While Louisiana government grapples with numerous complex issues, 34 other states await word from the Supreme Court on whether federal tax subsidies should be eliminated after these subsidies have made it possible for millions of Americans to buy health insurance.
Jon Mike Williams’ name has been called out for prayer twice every Sunday since Nov. 22, 2010, at St. Albert Catholic Church in Hammond. No doubt others have been praying for him on an ongoing basis as well. This editorial is a call for Daily Star readers everywhere to join in lifting up this 22-year-old young man and his mother, Brenda Williams, in prayer as he undergoes surgery today at North Oaks Medical Center. The procedure will involve inserting an electrode into his brain in hopes of stimulating activity in his mostly paralyzed body.
ard Marshal’s office remains responsible for processing warrants of a general nature.
It’s often been the big companies that resource laboratories to produce the innovative technologies that change our lifestyles, but innovations do not always translate into productive jobs for American workers. Actually, usually it’s just the opposite.
Heart-breaking but not surprising were the stories told this week to Louisiana legislators amid the ongoing brutal budget cuts to health care and education. On the other hand, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana and a coalition of early childhood education supporters have tied their request for $80 million to a positive promise.
Southeastern Louisiana University students have a real leader in Stephanie Travis of Kentwood, president of their Student Government Association.
April means tax time. While some may use their Easter vacation to plod through the paperwork and make sure every deduction is accounted for and every penny adds up, an increasing number of taxpayers are waiting until the very last minute.
They know that in today’s paperless society, all they have to do is press a few buttons to complete their tax forms and transfer the money out of their bank accounts and into the coffers of the Internal Revenue Service. It can be done from a smart phone while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for the nurse to call your name, while sitting in a car pool line waiting for school to let out, or even during church at the risk of annoying the preacher. Electronic filing has become easy and convenient for taxpayers.
And collecting the refund checks has become easy and convenient for cybercriminals.
The IRS “Where’s My Refund?” web page got more than 200 million hits last year. According to the Government Accountability Office, many of those who wondered what happened to their refund check came to find out it had gone to a criminal’s bank account.
The IRS delivered $5.8 billion in 2013 refunds to identity thieves and others who obtained the money through fraudulent means, according to a recent GAO report. Most of the thieves had filed multiple returns using stolen Social Security numbers.
While the federal tax agency received kudos for preventing $24 billion in attempted fraud, the GAO review found the IRS does not even use the same types of security practices that many credit card companies employ, such as security questions and passwords to authenticate identity -- requirements that most of us in the paperless society now expect as standard.
Another troubling finding is that the IRS often issues refunds before matching the returns with relevant documentation, such as W-2 data.
Additionally, the GAO review learned the IRS does not use tracking devices that would alert to multiple returns filed from the same IP address. Thus, cybercriminals can file dozens of fraudulent returns, state and federal, in a day. And new methods of collecting refunds -- such as prepaid credit cards and Amazon gift codes -- offered by online tax-preparation companies and software help speed the money to them.
The IRS collects $2.4 trillion each year and does not let taxpayers off the hook for their mistakes and shortcomings. The federal agency should not be excused for its own lax practices. It should tighten up.
With the combination of cybercrime and IRS sloppiness, taxpayers have more reason than ever to rely on the expertise of professional tax filers.
-- Lil Mirando