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2020's never-ending tax season

Today — October 15 — marks a tax-filing deadline for many people every year who have been granted extensions, but this year's rules and dynamics are very different.

Why it matters: The IRS was closed for months as a result of COVID-19, which meant that a lot of refunds got delayed, a lot of tax payments didn't get processed, and a lot of taxpayers (and accountants) got put on perma-hold or disconnected when they called to ask questions.


Where it stands: In March, the "Service" (as tax insiders call it) extended the April 15 filing deadline to July 15.

  • From there, people were allowed to apply for an extension to Oct. 15, which some taxpayers routinely do anyway. (Tax filers who live abroad can get their own extension until Dec. 15.)
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in June that he was considering a second extension in light of the ongoing pandemic, but ultimately opted against it.
  • Per Bloomberg Tax: "A second delay would be akin to the IRS giving an interest-free loan to individuals and companies that owe the government money. Mnuchin said the first three-month delay injected about $300 billion of liquidity into the economy."

What they're saying: "It's the tax season that never ended," Ryan L. Losi, executive vice president of the boutique, high-end accounting firm PIASCIK, tells Axios.

  • "If you filed anything in the 4th quarter of 2019 or the 1st quarter of 2020, that basically sat on people’s desks [at the IRS] when everything shut down during COVID."
  • After the CARES Act was signed on March 27, "you had this 1,000-page bill in the middle of tax season" to study, Losi said. "For about 45 days, it was all about PPP and learning the statute."

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

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The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

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Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

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SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

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Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
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America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19

From high levels of obesity and opioid addiction to inequities in access to care, America's pre-existing conditionsmake the country an easy target for COVID-19, as well as future pandemics that could cripple the United States for decades to come.

Why it matters: One of the best ways the country could prepare for future threats — and boost its economy — is to improve Americans' overall health.

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Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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