Building a business
Scam alert: Ignore IRS phone calls
Has this happened to you? A recorded voice on the telephone claims to be the IRS, saying you must settle your tax bill or a lawsuit against you is pending. The voice tells you to call a phone number.
Ignore these calls. They are a scam.
As stated on the Internal Revenue Service website (www.irs.gov), the IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, here’s what you should do:
Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page (www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml) or call 1-800-366-4484.
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted?NextQID=216&#crnt). Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you think you might owe taxes, you can call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.
Scammers have been using such a ploy, including calls from a live person, for some time, but the recent months seem to have brought an increase in automated calls.
These bogus calls can take many forms, including the following:
Demanding payment for a Federal Student Tax. See www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-latest-scam-variation-involving-bogus-federal-student-tax.
Demanding immediate tax payment for taxes owed on an iTunes or other type of gift card
Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals. See www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-alerts-payroll-and-hr-professionals-to-phishing-scheme-involving-w2s.
Verifying tax return information over the phone. See www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/consumer-alert-scammers-change-tactics-once-again.
Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry. See www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/consumers-warned-of-new-surge-in-irs-email-schemes-during-2016-tax-season-tax-industry-also-targeted.
Pass along this warning to staff and families. Or encourage them to view an Aug. 2, 2016 online alert from the IRS at www.irs.gov/uac/irs-warns-taxpayers-of-summer-surge-in-automated-phone-scam-calls-and-requests-for-fake-tax-payments-using-itunes-gift-cards.
Limits on employee cell phone use?
When is it appropriate for employees to use their personal cell phones at work?
As we all know, the first responsibility of caregivers and teachers is the children in their care and their duties on the job. But employees also may need to check on their own children or elders, or tend to personal matters such as car repair or a doctor’s appointment. How do you balance the two?
A first step is to communicate your expectations, which you may do in orientation, staff meetings, training sessions, and written notices. Acknowledge that cell phones provide convenience, but that conversations with family and friends can be distracting and show disrespect to children and co-workers.
Emphasize your confidence in caregivers and teachers as professionals. You take for granted that they won’t use phones indiscriminately, such as checking Facebook or Twitter and certainly not playing games or watching videos, during work hours. Invite staff to propose and discuss limits so that everyone clearly understands the expectations.
Sample limits may include the following:
Limit personal use as much as possible to breaks or nap times when children are asleep.
If you must answer a call, avoid lengthy conversations and speak quietly to respect colleagues.
Reserve checking updates on sites such as Facebook and Instagram to non-work hours.
Turn off ringers when working with children in the classroom and outdoors, while conferring with parents, and during staff meetings and training.
Alert co-workers or the director if you anticipate an urgent call or text, such as a report about a family member’s illness, so that someone can substitute for you while you respond to the message.
Never take photos with the cell phone during work time to protect the privacy of children, families, co-workers, and your employer.
Once all are in agreement, put limits in writing and have employees sign a copy. Place the copy in the employee’s personnel file. Make it clear that limits are subject to review and updating, if necessary. Instead of turning off ringers while working with children, for example, staff may ask that phones be put away in a closet. Or if they’re expecting an important call, they might turn the phone to vibrate and keep in a pocket.
Encourage employees to inform family and friends to avoid calling and texting during work hours, except in emergencies.
Apply the limits consistently and fairly, even to yourself. If you observe someone disregarding the limits, consider taking the employee aside to clarify understanding.
Remember that cell phone use by adults serves as a model for children and sends a signal to parents about employees’ professionalism.
Look for changes in food labels by mid-2018
By July 26, 2018 most food manufacturers will be required to change labels on many packaged foods to comply with updated FDA regulations. The updates reflect the latest findings from nutrition science research as well as public comments.
Beginning now, you have ample time to prepare for the change by becoming familiar with current food labels, reviewing menus and recipes used for meals and snacks, planning training for food buyers and cooks, and informing parents.
Among the most significant changes is the required notice of added sugar. Some foods contain naturally occurring sugar, but manufacturers often add sugars (including syrup and honey) during processing to achieve a desired flavor. As a result, consumers can unknowingly miscalculate calories and eat too much sugar.
“On average, Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages” (including soft drinks and fruit drinks) “and snacks and sweets” (including grain-based desserts, candies, jams, syrups and sweet toppings), according to the FDA.
The new food label must state the number of grams of added sugars as well as a percent daily value for them to better inform consumers.
The new label will look much the same, but “Calories” and “Serving Size” will be in larger and bolder type.
For products that could be consumed either as a single serving or in one sitting, such as ice cream, the label will have two columns to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information.
Serving size must more closely reflect the amounts of food and drink that people currently consume.
Daily values for nutrients such as sodium and dietary fiber will be updated.
The actual gram amount as well as percent daily value for Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium is required. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required, however, because deficiencies of these nutrients are rare. (Manufacturers may voluntarily provide Vitamins A and C information.)
Amounts of “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required, but “Calories from Fat” will be removed.
The FDA defines “% daily value” as “how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet of 2,000 calories a day” (an amount used for nutrition advice).
The label is being changed because the current label is more than 20 years old. The goal of the changes is to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about what they eat.
The requirements will also apply to food imported into the United States.
For more information, see “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label” on the FDA website at www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#QAbut.