Washington Watch - 9/19/16
I want to draw everyone’s attention to an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent around the country: IRS telephone scams. I’ve heard from a few of you recently about this issue, and I want to highlight it for everyone else so that you’re all prepared if contacted by a scammer.
The way IRS telephone scams usually work is that you are contacted by an individual claiming to be an IRS agent, and it’s possible that the individual has spoofed the IRS toll-free number and will provide a fake IRS badge number. In many cases, the scammer will have already gained access to some of your personal information, including your name, address, employer, family members, education, and/or the last four digits of your Social Security Number, which will be used to convince you that the call is real. Usually, the individual either demands immediate payment for delinquent taxes and threatens to have you arrested if you refuse to pay or tells you that you are due a tax refund and simply need to provide your bank account information to collect it. If you receive a phone call like this, chances are it’s not the IRS, especially if this is the first time you’ve heard about the delinquent tax bill or tax refund in question, and you should hang up the phone immediately and report the call to the IRS Treasury Inspector General. If you are not comfortable calling the IRS, feel free to reach out to my office for assistance.
Below is more information from the IRS about these telephone scams, including information that will help you spot them and report them to the proper authorities.
It is important to know that the IRS:
- Never asks for credit card, debit card, or prepaid card information over the telephone;
- Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations; and
- Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation.
Characteristics of IRS telephone scams include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves;
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number;
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling;
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls;
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site; or
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
Remember, the IRS will NEVER call you to demand immediate payment for a tax liability!
Just days after the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the House took a strong stand against President Barack Obama’s plans to release dozens of terrorists being held in military prison at Guantanamo Bay. On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5351, which prohibits the transfer of any individual detained at Guantanamo Bay for the remainder of the President’s term in office, by a vote of 244-174. It probably sounds crazy to you that the President would willingly allow terrorists out of prison to return to the battlefield and fight against America and her allies, but that’s exactly what he wants to do.
I’m proud that the House has rejected the President’s ill-advised plan, and I hope that the Senate will follow suit soon. Until that time, however, I remain optimistic that the White House will see the error of this plan and ensure that dangerous criminals who want to terrorize Americans and our allies are kept behind bars where they belong.
- Washington Post. House votes to block Obama from releasing any more Guantanamo detainees
- The Hill. White House threatens veto of Guantanamo bill
The President’s health care law increased taxes on millions of American families and businesses while simultaneously increasing insurance deductibles and making it harder for so many hard-working moms and dads to provide quality health care for their families. But last week, the House passed a bill to eliminate one of the many Obamacare taxes that are harming American families and seniors. Before Obamacare, Americans were able to deduct from their taxes the cost of their healthcare if that cost was equal to or greater than 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. This was meant to help folks who had very high health costs, and it was working.
Unfortunately, in order to squeeze a little more money out of the American people, President Obama increased the 7.5 percent threshold to 10 percent. That tax hike is going to hurt Americans across the board, and it’s especially going to hurt those who can least afford it. The majority of households claiming this credit make under $100,000 – and since the average wage earner in the metro Atlanta area makes roughly $50,000 – you can expect that many of our friends and neighbors are going to benefit from this legislation.
- Washington Examiner. House votes to roll back Obamacare tax hike
- Americans for Tax Reform. ATR supports H.R. 3590
I have the opportunity to speak with America’s veterans regularly, and what I’ve been hearing lately is that while most veterans are happy with the care that they are getting at our VA medical centers, especially from the dedicated health care providers at our local VA clinics and hospitals, there’s always room for improvement. And that’s why the House passed H.R. 5620, the “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016.” The bill allows the VA Secretary to hold those employees accountable who have engaged in misconduct, specifically by firing or demoting them. It might be impossible to believe that this wasn’t the law before, but thanks to this bill, some employees who are convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance can now have their pensions reduced accordingly. And that’s the right thing to do. If a VA employee kept a veteran from getting the care that he or she deserved through some sort of misconduct, that employee should be punished. Our veterans deserve our respect and our support, and I’m proud to have joined with over 300 of my colleagues in passing this measure.
- The Ripon Advance. House approves bill to make VA more accountable
- WSB Radio. House approves bill to make it easier to fire at VA
On Thursday, the Senate passed S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 by a vote on 95-3. Working in the House on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I have already passed a companion bill, and it is ready to be taken to the floor. Though the Senate and House bills are very different, both contain important provisions that will benefit the State of Georgia -- our water infrastructure projects and our critical ports. That’s why I called on Speaker Paul Ryan and House leadership to bring our House bill up for a vote as soon as possible, so that we can pass it and begin the conference committee process to negotiate a final product.
- Argus Media. Senate passes water infrastructure bill
- The Hill. Senate passes water bill with Flint aid
This week the House is expected to move forward on two bills that continue moving forward with our important plan to hold Iran accountable for its actions: H.R. 5931, the “Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act,” and H.R. 5461, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.” It’s also possible that the House will consider a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until December when Congress can hopefully come together and pass regular appropriations legislation.
The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to hold a hearing on Wednesday with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to discuss articles of impeachment against him. I appreciate the work that the Judiciary Committee has done so far investigating this situation, and I am certain that my colleagues on the committee will hold a fair and complete hearing.
Member of Congress