Week of August 31, 2015
New Scam Variations, Con Artists Pose as IRS Officials to Defraud
Some variations to be cautious of include: if the caller tries to convince the consumer they owe the IRS back taxes and pressures the consumer to buy reloadable pre-paid debit cards to transfer funds; robocalls with automated messages telling the consumer they owe back taxes that will result in imminent legal action and instructing the consumer to proceed in receiving directions on how to pay, and; e-mail messages containing what appears to be legitimate IRS forms, directing consumers to contact the “agency” through a link and provide bank account or credit card information.
The con artists may seem legitimate by referencing personal information, such as: the last four digits of the social security number; information about the consumer’s family members; “spoofing” the IRS phone numbers on Caller ID; sending bogus e-mails that appear to be coming from the IRS, and; calling back and impersonating the local police or state department of motor vehicles.
According to the IRS, the agency will never: call about taxes owed without first sending an official notice by mail; demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal; require taxpayers to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, or; threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement agencies.
Consumers can verify tax status directly with the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. Scams can be reported directly to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) here. Local law-enforcement should also be notified.
Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law
The penalties if convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law include: $250 fine; five points on driving record; and 60-day license suspension.
Hall of Fame of Champions of Older Workers
Column: Tax Increases and Tax Decreases
Coming from the private sector, I never cease to be amazed at the differences between how government deals with issues as compared to employers – or even families. When businesses or families have a problem, they cut costs and find ways to be more efficient. When government has a problem, it reaches into the pockets of taxpayers and asks for more. I don’t think this is fair, or good government policy.
Under last year’s state budget, the Commonwealth was authorized to spend over $29 Billion, which translates to nearly $80 Million a day, over $3 Million an hour, $55,000 a minute, and $920 a second.
Imagine holding nine $100 bills and one $20 bill. Each second that goes by, that $920 disappears and is replaced by another $920 that is also replaced a second later by another $920.
Unfortunately, it never seems to be enough and government works to find creative ways to generate more revenues rather than looking for ways to cut. Government just doesn’t seem to be able to say “no” to spending, turning to the taxpayers to find ways to get them to give more – more for continued spending and borrowing.
It reminds me of a Will Rogers’ quote: “Noah must have taken into the ark two taxes, one male and one female, and did they multiply bountifully! Next to guinea pigs, taxes must have been the most prolific of animals.”
When taxes are raised, the justification is usually: “It’s only a few cents more.” However, such an argument rarely reflects the tax burdens already imposed.
If you’re holding 100 pounds and someone adds five pounds, they can say “it’s not that much weight.” However, when you’re now holding 105 pounds, it’s awfully heavy.
Consider the many federal, state, county, and municipal taxes, fees, and other costs people bear, including: taxes on amusements, building permit fees, capital gains taxes, car and boat license fees, cigarette taxes, corporate taxes, dog license fees, earned income taxes, fishing license fees, environmental requirements, restrictions, and costs, estate taxes, gas taxes, government late fees and penalties, hunting license fees, taxes on liquor, marriage license fees, municipal property taxes, parking meter fees and fines, per capita taxes, personal income taxes, personal property taxes, professional license fees, realty transfer taxes, school property taxes, state and local building code costs, taxes on services, sales taxes, Social Security taxes, speeding tickets and fines, taxes on telephone calls, traffic tickets and fines, user fees, utility taxes, unemployment taxes, vehicle and boat registration fees, water and sewer fees, and zoning fees.
Before we add to these tax burdens, I want to be sure we’re squeezing every penny from each tax dollar, which is why the Senate Finance Committee (chaired by Senator Eichelberger), and the Senate State Government Committee (which I chair) recently held a joint hearing to look at ways to better control spending and measure program effectiveness.
Until then, I don’t see any need to add any new taxes or expand any existing taxes.
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101 Municipal Building