If you didn’t change the tax withholding in your paycheck, you still have time to avoid another unpleasant surprise — or even a fine.
The first tax season under the Republican-sponsored overhaul brought an odd combination of pleasant and unpleasant surprises: lower tax burdens, but also lower refunds — and, for some, an unexpected bill.
Anyone who didn’t take a proactive approach after getting a big tax bill last time around could end up in that situation again, only worse: That filer is more likely to have to pay a penalty.
For 2019, taxpayers who didn’t generally withhold at least 90 percent of their liability from their paychecks may be required to pay a fine. That threshold is back up from 80 percent, where it was set last year as everyone adjusted to the new rules.
If a withholding calculator — like the one on the Internal Revenue Service’s website — shows you’re significantly short, you have options. There may be time to have an extra amount withheld from your final paycheck to get you over the threshold, although that will require filling out a W-4 now and another later to reverse that change. Or you can make what’s called an estimated tax payment directly to the I.R.S.
You’ll also want to think about how to handle the rest of the tax balance.
“You can start planning for that now by setting aside money in savings accounts or planning ahead for an installment agreement with the I.R.S. so you can pay over a period of time,” said Nathan Rigney, lead tax research analyst at H&R Block’s Tax Institute.
Most households did pay a bit less because of the overhaul: Individuals’ total tax liability dropped nearly 5.8 percent, or $70 billion, according to I.R.S. data on tax returns filed through July.
But it didn’t feel that way for some taxpayers. The number of refunds issued hardly budged — they were down 0.3 percent — but refunds for many were smaller. Refunds for those who earned between $100,000 and $250,000, for example, dropped by about 11 percent, according to the I.R.S.
Cardi B‘s legal troubles may have become much more serious.
On Friday, the Grammy-winning rapper appeared in Queens Supreme Court for the first day of her misdemeanor assault trial. Cardi is accused of ordering an attack on two bartenders at a Queens strip club back in August 2018. The alleged victims were sisters Baddie Gi and 6ix9ine‘s current girlfriend Jade. Both women claim they received threats from Cardi after she accused Jade of sleeping with her husband, Offset. Jade said she repeatedly denied the affair. Police say Cardi and her crew got into a physical altercation with the sisters while they were working at the Flushing strip club. Chairs, bottles, and hookah pipes were allegedly thrown at the complainants, resulting in slight injuries. Cardi was ultimately arrested on misdemeanor assault and reckless endangerment charges. She rejected a plea deal in mid-April, after her attorneys insisted she did not harm anyone during the incident.
Prosecutors announced Friday the case would be presented to a grand
jury, which means Cardi’s charges could potentially be upgraded. State
attorneys told TMZ they made the decision “after further investigation,” but did not reveal details of their findings.
According the Associated Press, the district attorney’s office had originally asked Cardi to return to court on Monday, but they pushed back the date to Aug. 9 after the rapper’s legal team cited scheduling conflicts.
Consumer advocates are raising an alert about a twist to an old impostor phone scam. It’s called the “Social Security impostor scam.” A blog at the Federal Trade Commission recently wrote: “In the shady world of government, the SSA scam may be the new IRS scam.”
Here’s how it works:
You get a call with a warning that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it’s been used in a crime. You are asked to confirm you number or told you need to withdraw money from the bank and buy gift cards.
The phone call may be a robocaller with a message to “press 1” to speak with a “support representative” from the government to reactivate your Social Security number. The scammers use technology to spoof your Caller ID to make it look like the Social Security Administration is really calling.
In the last 12 months, people filed more than 76,000 complaints about Social Security impostors, reporting $19 million in losses. The median reported loss last year was $1,500, the FTC said.
People are asked to give up the personal identification numbers (PINs) on the back of gift cards or use virtual currencies like Bitcoin to pay. (According to the FTC’s consumer alert, people withdrew money and fed cash into Bitcoin automatic teller machines.)
After handing over the gift card numbers to the “Social Security office,” one consumer interviewed by Fraud.org was told he would receive a refund equal to the amount he paid to unfreeze his account from the Federal Reserve. Of course, the refund never came and the man lost nearly $20,000.
“One scammer will try a new twist on an old scam or try one new wrinkle that gets them more money,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud with the National Consumers League. “Scammers like to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to using the latest techniques to defraud consumers.”
The scammers can be clever. With numerous data breaches that have hit corporate America, fraudsters may already have accurate personal information about you, including your real Social Security number, Breyault said. The information is used to build trust and make the call seem more legitimate, he added.
According to Fraud.org and the FTC, here are some important things to remember:
Don’t trust your phone’s caller ID. Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency’s real number.
Don’t give your Social Security number, other personal information, to a caller on the phone.
Social Security will never suspend your number, according to Fraud.org. If anyone tells you something different, you’re being scammed.
Social Security will never call you and demand money. No government agency will demand you pay something using gift cards or Bitcoin either.
If you have a question, check with the real Social Security Administration. The administration will never contact you out of the blue. The agency’s number is 1-800-772-1213.
Talk about the scam with friends, family and neighbors. Report government impostor scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve a $13.1 million settlement for a man framed by police for murder.
Jamal Trulove spent more than six years in prison for a 2007 murder before being acquitted in a 2015 retrial.
“And trust me I’m not done with them by a long shot!!” a profile appearing to be Trulove wrote on Twitter. “After what these cowards of the law did to me, I will lit my freedom ring through every platform I get to show what injustice really looks like. Me!”
He sued in January 2016. In April of last year, a jury in Oakland found that two police officers on the case, Maureen D’Amico and Michael Johnson, deliberately fabricated evidence and failed to disclose exculpatory material.
Alex Reisman, one of the lawyers for Trulove, told the Associated Press that Trulove “endured a lot,” spending years in maximum security prisons in Southern California, hundreds of miles away from his family.
Police arrested Trulove for the 2007 murder of his friend Seu Kuka, who was shot in a public housing project in San Francisco. Trulove was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
But a California appeals court overturned that conviction in 2014 and ordered a new trial. He was acquitted in a retrial in 2015.
Trulove’s attorneys said police manipulated a witness into misidentifying Trulove as the shooter.
The police officers named in the lawsuit have retired, and none were disciplined for their actions in the case, Reisman told the AP.
Trulove was pursuing a career in acting and hip-hop at the time of his arrest. He appeared in the reality TV show I Love New York 2. This year he appears in the movie The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which is scheduled for release in June.
“Theres nothing I could do to make up for that time I missed,” he wrote. “No amount of money could ever reverse the time I missed with my kids and the affect that it’s had on there up bringing and our relationship.”
Colorado still remember John Hickenlooper’s crack after the state
legalized marijuana, a move he opposed: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or
Goldfish too quickly.”
Hickenlooper, the governor at the time of the 2012 initiative allowing
recreational use of cannabis, eventually changed his mind. He
acknowledged that fears of increased use by children did not
materialize, and he boasted of the tax revenues for social programs that
regulated sales delivered.
Entering the Democratic presidential race this month,
Mr. Hickenlooper joined a field already jammed with pro-legalization
candidates, a reflection of swiftly changing public opinion since
Colorado became one of the first of 10 states with legal recreational
The issue today is a pillar of progressive politics, but not because of graying hippies who like their Rocky Mountain High. Rather, for many Democrats, legalization has become a litmus test for candidates’ commitment to equal treatment for all races in policing and criminal justice as well as fighting economic inequality.
A Democrat who is not on board with
legalization or addressing it in terms of repairing harms brought by
prohibition for decades is going to have a tough time convincing any
voter they’re serious about racial justice,” said Vincent M.
Southerland, executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality and
the Law at New York University Law School.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey last month introduced the pointedly named Marijuana Justice Act,
which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled
substances and expunge past convictions. Supporters note that
African-Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though rates of use are similar.
not enough to legalize marijuana at the federal level — we should also
help those who have suffered due to its prohibition,” Mr. Booker said in
Michael Jackson’s damaged reputation began to recover the day he died.
lurid accusations of child molestation that had dogged him for years
fell to the background as fans around the world celebrated the
entertainer who had gone from pop prodigy to global superstar over a
four-decade career. Flash mobs from Stockholm to the Philippines
re-enacted his video scenes, and his music sales again broke chart
Now, nearly 10 years after
his death, the dark side of Mr. Jackson’s legend has returned through a
documentary that rocked the Sundance Film Festival and is being
championed by Oprah Winfrey. In addition to delivering a hit to his
mended reputation, the film poses a significant risk to the Jackson
estate, which has engineered a thriving posthumous career, including a
Broadway-bound jukebox musical.
four-hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” to be broadcast on HBO in
two parts on Sunday and Monday, focuses on the wrenching testimony of
two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Mr. Jackson abused
them for years, starting when they were young boys. While the
accusations are not new, their revival in the #MeToo era, with its
momentum of accountability for figures like R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein
and Bill Cosby, gives them new meaning.
“There has always been this shadow or cloud about Michael,” said Charles Koppelman, a longtime music executive who once served as a financial adviser to Mr. Jackson. “With this documentary about to be shown to millions and millions of people, and all the notoriety that it’s now getting, I think it will have a detrimental effect to the legacy and the estate.”
The estate has
already begun its war on “Leaving Neverland.” It issued a series of
fiery statements around the time of the film’s Sundance debut in January
and has filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court for
arbitration, seeking $100 million in damages from HBO. In making its
case, the estate — whose beneficiaries are Mr. Jackson’s mother and
three children, as well as children’s charities — portrays Mr. Robson
and Mr. Safechuck as “serial perjurers” for whom HBO has become “just
another tool in their litigation playbook.”
debate over the film is likely to be intense in black communities,
where figures like Mr. Jackson and Mr. Kelly have their strongest
defenders, said Yaba Blay, a professor at North Carolina Central
University whose specialty is black racial and cultural identities.
“If you think R. Kelly tore black America apart, this is going to destroy us,” Dr. Blay said.
On Monday night, after the conclusion of “Leaving Neverland,” HBO and the Oprah Winfrey Network plan to broadcast Ms. Winfrey’s interview with Mr. Robson, Mr. Safechuck and the film’s director, Dan Reed.
Neverland,” Mr. Robson, 36, and Mr. Safechuck, 41, tell parallel stories
of being drawn into Mr. Jackson’s inner circle as boys. Mr. Robson met
Mr. Jackson on tour in Australia at age 5 and moved to the United States
two years later to be near his idol. Mr. Safechuck was 8 when he was
cast in a Pepsi commercial and met Mr. Jackson.
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
Chicago police announced late Wednesday that felony criminal charges against Smollett have been approved by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
“Detectives will make contact with [Smollett’s] legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi Wednesday evening on Twitter.
Smollett’s attorneys stated that they plan to “mount an aggressive defense.”
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” said Smollet’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson in a statement to The Times. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
The charges follow an earlier announcement that Smollett was “officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation … for filing a false police report” and that detectives were presenting evidence to a Cook County grand jury.
Police initially had been investigating the Jan. 29 attack as a possible hate crime. The incident allegedly involved two people approaching the 36-year-old actor and musician while yelling racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett is gay and plays gay musician Jamal Lyon on “Empire.”
The brothers were identified as persons of interest in the investigation after being seen in surveillance footage around the area where the alleged attack took place.
One of the brothers was revealed to be a personal trainer Smollett had hired to ready him for a music video. The pair reportedly claimed that Smollett had hired them to carry out the attack. Smollett’s attorneys have previously disputed that claim and said the actor is “angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”
On Tuesday, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case “out of an abundance of caution” in order to “address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.”
According to reports, Foxx had spoken to one of Smollett’s relatives after the alleged attack was reported and “acted as a go-between with Chicago police.”
Equifax’s data breach on Sept. 7, 2017, stunned markets and American consumers, but where the data of those 143 million people disappeared to has remained a mystery.
CNBC talked to experts, intelligence officials, dark web data “hunters” and Equifax to discover where they expect the data has gone, and what it is being used for.
The prevailing theory today is that the data was stolen by a nation-state for spying purposes, not by criminals looking to cash in on stolen identities.
On Sept. 7, 2017, the world heard an alarming announcement from credit ratings giant Equifax:
In a brazen cyberattack, somebody had stolen sensitive personal
information from more than 140 million people, nearly half the
population of the U.S.
It was the consumer data security
scandal of the decade. The information included Social Security numbers,
driver’s license numbers, information from credit disputes and other
personal details. CEO Richard Smith stepped down under fire. Lawmakers
changed credit freeze laws and instilled new regulatory oversight of
credit ratings agencies.
Then, something unusual happened. The data disappeared. Completely. CNBC talked to eight experts, including data “hunters” who scour the dark web for stolen information, senior cybersecurity managers, top executives at financial institutions, senior intelligence officials who played a part in the investigation and consultants who helped support it. All of them agreed that a breach happened, and personal information from 143 million people was stolen.
none of them knows where the data is now. It’s never appeared on any
hundreds of underground websites selling stolen information. Security
experts haven’t seen the data used in any of the ways they’d expect in a
theft like this — not for impersonating victims, not for accessing
other websites, nothing.
But as the investigations
continue, a consensus is starting to emerge to explain why the data has
disappeared from sight. Most experts familiar with the case now believe
that the thieves were working for a foreign government and are using
the information not for financial gain, but to try to identify and
One data hunter dives in
The missing Equifax data has been a 17-month-long
obsession for Jeffrey, a cybersecurity analyst at one of the world’s
largest banks. To him, it represents a sort of professional Lost City of
Atlantis or Holy Grail.
Jeffrey is not the
analyst’s real name. He asked to remain anonymous because he was not
authorized to speak to the media. He also asked that his bank remain
anonymous, because he’s one of such a narrow pool of a specific type of
employee that even the name of his bank could be used to identify him.
Jeffrey is a “hunter” on the bank’s “hunt team,” and his job is searching for data on the dark web or darknet — a set of web sites that can only be accessed with special software that protects the user’s anonymity. The dark web can be used for many purposes, but most prominently serves as the internet’s underground black market, where criminals buy, sell and trade credit card data, personal information and criminal services.
Jeffrey trolls the dark web for stolen personal
data that looks like it might be brand new, especially if it looks like
it might belong to customers of the bank or its rivals. He is often one
of the first to know that another company has been breached, and his
team is often among the first to inform the victims that their systems
have been breached.
So Jeffrey was surprised
when he learned about the Equifax breach at the same time as everybody
else, when the company announced it to the world.
Stolen consumer information usually goes up for sale immediately after a company is hacked, he explains. Criminals aim for speed so they can sell the data before a company’s tripwires ever detect it was stolen. The longer they wait, the more likely the victims and the institutions will make changes to render the data useless. This is especially true with credit card numbers, which can quickly be canceled once fraudulent charges start cropping up on them. Or when Social Security numbers — like those stolen in the Equifax breach — start getting flagged for fraud.
Last weekend, fans felt slighted on 21 Savage’s behalf when the Grammys came and went with barely a mention of the double nominee or his detainment by ICE officials over his immigration status. (Producer Ludwig Göransson was the only person to mention 21 Savage by name, and you might not have even spotted Post Malone’s “Free 21 Savage” shirt, as it was under his jacket.)
Last weekend, fans felt slighted on 21 Savage’s behalf when the Grammys came and went with barely a mention of the double nominee or his detainment by ICE officials over his immigration status.
(Producer Ludwig Göransson was the only person to mention 21 Savage by
name, and you might not have even spotted Post Malone’s “Free 21 Savage”
shirt, as it was under his jacket.) Following his release on bond after
nine days in custody, the British-born, Atlanta-raised musician says he
honestly wasn’t bothered by the fact most of his peers didn’t offer any
verbal support. “Nah, I was stressed about getting out,” he tells the
New York Timesin a new interview. “The Grammys is the Grammys, but when you in jail, the Grammys is nothing.”
don’t care what nobody say — everybody in that building who’s connected
to this culture, I was on their mind in some type of way,” 21 Savage
continues. “That’s all that mattered. They didn’t have to say it ’cause
everybody knew it. It was in the air. All the people that was there,
they said the words in other places and that matter just as much. All
the big artists was vocal about the situation, so I was appreciative.”
Instead, the rapper, who says he became aware he lacked legal status as a teen, “probably like the age when you start to get your driver’s license,” after overstaying his visa, is focused on staying in the country. “My situation is important ’cause I represent poor black Americans and I represent poor immigrant Americans,” he says. “You gotta think about all the millions of people that ain’t 21 Savage that’s in 21 Savage shoes.” He is currently reportedly waiting for an expedited hearing. Oh, and despite how hard you all went, 21 Savage says he even liked your memes about how British he is. Or, at least, he acknowledges them. “Some of them was funny — I ain’t gonna lie,” he jokes. “I was appreciative of that.