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The IRS has a warning for employers

The IRS has a warning for employers

Happy August,

It's nice to be back in your inbox.

Remember last summer’s drought? Universal Hub posted these images of our favorite river taken Sunday and one year ago.

And then there are these jaw-dropping pictures taken across the world last month, putting our own griping about last week's heat, humidity, and downpours in perspective.

Would your boss let you do this?

How would your boss feel if you got up and left on a month-long vacation without completing a big project you began 18 months ago; that everyone agreed was time sensitive; and that should have been finished before you pulled the same stunt last summer?

That’s what our Beacon Hill lawmakers just did.

Our Legislature just clocked out for the second straight August without completing a tax code overhaul nearly everyone (including two governors) agreed was needed to keep Massachusetts affordable and competitive.

For the second straight year, both the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved tax relief packages. But for the second straight year, nothing emerged from the compromise committees.

Yesterday (after eight weeks of behind doors deliberations and only one month after that deadline) the House and Senate did pass a $56.2 billion annual budget for fiscal year 2024 so no one would miss today's ferry reservations.

The new budget includes some good, important programs, including free community college for students age 25 or older and free tuition for nursing students, plus more spending on transportation, thanks to the Millionaire’s Tax.

But they failed to do the full job.

Most frustrating, we've become so accustomed to this in Massachusetts that no one seems to be either surprised or particularly upset.

IRS warns of employer tax credit scams

If you own or operate a business or nonprofit, chances are you’ve received a call from someone you’ve never met before offering to help you receive thousands of dollars through the IRS’ Employee Retention Credit program.
In fact, you’ve likely received dozens of solicitations. Our chamber has. 
The ERC is an important, often lucrative, program that’s helped many employers (including this chamber) get back on their feet once the Paycheck Protection Program ended.
But the ERC has been plagued by fraud and all those misleading marketers.
That’s led IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel to call for a potential early end to the ERC program due to an onslaught of unsavvy marketing efforts reports Andy Medici at the BBJ.

Werfel urged business owners that still want to apply for the credit to carefully review the official requirements before applying.

This memo from the IRS explains how to spot potential scams

Information about the program is here.

Silly me. I thought people were passionate about Newton’s schools

This is hard to believe in a community that is so passionate about its schools and where so many parents were frustrated throughout the pandemic, there have been relentless attacks on the curriculum as well as families in tears about budget decisions and there's currently a looming teachers' strike.

But there will not be a single competitive Newton School Committee contest in this fall's municipal election. Not one.

Next year half of the eight-member committee will have never faced an opponent or participated in a debate before being trusted with setting policy or spending the single largest line item in the city budget.

Fig City News updates who is on the ballot, including city council contests.

Meanwhile, in Watertown its déjà vu all over again 

On the other side of the Charles, perhaps residents aren’t nearly as upset about development in Watertown as you’d believe from all those citizen petitions.

With the exception of the council president, there won’t be one contested city council contest in November either.

Only Mark Sideris, council president since 2010, is being challenged by his one-time predecessor Clyde Younger. The two have run against each other multiple times since 2009, most recently in 2019.

Watertown News has details, including some contested school committee races.

Tuesday's grab bag 

  • With a few basic steps, most of us can finally ignore COVID, writes Newton resident Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University and the former White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator.

  • The Mighty Squirrel Biergarten has reopened at a new spot at Arsenal Yards with lots of Adirondack chairs and umbrella shade for enjoying a frosty Cloud Candy or two.

  • Apply now for an affordable housing lottery at Terrazza in Wellesley. Four, two-bedroom condos in the Hollis Street development are for sale.

  • H Mart, the largest Asian supermarket chain in the United States is opening a new 15,000 SF superstore at 1028 Beacon Street, not far from the Longwood Medical area.

  • Captivate Bio is moving to 25 Clarendon St in Watertown. The stem cell research and therapeutics company has been on Galen Street.

  • The just-passed state budget that now awaits Gov. Maura Healey's signature includes a $10 million cut for the quasi-public Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. (BBJ)

  • Our chamber’s annual golf tournament – happening next Monday, Aug. 7 at Wellesley Country Club -- has been sold out for months. But two spots have just opened. (We'll match you with other singles/ pairs to complete a team.) Register Our 32nd annual event, presented by The Village Bank, will support Mass. Adoption Resource Exchange.

  • School's out for summer. And we're not expecting him to be at our tournament. But, yes, that was rock 'n' roller Alice Cooper playing nine holes in Newton last month.

LGBTQ-welcoming restaurant to stay open

Watertown's Ritcey East will not be closing thanks to overwhelming support through a Go Fund Me campaign, reports David Cifarelli at MassLive.

The Waverly Ave. restaurant, known for its tater tots, fried pickles, fish tacos, and LGBTQ-welcoming atmosphere needed $30,000. But between the Go Fund Me and added donations owner Max Ritcey has collected about $43,000.

While the money will mostly go toward paying off loans and debt incurred during the pandemic, Ritcey also plans on increasing the restaurant’s brand by leaning more into the communities it serves. 

RMR to acquire multi-family portfolio 

Newton Corner-based real estate firm The RMR Group has agreed to acquire Carroll, an Atlanta-based apartment owner, and manager, to complement its retail, office, and senior housing portfolio, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ.
The $80 million cash deal marks RMR’s first big step into the multifamily sector, adding 81 properties with more than 28,000 units in the Sunbelt that are worth a combined $7 billion. 

RMR’s portfolio today is valued at about $37 billion.

Dam good news 

That state has awarded $250K to the Town of Natick to advance the removal of the Charles River Dam in South Natick, a defunct high-hazard potential dam rated in “poor condition” by the state. 

Constructed in 1934, the dam is owned by the town and poses hazards to Wellesley and other downstream communities due to its deteriorated condition.

A new calling for this Newton chef 

Inna and Alex Khitrik

Finally today, the Globe’s Kara Baskin has written a lovely profile of Inna Khitrik, founder and chef at Inna’s Kitchen. 

Khitrik relinquished up her role at the much-loved Newton restaurant to manage the kitchen at Women’s Lunch Place in Boston, a daytime shelter where approximately 1,800 women each year receive medical care, counseling, housing assistance, hygiene support, and nourishing breakfasts and lunches. 

“I wanted to serve women because it’s hard to be a woman,” Khitrik, who emigrated with her family from the USSR in 1990, tells Bakin. “But it’s even more important serving somebody who is underprivileged, who cannot afford it. We not only have homeless people — we also have people who just cannot afford to live.”

It would, of course, have been bittersweet to have lost the excellent Inna’s Kitchen in the process. 

Fortunately, while Khitrik finds meaning in her new role, son Alex who opened Inna’s Kitchen with her in 2011 has taken over the family business (Inna’s Kitchen Culinaria is now at 547 Commonwealth Ave.) allowing “the mother-son pair to revert to a more traditional family dynamic.”

That’s what you need to know for today -- National Night Out -- unless you need to know how to make the potato chip omelet or cola braised short ribs from The Bear. 

Be back Friday. 

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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