Change Your Name? It Can Affect Your Taxes

IRS TAX TIP

A name change can have an impact on your taxes. All the names on your tax return must match Social Security Administration records. A name mismatch can delay your refund. Here’s what you should know if you changed your name:

  • Report Name Changes.  Did you get married and are now using your new spouse’s last name or hyphenated your last name? Did you divorce and go back to using your former last name? In either case, you should notify the SSA of your name change. That way, your new name on your IRS records will match up with your SSA records.
  • Make Dependent’s Name Change.  Notify the SSA if your dependent had a name change. For example, this could apply if you adopted a child and the child’s last name changed.

If you adopted a child who does not have a Social Security number, you may use an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on your tax return. An ATIN is a temporary number. You can apply for an ATIN by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. You can visit IRS.gov to view, download, print or order the form at any time.

  • Get a New Card.  File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, to notify SSA of your name change. You can get the form onSSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. Your new card will show your new name with the same SSN you had before.
  • Report Changes in Circumstances when they happen. If you enrolled in health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you may receive the benefit of advance payments of thepremium tax credit. These are paid directly to your insurance company to lower your monthly premium. Report changes in circumstances, such as a name change, a new address and a change in your income or family size to your Marketplace when they happen throughout the year. Reporting the changes will help you avoid getting too much or too little advance payment of the premium tax credit.
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Politics And IP- In The Form Of Domain Names

By Debby Winters

Any idea what happens when you click on jebbush.com ? You think you will see the page for Republican Presidential wanna be Jeb! Bush…right? Well, you would be wrong.  Jeb’s folks, in all the clamor for the White House, apparently forgot to renew the domain name registration and so it expired last November. Enters Donald Trump, aka, the Donald. His folks  registered the domain and redirected the domain to donaldjtrump.com. Go ahead and try it. You’ll see.  Well, now what does Jeb! do?  Among other things, Jeb can file a domain name dispute to try to get the domain back, but by that time he may have already lost big.  The real battle here is for the Republican nomination, which Trump may have already tied into a neat package, but for Jeb! and his folks to learn that even the seemingly small things along the way can potentially trip you up…or at the very least these things show that you don’t pay much attention to detail.  All in all maybe it means Jeb! isn’t the best person to be the President of the United States after all.

This is not intended as an endorsement of any Republican candidate for President of the United States.

 

IRS TAX TIPS FOR GETTING HELP USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Another IRS Tax Tips, this time on using social media for help from them.

 

It’s Easy to Get Tax Help through IRS Social Media

There are many ways to get help from the IRS with social media. If you have a smartphone, we have a free app with many uses. If you like YouTube, we have lots of videos to help you file. If you’re on Twitter, follow the IRS for the latest tax news and information. Here are some easy ways to get what you need from the IRS through social media:

  • IRS2Go.  Use this free mobile app to check your refund status, pay your tax, watch IRS YouTube videos and get IRS Tax Tips via email. You can download the app free from the Google Play Store for Android devices, or from the Apple App Store for Apple devices. IRS2Go is available in both English and Spanish.
  • YouTube.  The IRS offers dozens of video tax tips on a variety of topics. You can view them in English, Spanish or American Sign Language.
  • Twitter.  Get tax-related announcements and tips from @IRSnews.@IRStaxpros tweets news and guidance for tax professionals. Tweets from @IRSenEspanol have news and information in Spanish. The Taxpayer Advocate Service sends tweets from @YourVoiceAtIRS.@RecruitmentIRS provides updates for job seekers.
  • Tumblr.  Follow the IRS on Tumblr to access IRS tax tips, videos and podcasts. You can access Tumblr from your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Facebook.  The IRS Facebook pages provide news and information for taxpayers and tax return preparers. You can also connect with theTaxpayer Advocate Service.
  • Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips.  Get free tax filing tips via e-mail inEnglish or Spanish.  For the latest word on taxes from the IRS, check out our e-news subscriptions.

Protecting your privacy is our top priority. The IRS uses social media to share public information, not to answer personal tax or account questions. You should never post your Social Security number or any other personal information on social media sites.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

IRS YouTube Videos:

IRS Podcasts:

Do Your Federal Taxes for Free?

Another IRS Tax Tip…

You can prepare and electronically file your federal taxes for free using IRS Free File. It is fast, safe and easy to use. IRS Free File does the hard work for you with either brand-name tax software or online fillable forms.

Here are six facts that you should know about Free File.

1. Free Options for All. If you make $62,000 or less – as do 70 percent of Americans – you can choose easy-to-use software to do your taxes and e-file for free. If you make more than $62,000 can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Either way, it’s free.

2. Free File Does the Hard Work. IRS Free File is a partnership between the IRS and tax software manufacturers that make their products available for free. You don’t need to be a tax expert. The software will help find tax breaks you may be able to claim but might overlook, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The software asks the questions; you provide the answers. It will choose the right tax forms and do the math for you. Free File can also help with the health care law tax provisions.

3. Free File on IRS.gov. Access IRS Free File on IRS.gov/freefile to avoid any charges for preparing or e-filing your federal tax return. Once you choose a Free File company, you’ll go to their website to prepare, print and e-file your federal tax return.

4. All Forms and Schedules are Free. Whether you file Form 1040 EZ, Form 1040A or Form 1040, all are free. If you have a mortgage interest deduction, children in college or made money in the stock market, the Free File software will complete the forms and schedules you need.

5. Free Extensions. If you can’t make the April 18 deadline (April 19 if you live in Maine or Massachusetts), you can use Free File to request an automatic six-month extension. Making the request is easy and free through IRS Free File. Just look for “free extensions for anyone” in the company offers. Remember, this is a six-month extension of time to file your tax return, not to pay your tax. If you think you owe, make an estimated payment with your extension request. Tax software will help you make this payment, or you can view other payment options at IRS.gov.

6. Use IRS E-file. Remember, the fastest way to get your refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit. If you owe taxes, you can e-file now and set up an automatic payment on any day until the due date. To view your payment options visit IRS.gov/payments.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

 

IRS YouTube Videos:

Trade Secret Theft Can Be A Big Deal

By Debby Winters

Most of the time that I write about IP, it is about patents, trademarks, or copyright, but a fourth form of IP that doesn’t get talked about much does exist. That’s the intellectual property protection of trade secrets. There are many companies that protect their IP with Trade Secret protection.  If you don’t know of any, think Coca Cola’s trade secret formula or Google’s proprietary search algorithm, for example.  Trade Secret is defined in the  Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”)  as:

  • information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process,
  • that derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to or readily ascertainable through appropriate means by other persons who might obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
  • is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

One of the problems with enforcing trade secret law is that it is largely state-based law, unlike Trademark, Copyright, or Patent law.  While there has been a push to nationalize trade secret law,  that hasn’t been accomplished. Most states have adopted some form of the UTSA, giving companies some form of uniform way to recover damages from such theft.

Often employees steal these trade secrets to sell to the “enemy” for big bucks.  It happened recently to Dupont with their formula and process of making their “white” color from TiO2. And it happened to Coca Cola in 2006.  In some cases, the competitor is the one who notifies the company of the theft, but not usually. In 2006, when Pepsi, the usual bitter enemy of Coke got a letter offering Coke trade secrets, it went straight to its corporate rival. But if you protect your trade secrets in this manner, don’t expect your theft to turn out this way, Dupont’s certainly didn’t.

This is an interesting form of IP protection but a risky one to pursue, as the usual damage that occurs is the theft and sale of the “secret” to a competitor.  For more information on trade secret law, feel free to contact me or comment below. For more details on the Coca Cola or Dupont stories, click on the links above.

 

 

Intellectual Property Involving the NFL

By Debby Winters

“Are you ready for some football®?” ABC Sports, Inc. trademarked that phrase back in 1998 for the entertainment services for their television sports programs featuring football games. That’s not by any means, the limit to trademarking power in the world of football, NFL, or Superbowl. The NFL has roughly 500 phrases trademarked that relate to its football games, including the term “Super Bowl.” Those word were registered in 1969.  A search for the words “super bowl” with the US Trademark Office shows around 90 phrases attempted at registration. Most of these have been blocked by the NFL saying there would be customer confusion with its trademark registered original “Super Bowl.”

As we get ready for the big game on Sunday between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, I thought it would be a good time to review some intellectual property involving the NFL. I have blogged about various aspects over the years, including 2012’s first internet streaming of the game, use of athletes names and images for video games, tattoos that athletes sport,  more than once about the cancellation of the Washington Redskins trademark, and whether it was immoral or scandalous. There was also a blog about trademarks owned by the NFL that including Stephen Colbert’s famous “Superb Owl” reference.  [I know, I miss his too! ]  I don’t limit my IP blog in the world of sports to just football, I’ve included the basketball craze of March Madness, and the related sport of picking and choosing a good beer.
While I have my own favorite story for the year 2015- that of former University of Georgia standout and Philadelphia Eagles Safety Terry Hoage and his legal victory for his vineyards, I’ll save that for another day. I’m just going to point you to an interesting look at The Sue-per Bowl Shuffle, a look at NFL-related IP litigation.

I’ll leave you with a few words to think about:  Carolina Panthers – dab on & keep pounding the Denver Broncos! Happy Super Bowl® 50!