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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Still Waiting . . .

Yesterday, we found out that after 15 months, there could be another 12 weeks of waiting.
Not for Christmas, but it may as well be till then. 

We're waiting a refund on our 2020 US federal tax return, not the 2021 filing.

In a mid-April post, I noted that many other 2020 on-time taxpayers (like ourselves) were also still waiting. IRS officials blamed the pandemic as offices shut down and employees worked from home. 

Of course, that's the way bureaucracy works. 

A delayed tax refund can be taking longer for the IRS to process because it requires additional review. Reasons include incomplete filing status or missing information.

Refund delays were among the top 10 serious taxpayer complaints in 2020 and the IRS flagged 5.2 million tax refunds for fraud, a nearly 50% increase over 2019, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Of those, about 1.9 million were tagged for identity screening. In 2019, 63% of the refunds vetted for identity theft turned out to be legit, according to the organization.

The IRS scans returns for possible fraud. If a return is flagged suspicious, the agency will pull it for more review. A taxpayer is sent a letter (5071C or 6331C letter, Potential Identity Theft During Original Processing with Online Option) if it suspects ID theft or foul play. The IRS doesn't process a tax return or issue a refund until there's a response.

At times, the IRS sends ID verification letters to taxpayers after receiving an e-filed/paper-filed tax return, before processing a refund. This is to randomly verify identification as a measure to prevent identity theft and to test and strengthen IRS internal controls.

That's the way it's supposed to work.

Here's how it didn't work. We never received any letter requesting ID verification or an alert of possible fraud with our return.

What we received last summer was an IRS letter requesting additional information. It was referred to the CPA firm that prepared our return. We received assurances it would be addressed and had no reason to doubt that. Later, we were informed of a data breach and a ransomware demand and a letter noted this could affect IRS information. There's no way of knowing if or not this was a contributing factor to the red flag, but now we're wondering ???

The IRS has a website and under Where's My Refund, taxpayers can supposedly answer question to track their refund. Grenville tried it and, at first, received a message, that the return was still processing. As months went on, re-trys produced a message that his ID info was not recognized. The process was difficult — phone lines were clogged and online authentication was unavailable. He wasn't able to verify his identity online and couldn’t reach a phone representative due to a high volume of calls into the agency. 

How Grenville describes me, at times
Enough is enough, this refund was no small change ($3,300). We could use it much better then the IRS — and it was ours. Months had gone by with nothing happening — no info was forthcoming anywhere, certainly not from the IRS.

The term dog with a bone applies here. By definition it applies to someone who's stubborn, tenacious, persistent, relentless and dogged.

In this case, that would be me.

Holding on and on
I called every IRS number possible with the same result. After a series of questions and keypad responses, the line went to a busy signal or was disconnected, every time, no matter what time of day a call was made.

After finding there was an IRS office here in Nashua, NH, where appointments could be made and there was a listed phone number — that number was called too — same results

Until late Tuesday afternoon when, after going through the keypad queries, a recorded message came on and announced: your wait time is between 15 and 30 minutes, please continue to hold.

You bet I held on, despite that we were meeting friends to attend an outdoor concert. This was at 4 pm and we were scheduled to meet-up with friends at 5:30 pm in a local park. (Yes, we made it for the Neil Diamond tribute band show, not nearly as good as the prior week's Beatles Tribute band show. Both were part of the city of Nashua's SummerFun.)

It wasn't until 4:45 pm that a human voice came on and proceeded to ask us a series of questions, such as social security numbers, date of birth, filing status, address. Other questions pertained to our filed 2020 return. We had all the answers (and more if needed).

Our admission ticket for the local IRS
Then, came a final question—would we like wanted to make an appointment at the Nashua IRS office?

Hmmm, let us think a second (or less). 
Duh, of course, we wanted to do that! 

Not only that but we could get one for the next day as early as 8:30 a.m., we opted for 10 a.m. which gave us time to stop into the CPA's office to advise them of the meeting. We were given copies of info previously sent to the IRS in July.

As well prepared as possible, It was onto our Wed appointment and the chance to speak to an IRS agent in person. We brought assorted documentation: social security cards, drivers licenses for ID purposes, and out 2020 return.

What did we find out?

According to the IRS agent when the additional information was requested and sent in July, it apparently did not get connected with the previously filed return. The agent explained that the information took separate paths and our filed return was marked as potential fraud. Again, no notification was sent to us, which he found puzzling as well. Thankfully, the agent was helpful, more than informative and even apologetic for the long delay.

And, never the twain shall meet, which, in our case, meant the return was in limbo. If we not doggedly pursued a follow-up, the agent could not predict how long it would have remained there without intervention. He suspected it could have been indefinitely—just saying, YIKES!

What happens next?

More waiting — up to 12 weeks, as the agent explained he had reset the process so it could be sooner. However, we were cautioned not to contact IRS shy of the 12 week waiting time.

Up to 12 possible weeks
Good news is that if the IRS doesn't issue a due refund within 45 days after receiving a return, it's required to start paying interest on the refund amount. The 45-days starts on either the day that the return was due, or when a processible tax return was received by the IRS, whichever is later. While the IRS ultimately issues the refund (with interest), taxpayers can wait months. About 18% of refunds flagged for ID verification took longer than 120 days.

Bad news is that any IRS interest you receive with your refund will be taxable income, much like  interest earned from a checking or savings account. 

It's back to the waiting game, but at least now, we're back in the game. 
If something happens sooner, you all will be the second to know, after ourselves.

This was a longer-than-expected post, but helpful to vent our frustration. While we are a fairly patient couple, not being able to reach someone to speak with had become more than extremely frustrating. Finding out that the 2020 return had been flagged as possible fraud with no notification was really unsettling, especially as there are countless numbers of US taxpayers still awaiting refunds, perhaps for similar reasons.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Father's Day Was Grand

We had an unexpected treat on Father's Day as the two oldest grandchildren and their mom, Shannon, came for a visit from RI. It's been about 5 months as the last face-to-face get together was during the Christmas holidays.
In recent weeks, both grands have finished school for the summer. Elizabeth (Ellie) completed 5th grade and there was a certificate celebration. She starts classes at a new school in the fall. Grandson Bobby completed freshman year and will be a starting 10th grade in September.
There was some time for photos with grandpa Grenville. As  a teenager, Bobby is rarely without his headphones, but in his case wearing them helps with outside distractions.

There were some photos after lunch, before the family headed home. As most folks know, time always seems to pass way too fast during a family visit. An afternoon is never long enough to catch up between months and grandkids growing as well. We hope to see these family members next month. Both Grenville and Ellie celebrate birthdays in mid-July.

An update: Blogger seems to be playing well in recent days and the Update Failed message has not been displaying as before. Also, photo uploads are not taking as long as they had been. Hopefully, this trend will continue. Also, I'm making sure to check the spam folder on a regular basis in addition to deleting those comments that are obvious spam.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Funnies

Does this look like a giant-sized game ?

Wood (would) you pass or stay behind this truckload (couldn't resist that bad pun).
Grenville passed safely ASAP. While we were not certain, the stacked wood looked like wooden trusses. Yes, they were secured on the sides, but why take chances. It reminded us (and maybe you too) of the toppling wood block game known as Jenga®.

Leslie Scott
This popular game was invented by Leslie Scott, a British board game designer and author. She launched it at the London Toy Fair in 1983 and it was introduced to the public at the London department store Harrod's. Jenga® was launched in North America in 1986 and has become
an international family staple, with about 50 million units sold worldwide each year.

Born in East Africa, Scott grew up fluent in English and Swahili. Jenga® evolved from a stacking game her family played in the early 1970s with wooden blocks purchased from a Ghana sawmill. In England, Scott began trademarked the name “Jenga,” a form of the Swahili word kujenga, which means to build.

Game of Jenga
Traditionally, Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks stacked into a tower. Success requires balance, patience, and manual dexterity. The blocks are made with subtle variations to add randomness and heighten the challenge. Players remove any block on their turn, placing it on top to heighten the tower without knocking it over. 

The game ends when any portion of the tower collapses, caused by either the removal of a block or its new placement. The last player to complete a turn before the collapse is the winner. The game is simple, easy to understand, and usually results in a rematch. 


Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Temps climbing to the 90s, first time in weeks
Good weather to stay indoors and play a game

Blogger friends, while I check comments daily and delete obvious spam, I had neglected to check for spam under Comments which is where some comments had gone. After checking further, I found there were a number of many valid blogger comments marked as spam. These now have been  marked to publish; my apologies for this oversight in not checking sooner. Thanks, David G. and others  for the heads-up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

What's Up in Nashua?

There's been quite a lot happening here in recent months both at the mill apartment building as well as a major undertaking in the downtown area on Main St. with high-reaching projects. 
Renovations were completed to the cupola (also called the bell tower) atop the mill building at Clocktower Place Apartments, the mill building where we reside (only apartments, no condos). The above photos show the completed work which involved replacing wood and repainting. Originally, a building's cupola was functional and could be used to ventilate and provide natural light for the structure below. It also served could enclose a bell; this one formerly housed a bell (shown below).
This scaffolding was erected around the mill tower for many months during 2021. Workers didn't climb it to reach the top, but entered the rooftop work area from inside the building.
Many years ago, this bell was housed in the cupola and would be rung to summon millworkers. It was removed years ago and now resides in a separate area on the grounds and there are no plans to re-insert it in the repaired cupola. I don't know the exact reason for its removal which was done long ago, possibly when the mill buildings were renovated for other uses before their conversion to residential housing. 
Work has been moving along on a performing arts center in downtown Nashua. It's located on the site of a former shoe store, which relocated to a new and larger location outside the city. 
This popular 1960s shoe store was demolished to its foundations which were reconstructed to house t
he audience chamber, stage, and front of house functions. The exterior of an adjacent 1924 brick apartment building was retained and the redesigned interior will house additional lobby space and other functions. 
Completion of the 750-seat performing arts center is expected by late fall of this year. 
It is expected to host nationally touring musical performances and theatre acts. It will also serve as a local venue for concerts, plays, children's performances and other events. 
This is an earlier architectural rendering of how the project is expected to look on completion. Here, the name is shown as Nashua Performing Arts Center, but the official name will be the Nashua Center for the Arts.

That's because in late 2021, the Nashua Community Arts board announced that a local family had contributed an anonymous $1 million gift towards the $25 million project. It was given final naming rights as a result of that donation. 

The use of the word anonymous seemed puzzling at first since if you remain anonymous when you do something, you don't let others know. Don't misunderstand, this was a generous and wonderful donation plus the selected name seems more appropriate. In this case, as in others, the use of the word meant that those responsible didn't want their name shared publicly.

To follow up on a fellow blogger's comment that this looks to be an impressive center for a fairly small city. That's true considering that Nashua's population is under 100,000. But it's also the second largest city in the state of NH at just under 90,000. Manchester is the largest with a population of 112,600 and Concord is third with 43,500.

There's been a lot more going on around Nashua including some new wall murals. A future post will include photos of both older and newer ones.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday Funnies

Thanks to all who commented on my previous post about my tech issues with blogger. I appreciate that many of you shared details about some of your issues. While most were not the same as mine, hopefully all will be resolved — one day.

To briefly recap, I was getting an Update Failed message at the bottom left when working on a draft post. Yet, was able to save the draft and preview it without losing anything. Photo inserts would either not upload or finally do so after much waiting. It's ongoing still. Online searches haven't produced a solution or workaround. My hope is to continue posting, despite the message and uploading delays. 

Thankfully, the Friday Funnies are shorter posts, and here's a new one.
This is not the type of caution sign that you would normally expect to see.
When you're using this method ↑ of transport in a hotel given its ups and downs (awful pun).
The signage was displayed on both the exterior and interior of a hotel elevator where we stayed recently. This was the only elevator and ourselves (and other hotel guests) used it without any mishaps or delays (that we heard about).

Enjoy Your Weekend Everyone
Best wishes to everyone celebrating Father's Day on Sunday
The RI grands and their mom will be visiting here

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Technical Difficulties ?

Just wondering if anyone had a blogging issue, yesterday.

That's because the message Update Failed kept showing up repeatedly in Blogger when I was working on a draft post. 

And, when trying to upload a photo, it would not complete that task. But, I was able to insert this → graphic, go figure.

Additionally, I was unable to post a comment on a couple of other blogs, but this didn't happen on a consistent basis as I was able to post a comment on a few others.

An online search to learn if any issue(s) had been reported by other bloggers produced no results. I couldn't find info on whether Blogger had issues.

Has anyone else experienced similar issues now or in the past? 
Hopefully, this was just a(nother) blogger glitch that will be resolved.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday Funnies

There's been a lot of foul-ness in Nashua, NH, in recent days and not all weather related.
This was not the prettiest view from our apartment window
Of course, the weather has been a factor with overnight rain on Wednesday evening followed by heavy downpours and thunderstorms all day on Thursday.
Canada geese goslings from several families
The biggest waterfowl situation has been the very population of Canada geese on the Nashua River near the mill apartments. There's up to four families with about 18 fast-growing goslings between. (Maybe the geese self-isolated the past couple of years like a lot of humans.)
Canada geese families on the Nashua River, NH
The families often stay together when out on the Nashua River. Adult geese stay in front, back or to the side of the goslings, which do not stray far from parental supervision. 
Canada geese families on Water St and along the Nashua River walk
Recently, the goose families have become adventuresome and can be seen en masse on the roadways and walkways near the Nashua River walkway. Hopefully, the recent rains will help clear up the foul messes that all these fowl have been leaving. Walking to avoid them has become quite a challenge.
Anywhere from 4 to 6 Mallards gather on the river bank
Things are just ducky and Canada geese not the only waterfowl here. Recently there's been a larger-than-usual population of male Mallards (drakes). Their female counterpart (hens) haven't been seen and could be nesting nearby; more waterfowl updates may be coming in the future.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Nashua River lighted boat parade is back after 2 years
 2020 Lighted Boat Parade on the Nashua River

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Celebrating Family

While posts showing our younger family members are not that frequent, the good great news is that everyone is doing well. There's been a graduation, a birthday and an engagement, we unfortunately missed being there for these events, but family members sent these pics. 

We hope to visit these grands in RI and PA within the coming months. Both Grenville and granddaughter Ellie will celebrate July birthdays.
Grandson Bobby and oldest granddaughter Ellie spent several days visiting NYC with their father. They posed for these photos with a new "friend" who they left behind in the city.
Their mother, Shannon, and boyfriend, Harlan, became engaged while on vacation in Portugal. Coincidentally, it was on the same date as the 25th anniversary of our first date.
At the end of May, youngest granddaughter Lilliana graduated pre-school in PA and will enter full-day kindergarten in Sept. Yes, we know, how fast the years have gone by.
After a family vacation in FL, Lilliana was home and helping with a home renovation project. 
The youngest family member our great nephew, Nicholas James, celebrated his 1st birthday earlier this month. He's quite the charmer according to his mom, Jamie, who sent these pics from FL.
His older sister is our great niece Savannah Rose who is 2-1/2 years old. Their mom shared that these youngsters are great playmates and "a lot of fun." 

Although, we see family members as often as possible during road trips, the youngest ones always seem to be growing up so fast. At the same time, we don't feel we're getting older.

How about you? — Is it the same in your family too; the older we get, the younger as well?

Several folks asked if we enjoyed a donut last Friday, June 3, which was National Donut Day in the U.S. We did not. But, will celebrate National Ice Cream Day which is the third Sunday in July, and that falls on July 17 this year. Of course, as readers of this blog may already know, we don't need a holiday to enjoy ice cream. Does anyone?

Friday, June 3, 2022

Friday Funnies

YIKES, it's June already and long past time for something funny. So, here's one to start a new month. It's also a day to celebrate a popular sweet treat, see below.

This bridge is definitely for the birds and, no, these bridge-squatters were not in any cages.
These not-seen-so-clearly seabirds on an abandoned bridge stretch are gulls. The image was taken from a moving car in which I was a passenger, not the driver, so it is not clear.

This post is for fellow blogger, Sandra, whose Madsnapper blog has recently featured several posts with the color aqua.

Internet sources
Celebrate with a sweet treat today as Friday, June 3 is National Donut Day in the U.S. and some other countries. The origins date back to 1938 in Chicago as a fundraiser for The Salvation Army to honor their female members, lassies, who served doughnuts to soldiers during WW I (soldiers called them Doughnut Girls).  There's a number of Internet sites listing regional and local places where you can get a free donut(s), of course exclusions apply in some cases. If you don't celebrate today, there's upcoming doughnut holidays to indulge: June 8 or 9 is National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day, Sept 14 is National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day and Oct 30 features Buy a Doughnut Day. For today, there's many Internet sites listing regional and local places where you can get a free donut(s), of course, exclusions or restrictions may apply as nothing is totally free most times.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Going to outdoor book sale at local library

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Parades, Geese, & Blooms

If you're wondering what everything in the post title has in common, the answer is nothing except that all happened here in May. So, on this last day of the month, here's some recent goings on in Nashua, NH. This will be a long-ish post with many images as there have been many good happenings here. Hope you will enjoy them too.

Most folks, like ourselves, like a parade, especially a home-town event. Nashua is a city of about 90,000 residents and hardly a small town. Its annual Memorial Day parade was welcomed back this past Monday for the first time since 2020.
Nashua, NH, Police & Fire department members at start of Memorial Day Parade
Because of we-all-know-what, this annual event had been cancelled the past 2 years and the weather cooperated with plenty of sun and blue skies. Starting from the city's Holman Stadium baseball field, the parade continued a half mile route to Main Street and City Hall.
School marching bands in Memorial Day Parade, Nashua, NH
Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday set aside to honor military personnel who have died while in military service. From 1868 to 1970, it was observed on May 30, then in 1971, Congress changed its observance to the last Monday in May. Veterans Day, observed in November, celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, deceased and living.
School and Boy Scout groups walked in Memorial Day Parade, Nashua, NH
Participants included the marching bands from the city's three high schools as well as several middle schools and other groups.
Most parade viewers waved or saluted as the groups passed by them. The parade had very few vehicles and there were no truck floats. Fire engines signaled the parade's end with flashing lights. Growing up in Plainfield, NJ, holiday parades included truck floats and emergency vehicle sirens. Did your home town host holiday parades?
Holiday attire of Laura (L) and Grenville (R) at Memorial Day Parade, Nashua, NH 
In addition to the flags being waved or displayed, many parade goes displayed colorful attire like Laura, a neighbor in the mill apts and Grenville (who only wears this shirt twice a year).
Some of the recent goslings seen in Nashua, NH
In recent weeks there's been a population explosion of Canada geese on the Nashua River near the mill apts compared to far fewer in previous years. Canada geese lay between four to nine eggs per year; five is average. Yes, they are very sweet, but many folks here would be more than willing to have them return to our northern neighbors — or anywhere else.
Last week, we counted four families with from 3 to 9 goslings among them (18 young ones in total plus 8 or more adults). As you can imagine, walking on the pathways and grassy areas has become a major challenge when trying to avoid the
 messy evidence of their presence of which there is an abundance of late. 
Several families of Canada geese seen in or near the Nashua River
Canada geese are among several species, predominantly birds, that mate for life. Geese can live between 10 to 25 years and, when they partner, they stick with a partner until one of them dies. Adult geese bring goslings together in flocks called creches. The goslings are looked after by all the adults, like an animal kindergarten. This is done for the safety of the goslings as more adults watch for dangers.
Adult Canada goose on banks of  the Nashua River
The aggression exhibited by adult geese in the form of hissing is often the result of humans getting too close to the family. Until goslings can fly, about 10 weeks, parents usually remain on the ground. Geese typically nest near water as they sleep on the water at night. This is safer because coyotes and foxes can’t swim to get them; there's little danger of such predators here. They also flock together to keep watch, always a good plan.
Recent blooms in Le parc de Notre Renaissance Fran├žaise, Nashua, NH
The Canada geese families have been making their home in a pocket park that's locally known as the French Park or Renaissance Park. This small park officially named Le Parc de Notre Renaissance Fran├žaise is between a parking area and the bank of the Nashua River. It commemorates the first wave of French-Canadian immigrants who arrived in Nashua between 1870 and 1872. By 1936, some 15,000 of Nashua’s nearly 32,000 residents were immigrants working in the city's textile mills, like the one in the background of the above photo.
Blooms around grounds of Clocktower Place Apartments, Nashua, NH
There's also a number of colorful tree blooms in and around the mill apt building. Gardening contractors will be adding ground flowers in the next week.

A week ago, I posted my thoughts on several recent shooting incidents and invited your comments. Thank you to all who shared what was in your hearts. If sharing is truly caring, you are a very caring group. 

(You can trademark a logo, slogan or company name and the phrase, SHARING IS CARING, is a trademark of the Salvation Army, which has had it trademarked since 1950.)