Apollo 50: The role of intellectual property in space commerce

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be hosting an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 23, 2019, from 2 pm to 4:30 pm (ET) at the USPTO headquarters, in Alexandria, VA. The event will also focus on space innovation, technology transfer from the Apollo missions, and an overview of the current administration’s policy on space exploration and space commerce.

Information regarding the event can be found here. Those interested in registering for the event, can do so here. There will be a live Facebook event here.

Interactive tool on IRS.gov helps taxpayers get answers to their tax questions

Tax questions can pop up at any time of the year. When people need answers, they should start with the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov. It’s a tool that provides answers to many tax law questions.

The taxpayer enters answers to a series of questions and the tool gives them a response based on those answers. Here are some of the topics covered:

Filing Requirement

Filing Status, Dependents, and Exemptions

Retirement: Pensions, IRAs, Social Security

Other Income

Deductions

Credits

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Trends For Women Inventors

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a report on the trends and characteristics of U.S. women inventors named on U.S. patents granted from 1976 through 2016. The report delivers several important findings, including:

  • The share of patents that include at least one woman as an inventor increased from about 7 percent in the 1980s to 21 percent by 2016.
  • Even with this increase in patent counts, women inventors made up only 12 percent of all inventors on patents granted in 2016.
  • Gains in female participation in science and engineering occupations and entrepreneurship are not leading to broad increases in female inventors earning a patent.
  • Technology-intensive states, as well as those where women comprise a large percentage of the state’s overall workforce, show higher rates of women inventors.
  • Women inventors are increasingly concentrated in specific technologies, suggesting that women are specializing in areas where female predecessors have traditionally patented rather than entering into male-dominated fields.
  • Women are increasingly likely to patent on large, gender-mixed inventor teams, and are less likely than men to be an individual inventor on a granted patent.

“Women inventors have made and continue to make key contributions,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Laura Peter. “We look forward to working with industry, academia, and other government agencies to identify ways to increase the number of women inventors in all sectors of our economy.”

The full report can be found online at www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/economic-research/progress-potential.

Tips for taxpayers who make money from a hobby

Many people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. From painting and pottery to scrapbooking and soap making, these activities can be sources of both fun and finances. Taxpayers who make money from a hobby must report that income on their tax return.

If someone has a business, they operate the business to make a profit. In contrast, people engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. Taxpayers should consider nine factors when determining whether their activity is a business or a hobby. They should base their determination on all the facts and circumstances of their activity.

If a taxpayer receives income for an activity that they don’t carry out to make a profit, the expenses they pay for the activity are miscellaneous itemized deductions and can no longer be deducted. The taxpayer must still report the income they receive on Schedule 1, Form 1040, line 21.

More Information:
Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business
Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions
Publication 535, Business Expenses
Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
About Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business
Estimated Taxes

#IRSTaxTips

While the federal income tax-filing deadline has passed for most people, some taxpayers did not file an extension and still have not filed their tax returns. These taxpayers should file ASAP.

A taxpayer might at some point see the IRS make a decision about their taxes. If the taxpayer disagrees with this decision, they have the right to appeal it. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum is one of 10 basic rights known collectively as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Here are some facts taxpayers should know about the right to appeal an IRS decision:

  • Taxpayers have the right to a fair administrative appeal of most IRS decisions.
  • There is an independent office called the IRS Office of Appeals. This office is separate from the IRS office that first reviewed the case.
  • Generally, the Office of Appeals will not discuss a case with the IRS.
  • Taxpayers also have the right to receive the Office of Appeals’ decision in writing.
  • Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
  • Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest if You Don’t Agree is a publication that explains how a taxpayer can appeal a tax case when they disagree with the IRS’s findings.
  • If the IRS sends a notice proposing that the taxpayer owes more money, the taxpayer may want to dispute it. If so, the taxpayer may file a petition with the United States Tax Court.
  • Some taxpayers may have a claim for a refund. These taxpayers may take their case to their United States District Court or to the United States Court of Federal Claims. Generally, the taxpayer must file this claim two years from the date of the IRS notice denying the taxpayer’s refund.

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Taxpayers who still haven’t filed their 2018 tax return should do so ASAP

While the federal income tax-filing deadline has passed for most people, some taxpayers did not file an extension and still have not filed their tax returns. These taxpayers should file ASAP. They should do so even if they can’t pay to avoid potential penalties and interest, which can continue to add up quickly.

Here are some things taxpayers in this situation should know:

  • Penalties and interest are only added on unfiled returns if the taxpayer did not pay taxes by the April deadline. Taxpayers who did not file and owe tax should file a tax return and pay as much as they are able to now. If they cannot pay the full amount, they should learn about payment options. These can reduce possible penalties and interest added to the amount the taxpayer owes.
  • IRS Free File is available on IRS.gov through October 15.
  • Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. These include:
    o Some disaster victims 
    o Military service members and eligible support
    personnel in combat zones 
    o U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work 
         outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • If a return is filed more than 60 days after the April due date, the minimum penalty is either $210 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. Therefore, if the tax due is $210 or less, the penalty is equal to the tax amount due. If the tax due is more than $210, the penalty is at least $210.
  • The IRS provided penalty relief for certain taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year.
  • Other taxpayers filing after the deadline may also qualify for penalty relief. Those who are charged a penalty may contact the IRS and explain why they were unable to file and pay by the due date.
  • Taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for first-time penalty abatement.
  • There is no penalty for filing late if a refund is due.

 

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Taxpayers should be on the lookout for new versions of these two scams

With scam artists hard at work all year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for a surge of evolving phishing emails and telephone scams.

Taxpayers should watch for new versions of two tax-related scams. One involves Social Security numbers related to tax issues. The other threatens taxpayers with a tax bill from a fictional government agency. Here are some details about these scams to help taxpayers recognize them:

The SSN scheme

  • The latest twist includes scammers claiming to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s Social Security number. This scam is similar to and often associated with the IRS impersonation scam.
  • It is yet another attempt by con artists to frighten taxpayers into returning robocall voicemails.
  • Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the taxpayer’s SSN.

Fake tax agency

  • This scheme involves a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy.
  • The scammer mails the letter to the taxpayer.
  • The lien or levy is based on bogus overdue taxes owed to a non-existent agency.
  • The fake agency is called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency.
  • The lien notification scam also likely references the IRS to confuse potential victims into thinking the letter is from a legitimate agency.

Both these schemes show classic signs of being scams. The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the tax industry – remind everyone to stay alert to scams that use the IRS or reference taxes. Being alert is especially important in late spring and early summer as tax bills and refunds arrive.

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