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WASHINGTON — The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) urged taxpayers to remain on “High Alert” and announced additional outreach efforts to prevent them from falling victim to criminals who impersonate Internal Revenue Service and Treasury employees this filing season.
“The phone fraud scam has become an epidemic, robbing taxpayers of millions of dollars of their money,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We are making progress in our investigation of this scam, resulting in the successful prosecution of some individuals associated with it over the past year,” he said, adding that over the summer, a ringleader was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison. “However, this is still a matter of high investigative priority.”
TIGTA continues to receive reports of thousands of contacts every month in which individuals fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials make unsolicited calls and “robocalls” to taxpayers and demanding that they send them cash, he said.
“As the tax filing season begins, it is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees,” said the Inspector General. “This scam has proven to be the largest of its kind that we have ever seen. The callers are aggressive and relentless,” he said. “Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash,” George added. “We will be very aggressive in pursuing those perpetrating this fraud,” the Inspector General said. “In the meantime, we need to do even more to warn taxpayers not to fall for it,” he added.
TIGTA’s expanded outreach initiative includes video Public Service Announcements in English and in Spanish that warn taxpayers about the scam. In addition, TIGTA is working with its partners in the public and private sector to help get the word out, both through traditional law enforcement channels and through direct outreach to associations, nongovernmental organizations, and the media.
TIGTA has received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam, in which criminals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards, money orders or wire transfers from their banks.
“The number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is growing at an alarming rate,” George said. “At all times, especially around the time of the tax filing season, we want to make sure that taxpayers are alerted to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” he said, adding, “Do not become a victim.”
“This is a crime of opportunity, so the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to take away the opportunity,” the Inspector General added. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you do not pay immediately, that is a sign that it is not the IRS calling, and your cue to hang up,” he said. “Again, do not engage with these callers. If they call you, hang up the telephone.”
Inspector General George noted that the scam has hit taxpayers in every State in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card, money order or a wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with being charged for a criminal violation, a grand jury indictment, immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
Here is what you need to know. The IRS generally first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes and the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer. The IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
The callers who commit this fraud often:
- Utilize an automated robocall machine.
- Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- May know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
- Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
- Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested.
- Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes.
- Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
- Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:
- If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
- If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on TIGTA’s website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
TIGTA encourages taxpayers to be alert to phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
Read more about tax scams on the official IRS website at www.irs.gov.
According to an article written by Robert Iafolla, Andrew Hay, and Alexia Garamfalvi; and published by Reuters on Thursday, January 21, 2016:
More U.S. companies could be classified as “joint employers” of workers employed by a staffing agency or contractor and held liable for labor violations tied to those staff, the U.S. Labor Department said in guidance published Wednesday.
Joint employment has emerged as a major issue in franchising, contracting, temporary staffing and other arrangements in which companies use workers but do not directly employ them.
The guidance could affect companies ranging from construction firms to restaurant chains that might be held responsible if, for instance, one of their temp workers did not get paid minimum wage by her employer.
“As the workplace continues to fissure, and as employment relationships continue to become more tenuous and murky, we will continue to identify where joint employment applies and to hold all employers responsible,” David Weil, the administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, said in a blog post Wednesday.
The department is tasked with enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets out standards for minimum wage and overtime pay. The guidance can be used in litigation and administrative proceedings and courts may pay deference to it, though they are not required to because it is not a formal regulation.
In a 15-page document the department explained how to analyze joint employment in “vertical” arrangements, when one company contracts with another company, and “horizontal” arrangements, when one worker is employed by two related companies.
The guidance comes as the Obama administration is moving to make millions more Americans eligible for overtime pay under the FLSA. The Labor Department issued a proposed rule last year that would more than double the maximum income a salaried worker can earn and still be eligible for mandatory overtime to $50,440.
It is also part of a broader federal government push to hold employers accountable to workers. In August, the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees labor law issues related to collective bargaining, expanded its standard for determining joint employment in the long-awaited Browning-Ferris Industries decision.
A trial that could start next month over whether McDonald’s USA is liable for the alleged labor violations of its franchisees is expected to provide an early test of how the board’s standard applies to franchising.
Wednesday’s guidance, while non-binding, could play a significant role in class action litigation for unpaid overtime and other labor violations by emboldening plaintiffs’ lawyers to bring new lawsuits, said Allan Bloom, an attorney with the law firm Proskauer Rose.
New York, NY, January 21, 2016 – Grassi & Co. is proud to announce that they began the 2016 year with 23 promotions! In the tax area, Raymond Haller was promoted to Tax Partner. Raymond brings more than 20 years of experience in all areas of tax compliance, projections, planning financial due diligence and income tax provision work. He is also well versed in state taxing authorities at the pre-audit, audit and appeal stages.
Jacqueline Fackler was promoted to Principal in the tax department. Jacqueline brings over 20 years of experience in the architecture & engineering, and the manufacturer & distribution industries. She specializes in tax services and provides her clients with tax compliance, consulting, planning, tax review, and tax preparation. Jacqueline also assists the firms Tax Practice with engagement team schedules and staff allocation.
Aiko Chan, Matthew McCullough, Bhupali Nayak, and Shashi Singal were promoted to Senior Tax Managers. Also in tax, Doris Dai, and Jason Drucker were promoted to Seniors. Joseph Lamantia was promoted to a Semi-Senior in tax while Joseph Hatzelman is now a tax Junior.
Lori Bono, who has been with the firm since 2000, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Lori was promoted last year to Principal and steadily climbed the Grassi ladder in her almost 16 years with the firm—formerly serving as Audit Manager and Director of Internal Operations. Lori works closely with the Firm’s Chief Operating Officer, Ron Eagar, and continues to champion for continuous improvement in the firm’s internal processes.
In the audit area, Michele Farrell, and Michael Violano were both promoted to Senior Managers. Michael brings over 10 years of accounting experience in audits and reviews of both public and private companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 Companies in the domestic and international markets, while Michele has more than 15 years of experience with the Firm in the construction, not-for-profit, and manufacturing and distribution industries.
Also promoted in the audit area is Rob Gavin and James McIntosh, both as Supervisors; Tyler Kempner and Gabriella Piazzola as Seniors; and Vanessa Gordon, Matthew Condon, Christopher Hope, Brittany Manchio, and Kieran Sullivan as Semi-Seniors.
“The professionals at Grassi & Co. are what make our firm so special, and these 23 people are shining examples of the level of excellence we expect and put into everything we do. We are proud to acknowledge them for their efforts during the course of their careers here,” said Lou Grassi, Managing Partner and CEO of Grassi & Co.
Congratulations and many future successes with Grassi & Co.!
About Grassi & Co.: Grassi & Co., the 73rd largest firms in the U.S., is a premier professional service organization specializing in accounting, auditing, tax, technology, and business consulting services. Grassi & Co. has offices in Manhattan, Long Island and Rockland County, NY as well as internationally through its association with Moore Stephens International. Grassi & Co. specializes in professional services for the Not-for-Profit, Construction, Architecture & Engineering, Financial Services, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Distribution, Retail, Technology, Media & Telecommunication, Transportation and Healthcare industries, among others.
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