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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

IRS Phone Scam in our Community


Here at Gardner & Billing, CPAs PLLC, we have been made aware of recent occurrences of an IRS phone scam in the community. Potential victims are being reached on their home or cell phones by a fraudulent IRS agent. The scammer will say that you have an IRS penalty that is due immediately. They will insist that if you do not pay the fine immediately, you will be subject to arrest or a law suit.

If you are contacted by the IRS phone scam, write down any information that the fraudulent IRS agent gives you, including phone number, name and IRS badge number to report to the necessary authorities.

It should be known that the IRS will never contact you via phone or email. You will only receive mail correspondence from the IRS.

According to the IRS website, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, you should do one or more of the following:


Please feel free to contact our office at 436-2583 with any questions or concerns.

The office of Gardner & Billing, CPAs PLLC

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts from the IRS

Be aware of these most recent scams reported by the IRS.... 


IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scam
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, lawsuits, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.


Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
For more details on this ongoing scam, see:



Tax Scams

Don't fall victim to tax scams. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 
Some of the other recent scams the IRS has seen include:
  • IR-2014-39, IRS Warns of New Email Phishing Scheme Falsely Claiming to be from the Taxpayer Advocate Service
  • IR-2014-16, IRS Releases the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2014; Identity Theft, Phone Scams Lead List
  • IR-2014-5, Watch Out for Tax Scams as Filing Season Opening Nears
  • IR-2013-90, IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Relief of Typhoon Victims
  • IR-2013-33, Don’t Fall Prey to the 2013 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
  • IR-2012-23, IRS Releases the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012
  • IR-2011-73, IRS Urges Taxpayers to Avoid Becoming Victims of Tax Scams
  • IR-2011-39, Don’t Fall Prey to the 2011 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams. For more information, see:

Phony Arguments

No matter how some things are sliced, they're still baloney. If someone tells you that you don't have to pay taxes, check out The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments. This IRS.gov exclusive addresses some of the more common false legal arguments made by those opposed to compliance with the federal tax laws. Each contention is briefly explained, followed by a discussion of the legal authority that rejects the contention. The second section deals with frivolous arguments encountered in collection due process cases. The final section illustrates penalties imposed on those pursuing frivolous cases.
  • IR-2014-51, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments,  includes numerous recently decided cases that demonstrate that the courts continue to regard such arguments as illegitimate.
  • IR-2011-23, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments, highlights the issue and possible penalties.
  • IR-2004-41 describes the increasingly strong penalties the courts have imposed from March 2003 to March 2004 on taxpayers who pursued frivolous cases to delay IRS collection actions.
  • IR-2003-28 details penalties the Tax Court imposed from April 2001 until early March 2003 for making frivolous Collection Due Process arguments.

Identity Theft Scams

The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scamsters will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. When identity theft takes place over the Internet (email), it is called phishing.
The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from an IRS-related component such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
Additionally, clicking on attachments to or links within an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS may download a malicious computer virus onto your computer.
Learn more about identity theft.
Learn how to protect your personal information.
You may also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Reporting Tax-Related Schemes, Scams, Identity Theft and Fraud

To report the various types of tax-related illegal activities, refer to our chart explaining the types of activity and the appropriate forms or other methods to use.   

IRS Multimedia on Tax Scams

Videos
Podcasts

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Seven Great Accidental Inventions


1. The Microwave - Percy L. Spencer
Percy Spencer, an engineer at Raytheon after his WWI stint in the Navy, was known as an electronics genius. In 1945, Spencer was fiddling with a microwave-emitting magnetron — used in the guts of radar arrays — when he felt a strange sensation in his pants. A sizzling, even. Spencer paused and found that a chocolate bar in his pocket had started to melt. Figuring that the microwave radiation of the magnetron was to blame (or to credit, as it would turn out), Spencer immediately set out to realize the culinary potential at work. The end result was the microwave oven — savior of eager snackers and single dudes worldwide.

2. Saccharin - Ira Remsen, Constantin Fahlberg

In 1879, Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg, at work in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, paused to eat. Fahlberg had neglected to wash his hands before the meal — which usually leads to a quick death for most chemists, but led to him noticing an oddly sweet flavor during his meal. Artificial sweetener! The duo published their findings together, but it was only Fahlberg's name that made it onto the (incredibly lucrative) patent, now found in pink packets at tables everywhere. That is to say, Remsen got screwed—he later remarked, "Fahlberg is a scoundrel. It nauseates me to hear my name mentioned in the same breath with him."


3. Slinky - Richard James
In 1943, Navy engineer Richard James was trying to figure out how to use springs to keep the sensitive instruments aboard ships from rocking themselves to death, when he knocked one of his prototypes over. Instead of crashing to the floor, it gracefully sprang downward, and then righted itself. So pointless — so nimble — so slinky. The spring became a goofy toy of many childhoods—that is before every kid inevitably gets theirs all twisted up and ruins it. 300 million sold worldwide!

4. Play-Doh - Kutol Products
Before being found ground into the rugs of child-rearing homes everywhere, Play-Doh was ironically created to be a cleaning product. The paste was first marketed as a treatment for filthy wallpaper — before the company that produced it began to go down the tubes. The discovery that saved Kutol Products — headed for bankruptcy — wasn't that their wall cleaner worked particularly well, but that schoolchildren were beginning to use it to create Christmas ornaments as arts and crafts projects. By removing the compound's cleanser and adding colors and a fresh scent, Kutol spun their wallpaper saver into one of the most iconic toys of all time — and brought mega-success to a company headed for destruction. Sometimes, you don't even know how brilliant you are until someone notices for you.

5. Super Glue - Harry Coover
In what have been a very messy moment of discovery in 1942, Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman-Kodak Laboratories found that a substance he created — cyanoacrylate — was a miserable failure. It was not, to his dismay, at all suited for a new precision gun sight as he had hoped — it infuriatingly stuck to everything it touched. So it was forgotten. Six years later, while overseeing an experimental new design for airplane canopies, Coover found himself stuck in the same gooey mess with a familiar foe — cyanacrylate was proving useless as ever. But this time, Coover observed that the stuff formed an incredibly strong bond without needing heat. Coover and his team tinkered with sticking various objects in their lab together, and realized they had finally stumbled upon a use for the maddening goop. Coover slapped a patent on his discovery, and in 1958, a full 16 years after he first got stuck, cyanoacrylate was being sold on shelves.

6. Teflon - Roy Plunkett
The next time you make a frustration-free omelette, thank chemist Roy Plunkett, whose experienced immense frustration while inadvertently inventing Teflon in 1938. Plunkett had hoped to create a new variety of chlorofluorocarbons (better known as universally-despised CFCs), when he came back to check on his experiment in a refrigeration chamber. When he inspected a canister that was supposed to be full of gas, he found that it appeared to have vanished — leaving behind only a few white flakes. Plunkett was intrigued by these mysterious chemical bits, and began at once to experiment with their properties. The new substance proved to be a fantastic lubricant with an extremely high melting point — perfect at first for military gear, and now the stuff found finely applied across your non-stick cookware.

7. Velcro - George de Mestral
A dog invented velcro.
Alright, that's something of an exaggeration, but a dog did play an instrumental role. Swiss engineer George de Mestral was out for a hunting trip with his pooch, and noticed the annoying tendency of burrs to stick to its fur (and his socks). Later, looking under a microscope, Mestral observed the tiny "hooks" that stuck burrs to fabrics and furs. Mestral experimented for years with a variety of textiles before arriving at the newly invented nylon — though it wasn't until two decades later that NASA's fondness for velcro popularized the tech.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Workers' Compensation in Montana (Part III)


GETTING STARTED
To buy workers' compensation insurance, you need to request a quote from a licensed insurance agent and provide some details about your business.
Here's what to have in front of you:

  • Number of employees in each class code
  • Total payroll for all employees. You may be able to exclude yourself if you don't wish to be covered under the policy.
  • Federal ID Number If you are a sole proprietor, you can use your Social Security Number
  • Copy of your previous workers' comp insurance policy, if you've had coverage or claims in the past few years.

WHERE TO GET IT
Montana has a private market, meaning that you can purchase workers' compensation insurance from any private insurance carrier or agency that is licensed to write in that state. Montana also has a state fund that competes with the private market. You can contact Montana State Fund if you are unable to secure coverage from a private insurance carrier. State funds accept higher-risk businesses, so their rates are often higher.
If you’re still having trouble, you can contact Montana's assigned risk pool, which will help you find coverage.


 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME BUYERS
Know where your employees will work. Workers’ compensation is regulated on a state-by-state basis and depends on where your employees perform work - not necessarily where the business was founded or is based. Who needs to be covered, where you can buy a policy and how much it will cost all depend are all mandated or influenced by state law.

Make sure your policy is comprehensive. If you’re going to have employees in multiple states, or employees traveling across state lines to work, make sure your policy covers these states as well.

Decide how many employees you plan to hire, and how much you plan to pay them. Workers’ compensation premiums are calculated, in part, by the kinds of work performed. Many businesses have multiple functions performed by different kinds of employees - right now you may just a few people who wear many different hats. It’s important to classify employees accurately - based on what they spend the majority of their time doing - because this could alter your premium dramatically.

Don’t under-insure your business. Insuring your business for less than its true payroll can be a costly mistake. Annual workers’ compensation audits could result in an unexpected cost that cripples your cash flow, or worse - you could suffer a claim and not have sufficient coverage.

Maintain a safe workplace. Instead, post the required work comp posters and establish formal safety programs and first-aid procedures, which reduce the possibility of claims and can make you eligible for lower premiums.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy Labor Day!

In honor of the Labor Day holiday, the office of Gardner & Billing CPAs will be closed on Monday, September 7th.  




Labor Day: What it Means
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.