IRS warns consumers about telephone scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently warned consumers about a telephone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the U.S. Victims are told they owe the IRS money and the money must be paid promptly through a wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card. Victims are threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver's license if they do not comply.

"This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country," says Danny Werfel, IRS acting commissioner. "We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone nor request a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling."

Scam characteristics include scammers using fake names or IRS badge numbers; being able to recite the last four digits of the victim's Social Security number; spoofing the IRS toll-free number on caller ID; sending bogus IRS emails to support calls; victims hearing background noise from other calls to mimic a call site; and scammers hanging up, followed by another call from someone pretending to be from the local police or Department of Motor Vehicles with the caller ID supporting their claims.

According to Werfel, the first contact the IRS usually has with taxpayers regarding a tax issue is via mail, not any type of electronic communication. The IRS will not ask for personal identification numbers, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you know you owe taxes or believe you owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040; if you know you do not owe taxes or have no reason to believe you do, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484. Targeted victims also may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and use the FTC Complaint Assistant at www.ftc.gov. Suspicious emails and their attachments should not be opened and should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

In addition, the IRS has announced the nationwide rollout of its Fast Track Settlement (FTS) program, a streamlined program designed to help small businesses under audit settle their differences with the IRS more quickly. FTS is modeled on a similar midsize and large business program that uses alternative dispute resolution techniques to help taxpayers save time and avoid a formal administration appeal or lengthy litigation, allowing audit issues to be resolved within 60 days instead of months or years. Taxpayers lose none of their rights because they still have the option to appeal even if the FTS process is unsuccessful.

The program is jointly administered by the IRS' Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Division and the IRS Appeals office. Through the FTS program, taxpayers under examination work directly with an appeals mediator and IRS representatives from SB/SE's Examination Division to resolve their issues. Taxpayers and IRS examination representatives may initiate FTS for eligible cases before a 30-day letter is issued.

For more information about how to report IRS-related scams or learn about the FTS program, visit www.irs.gov.

ASTM International seeks papers for symposium

ASTM International is seeking papers for its Eighth Symposium on Research Roofing and Standards Development to be held Dec. 6, 2015, at the Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel, Tampa, Fla. Sponsored by ASTM International's Committee D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing, the symposium will be held in conjunction with the committee's standards development meetings.

The symposium provides a forum for contributing to the fundamental understanding of acceptable roof performance and will focus on the influence of laboratory and field investigations in the development of standards for roofing and waterproofing materials and systems.

The following topics will be addressed at the symposium: polymer-modified and conventional built-up bituminous roofing; liquid-applied membrane roofing; spray polyurethane foam roof systems; roof edge systems; wind and fire resistance; cool, vegetative and solar roofing; roof coating technology; roof system durability and service-life prediction; roofing retrofit; advances in adhesion technology for synthetic and bituminous roofing; self-adhering membrane roofing; synthetic single-ply roof systems; metal roof systems; performance of shingle, tile and other steep-slope roof coverings; air and moisture movement in roof systems; energy-efficient roofing; hygrothermal simulations/modeling; roofing in a sustainability era; advances in waterproofing; and advances in low-slope roofing and its components.

To participate in the symposium, presenters and authors should submit a 250-300 word preliminary abstract by April 8. The abstract must include a clear objective definition and approach of the work discussed, pointing out new material and presenting sufficient details regarding results. Presentations and manuscripts cannot be of commercial nature or previously published. Authors will be notified of accepted papers for presentation by Sept. 8.

For more information and to submit your abstract, visit www.astm.org/D08RoofingCFP12-2015.

ASTM International and SPRI publish single-ply PCR

ASTM International and SPRI have collaborated to publish a product category rule (PCR) for single-ply roof membranes. The PCR focuses on the rules and guidelines for developing an environmental product declaration (EPD) for single-ply roofing products that fulfill equivalent functions. The PCR demonstrates the single-ply sector's environmental commitment and includes TPO, KEE, PVC and EPDM, as well as requirements for business-to-business and business-to-consumer EPDs.

"We are excited about having completed our first PCR, and we look forward to continuing to assist the single-ply roofing industry with meeting their sustainability objectives," says Tim Brooke, ASTM International's vice president of certification, training and proficiency testing.

To view the PCR, Preparing an Environmental Product Declaration for Single Ply Roofing Membranes, visit www.astm.org/EPDs. For more information about developing new PCRs and verifying EPDs, contact Chris Surak, ASTM International's director of certification programs, at csurak@astm.org.

OSHA announces proposed rule to track injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a proposed rule to improve workplace safety and health through improved tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, in 2012, 3 million workers were injured on the job.

"Three million injuries are 3 million too many," says Dr. David Michaels, OSHA's assistant secretary of labor. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA."

OSHA is proposing to amend its current record-keeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers already are required to keep under existing standards. Companies with more than 250 employees will need to electronically submit quarterly records to OSHA, and companies with 20 or more employees in industries with high injury and illness rates will need to electronically submit an annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA.

OSHA plans to eventually post the data online for public viewing, allowing employers to compare their injury rates with others in the same industry. Timely data will help OSHA target its compliance assistance and enforcement resources more effectively by identifying which workplaces expose workers to greater risk.

The public will have until Feb. 6 to submit written comments on the rule. NRCA is preparing comments for submission. More information about the proposed rule can be found at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/proposed_data_form.html.


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