2018 Tax Scams from IRS

This just in from irs@service.govdelivery.com:

IR-2018-253

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today warned tax professionals of an uptick in phishing emails targeting them that involve payroll direct deposit and wire transfer scams.

These emails generally impersonate a company employee, often an executive, and are sent to payroll or human resources personnel. The email from the “employee” asks the payroll or human resource staff to change his or her direct deposit for payroll purposes. The “employee” provides a new bank account and routing number, but it is actually controlled by the thief. This scam is usually discovered pretty quickly, but not before the victim has lost one or two payroll deposits.

A common theme in these and many other email scams is that they include grammatical and spelling mistakes.

One version the IRS and Summit partners have highligted in recent years is the W-2 scam. This involves an email impersonating an executive or person in authority, which requests a list of the organization’s Forms W-2 covering all of its employees. The purpose of this scam is to allow thieves to quickly file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

General non-tax related BEC/BES email scams should be forwarded to Internal Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by going to www.ic3.gov.

Tax professionals and others should also report tax-related phishing emails to phishing@irs.gov.


Tax Credit for buyers of Tesla vehicles ending

This just in from US Internal Revenue Service – irs@service.govdelivery.com

First plug-in electric vehicle manufacturer crosses 200,000 sold threshold; Tax credit for eligible consumers begins phase down on Jan. 1

WASHINGTON – The IRS announced today that Tesla, Inc. has sold more than 200,000 vehicles eligible for the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit during the third quarter of 2018.This triggers a phase out of the tax credit available for purchasers of new Tesla plug-in electric vehicles beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

Qualifying vehicles by the manufacturer are eligible for a $7,500 credit if acquired before Jan. 1, 2019. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the credit will be $3,750 for Tesla’s eligible vehicles. On July 1, 2019, the credit will be reduced to $1,875 for the remainder of the year. After Dec. 31, 2019, no credit will be available.

The plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit was enacted in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 and subsequently modified in later law. It provides a credit for eligible passenger vehicles and light trucks. By law, five quarters after reaching the sales threshold, the credit ends for the manufacturer. Tesla Inc.’s vehicles are eligible for some portion of a credit until Jan. 1, 2020.

Notice 2018-96 details the phase-out. More information on plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit can be found on IRS.gov. The amounts of the credit for a specific vehicle can also be found at IRS.gov. 


How to be a reporter that people trust

The biggest problem with “journalism” today is not that the reporter(s) is sadistically owned by some subversive foreign operative, nor that those acting as reporters are necessarily malicious and deliberately trying to conceal facts and suborn public opinion by way of unethical manipulation of images or withholding information important to the public in understanding what is actually happening. It’s not even that almost every reporter is totally biased.

Most of the time all that isn’t even true. The problem is much simpler than all that.

People reporting today have forgotten that there is such a thing as just reporting the news: they feel every report must be some kind of editorial or investigative opinion. Just report the news, all the news, without omitting or altering anything. Let us decide what we think: just report the news. We want to know how the current event will affect the working class American citizen.


fsck update needed GNU/Linux Mint v18 -> v19 file systems

GNU/Linux is built of many programs around a kernel. One of those programs is used to check your file system for errors before mounting it while booting. If errors are detected then the boot process stops and places you at a command line where you must somehow repair your disk so that your system can boot. fsck is the program that you call to do that repair.

New features in the file system cannot be checked by the old fsck – you cannot successfully fsck a disk made with Linux Mint v19 using Linux Mint v18: you get an error “e2fsck 1.42.13 (17-May-2015) /dev/sdg4 has unsupported features …. e2fsck: Get a newer version of e2fsck!”

Online search eventually showed me the solution via a question asked by Zangar, and answered by heynnema and VasekCh on StackExchangeAsk Ubuntu  at https://askubuntu.com/questions/883351/how-do-i-update-e2fsck.

I tried e2fsck but it asks me to Get a newer version of e2fsck! Then, I looked at all the other posts about updating e2fsck (here and here.) These answers did not work for me.

The answer that I used meant downloading the current version of e2fsck from SourceForge and following instructions by VasekCh to build and install it:

  1. Download the latest version (1.44.3) from http://e2fsprogs.sourceforge.net/ and unpack in a directory and cd into it.
  2. According to the INSTALL document:
    mkdir build; cd build
    ../configure
    make
    sudo make install
    
  3. Check that you have new version now:
    $ e2fsck -V
    e2fsck 1.44.3 (10-July-2018)
    Using EXT2FS Library version 1.44.3, 10-July-2018
    

Note: you may need to install compiler and tools with apt get install gcc.

This worked the first time for me on my GNU/Linux Mint/MATE workstation.


Indiana holds bad debt collectors accountable / protects Hoosier consumers from abuse

Picture of justice

Picture of justice

This just arrived in email from Indiana Attorney General <atg@subscriptions.in.gov>

It is also noted that Indiana A.G. Curtis Hill’s office is pursuing action to sustain State Laws which would hold accountable the US Department of Education, for any abuses of students entrapped in Student Loans. The D.O.E. being the main perpetrator of Student Loans and seeks to evade State consumer protection laws by claiming federal laws exemp the department from State lending and credit reporting law. A.G. Hill’s office seeks to insure that State, not Federal, laws apply so that the D.O.E. can no longer exempt themselves from fair credit laws that protect Indiana students from abuse.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today that he has joined 41 other states and the District of Columbia in reaching a $6 million settlement with Encore Capital Group Inc. and its subsidiaries Midland Credit Management Inc. and Midland Funding LLC, which is one of the nation’s largest debt buyers.

The settlement also provides full debt forgiveness for 126 Indiana consumers and partial debt forgiveness to 116 Indiana consumers.

Debt buying involves buying and selling overdue debts from creditors and other account owners. Often purchased for pennies on the dollar, debt buyers seek to recover the full balance from consumers through collection attempts by phone and mail. Debt buyers, including Midland, also take consumers to court to collect the debts they purchase. However, people are often unable to afford attorneys to defend the allegations.

The settlement requires Midland to reform its affidavit signing and litigation practices. Midland must carefully verify the information in affidavits and present accurate documents in court proceedings. When Midland files a lawsuit, it must have account documents about the debt before they file the case, including the amount of the debt, proof of an agreement, and an explanation about why any additional fees are justified. (ed. Midland SHOULD have been held to this standard all along! Frequently unscrupulous debt collectors appear in court without any legal proof that a debt actually exists, including at foreclosures on homes. People have had their homes taken away from them by banks – such as Wells Fargo A B C D E F – that were not in default or that never had any mortgage on their home or that never even did business with Wells Fargo in the first place, making people who had no debt at all homeless just because a bank said they owed money that they never owed. This type of abuse, where the courts ASSUME the lender is always truthful solely because they are a big, rich, profit seeking, business engaged in the unscrupulous and abusive industry know, as debt collecting, must end.)

The settlement requires that Midland maintain proper oversight and training over its employees and the law firms that it uses. The agreement prohibits Midland from reselling debt for two years.

Below is a link to the settlement agreement.

https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/INAG/2018/12/04/file_attachments/1117708/Midland%20settlement%20-%20Indiana.pdf