Posted on May 1st 2020
Additional Tax Deadlines Extended
As a reminder, taxpayers now have until July 15, 2020, to file and pay federal income taxes originally due on April 15 and no late-filing penalty, late-payment penalty or interest will be due. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this relief has been expanded to include additional returns, tax payments and other actions:
- All taxpayers that have a filing or payment deadline falling on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.
- Individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers now qualify for the extra time.
- Americans who live and work abroad, can now wait until July 15 to file their 2019 federal income tax return and pay any tax due.
Extension of time to file beyond July 15
- Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request an extension to October 15, 2020, by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
- Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information, and Other Returns.
An extension to file is not an extension to pay any taxes owed. Taxpayers requesting additional time to file should estimate their tax liability and pay any taxes owed by the July 15, 2020, deadline to avoid additional interest and penalties.
Estimated Tax Payments
Relief is also extended to estimated tax payments due June 15, 2020. This means that any individual or corporation that has a quarterly estimated tax payment due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, can wait until July 15 to make that payment, without penalty.
There is a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund from prior years' tax returns. If taxpayers do not file a return within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2016 tax returns, the normal April 15 deadline to claim a refund has also been extended to July 15, 2020.
If you have any questions regarding the coronavirus pandemic and your taxes, help is just a phone call away.
Employee Retention Credit Could Help Your Business
Businesses that have been impacted financially by COVID-19 may be able to take advantage of a new, refundable tax credit called the Employee Retention Credit. The credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll and is worth 50 percent of qualifying wages up to $10,000 that are paid by an eligible employer.
Does my business qualify for the Employee Retention Credit?The credit is available to all qualified employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations.
The credit is not available to small businesses who take small business loans or state and local governments and their instrumentalities.
What is a qualifying employer?
There are two categories of qualified employers:
- The employer's business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during a calendar quarter.
- The employer's gross receipts are below 50 percent of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer's gross receipts go above 80 percent of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.
How is the credit calculated?
The amount of the credit is 50 percent of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Wages taken into account are not limited to cash payments, but also include a portion of the cost of employer-provided health care. Qualified health plan expenses generally include both the portion of the cost paid by the employer and the portion of the cost paid by the employee with pretax salary reduction contributions. Amounts paid by the employee with after-tax contributions are not included.
What is a qualifying wage?
Qualifying wages are wages that are based on the average number of a business's employees in 2019. There are two different measures for business, depending on size:
Employers with less than 100 employees. If the employer had 100 or fewer employees on average in 2019, the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employees worked full time and were paid for full-time work, the employer still receives the credit.
Employers with more than 100 employees. If the employer had more than 100 employees on average in 2019, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work during the calendar quarter.
How do I receive the credit?
While many tax credits are available when filing a tax return, the employee retention credit works differently in that employers can be reimbursed immediately by reducing their required payroll tax deposits. Payroll taxes, which include federal income tax withheld as well as taxable social security wages and tips, taxable Medicare wages and tips, and additional Medicare tax withholding, are taxes that have been withheld from employees' wages. Generally, these payroll tax deposits are filed quarterly on Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
When can I start reporting qualified wages?
Eligible employers should report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on Form 941 beginning with the second quarter (March 12, 2020).
Wages paid through December 31, 2020, are also eligible for the credit.
What if my payroll tax deposits are less than the credit?
If the employer's employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19
Help is just a phone call away.
Please contact the office if you need more information on the Employer Retention Credit and other COVID-19 economic relief efforts.
Job Loss Could Affect Your Tax Situation
If you've lost your job you may have questions about how it could affect your tax situation. Here are some answers:
Q: I lost my job. How does this affect my tax situation?
A: The loss of a job may create new tax issues. For example, any severance pay you receive is considered taxable income as are any payments for accumulated vacation or sick time. While it isn't always possible to do so, making sure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments will help you to avoid a big bill at tax time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you receive unemployment compensation, this money is taxable. SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and public assistance, however, are not taxable - nor are Economic Recovery Payments sent during the coronavirus pandemic.
Q: Am I eligible to receive unemployment compensation?
A: Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for one of the following types unemployment compensation:
- Benefits paid by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund
- Railroad unemployment compensation benefits
- Disability payments from a government program paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation
- Trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974
- Unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act of 2020
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, states are permitted to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation. To verify income, states are generally requiring applicants to provide current year tax forms.
Voluntarily deciding to quit your job out of a general concern about exposure to COVID-19 does not make you eligible for PUA; however, there are circumstances where an individual may be eligible for PUA.
Q: Is unemployment compensation tax-free?
A: No. Unemployment compensation received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state is considered taxable income and must be reported on your federal tax return.
You must also include benefits from regular union dues paid to you as an unemployed member of a union in your income. However, if you contribute to a special union fund and your contributions are not deductible, then other rules apply. If this applies to you, only include in income the amount you received from the fund that is more than your contributions.
You can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment benefits by filling out Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. If you complete the form and give it to the paying office (e.g., your state's Department of Labor), 10 percent of your payment amount will be held as tax. If you choose not to have tax withheld, you may have to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. You may also owe tax when you file your tax return next year.
If you received unemployment compensation, you will receive Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments (Info Copy Only), showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.
Q: Can I deduct expenses related to a job search?
A: Under tax reform, many miscellaneous deductions were eliminated. As such, for tax years 2018-2025, you are no longer able to deduct certain expenses such as travel, resume preparation, and outplacement agency fees incurred while looking for a new job. In prior years, job-seekers were able to deduct these expenses even if they did not get a new job.
Normally, to collect unemployment compensation you have to actively be searching for work. However, the CARES Act gives states flexibility in determining whether an individual is "actively seeking work" if he or she is unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restrictions.
Q: What if my employer went out of business or into bankruptcy?
A: Your employer must provide you with a Form W-2 showing your wages and withholding by January 31. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fail to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS. They can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2.
If your employer liquidated your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over into another qualified retirement plan or IRA.
If you've experienced a job loss during this difficult time and have questions about how it could affect your tax situation, please call.
Small Business: Tax Consequences of Crowdfunding
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe have become an increasingly popular way for small business owners to stay afloat. The upside is that it's often possible to raise the cash you need; the downside is that the IRS considers that money taxable income. Let's take a closer look at how crowdfunding works and how it could affect your tax situation.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by gathering online contributions from a large group of backers. It was initially used by musicians, filmmakers, and other creative types to raise small sums of money for projects that were unlikely to turn a profit. More recently, it has been used to fund projects, events, and products, and in some cases, has become an alternative to venture capital. With the onset of coronavirus, however, small business owners have turned to crowdfunding to raise cash to continue operating their business.
There are three types of crowdfunding: donation-based, reward-based, and equity-based. Donation-based crowdfunding is when people donate to a cause, project, or event. GoFundMe is the most well-known example of donation-based crowdfunding with pages typically set up by a friend or family member ("the agent") such as to help someone ("the beneficiary") pay for medical expenses, tuition, or natural disaster recovery.
Reward-based crowdfunding involves an exchange of goods and services for a monetary donation, whereas, in equity-based crowdfunding, donors receive equity for their contribution.
Are Crowdfunding Donations Taxable?
This is where it can get tricky. As the agent, or person who set up the crowdfunding account, the money goes directly to you; however, you may or may not be the beneficiary of the funds. If you are both the agent and the beneficiary you would be responsible for reporting this income. If you are acting as "the agent", and establish that you are indeed, acting as an agent for a beneficiary who is not yourself, the funds will be taxable to the beneficiary when paid - not to you, the agent. An easy way to circumvent this issue is to make sure when you are setting up a crowdfunding account such as GoFundMe you designate whether you are setting up the campaign for yourself or someone else.
Again, as noted above, as the beneficiary, all income you receive, regardless of the source, is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS - including crowdfunding dollars. However, money donated or pledged without receiving something in return may be considered a "gift." As such the recipient does not pay any tax. Up to $15,000 per year per recipient may be given by the "gift giver."
Let's look at an example of reward-based crowdfunding. Say you develop a prototype for a product that looks promising. You run a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional funding, setting a goal of $15,000, and offer a small gift in the form of a t-shirt, cup with a logo, or a bumper sticker to your donors. Your campaign is more successful than you anticipated it would be and you raise $35,000 - more than twice your goal.
Taxable sale. Because you offered something (a gift or reward) in return for a payment pledge it is considered a sale. As such, it may be subject to sales and use tax.
Taxable income. Since you raised $35,000, that amount is considered taxable income. But even if you only raised $15,000 and offered no gift, the $15,000 is still considered taxable income and should be reported as such on your tax return even though you did not receive a Form 1099-K from a third party payment processor (more about this below).
Generally, crowdfunding revenues are included in income as long as they are not:
- Loans that must be repaid;
- Capital contributed to an entity in exchange for an equity interest in the entity; or
- Gifts made out of detached generosity and without any "quid pro quo." However, a voluntary transfer without a "quid pro quo" isn't necessarily a gift for federal income tax purposes.
Income offset by business expenses. You may not owe taxes however, if your crowdfunding campaign is deemed a trade or active business (and not a hobby) your business expenses may offset your tax liability.
Factors affecting which expenses could be deductible against crowdfunding income include whether the business is a start-up and which accounting method (cash vs. accrual) you use for your funds. For example, if your business is a startup you may qualify for additional tax benefits such as deducting startup costs or applying part or all of the research and development credit against payroll tax liability instead of income tax liability.
Timing of the crowdfunding campaign, receipt of funds, and when expenses are incurred also affect whether business expenses will offset taxable income in a given tax year. For instance, if your crowdfunding campaign ends in October but the project is delayed until January of the following year it is likely that there will be few business expenses to offset the income received from the crowdfunding campaign since most expenses are incurred during or after project completion.
How do I Report Funds on my Tax Return?
Typically, companies that issue third-party payment transactions such as Amazon if you use Kickstarter, PayPal if you use Indiegogo, or WePay if you use GoFundMe) are required to report payments that exceed a threshold amount of $20,000 and 200 transactions to the IRS using Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions. The minimum reporting thresholds of greater than $20,000 and more than 200 transactions apply only to payments settled through a third-party network; there is no threshold for payment card transactions.
Form 1099-K includes the gross amount of all reportable payment transactions and is sent to the taxpayer by January 31 if payments were received in the prior calendar year. Include the amount found on your Form 1099-K when figuring your income on your tax return, generally, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business for most small business owners.
Again, tax law is not clear on this when it comes to crowdfunding donations. Some third-party payment processors may deem these donations as gifts and do not issue a 1099-K. This is why it is important to keep good records of transactions relating to your crowdfunding campaign including a screenshot of the crowdfunding campaign (it could be several years before the IRS "catches up") and documentation of any money transfers.
Seek Professional Tax Advice
If you're thinking of using crowdfunding to raise money for your small business, call a tax and accounting professional who will evaluate your tax situation and help you figure out a course of action that will help your small business succeed.
Ready to File? This Tax Records Checklist Will Help
If you're a taxpayer who has not yet filed their 2019 tax return, you may be getting ready to do so now. One of the first things you will need to do - before visiting your tax preparer - is to gather all of your year-end income documents. Doing so ensures that your tax return is complete and accurate.
Here are some of the documents taxpayers need to have on hand:
1. Social Security numbers of everyone listed on the tax return. Many taxpayers have these numbers memorized. Still, it's a good idea to have them on hand to double-check that the number on the tax return is correct. An SSN with one number wrong or two numbers switched will cause processing delays.
2. Bank account and routing numbers. People will need these for direct deposit refunds. Direct deposit is the fastest way for taxpayers to get their money and avoids a check getting lost, stolen or returned to the IRS as undeliverable.
3. Forms W-2,Wage and Tax Statement , from employers.
4. Forms 1099,Miscellaneous Income , from banks and other payers.
5. Any documents that show income. These include income from virtual currency transactions. Taxpayers should keep records showing receipts, sales, exchanges or deposits of virtual currency and the fair market value of the virtual currency.
6. Forms 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. Taxpayers will need this form to reconcile advance payments or claim the premium tax credit.
7. The taxpayer's adjusted gross income from their last year’s tax return.
Most tax forms from employers and financial institutions arrived by mail or were available online by early to mid-February. Review them carefully to make sure any information shown on the forms is accurate. If it is not, then contact the payer ASAP for a correction. If there is an error, you will receive an amended or corrected form.
If you think you are missing any tax forms or have any questions, please call the office.
Facts About the Adoption Tax Credit
Parents who adopted or started the adoption process during 2019 may qualify for the adoption credit. Generally, the credit is allowable whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, the timing rules for claiming the credit for qualified adoption expenses differ, depending on the type of adoption.
Here are nine facts to help people understand the credit and if they can claim it when filing their taxes:
1. An eligible child must be younger than 18. If the adopted person is older, they must be unable to physically take care of themselves.
2. The maximum adoption credit taxpayers can claim on their 2019 tax return is $14,080 per eligible child. For 2020, this amount is $14,300. The tax year for which you can claim the credit depends on three factors: when the expenses are paid, whether it's a domestic adoption or a foreign adoption, and when, if ever, the adoption was finalized.
3. Income limits could affect the amount of the credit you receive. The income limit on the adoption credit or exclusion is based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and may be subject to a phaseout. In 2019, this phaseout begins at $211,160 and ends at $251,160. If your MAGI amount is below $211,160 for 2019, your credit or exclusion won't be affected by the MAGI phaseout, whereas if your MAGI amount for 2019 is $251,160 or more, your credit or exclusion will be zero.
4. This credit is non-refundable. This means the amount of the credit is limited to the taxpayer's taxes due for 2019. Any credit leftover from their owed 2019 taxes can be carried forward for up to five years.
5. Qualified expenses include:
- Reasonable and necessary adoption fees.
- Court costs and legal fees.
- Adoption related travel expenses like meals and lodging.
- Other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child.
6. Expenses may also qualify even if the taxpayer pays them before an eligible child is identified. For example, some future adoptive parents pay for a home study at the beginning of the adoption process. These parents can claim the fees as qualified adoption expenses.
7. Qualified adoption expenses don't include costs paid by a taxpayer to adopt their spouse’s child.
8. In some cases, a registered domestic partner may pay the adoption expenses. If they live in a state that allows a same-sex second parent or co-parent to adopt their partner's child, these may also be considered qualified expenses.
9. Taxpayers should complete Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses to figure how much credit they can claim on their tax return.
Questions about the adoption tax credit? Don't hesitate to call.
Tips for Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses
If you, your spouse, or dependents have significant medical or dental costs in 2019, you may be able to deduct those expenses when you file your tax return this year. Here are eight things you should know about medical and dental expenses and other benefits:
1. You need to itemize. You can only claim medical expenses that you paid for in 2019, and only if you itemize on Schedule A on Form 1040. If you take the standard deduction, you can't claim these expenses.
2. Deduction is limited. You can deduct all the qualified medical costs that you paid for during the year. However, for 2019, you can only deduct the amount that is more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
3. Expenses must have been paid in 2019. You can include medical and dental expenses you paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided. For example, if you use a credit card, include medical expenses you charge to your credit card in the year the charge is made, not when you actually pay the amount charged. Be sure to save your receipts and keep good records to substantiate your expenses.
4. You can't deduct reimbursed expenses. Your total medical expenses for the year must be reduced by any reimbursement. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources do not qualify for a deduction. Normally, it makes no difference if you receive the reimbursement or if it is paid directly to the doctor or hospital.
5. Whose expenses qualify. You may include qualified medical expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. Some exceptions and special rules apply to divorced or separated parents, taxpayers with a multiple support agreement, or those with a qualifying relative who is not your child.
6. Types of expenses that qualify. You can deduct expenses primarily paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or treatment affecting any structure or function of the body. You can only deduct prescription medication and insulin (i.e., no over-the-counter medicines). You can also include premiums for medical, dental and certain long-term care insurance in your expenses, and you can also include lactation supplies.
7. Transportation costs may qualify. You may deduct transportation costs primarily for and essential to medical care that qualifies as a medical expense, including fares for a taxi, bus, train, plane, or ambulance as well as tolls and parking fees. If you use your car for medical transportation, you can deduct actual out-of-pocket expenses such as gas and oil, or you can deduct the standard mileage rate for medical expenses, which is 20 cents per mile for 2019.
8. No double benefit. You can't claim a tax deduction for medical and dental expenses you paid for with funds from your Health Savings Accounts (HAS) or Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSA). Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free. This rule prevents two tax benefits for the same expense.
Please call if you need help figuring out what qualifies as a medical or dental expense.
Relief for Businesses with Net Operating Losses
Taxpayers with net operating losses (NOLs) form a business are provided tax relief under the CARES Act. Tax relief for partnerships filing amended returns is provided as well. Let's take a look at three key points:
1. Claiming NOLs
Taxpayers with net operating losses that are carried back under the CARES Act are now able to:
- Waive the carryback period in the case of a net operating loss arising in a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2021
- Disregard certain amounts of foreign income subject to transition tax that would normally have been included as income during the five-year carryback period; and
- Waive a carryback period, reduce a carryback period, or revoke an election to waive a carryback period for a taxable year that began before January 1, 2018, and ended after December 31, 2017.
2. Six-month Extension Available to File NOL Forms
There is now a six-month extension of time for individuals, trusts, and estates to file Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, and corporations to file Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, with regard to the carryback of a net operating loss that arose in any taxable year that began during calendar year 2018 and that ended on or before June 30, 2019.
3. Partnerships with NOLs
Eligible partnerships are now allowed to file amended partnership returns using a Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income. The option to file amended returns only applies to partnerships that filed Forms 1065 and furnished Schedules K-1 for the partnership taxable years beginning in 2018 or 2019. To take advantage of the option to file an amended return check the "Amended Return" box and issue amended Schedules K-1, Partner's Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, to each partner. Partnerships filing these amended returns should write "FILED PURSUANT TO REV PROC 2020-23" at the top of the amended return.
Don't hesitate to call the office if you have any questions or need assistance.
How to Back Up and Move a Company File
How to Back Up and Move a Company File
You may not think of your QuickBooks company file as being portable, but it is. While most of the time it stored safely on the hard drive of your desktop computer or laptop, there may come a time when you need to move it. The most common reasons a business moves its QuickBooks company files is because they've purchased a new computer or they want to share their data.
Fortunately, it's possible to create a backup of your QuickBooks file and save it to a USB drive or CD, or another folder on your company's network. Once it's available at its destination computer (make sure a copy of QuickBooks has already been installed), you (or another recipient) will be able to restore it.
Note: These instructions were created using QuickBooks 2018. If you have a different version, please call.
Making a Backup
The first step is making a backup of your company file. Of course, you shouldn't wait until you have to move a QuickBooks company file before backing it up, however. This is something you should be doing regularly.
Before you start, make sure your copy of QuickBooks is updated, which shouldn't be a problem if you're set up with automatic updates. If you're not, and you've ignored those messages about updates that appear when you open QuickBooks, please call for assistance in launching a manual update and configuring QuickBooks to automatically update.
With QuickBooks in Single-User Mode, open the File menu and hover over Back Up Company. Select Create Local Backup. You'll see this window:
Figure 1: You can save your QuickBooks backup copy locally or online.
Intuit offers a service called Intuit Data Protect that allows you to back up your company file online (please contact the office if this is something you're interested in). Let's assume for the moment though that you have a USB drive plugged into your computer and are ready for your backup.
Click the button next to Local backup, then the Options button. In the window that opens, you'll select your destination location and answer a few questions about your backup. One of these gives you the option to get a reminder to back up your file every x times you close QuickBooks, should you choose to do manual backups.
Click OK to return to the Create Backup window, then click Next. The following screen gives you the option to save your file and/or schedule future (automatic) backups. If you choose to simply save it now, check that button and click Next to verify the destination location and file name.
Note: Before you save your backup file, give it a name that is different from your regular company file. Write down the exact file name and its location.
Click Save. A small window will open displaying your progress, and you'll get a confirmation message when the file has been saved with a .qbb extension. You can now take the removable storage device to the destination computer, where QuickBooks should already be installed.
Warning: If you want to schedule automatic backups by clicking on one of the two options in the Create Backup window, please call first. Automated processes in QuickBooks can save time and effort, but when you're dealing with your irreplaceable company file, you must get it right.
Restoring a Backup File
Once that is done, open the File menu and select Open or Restore Company on the destination computer. This window will appear:
Figure 2: QuickBooks displays this window when you select File | Open or Restore Company.
Click the button in front of Restore a backup copy. Click Next and select Local backup. Then click Next again. Click the down arrow next to the Look in field and click on the location of your backup file to display its contents. Browse until you find the file (it should end in .qbb), then highlight it by clicking on it. Click Open.
QuickBooks displays a window that asks where you want to restore your file. You'll click Next to find it in the Save Company File as window. The Save in field should point to your main QuickBooks directory (like QuickBooks 2018) and the File name field should show the correct file name.
When everything looks correct, click Save. QuickBooks will convert your .qbb file to the standard QuickBooks file type, .qbw, and open it.
Call for Assistance
Losing your QuickBooks data, as you know, would be disastrous. But there may be occasions when you'll need to open a backup copy of your company file on a different computer. As always, if you need assistance from a QuickBooks professional, don't hesitate to call.
Tax Due Dates for May 2020
Employees who work for tips - If you received $20 or more in tips during April, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the first quarter of 2020. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.
Employers - Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in April.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in April.
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