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US Treasury Warns Of Frustrating Tax Season Due To IRS Backlogs And ‘Longstanding Operational Problems’

US Treasury Warns Of Frustrating Tax Season Due To IRS Backlogs And ‘Longstanding Operational Problems’

Existing backlongs and ‘longstanding operational problems’ at the IRS will likely make for a frustrating tax season this year, a Treasury.

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US Treasury Warns Of Frustrating Tax Season Due To IRS Backlogs And 'Longstanding Operational Problems'

Existing backlongs and 'longstanding operational problems' at the IRS will likely make for a frustrating tax season this year, a Treasury Department official told Politico on Monday.

The agency is still dealing with two years-worth of backlogs in processing returns - and is trying to process approximately 6 million individual returns as of Dec. 23. Typically, the tax collector juggles around 1 million pieces of unopened mail according to the report.

More than 150 million individual income tax returns typically roll in over the course of a few months.

Tax returns for 2021 are due April 18 for most individual filers, a few days after the normal April 15 deadline due to a holiday in Washington, D.C., though extensions can be requested. This year’s start and end dates, announced by the IRS on Monday, are more in line with historical norms, which have been upended since 2020 because of the pandemic.

Last year, the IRS held off the start date to Feb. 12, to give the agency extra time to reprogram operations based on tax law changes passed in late 2020. -Politico

According to the official, there's been no internal debate over delaying the filing deadline beyond this April. In 2020 it was extended to July 15, while 2021's due date was pushed back to May 17. 

President Biden and Congressional Democrats want to supercharge the IRS to the tune of $80 billion (which is 'dramatically in excess' of what it needs), which would be invested in more agents and technology upgrades, and would beef up enforcement and other agency functions such as customer service. The official blamed Republicans for blocking fresh funding, according to Politico

For one's best chance at speedy processing, taxpayers should take advantage of filing electronically - which 90% already do. Some 10% of returns are filed on paper, however, and have been caught up in a massive mail backlog that began early on in the pandemic.

The delays have meant slow refunds and/or incorrect penalities and assessments by the IRS for millions of taxpayers because employees have to physically process each piece of mail that comes in.

Complicating matters is the fact that the IRS could receive more individual tax returns this year, as child tax payments may push some low-income households past the threshold which would trigger a tax return.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/10/2022 - 20:10

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Economics

Those big billion-dollar PhIII studies? Martin Landray says they can be done for a tiny fraction of the cost

Martin Landray knows what controversy in clinical drug development feels like, from first-hand experience.
Bioregnum Opinion Column by John Carroll
Landray…

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Martin Landray knows what controversy in clinical drug development feels like, from first-hand experience.

Bioregnum Opinion Column by John Carroll

Landray was the chief architect of RECOVERY, a study that pitted a variety of drugs against Covid-19. And he offered some landmark data that would help push dexamethasone out into broader use as a cheap treatment, while helping ice hydroxy’s reputation as a clear misfire.

“Lots of people told us we shouldn’t use it,” Landray says about dexamethasone and Covid-19. “It was dangerous. We shouldn’t even do a trial. They also cared about hydroxychloroquine and lots of people said we shouldn’t do a trial because it must be used. I’ve got the letters from both sets of people.”

Now, after 20 years of mounting clinical trials, the Oxford professor is building on what he’s learned from RECOVERY and scores of drug studies to take on one of the most quixotic tasks in the industry: building an organization that can take a drug — anything from a cheap generic like dexamethasone to an experimental biopharma drug — and put it through its paces in large Phase III trials. And at just a tiny fraction of the cost developers would normally spend on late-stage programs.

A lot of this depends on approaching drug data in a new way, carefully and precisely identifying the data needed, without overcomplicating matters, then working in alignment with key drug developers, patient groups, providers — the UK’s NHS, with its massive database, is a supporter — and clinical organizations to recruit en masse.

In doing that, he intends to break a decades-long trend in drug development that has steered large and small organizations away from the big population studies needed for cardio and other broad disease areas like dementia and into the rare disease field, where smaller trials are the norm.

And that makes him a radical in what he sees as a field that’s begging for a game-changing revolution.

“It’s unsustainable,” says the Oxford professor about the Phase III sector of R&D. “I mean, it’s already broken … The so-called GCP regulations, good clinical practice, the old joke goes they’re not good, they’re not clinical, and they’re not practical. And that joke has been around 25 years and hasn’t changed much.”

This is not something that needs incremental improvement. From his perspective, this is a big issue for the world.

Huge financial and public health issues were at stake when the Covid vaccines first entered the clinic, and decisions were made on those with what Landray considers “pretty scruffy evidence.”

“The original vaccine trials cost probably a billion dollars apiece,” Landray says. “The idea, if you turned around to one of those companies and said, ‘And now we want you to do a trial of a million people.’ They’d say, ‘Well, our pockets are just not that deep.’ If you say, ‘Well, I want to do a trial of a million people and it costs a million pounds,’ suddenly the possibilities open up. And we put the proposal together for that. I’m absolutely serious about those numbers.”

David Schenkein

Click on the image to see the full-sized version

Landray has done more than simply win over some converts to the Phase III revolution he’s plotting. He’s building a non-profit organization called Protas that has drawn some influential backers in biopharma. Sanofi came in early on with a promise to collaborate and £5 million. And today GV — Google’s venture arm — is in for another £5 million grant, with active support from David Schenkein, a high-profile researcher who helped build Agios before jumping to venture capital.

“I’ve been doing clinical trials my whole life out of grade school,” Schenkein, a Genentech alum, tells me, “and we need to see the whole ecosystem improve. And that’s good for everybody. So it is definitely a philanthropic grant, but we think it’ll improve the entire ecosystem, which we’re obviously so committed to. We’ve known Martin and his team for years and have just been incredibly impressed. And we’ve looked at the clinical trial space and we’ve talked about this before, you and I, but what Martin and his team have done have just been outpacing everybody else.”

“There’s no question that the way we do Phase III clinical trials today is largely no different than the way we did them when I first went into the industry or where we’ve been doing it for 40 years, which means we enroll patients the same way we used to. We don’t go directly to patients in many cases,” Schenkein adds. “We only go through the sites. The sites say, ‘Yeah, I’ll give you 20 patients.’ They end up giving you zero. And so you need more sites. We end up collecting way more data. We don’t know which is the right data to collect, and so we collect everything. We clean everything. And all of that drives the cost up exponentially and slows it down. And what Martin and his team have just gotten so much smarter using data to be able to say, not only how do we enroll patients in a different way, how do we know the right data to collect, not collect too much data, the right data. So all of that will just completely change the way we think about conducting clinical trials, and that has to happen.”

Dietmar Berger

“We engaged with them because we believe integration of clinical trials into everyday clinical practice can be an important new model, which offers advantages both for the healthcare system as well as for sponsors,” Sanofi development chief Dietmar Berger tells me. “Running large late-stage trials in close collaboration with practicing physicians and a large healthcare provider (for example via Protas) can lead to more efficient data generation, with representation of a diverse, ‘real world’ population. This could apply especially for large studies in common diseases, and include novel drugs.”

Right now, there are no trials underway at Protas or ones planned before 2024. Landray is using his funding to create a group that can orchestrate a variety of new methods to smash classic Phase III budgets. And his experiences running the informatics part in the early days of the UK Biobank project — with its half a million subjects enrolled in a massive genetics project — have helped.

We just need to spend those two years making sure that we’ve got all the right things in place. Part of that is technology. IT systems actually make it easier to do the right thing in terms of following the protocol. Part of that is about regulatory and other policies. And we’ve been doing a lot of work with ICH, with FDA, with all sorts of organizations around what should good clinical trials regulation look like? Part of that is building on the experiences from things like the RECOVERY trial. Part of that is partnerships with clinicians, clinical health services, and patient groups. We need those things in place before one actually starts delivering.

If you say, have we started planning? Yes, we’ve started thinking about some of those first trials. I just don’t have anything concrete to talk about today.

Landray has given this all a lot of thought, and it’s worth listening carefully to what he has to say about the many things that have skewed so far off course in drug development. And why it’s important to get on the right track.

What we’ve seen is that Big Pharma has largely opted out of developing new drugs for common diseases. That’s true in heart disease, in arthritis, and so on. Respiratory disease. It’s very true if one looks at depression. It’s substantially true if one looks at dementia, where there are two challenges to dementia. One is, can we find some potential drugs that might work? Probably. And then the second is, how are we ever going to make that commercially successful? And that’s going to be driven in large part by what’s the affordability and the practicality of doing those sorts of trials that you would need to do in dementia.

So it’s not just about how we get drugs cheaper, but it’s also, from my point of view, it’s can we get better drugs to treat the big issues? And if one looks at a health system and again — goes back to that point of view for a moment — the reason that everybody’s health system is creaking/broken is largely because there are very large numbers of people who are late middle aged and elderly with two or three or possibly more relatively common conditions. And if we want to actually get something that is much more sustainable in terms of an overall health system and public health, then we have to tackle common disease and we have to also tackle the prevention elements, whether that’s early detection of cancer or preventative treatments like reducing the risk of future cardiovascular events.

Schenkein agrees wholeheartedly: “I think that the most important factor here is the shift we’ve seen in our industry away from investments in the common diseases more towards the rare. I agree with Martin. The rare diseases are critically important, but that shift has to come back the other way.”

Consider the case of PCSK9, the big target that drove Amgen and Novartis out onto the market with limited data on efficacy in an attempt to reach a portion of the population that could benefit from it.

Here’s Landray:

In the PCSK9 antibodies, yes, they showed it reduced MACE, major cardiovascular events, but didn’t show an impact on cardiovascular death and they didn’t have the full range of safety information you might want to see for a new class of drugs. Then what happens was that someone had to pay back the cost of those trials. One of the many contributing factors, but a significant one, is how do we recoup our R&D costs, of which something like half or more is probably on that single late-phase trial.

And then the payers turn around…and they say, that’s all very well, but we see you’ve demonstrated efficacy in that, remember, limited population of all the patients who’ve had heart disease, but we can’t really afford to treat all of those patients. And therefore we’ll put in place some other clinical guidance. It’s all called clinical guidance or whatever, but it’s basically a form of rationing.

That can substantially be avoided if you avoid calamitous R&D costs.

That could be arguable, as drugs aren’t priced — in the US in any case — according to the cost of development. But you’ll never break through that barrier, Landray argues, until you start doing huge studies at relatively meager prices.

For Landray, this isn’t about empire building. If Protas can break the mold and essentially force the rest of the R&D world to adopt it, he’d gladly shut down a decade from now. Mission accomplished.

But first there’s a revolution to inspire.

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Economics

New Research Shows Declining Confidence in the Education Profession, With Educators Calling for Connection, Community and Customization

New Research Shows Declining Confidence in the Education Profession, With Educators Calling for Connection, Community and Customization
PR Newswire
BOSTON, Aug. 18, 2022

Critical insights reveal how edtech is transforming the classroom; 81% of educ…

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New Research Shows Declining Confidence in the Education Profession, With Educators Calling for Connection, Community and Customization

PR Newswire

Critical insights reveal how edtech is transforming the classroom; 81% of educators say we are now closer to fully realizing the potential of technology in teaching

BOSTON, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the 2022 Educator Confidence Report, released today from learning technology company HMH, confidence in the education profession has dropped for the second year in a row. An annual barometer for how educators across the country are feeling about the state of teaching and learning, today's report found more than 3 in 4 (76%) educators feel negatively about the state of the teaching profession in the U.S. The Educator Confidence Index, a measure of overall confidence (out of 100), continues to drop and now sits at 40.0—its lowest in the report's history—down from 42.7 in 2021 and 49.0 in 2020.

According to HMH's research, which surveyed more than 1,000 K-12 classroom teachers and 125+ administrators, educator retention hinges on immediate needs more than long-term developments, including improved salary and benefits, support for educator well-being and adequate funding for the classroom. Conducted between May and June in partnership with MarketCast, the report revealed three major themes for achieving success in the future:  Connection, Community and Customization.

Connection: A Digital-First Era

When it comes to technology, educators see strong connections between the teacher, student, classroom and home as the top priority. Seventy-three percent of educators report feeling technology is significantly more integrated into the classroom now than pre-pandemic, with tools to communicate between teachers and parents (63%) and tools that deliver interactive learning opportunities to students (57%) most favored among teachers. Even more, 68% of educators said edtech has become essential to the classroom.

Importantly, survey results showed that educators realize the potential in classroom technology and can visualize how it fits into their workflow. 81% report the experiences of the last two years have moved education closer to fully realizing the potential of technology in teaching. Educators are most excited about easy-to-use technology that can be used in-classroom and remotely (63%).

"We believe that the future of learning will be powered to a meaningful degree by technology yet centered on human connection, and this year's survey data gives us clear insight into how to realize that vision," said Jack Lynch, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "Educators are telling us that today's status quo isn't cutting it, but they also see a path to the future. Importantly, that path relies on addressing basic needs like wellbeing and mental health concerns, both for teachers and students, supported by connected technology that allows educators and focus on what matters most, human relationships."

Community: A Need for Broad Support

Educators report needing more consideration for their overall wellbeing now, with 78% of educators stating that their top concern is the mental health of their peers. The majority also need more aid in the classroom, with 64% saying they need adequate funding for classroom supplies and resources.  According to today's educators, improved salary and benefits (90%) and more support for educator well-being (67%) would make the profession more appealing to new educators.

"On top of concerns around student wellness and performance, educators are increasingly worried about their peers," said Francie Alexander, Chief Research Officer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "To nurture their needs, we must invest in tools to help our educators make the connections with their networks in ways that best serve them. Parents, administrators, policymakers and community members are all needed to support teachers and foster a new generation of educators."

Customization: Personalization for Students and Educators

Data shows that educators believe the future of the classroom is personalized—for both students and teachers, with data-driven, personalized edtech solutions making it possible to meet everyone where they are. 79% of educators say customized learning based on what students know and what they need would most transform learning and teaching in the future.

With pandemic-induced interrupted learning continuing to stay top of mind in the classroom, educators said the top tools to aid sustained learning recovery were targeted instructional materials or resources (62%), followed by supplemental resources (55%). When looking ahead, 65% of educators say technology solutions that connect instruction—including supplemental and remediation work—and assessment on one platform are will transform the next era of education.

Additional key findings from the eighth annual Educator Confidence Report include:

  • Community support for teacher compensation is key for not only retention, but for the future of the profession. Concerns about teacher salaries are up 16% since 2020, and when looking forward to the next school year, a higher salary would be most motivating for educators, especially teachers (84%).
  • Teachers are looking for more appreciation, respect and "trust in their experience." When considering long-term developments to support the profession, educators want increased community support and engagement (52%) – as respect for the role of the teacher is down 26% since 2020 and a strengthening of the connection between families and schools has dipped 18% since 2020.
  • Educator and student wellbeing emerges as a top theme coming out of the pandemic. 61% of educators agree the most positive thing to come out of pandemic-era schooling is the increased attention paid to student social and emotional needs. For this reason, there is a strong agreement around the need for well-planned SEL programs (87%).

About the Educator Confidence Report
The Educator Confidence Report is an annual independent study, distributed to a diverse national cross section. The eighth annual Educator Confidence Report, underwritten by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and conducted between May-June 2022 with MarketCast, surveyed more than 1,200 educators, including 1,058 teachers and 143 administrators.

Learn more about the 2022 Educator Confidence Report at hmhco.com/ecr.

About HMH
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a learning technology company committed to delivering connected solutions that engage learners, empower educators and improve student outcomes. As a leading provider of K–12 core curriculum, supplemental and intervention solutions, and professional learning services, HMH partners with educators and school districts to uncover solutions that unlock students' potential and extend teachers' capabilities. HMH serves more than 50 million students and 4 million educators in 150 countries. For more information, visit www.hmhco.com

Follow HMH on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Media Contact
Katie Marshall
Communications Manager, HMH
Katie.Marshall@hmhco.com 

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SOURCE Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Economics

Bank of America Awards More Than $1.2 Million to Atlanta Nonprofits

Bank of America Awards More Than $1.2 Million to Atlanta Nonprofits
PR Newswire
ATLANTA, Aug. 18, 2022

Grants to 53 organizations across region focus on basic needs, workforce development, and education in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities
A…

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Bank of America Awards More Than $1.2 Million to Atlanta Nonprofits

PR Newswire

Grants to 53 organizations across region focus on basic needs, workforce development, and education in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities

ATLANTA, Aug. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of America announced more than $1.2 million in grants to 53 Atlanta nonprofits to help drive economic opportunity for individuals and families. Grants focus on workforce development and education to help individuals chart a path to employment and better economic futures, as well as basic needs fundamental to building life-long stability.

While Atlanta's economy is recovering from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Georgia's unemployment rate (2.9%) is better than the national average (3.6%), the state has also added more jobs. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the state's jobs are at all-time high.

Employment is a key driver of economic mobility in Atlanta. That's why the bank is focused on building pathways to employment by supporting a range of workforce development and educational opportunities that will help vulnerable individuals and families stabilize and advance.

"Investing in partnerships with nonprofit organizations addressing issues like workforce development, food insecurity and affordable housing is part of our approach to driving economic opportunity and social progress in Atlanta," said Al McRae, president, Bank of America Atlanta. "This recent philanthropic investment in Atlanta nonprofits is just one way Bank of America deploys capital locally to help remove barriers to economic success and build a more sustainable community."

One Bank of America grant recipient is Georgia Justice Project (GJP). For 15 years, GJP has helped individuals clean up their criminal history to remove barriers to employment, housing and education. With this support from Bank of America, GJP will be able to help people leaving the criminal justice system become empowered members of our community.

"One mistake should not mean a lifetime without opportunity," said Georgia Justice Project's Executive Director, Doug Ammar. "This support from Bank of America will help Georgia Justice Project expand its commitment to Georgians who have been impacted by the criminal legal system and help marginalized people get a second chance. Our gratitude to Bank of America for furthering our mission to reduce crime and recidivism in our communities by empowering individuals to make positive changes in their lives."

The full list of organizations receiving grants are:

  • Asian American Resource Foundation
  • Atlanta Business League
  • Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency
  • Atlanta Police Foundation
  • Atlanta Victim Assistance
  • Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
  • Back on My Feet
  • Bigger Vision of Athens
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese Atlanta
  • CHRIS 180
  • City of Refuge
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Communities in Schools of Atlanta
  • Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
  • Dalton State College Foundation
  • East Lake Foundation
  • Families First
  • Family Promise of Hall County
  • Food Bank of Northeast Georgia
  • Genesis Joy House Homeless Shelter
  • Georgia Justice Project
  • Georgia Mountain Food Bank
  • Grady Health System
  • Grove Park Foundation
  • Jonathan's House Ministries
  • Junior Achievement of Georgia
  • La Amistad
  • Latin American Association
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • Meals on Wheels Atlanta
  • Must Ministries
  • Nana Grants
  • Open Hand Atlanta
  • Partnership Against Domestic Violence
  • Per Scholas
  • Saint Joseph's Mercy Care Services
  • Shelters to Shutters
  • Strive International
  • Teach for America
  • The Posse Foundation
  • The Summit Counseling Center
  • The Urban League of Greater Atlanta
  • Trees Atlanta
  • United Negro College Fund
  • United Way of Greater Atlanta
  • University of Georgia Research Foundation
  • Urban League of Greater Columbus
  • Urban Health and Wellness
  • Women in Technology
  • Women Moving On
  • Year Up
  • Young Men's Christian Association of Athens, GA
    - Young Women's Christian Organization of Athens, GA

Since 2017, Bank of America's nearly 5,000 Atlanta teammates have contributed over 255,000 volunteer hours and $30 million in grant support to organizations in metro Atlanta. These investments are part of the company's commitment to responsible growth to improve the financial lives of individuals, families, and communities across the state.

Learn more about Bank of America's Philanthropic Strategy

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,000 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs and award-winning digital banking with approximately 55 million verified digital users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporters may contact:

Matthew Daily, Bank of America   
Phone: 1.404.607.2844
matthew.daily@bofa.com

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SOURCE Bank of America Corporation

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