Mnuchin says Treasury lawyers consulted White House on Trump tax returns

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Treasury Department lawyers had held “informational” discussions with the White House about an expected request from House Democrats for President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Kane could be out for the rest of the season – Pochettino

Tottenham striker Harry Kane “may be out for the rest of the season” after picking up an ankle injury in the Champions League victory over Manchester City.

Ohio man ordered detained after claim to be missing boy Timmothy Pitzen

A 23-year-old former convict charged in Ohio with making false statements after he claimed to be long-missing Illinois teen Timmothy Pitzen was ordered on Tuesday to be held in detention.

The government is about to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic filing system

Thanks to pressure from tax preparation industry, Congress is getting ready to ban the Internal Revenue Service from ever building a free electronic tax filing system.

As ProPublica reports, the effort is a bipartisan one. The House Ways and Means Committee, led by Massachusetts Democrat, Richard Neal, passed the Taxpayer First Act.

The bill would make changes to the IRS and is sponsored by Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis and Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

One of its stipulations would make it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system for tax filing. That’s right, members of Congress are prohibiting a branch of the federal government from providing a much-needed service that would make the lives of all of their constituents much easier.

And why is Congress taking the step? Because companies like Intuit, the company behind TurboTax, and H&R Block have been lobbying lawmakers for years to take the step.

In other countries, the agencies in charge of taxes have their own programs which make filing taxes more efficient — and free — for citizens. But that would eat into the profits for the tax prep industry, which was estimated to pull in $11 billion in 2018.

“This could be a disaster. It could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea of the IRS ever being able to create its own program,” Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does work for the National Consumer Law Center, told ProPublica.

There are a number of ways that the IRS could make tax preparation easier for taxpayers dealing with the only certainty in life other than death.

The IRS could develop a free online system. It could also submit pre-prepared tax returns for people to approve and then file based on the salary data the agency already has.

Roughly 70% of American taxpayers are already able to file for free online, but only 3% do, according to data from the taxpayer advocacy organization, The Taxpayer Advocate Service.

Americans who make less than $66,000 can access the Free File Inc. software online through the IRS.gov website and all taxpayers can download electronic versions of IRS paper forms through the service.

Back in 2002, the IRS entered into an agreement with a consortium fo tax software companies, which was known as Free File, Inc.  As part of that deal, the companies agreed to open up access to filing software for about taxpayers who make less than $66,000 and the IRS agreed not to compete with the companies by developing its own software.

That deal has been renewed for over a decade and the new bill before Congress would make it permanent. One reason why folks Congress could be pushing this through is all of the money that H&R Block and Intuit spent to lobby Senators and Representatives. ProPublica estimates that the tax prep industry has spent $6.6 million to advocate for the IRS filing deal. The Ways and Means chair, Neal, received $16,000 in contributions from the two companies in the last two election cycles, according to the ProPublica report.

Apigee jumps on hybrid bandwagon with new API for hybrid environments

This year at Google Cloud Next, the theme is all about supporting hybrid environments, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apigee, the API company it bought in 2016 for $265 million, is also getting into the act. Today, Apigee announced the beta of Apigee Hybrid, a new product designed for hybrid environments.

Amit Zavery, who recently joined Google Cloud after many years at Oracle, and Nandan Sridhar, describe the new product in a joint blog post as “a new deployment option for the Apigee API management platform that lets you host your runtime anywhere—in your data center or the public cloud of your choice.”

As with Anthos, the company’s approach to hybrid management announced earlier today, the idea is to have a single way to manage your APIs no matter where you choose to run them.

“With Apigee hybrid, you get a single, full-featured API management solution across all your environments, while giving you control over your APIs and the data they expose and ensuring a unified strategy across all APIs in your enterprise,” Zavery and Sridhar wrote in the blog post announcing the new approach.

The announcement is part of an overall strategy by the company to support a customer’s approach to computing across a range of environments, often referred to as hybrid cloud. In the Cloud Native world, the idea is to present a single fabric to manage your deployments, regardless of location.

This appears to be an extension of that idea, which makes sense, given that Google was the first company to develop and open-source Kubernetes, which is at the forefront of containerization and Cloud Native computing. While this isn’t pure Cloud Native computing, it is keeping true to its ethos and it fits in the scope of Google Cloud’s approach to computing in general, especially as it is being defined at this year’s conference.