NCLC report is rather rattling, beware
You may want to think twice before hiring a tax preparer to file your taxes this year. According to an undercover report by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), many unregulated tax preparers are incompetent when it comes to sorting through the complicated IRS paperwork required to file income taxes. What’s worse – tax preparers often knowingly file inaccurate information.
Anticipating such problems, in 2011 the IRS began requiring tax preparers who were not Certified Public Accountants to register and complete tests proving they were capable of filing taxes accurately. As you might expect, tax preparers appealed the case in federal court in 2014, and surprisingly, won the right to continue helping customers prepare their taxes.
Secret shoppers posed as tax filers… uh oh
The NCLC recently employed secret shoppers to pose as tax filers in 29 test cases in Florida and North Carolina. They found that all but two of the tests resulted in inaccuracies on the tax returns.
Secret shoppers acting as single parents with partial custody of minors were told eight out of fifteen times that they should claim their child as a dependent to earn a $2,523 earned income tax credit, even though this is inaccurate and illegal. It appears that seven of the eight tax preparers were aware that they were illegally misreporting information, and did it anyway. In another test, 12 of 15 tax preparers omitted an $800 side income, even though they were aware of it.
In another test, 10 of 14 tax preparers failed to file income from a paid internship on the Schedule C form, resulting in an omission of $1,300.
Forgery, errors, and fraud
From the 29 test cases, there were several examples of signature forgery, or of one preparer assisting the customer to fill out the forms, while a different preparer signed them.
“To see this level of errors is extremely disturbing,” according to Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at NCLC.
While many of the inaccuracies seemed to help the customer save money or earn a higher tax return, it is important to note that such practices are illegal, and that, should you be audited, it is you, not the tax preparer, who will have to answer to the law.
A tiger shows its stripes: The growth of Tiger Global and their investments
(BUSINESS FINANCE) Tiger Global has been acquiring a load of tech companies – let’s talk about who they have and how they’ve been so successful.
In 2003, Tiger Global was founded by Chase Coleman who began his career at Tiger Management (brilliant name choice). In the ensuing years the investing firm expanded to include private equity and venture investing. Today it’s hitting the charts at $65B with its employees (number at ~100) being the firms’ biggest shareholders.
Earlier this month, Tiger Global raised one of the largest pots of VC money ever recorded, coming in at $6.7B. These came from a list of occurrences and investments.
- Roblox: A sandbox gaming startup, Tiger Global owned 10% when it went public in March and the value is hitting ~$38B+
- Stripe: A fintech firm Tiger Global leaped onto this investment when Stripe announced a $600m rise in value at a $95B monetary evaluation of the company.
- M&A wins: In 2020, 3 portfolio companies (Postmates, Kustomer, & Credit Karma) of Tiger Global were acquired in billion-dollar deals.
The tactics that Tiger Global stands by are well documented in a few different locations. One of the biggest that they push is speed. The deals that fly across their tables are completed in just 3 days, far outpacing other firms. When you are an investment firm hour are a time between success and failure. To keep up with these ideas, they have a pre-emptive approach to startups. Doing thorough research and throwing money at people before they even start looking for it. Knowledge is power and this lets them get their foot in the door faster than anybody else.
Resources and a monstrous war chest are 2 of the other factors that they set their claim to fame on. The numerous portfolio companies have high-priced consultants thrown at them for advice on a regular basis. These consultants just add to the success of the companies and keep things building. Where does this money come from? The stakeholders. The mountainous mounds of money that this firm keeps on hand is matched very few in the world. Scrouge McDuck would be hard pressed to keep up with these guys.
They also keep to long-term holdings as an approach to their methods. Unlike traditional VCs, Tiger Global operates public market hedge funds which provides price stability for startups since it doesn’t have to distribute funds after an IPO, unlike traditional VCs.
In the first quarter of 2021 Tiger Global has closed 60 deals, keeping with their hit the ground sprinting approach. They have bids on a number of different companies already as well (ByteDance, Discord, Hopin, & Coinbase). At least one of these reaches a value into the tens of billions. This company is set to be one of the fastest growing groups in the globe. Who knows where it will stop? Let’s wait and see, or join. Whatever hits your fancy.
India bans cryptocurrency prior to releasing their own
(BUSINESS FINANCE) India is potentially planning to ban cryptocurrency — and instead, they’re planning to introduce their own version of it for purchase.
Owning mainstream cryptocurrency these days is a bit like owning a pair of Crocs: Potentially lucrative (especially if you’re Post Malone), but mostly just weird. A recent report shows that India is planning on adding “illegal” to that list, possibly ahead of launching their own cryptocurrency in place of the banned ones.
The proposed law would also fine anyone found trading—or even simply owning—banned cryptocurrencies in India. Mining and transferring ownership of cryptocurrency would similarly warrant punitive measures.
CNBC notes that this law would be “one of the world’s strictest policies against cryptocurrencies” to date. While some countries have imposed strict laws regarding things like mining and trading cryptocurrency, India would be the first country to make owning it illegal.
Some talk of jail time—including sentences of up to 10 years—for cryptocurrency owners and users was floated by Indian lawmakers back in 2019, but there is no explicit indication that those terms would be present in this rendition of the bill.
To be fair to the lawmakers involved here, the bill wouldn’t be as cut-and-dry as “has bitcoin, gets fined.” According to the CNBC report, people who own cryptocurrency would be able to “liquidate” their earnings for up to six months preceding the bill going into effect. This would theoretically allow investors to hold onto their portfolios for a bit longer before having to cash out.
But that leniency might not matter anyway. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this move could do two dramatic things to the cryptocurrency market: Add yet another niche option for investors, and destabilize every other pre-existing cryptocurrency option—or, at least, make them less stable than they already were.
In fact, the simple introduction and threat of this bill could be enough for the cryptocurrency market to take a nosedive—something that can’t be discounted as a factor in making this decision. Current reports put Indian-owned bitcoin values at roughly $1.4 billion, though, so it’s clear that the bill hasn’t had a deleterious effect at this point.
The fact that India’s central bank has plans to introduce a government-sponsored cryptocurrency of their own cannot be separated from this bill, either. While the official government position is that blockchain is to be trusted while existing cryptocurrencies are eschewed and dismissed as “Ponzi schemes”, it’s clear that at least part of this bill is motivated by a desire to thin out the competition.
Which generation has cried the most over money?
(BUSINESS FINANCE) Financial stress is tough on everyone. Here’s who has cried the most about money woes, and a few tips on how to alleviate some of that stress.
There’s been serious critique in the last several years about the educational system and what basic knowledge young people should be taught in the United States. Home Economics (Home Ec) comes to mind (everyone should probably know how to cook or sew a button), as well as financial literacy.
There are many young Americans who grow up not really having a deep understanding of budgeting and fixed and variable expenses… But it may not be their fault. Perhaps, Mom and Dad (or other guardians) have always been paying for all of their expenses, making sure they had a roof over their head, clothes on their backs, and food in their fridge. Because, that is what you’re supposed to do as a parent, correct?
So, while there’s no reason to blame anyone, often the process of learning what it costs to live and pay your bills is a rite of passage.
The current state of debt and financial fears also doesn’t mean that Millennials and Gen Zers weren’t educated around savings or working. Many young people have had part-time jobs (although much less in comparison to Gen X or Baby Boomers) but they may also be able to use the majority of that income for discretionary spending – which never created room for feelings of lack when they didn’t have to pay rent or a mortgage.
This scenario can ultimately create a challenge when you are finally out on your own and now have student loan debt, credit card debt, utility bills, and required car insurance. Especially if you are young person moving to a big city for exploration and/or new opportunities, where the cost of living can be quite high.
If you are feeling nervous or sad around finances, you are not alone. If you have cried over your personal balance sheet or your bank statements, you are also not alone. According to yahoo!money, a recent online survey of 1,004 Americans by CompareCards.com found that “7 in 10 Americans said they have cried about money in their lifetimes. Many cited worries over their job or making ends meet. Younger Americans appear the most vulnerable to financial tears. About half of millennials and half of Gen Zers said they cried at least once in the past month over money.”
So how can you cry LESS about money? Well, the first thing is to not be too hard on yourself. But you will also want to create a plan that works for you. Each person deserves financial freedom and not a bank statement that makes them cry on the regular.
Here are some financial literacy resources that may help you figure out how to navigate your way out of crippling debt.
Dave Ramsey Books – The Total Money Makeover – A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Bravely Go with Kara Perez – Feminist economics + inclusive personal finance
Debt Relief Programs – you’ll have to do your research but there may be a program that is right for you and an agency that can help you set up a realistic payment program for you
Student Loan Forgiveness – it is worth looking in to your options if you are feeling overwhelmed with student loan debt and there may be ways for your loans to be forgiven
Financial Advisor – consider working with a professional that can help you with your budgeting, investing and retirement savings/funds
And you may still cry because this is big adult stuff… But hopefully you trust yourself to do the research, explore, ask, and find options that work for you to gain a little more control over your financial situation.
If you are not already doing so, it may be as simple as starting with a budget to better understand your income and outgoing expenses. Being informed can help you to plan better for the future and make you feel less like crying.
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