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The only two certainties in life are death and taxes

Hot Topics | March 26th, 2021

Procrastinators rejoice! On Wednesday, the IRS announced it would give Americans an extra month to file their tax returns (the new deadline is May 17th). This news might have some wondering what it would take to have the deadline extended…indefinitely. What would cause the IRS to stop collecting taxes? The answer is nothing, except perhaps the complete extinction of mankind.

The IRS has continuity plans in place that require the agency to resume Mission Essential Functions (MEFs) within 12 hours of a catastrophic event. MEFs include processing tax remittances, tax refunds and yes, your tax returns. The continuity plan confirms that neither natural disasters nor terrorist attacks nor biological warfare nor a nuclear strike will prevent Uncle Sam from taking his cut. So if you need more time to file your return in the event of a nuclear apocalypse and the IRS doesn’t grant an extension as it did on Wednesday, consider filing Form 4868. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t kidding around when he said the only two certainties in life are death and taxes.

Megamergers under the microscope

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release announcing the formation of a multinational working group that will analyze the impact of pharmaceutical company mergers on industry competition. In the release, FTC Acting Chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said, “Working hand in hand with international and domestic enforcement partners, we intend to take an aggressive approach to tackling anticompetitive pharmaceutical mergers.” (The Hill)

Becerra crosses the finish line

  • After what many have described as a bruising nomination process, Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a 50-49 vote on Thursday. During hearings, Republicans attacked Becerra for his views on abortion and Medicare-for-all, as well as his qualifications for the post. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote to confirm Becerra. (Axios, The Hill)

Policy reviews underway at HHS

  • This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they had identified and rescinded guidance documents released by the Trump administration that were “not grounded in science” and not “primarily authored” by CDC staffers. The move was part of a move by CDC director Rochelle Walensky to restore public confidence in the agency. (The Hill, The Washington Postfull text below) Meanwhile, HHS has postponed its review of FDA regulations due to a last-minute rule enacted by the Trump administration that would have required the agency to review over 95% of its regulations on the books at a time when the agency wants to focus on the COVID-19 response. (Endpoints News)

Questions as May 1 looms

  • Many states responded with caution last Friday when President Biden announced he would direct states to make all adults eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. Although Mississippi moved quickly to open eligibility to all adults on Wednesday, other states have expressed concerns: In Oregon, officials are exploring whether they will need federal assistance to bolster their online appointment system, and Oklahoma officials are working to open new sites to administer the vaccine. (POLITICO) There are also concerns that increasing access to the vaccine too soon will compromise equity in the rollout process. (Axios)  

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