Tax in a World of Pandemic

BY ORLANDO GOTAY

A name that did not even exist at the beginning of the year, COVID-19, has turned all of our lives literally upside down, in a matter of weeks. Folks, we are living in amazing times.

COVID-19 has a way to affect literally everything we do, or plan to do (I am asking South Dakota to waive a one-day “visit overnight” requirement for my driver’s license renewal, due soon). Employment, travel, supply chains –literally everything– is being affected by COVID-19.  And of course, this comes in the middle of tax season. People are losing jobs and facing incredible hardships –all have a very meaningful impact, come tax time.

As I write this, Congress is fashioning some emergency economic relief for Americans; details are unclear but suffice it to say this is a truly major calamity that requires unprecedented actions, the world over.

The IRS has moved a little (and by this, I mean not nearly enough) to cushion the blow for now. It announced a 90-day postponement of the due date for 2019 tax returns, July 15. This includes payments too. There are additional extensions available. Some extensions (if you reside abroad) are automatic (no extension request needed filing, your later returns simply noted as such). For regular stateside residents, an extension needs to be affirmatively filed on time.

States are tricky because sometimes they follow the federal rule and sometimes they don’t. For instance, some allow an automatic extension if you filed a federal one, some will require their own extension filed irrespective of federal extensions. COVID-19 throws an additional wrench. For example, California’s COVID-19 relief provides an automatic extension of time to file and pay tax until June 30. If you need to file a state tax return, make sure you note with precision the exact requirements if you are not able to file (or pay tax) by their regular due dates.=
Tax administrators are just beginning to wrap their arms about the entire set of consequences COVID-19 has on ordinary Americans, not just on patients and their loved ones. If you come up with a tax situation affected by COVID-19, I urge you to write the appropriate tax officials. They need to hear from you. I hope you will continue to be safe wherever you happen to be.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at tax@orlandogotay.com Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer or WhatsApp at +17604491668. This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

Tips for Health & Safety While Food Shopping

Dr Jeffery Van Wingen, a Michigan surgeon, has offered some tips on how to prevent contamination from covid-19 when buying food, bringing it into your home, and storing it properly to ensure that you do not inadvertently introduce coronavirus from the supermarket or pharmacy into your living environment.

Anyone who has ventured out into the world to purchase goods that we take into our bodies has undoubtedly noticed that many people still aren’t wearing gloves or masks when they mingle with others during the course of a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Such people may be contaminating the containers of the products to be purchased. The people stocking the shelves, bagging the items, or filling the orders may be touching the containers of goods, or the goods themselves.

Remember that almost everything you buy has been handled by a number of people from the farm or factory down the road to your shopping venue.

First of all, the most obvious suggestion is to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket with a sterilized cloth or paper towel. The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 3 days or more.

Secondly, take a list of the items you need, and commit to buying only those goods. The reasoning here is that it is best to spend as little time as possible in an environment where social distancing cannot be practiced.

Next, don’t go out at all if you have symptoms of the virus, or any respiratory issues whatsoever. Be committed to protecting others as well as yourself.

Plan for no more than two weeks of necessities. There is no rationing taking place. Farm workers are still harvesting fruits and vegetables. Shippers are still delivering goods to retail outlets. At least as of now, there is no need for panic buying. By hoarding necessities, you are only depriving your friends and neighbors from having an adequate supply of the same goods.

Many people are now using cloth bags when they go to the market. Remember to consider those bags “dirty” after you have filled them at the market. Don’t use them again until they have been washed or sanitized.

Once you’ve taken the groceries home, don’t bring them into the house unless they require refrigeration or are otherwise perishable. If possible, leave them on your porch, garage or any safe storage spot for 3 days if possible. And just to be safe, there are more tips for unbagging the items you have bought:

Clean the surface of the counter top where you plan to unpack the groceries and medications.

Wipe down the containers of medications, because you know those have been handled by human hands that may not have been gloved.

With items such as cereals, which have inner containers, remove the inner sealed bag from the outer box and discard the box.

Wipe down cans, bottles and jars.

Fruit, such as oranges, have peels that are porous, just like our skin. These need to be washed for at least 20 seconds in soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, then placed in a clean container such as Tupperware.

Vegetables must also be washed and rinsed individually.

Things like bread may be removed from its original container, dumped into a sterile container (again, like Tupperware); then discard the original bag.

Plasticized containers (such as boxed milk, potato chip bags, etc.), are ok with just wiping down the container itself. These items are generally hermetically sealed.

Remember to continually wash your hands during the process of unpacking your groceries.

What about take-out or delivery food? No problem.

First of all, don’t invite the delivery person into your house.

Then, remove the food itself from the plastic, foil, or box container that it comes in. Fortunately, the virus pathogens do not do well in food, especially if it is hot; heat destabilizes the virus. It’s ok (even recommended) to heat the food in a microwave, even briefly. Then, dump the food onto a sterile container from your cupboard, WASH YOUR HANDS, sit down, eat and enjoy.

With frozen goods, not so bueno. Viruses can live for up to 2 years in a frozen environment.

So, with a frozen pizza, for example, take the box out of the freezer, discard the box, place the pizza on a safe container or microwave or cook it in the oven.

With ice cream, sterilize the plasticized container before putting it into your freezer.

That’s about it. Some of these techniques are time-consuming, but if they work to keep you healthy during this pandemic, then, ultimately, you will be able to eat what you want safely, having protected yourself from the invasion of an unwanted and dangerous disease into your household.

The good doctor asked that his video be shared widely. If you’d like to see it for yourself, here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/sjDuwc9KBps

Eat, drink & be merry!

Mexico Starts Phase 2 For Coronavirus

March 31, 2020 UPDATE: Although Mexico is still in phase 2 of the Coronavirus epidemic, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases, its is expected to go into phase 3 at any day now.

 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced a health plan in response to the transmission of COVID-19 in Mexico. The Navy and National Army will be acting on this strategy.

The route to follow for the next 40 days seeks to manage the risk and achieve a scenario whereby every day, we have a few cases, in order to have enough capacity to treat everyone. This is known as “flattening the curve.”

 

What measures should be taken?

Keep a healthy distance.

All events with 100 or more people will be canceled.

Suspension of work activities involving a large mobilization of people.

Maintain hygienic measures: Wash your hands with water and soap frequently for at least 20 seconds; sneeze into the inside part of your elbow.

Every person that has COVID19 symptoms should stay at home for about 15 days. Pregnant women, elders, hypertension patients should go to the doctor immediately.

 

Coronavirus phase two is declared to have begun

In Mexico, 5 cases were locally transmitted; in response we have decided to start phase two, since usefulness of the containment measures is exhausted and it’s necessary to expand the mitigation measures, stated Hugo Lopez Gatell, head of prevention and health promotion for Mexico.

“We have a slow transmission until it reaches an infection point where the contagion curve goes up. In Mexico, we haven’t gotten to that infection point yet. That is why Mexico still has the opportunity to contain the contagion. Because of this, we decided to declare a phase two”.

Massive measures have a bigger impact on reducing the transmissions, as they allow us “to flatten the curve” of infections. In other words, to have less community transmission, Lopez Gatell said.

 

Navy plan and DN-III Plan will support against COVID-19

For their part, the head of the National Defense and the head of the Navy, have pointed out that they have deployed the DN-III Plan and the Navy Plan, respectively, to support against the coronavirus pandemic.They indicated that they have 1,738 doctors, 1,727 nurses, 100 intensive care ambulances, and 400 transfer ambulances ready to be deployed, as well as enough capacity in facilities, 5 specialty hospitals, 36 second-level hospitals, and 272 first-level hospitals; these last with 262 health platoons, covering almost the entire country.

993 positive cases of COVID-19 in Mexico

Federal Health Secretariat (SSA) officials report in a press conference informed that the number of suspected cases stood at 2,564, and the cases confirmed by COVID-19 increased to 993 in Mexico. At the same time, another 4,955 suspected cases have been found to be negative for COVID-19.

Of the total number of confirmed cases, only 117 people were hospitalized, 65 percent of which are reported as stable, 30 percent as severe, and 5 percent as intubated.

There is also a confirmation of 20 deaths, giving a total of 8,512 people studied.  Overall, 27 states report between one and fifty cases, and three states between 51 and 100 cases.

Also, in the epidemic curve of cases by date of signs and symptoms of the 993 confirmed cases, 60 percent are imported, 27 percent are directly associated with importation, and 13 percent have no relation with importation.

The government is reminding everyone to maintain a healthy distance with other people, as well as to remember that it is essential to stay home as much as you can.

 

SOURCE: Periodico Excelsior

AMLO Will Approve Constellation Brands Brewery in Mexicali if it Doesn’t Affect Water Supply

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that the water supply must be guaranteed to the population of Baja California before allowing the Constellation Brands brewery to be built; otherwise, the brewery would be canceled.

He explained that the Secretariat of the Environment is reviewing the case and will be responsible for resolving the viability of the project that will have a total investment of 1.6 billion dollars and will generate about 30,000 jobs in the area.

“We have to reconcile, first the health of the people, we cannot leave the people without water. If there are other options with water for the people and water for the company, go ahead; if not, it can’t be done. That is the criterion, but you can do both when you are looking for options,” he said in a morning conference.

López Obrador recalled that the operating permit for the brewery was granted in the last six years, and now it will be up to his administration to resolve it, “of course protecting the people.

Earlier this year, Victor Toledo, head of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), and Blanca Jimenez Cisneros, director of the National Water Commission (Conagua), agreed that the project does not represent any risk of water shortage for the population of Baja California.

The head of Semarnat explained that the installation of the brewery will not have a negative impact on the water supply in this border valley, taking into account that the plant will require 5.8 million cubic meters, which represents a minimum percentage of its annual consumption.

 

With information from: Milenio

Baja California’s Gastronomy Brings Together Top Chefs in Tijuana

Hospitality, good music, flavorings, and gastronomy defined the first edition of Sabor a Tijuana, where 25 international chefs participated and shared their knowledge and culture through their dishes.

“Tijuana tastes like the arms of a mother who extends them to everyone who comes here so that they can do well,” said Miguel Ángel Badiola, president of the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Spiced Foods Industry (CANIRAC).

Chefs from different countries like Spain, Germany, the United States, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, from some of the top restaurants of the world, that have won Michelin stars and Repsol Suns, participated in the event.

“The fact about these chefs coming to Tijuana for the curiosity of what Baja California represents in the gastronomic field, not just to the local community but the international, it makes us feel proud,” president of Canirac said.

Sabor a Tijuana involved eight months planning with the idea that the participant chefs would be cooking only with local products, also making the biggest aguachile of the world, a paella contest rated by experts from Spain, as well as the laboratory “Metallica Vive la Vaca”, which consisted of roasting meats from different exotic animals.

Another characteristic from this gastronomic meeting was the installation of a 360 kitchen for attendees to witness the complexity of the elaboration of different dishes just like Oscar´s Calleja, head of Annua Restauant (winner of two Michell Stars and two Repsol suns) considered to be one of the driving forces in today´s kitchen.

The main reason for the event is to promote the gastronomic offer of Tijuana, Baja California, Badiola insisted. Also, to promote the goodness of local products, and recalled that Spanish chefs compared the event to Madrid Fusion in Spain, which is held in Europe.

“A dish can convey beauty, happiness, complexity and culture. With that slogan in mind, the festival was created were Tijuana and its gastronomy were the protagonists”, concluded the Canirac president.

Xano Saguer and David Lopez from Spain; Alvaro Clavijo and Harry Sasson from Colombia; Palmiro Ocampo from Peru; Paco Mendez and Berenice Madrigal from Mexico, as well Oscar Calleja from Germany, just to name a few, completed the guest list.

More than 45 stands and food trucks of food, wine, distillates, beer, and souvenirs, as well as conferences and other activities, completed the experience in the esplanade of the Caliente Stadium, which gathered, according to the organizers, more than 15 thousand spectators.

Tony Botella from Spain, added that the particularity of the region makes it enviable to many.

He pointed out that there are ingredients from sea and land, making Baja an endearing part of any chef´s kitchen.

Meanwhile, Michel, one of the attendees at the first edition of Sabor a Tijuana, said: “The attendance was very good, considering that for Tijuanenses these are complicated days because in December they spend a lot; however, I hope that this is not the first and last time of the festival. It has been a very good experience.”

 

In numbers:

  • 8 local chefs
  • 17 international chefs
  • 15 workshops
  • 12 conferences
  • 15,000 attendees

 

SOURCE: Milenio Diario

PHOTO: Sabor a Tijuana Facebook Page

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