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TaxBuzz Top 5 - New Tax-Free Military Accounts, Hunter Biden Investigated By Grand Jury & More

TaxBuzz Top 5 - New Tax-Free Military Accounts, Hunter Biden Investigated By Grand Jury & More

Each Friday, TaxBuzz brings you the top five tax and accounting headlines you need to know from the workweek. We know life can get busy and you don't always have time to scroll through your news feed to stay informed.

We weed through all of the week's stories to showcase the most important updates in the tax and accounting world.

1. LA Grand Jury Considers Hunter Biden's Tax Affairs

Credit: Julien Behal/Irish Government via Getty Images

Amid his ongoing legal drama, Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden (D) and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, is now the subject of a Los Angeles grand jury case. 

According to a report from ABC News, sources close to the situation have confirmed that special counsel David Weiss is using the federal grand jury to pursue a multi-year investigation into the younger Biden's tax affairs.

In recent weeks, the grand jury has conducted numerous pieces of business, including subpoenaing James Biden, the President's brother.

As noted, this is just the latest in Biden's legal issues. In September, he sued the IRS three days after being indicted on three federal gun charges. This came after a tentative plea deal fell apart in July 2023. 

2. Minnesota Reissuing 150,000 Tax Rebate Checks

The State of Minnesota has announced it will reissue approximately 150,000 expired tax rebate checks. An official release from the Minnesota Department of Revenue was issued Wednesday, November 15. 

It notes that one-time tax rebate checks that have gone uncashed, and therefore expired after 60 days from their August and September issuance dates, will be reissued in two batches -- one this week and one in early December. Residents will have 60 days from the date of issuance to cash their new checks.

In regard to checks that once again go uncashed, the state shared, "We will work with taxpayers who are eligible but did not get their rebate after the reissued checks void in early 2024. To avoid duplicate payments, we cannot issue a rebate payment while a rebate check is still valid but uncashed."

Minnesotans should be aware that their tax rebate checks will arrive in plain, unmarked white envelopes.

3. Tax-Free Dependent Care Spending Accounts Now Available to U.S. Service Members

Credit: SDI Productions

The Department of Defense has issued details about new tax-free dependent care spending accounts that are now available to qualifying U.S. service members. An official release notes that funds in a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, or DCFSA, can be used for a variety of purposes, including "preschool, summer day camp, before- or after-school programs, and child or adult daycare."

Eligible members of United States military branches can contribute up to $5,000 a year from their paychecks, via allotment, to these new accounts. The DoD explains that the money is taken out pretax, which means that, for example, a military family who typically reports $35,000 a year in taxable income, would be allowed to report only $30,000 in taxable income if they took full advantage of the benefit. This results in fewer taxes, and more take-home income, annually. 

Eligible service members can apply for DCFSA accounts at between November 13 and December 11. 

4. Philadelphia Opens Applications For New Real Estate Tax Rebate Program

The City of Philadelphia has opened applications for a new real estate rebate program that can save residents up to $500 on their taxes. Qualifying residents can apply for the program -- called the FORWARD Platform -- by December 15, 2023. 

CBS News shared eligibility requirements: Philadelphia homeowners must live within city limits and be BOTH the legal owner and current resident of their property. In addition, applicants' household income must be at or below 80% of the area median income. Finally, their property tax bill must have increased by a minimum of 50% between 2022 and 2023.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told the press, "The City of Philadelphia is committed to investing in the community of Philadelphia through this Tax Credit Program. This Tax Credit Program allows Philadelphia homeowners to find financial relief from increasing real estate tax bills."

5. NFT Developer Pleads Guilty to International Fraud Scheme

Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division has issued an official release regarding nonfungible token (NFT) developer Aurelien Michel, a French national who had been residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Following his January 2023 arrest, this week, Michel issued a guilty plea at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. The developer was charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud in conjunction with an international fraud scheme involving "Mutant Ape Planet" NFTs. Upon sentencing, Michel faces up to five years in prison. The defendant has also agreed to pay $1.4 million in forfeiture. 

United States Attorney Breon Peace said, "Our Office is acutely aware that criminal actors are taking advantage of the constant pace of innovation in the digital asset space and the investing public's desire to become involved in cryptocurrency to perpetrate large-scale frauds. Holding these criminal actors accountable and protecting the public is, and will remain, a priority of this Office."

The IRS has pledged to take more action against individuals who are trying to take advantage of the relatively new NFT and cryptocurrency markets, as this case exemplifies.

Which headline this week is most interesting to you?

Feature Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Getty Images

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