Recently in Washington
On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 772, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017, by a vote of 266 to 157. The bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act to clarify the information certain retail food chain establishments must disclose about nutrition to the consumer to prevent overly burdensome regulations for certain establishments, such as convenience stores, supermarkets, grocery stores and pizza restaurants, and to provide flexibility in how restaurants display calorie information.
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 1153, the Mortgage Choice Act of 2017, by a vote of 280 to 131. The bill changes the way points and fees are calculated by excluding fees paid for affiliated title charges and escrow charges for insurance and taxes, preserving consumer choice and helping Americans achieve the dream of becoming homeowners.
The House also passed H.R. 4771, the Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act, by a vote of 280 to 139. The bill requires the Federal Reserve Board, within six months of the date of enactment, to revise its Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement, to make it easier for small bank holding companies to raise additional capital by issuing debt.
On Friday, the House passed H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, by a vote of 240 to 186. The bill includes: a Continuing Resolution until March 23 to keep the government funded and provide the necessary time for the fiscal year (FY)18 Appropriations bills to conform with the new discretionary totals; reverses the defense sequester and increases total defense funding to match with FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) levels and the Administration’s request for FY19; increases non-defense levels and targets funding for priorities like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), opioids, and infrastructure; includes emergency spending for disasters caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as California wildfires; provides an extension of the debt limit through 2018; and includes additional provisions. Congressman Simpson supported all of these bills.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH
On Monday, no votes are expected in the House.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13TH
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 4533 - To designate the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Lexington, Kentucky, as the "Lexington VA Health Care System" and to make certain other designations (Sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr / Veterans Affairs Committee)
2) H.R. 3542 - Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson / Foreign Affairs Committee)
3) H.Res. 129 - Calling on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson / Foreign Affairs Committee)
4) H.R. 4376 - Department of Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
5) H.R. 4377 - Accelerating American Leadership in Science Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
6) H.R. 4378 - Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Weber / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
7) H.R. 4675 - Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Roger Marshall / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
8) H.R. 3397 - Building Blocks of STEM Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jacky Rosen / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
9) H.R. 4979 - To extend the Generalized System of Preferences and to make technical changes to the competitive need limitations provision of the program, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert / Ways and Means Committee)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
H.R. 3978 - TRID Improvement Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. French Hill / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 3299 - Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick McHenry / Financial Services Committee)
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15TH
On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
H.R. 620 - ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Judiciary Committee)
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH
On Friday, no votes are expected in the House.
IRS, States and Tax Industry Warn Employers to Beware of Form W-2 Scam; Tax Season Could Bring New Surge in Phishing Scheme
IR-2018-8, Jan. 17, 2018
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today urged all employers to educate their payroll personnel about a Form W-2 phishing scam that made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees last year.
The Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.
Reports to firstname.lastname@example.org from victims and nonvictims about this scam jumped to approximately 900 in 2017, compared to slightly over 100 in 2016. Last year, more than 200 employers were victimized, which translated into hundreds of thousands of employees who had their identities compromised.
By alerting employers now, the IRS and its partners in the Security Summit effort hope to limit the success of this scam in 2018. The IRS last year also created a new process by which employers should report these scams. There are steps the IRS can take to protect employees, but only if the agency is notified immediately by employers about the theft.
Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals do their homework, identifying chief operating officers, school executives or others in positions of authority. Using a technique known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), fraudsters posing as executives send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees.
The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. Criminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post it for sale on the Dark Net.
The initial email may be a friendly, “hi, are you working today” exchange before the fraudster asks for all Form W-2 information. In several reported cases, after the fraudsters acquired the workforce information, they immediately followed that up with a request for a wire transfer.
In addition to educating payroll or finance personnel, the IRS and Security Summit partners also urge employers to consider creating a policy to limit the number of employees who have authority to handle Form W-2 requests and that they require additional verification procedures to validate the actual request before emailing sensitive data such as employee Form W-2s.
If the business or organization victimized by these attacks notifies the IRS, the IRS can take steps to help prevent employees from being victims of tax-related identity theft. However, because of the nature of these scams, some businesses and organizations did not realize for days, weeks or months that they had been scammed.
The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Here’s how Form W-2 scam victims can notify the IRS:
·Email email@example.com to notify the IRS of a Form W-2 data loss and provide contact information, as listed below.
·In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable information data.
·Include the following:
·Business employer identification number (EIN) associated with the data loss
·Contact phone number
·Summary of how the data loss occurred
·Volume of employees impacted
Businesses and organizations that fall victim to the scam and/or organizations that only receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam should send the full email headers to firstname.lastname@example.org and use “W2 Scam” in the subject line.
Employers can learn more at Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers.
Employers should be aware that cybercriminals’ scams constantly evolve. Finance and payroll personnel should be alert to any unusual requests for employee data.