christmas, a gargantuan black fissure opened on the Sun. It was shaped like a question mark.

It doesn’t really take much imagination to see the dark question mark forming and dissipating across most of the Sun’s surface in the animation above.

The images

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The New Child Tax Credit

Editor’s Note: Recently the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law by President Trump. One of the tax reform changes includes a new child tax credit. Learn more about how you’ll claim your qualifying children in 2018. 

The child tax credit, or CTC, was introduced by 1997 legislation and was first available in 1998. It started as a small, nonrefundable credit of $400 for each qualifying child under 17. In the last 20 years, it has undergone many changes. Under pre-TCJA law, the CTC was worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child, was refundable for taxpayers with earned income of at least $3,000, and phased out (decreased) for taxpayers with AGI above $75,000 ($110,000 for joint filers). These rules remain in effect for 2017 tax returns (filed in 2018).

Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA):

  • The CTC is worth up to $2,000 per qualifying child. The age cut-off remains at 17 (the child must be under 17 at the end of the year for taxpayers to claim the credit).
  • The refundable portion of the credit is limited to $1,400. This amount will be adjusted for inflation after 2018.
  • The earned income threshold for the refundable credit is lowered to $2,500.
  • The beginning credit phaseout for the CTC increases to $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers). The phaseout also applies to the new family tax credit.
  • The child must have a valid SSN to claim the nonrefundable and refundable credit.

Prior to the TCJA, the taxpayer who was eligible to claim the child’s dependent exemption was also the one eligible to claim the CTC. In turn, the taxpayer and child had to meet several “tests” for the one to be considered the dependent of the other.

The TCJA eliminates the dependent exemption itself, but retains the definition of dependent to claim the CTC and other child- or dependent-related tax benefits. For CTC purposes, this will usually mean that the child must be related to the taxpayer in one of several ways (son, daughter, grandchild, etc.), must live in the taxpayer’s home more than half the year, and must not provide more than half of his or her own support. Special rules apply if the parents are divorced or legally separated.

As under previous law, strict due diligence requirements apply for tax professionals who prepare returns with the refundable CTC.

All changes to the child tax credit expire after December 31, 2025.

For more information or for advice about claiming dependents, make an appointment with one of our tax professionals who can help you. 

The post The New Child Tax Credit appeared first on Tax Information Center.

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Yamaha would have hit same 2017 MotoGP problems had Lorenzo stayed

Yamaha MotoGP team boss Lin Jarvis says the team would have still encountered the same problems that hobbled its title challenge this season even if it had kept Jorge Lorenzo as a rider

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