IRS Direct File Is a Good Start for Free Federal Tax Filing, but It Needs to Expand Quickly

Direct File has had a conservative rollout by all accounts. The IRS launched its pilot for Direct File on Jan. 29, but only for a preselected group of government employees to file their taxes.

Upon testing IRS Direct File, I came away impressed with how smooth the software is to use. The service offers clear direction and gives you a good sense of how close you are to completing your return.

But there are some missing components that I expected to see as part of the rollout.

It's Not Just TurboTax. H&R Block Tricks Taxpayers Into Paying More for Taxes Too, FTC Says

H&R Block is in the Federal Trade Commission's crosshairs, for similar reasons its archrival TurboTax has been in recent years.

On Feb. 23, the FTC filed a complaint against H&R Block alleging the company deceptively marketed its tax-filing software as free to customers who don't qualify for its Free Online tier.

And even if they do qualify to file their taxes for free, H&R Block pushes customers to upgrade to paid tax-filing products they don't need, the complaint says.

This Simple Credit Card Hack Saves Me Money on Holiday Shopping -- and You Can Use It Year-Round

If you’re anything like me, you get a rush out of using your credit cards to maximize travel points or cash back on everyday purchases.

And with the holiday shopping season in full swing, many of us are racking up even more points as we shell out hundreds on gifts for loved ones.

One way I like to save on my holiday purchases is by taking advantage of my credit card providers’ cash-back rebate programs.

MLS is Back Tournament Promises New and Costly Look at Pro Soccer

Fans tuning in to the start of the MLS is Back Tournament on July 8 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will notice a few upgrades in the broadcast production of games without live spectators in attendance.

As a result, airing the competition will be rather expensive compared to traditional MLS regular season matchups before the pandemic.

ESPN, MLS’s production partner for the tournament, says it will utilize slow-motion cameras, drones, and goal post cameras to bring additive pictures to f

Customers May Soon Say ‘Enough is Enough’ to OTT Cable Price Hikes

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was published to reflect that FuboTV will now cost subscribers $60 for base plans while YouTube TV will charge $65. A previous version of this story said they would both cost $65.

It comes as little surprise that multichannel video streaming services FuboTV and YouTube TV have increased monthly subscription prices again. The additions of pricey content packages from ViacomCBS and Disney warrant those hikes, experts say.

But consumers may soon

Sports Set To Return With Ample New Opportunities For Sponsors

As sports leagues navigate their way back to live games, stakeholders across the industry are trying to figure out the answer to the multi-million dollar question of how sponsors will be featured.

Leagues and teams are currently working on make goods for existing partners, with options being explored ranging from seat tarp advertising to jersey patches and virtual signage on the field of play. Many of these conversations are still in the early stages.

Nielsen represents just one of the third-p

MLB Clubs Exploring Ad Tarps for Empty Seats

The likelihood of playing a shortened 2020 MLB season without fans in attendance is prompting Major League clubs to explore the sale of tarp advertising on empty seats, according to industry sources.

The move would help make up a percentage of the millions of dollars in ticket and in-stadium revenue to be lost this season. MLB owners say they’ll lose an average of $640,000 per game in 2020 assuming players earn prorated salaries, USA Today reported. In 2019, 11% of the league’s entire revenue w

Esports Offer NFL Draft a Roadmap for Hosting Remote Events

As the NFL and ESPN make final preparations for the league’s first-ever virtual draft, both organizations may stand to learn lessons from esports in ensuring the three-day broadcast event runs as expected.

On Thursday night, ESPN will receive more than 100 different feeds from the homes of talent, NFL personnel, and top prospects at its headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The company is set to run its own major mock draft tests the night before the main event, after some external testing by t

Sports Marketers Shift Dollars and Prepare for Compressed Schedules

Agency executives and industry consultants offered predictions about how brands would seek to maintain and innovate after their advertising strategies were upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The first reaction of many was to pull back or rely on digital and social media channels to communicate brand messages without having them be associated with the virus.

But a select number of companies have undergone a more aggressive approach, shifting dollars to new campaigns that urge consumers to sta

PGA Tour Live Offers Glimpse of Future With Every Shot During The Players

PGA Tour Live is getting a major one-time upgrade in time for the Players Championship this week.

Every golf shot from the tournament held annually at TPC Sawgrass in Florida will be available to NBC Sports Gold subscribers for the first time.

A total of 120 cameras will allow the PGA Tour to stream roughly 32,000 shots and follow every player throughout the weekend. That is comparable to the number of cameras used to broadcast this year’s Super Bowl in Miami.

The production will offer fans 7

NFL and Twitter Drop Super Bowl Tweet Confetti With Eye On April's Draft

Not every fan was able to make it to the Super Bowl LIV in Miami. However, spectators watching at home still got a chance to share in the Kansas City Chiefs’ triumph post-game.

The NFL, in partnership with Twitter, printed fan and player tweets on tens-of-thousands of pieces of confetti that fell on the field at Hard Rock Stadium – some in real-time while the game’s outcome was still in the balance.

The tweets selected were a compilation of social media posts leading up to the game, real-time

ESPN Takes on Network Rivals With Added Sports Streaming in Spanish

ESPN has raised the amount of live Spanish-language programming available on its over-the-top streaming service, in an effort to both grow total subscribers and cater to existing bilingual customers.

ESPN+ will now air up to 70 additional games each month in Spanish across multiple sports, including UFC and MLB, it said. But the biggest draws for fans are expected to be boxing and soccer – the most popular sport on the streaming service within the Hispanic community.

The move also suggests the

Nationals 'Baby Shark' Craze Paid Off On And Off The Baseball Field

It’s difficult in sports to know when the next out-of-the-box merchandise or stadium activation opportunity will present itself.

That is until it smacks you right in the face.

The “Baby Shark” craze prevalent throughout the Washington Nationals 2019 season, en route to the World Series title, is proof of that.

“In those situations, you are always reacting quickly to something that is sticking with fans,” said David Lundin, VP of production and broadcasting at the MLB club. “Our job is to lean

MLB Playoffs Remain Big Draw For Top Brands

There are several advantages to marketing with MLB teams throughout the regular season.

With home games spanning six months, brands have ample opportunity to activate locally and establish high-level relationships with fans.

But when the calendar shifts to October and the MLB postseason, the strategy changes.

The MLB playoffs for brands are about putting their product in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Taco Bell and YouTube TV are prime examples of brands using this tactic as both are

Dominican Tourism Is Down But Not Out Following Sensational Visitor Death Headlines

What's done is done as it relates to the tourism dollars lost in the Dominican Republic this summer. The country is fighting perception at this point, but instead of blaming the media, it should look at local travel industry partners as a means to help regain consumer confidence.

Dominican Republic’s tourism industry has been rocked to its core in 2019, following the high-profile deaths of at least 10 U.S. citizens that prompted a downward spiral in the number of visitors to the Caribbean desti

Tourism Is Up: So Why Is New York City's Hotel Room Revenue Slumping?

With so many hotel rooms in the pipeline, a turnaround of slower revenue-per-room growth in New York City is not expected until after 2020. It's a classic supply-and-demand problem, making it a delicate balance to get pricing power back in a city where tourism remains hot.

Operating a hotel in New York City has never been more expensive, thanks to higher labor costs, ballooning property taxes, and hotels’ growing reliance on online travel agencies to boost occupancy.

Cloudy revenue-per-availab

Marriott Plays Catch-Up on All-Inclusives as Rivals Push Into Resorts

After years of standing on the sidelines, the world's largest hotel chain has committed to growing its all-inclusive portfolio organically. Keep an eye on Latin America and the Caribbean, which will be huge test markets for whether Marriott goes global.

Marriott International watched one all-inclusive hotel after another open in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past decade without so much as an invitation to partner with property owners. But with the announcement of its own proprietary
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