August 5, 2015

Scammers claiming to be from the IRS target victims via direct mail

A consumer alert has been issued by the Internal Revenue Service warning Missourians that scammers are targeting people through direct mail now. Scammers are tricking taxpayers into sending money or asking to verify personal information and the criminals are being aggressive by threatening arrest or demanding to be paid immediately.

irs

Internal Revenue Service

Michael Devine with the IRS says be vigilant if being asked for personal information or to send money.

“If the only contact you normally have with the IRS is sending in your tax return once a year, you should be very suspicious of any unexpected contact,” says Devine. “We are getting better at catching these criminals, but they’re evolving in their tactics and techniques to try and steal your information and money.”

Devine says the letters being sent out look very authentic and if in doubt, he says to double-check by calling the IRS. The IRS will not contact taxpayers via phone, email or social media.

Devine says filing electronically is still the fastest, safest and most accurate way to file taxes.

$70 million Powerball ticket sold in Missouri on Independence Day

Someone in Missouri hit the $70 million Powerball jackpot on Independence Day.  Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon says the state has had good jackpot odds.

missouri lottery

Missouri Lottery

“We love the fact that we have the second most winning numbers of Powerball in the history of the Powerball game,” said Scheve.

She says the prize is also a great bonus for the retailer who sold the ticket.  Reardon says winning retailer stores have historically increased sales by at least 10% following a Powerball jackpot.

“We do always say, as soon as we release the location, all the people are going to go running to that store to buy new tickets because they think lightning is going to strike there. We love that.”

The Missouri Lottery will be giving more than $800,000 of the jackpot prize to elementary, secondary and higher education in the state.

The identity of the winner has not been released.  The winner will become the owner of the ninth largest jackpot prize ever won in Missouri.

Initiative petitions seeking Missouri minimum wage increase cleared for signatures

Three initiative petitions that would ask voters whether to increase Missouri’s minimum wage have been cleared by the Secretary of State’s office for backers to begin gathering signatures.

Lara Granich

Lara Granich

Supporters of the petitions include Missouri Jobs with Justice.  Director Lara Granich says she believes a minimum wage increase is supported by most Missourians.

“The last time voters had a chance to decide about this was in 2006,” said Granich. “At that time, they raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour and put a cost of living adjustment in. Voters passed that by 76% statewide. They passed it in every single county of the state by 16 points or more.”

Granich thinks a gradual increase is good for businesses and the economy.

“I think it’s important to understand that these increases would be phased in gradually over time and really give businesses a chance to make the adjustments they need to make.”

Brian Bunten

Brian Bunten

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce opposes an increase.  Legislative Director Brian Bunten says it would be a mandated increase in the cost to do business in Missouri.

“It places Missouri at a competitive disadvantage to our surrounding states.”

Bunten thinks the proposed increases would cause businesses to have to cut costs. “Some of these workers would be reduced to maybe part-time status,” said Bunten. “They could also lose some of their benefits.”

The petitions would increase the wage from the current $7.65 an hour to $9 an hour. One would then increase that by one dollar a year until it reaches $15 an hour, while the other two would increase it to $11 or $12 an hour.

New Missouri Auditor sworn into office

Missouri’s new state auditor has been sworn in.  Nicole Galloway was formerly Boone County Treasurer. She will fill the unexpired term of Tom Schweich, who committed suicide on February 26th.

Galloway 4

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Galloway says one of the tasks she wants to take on now that she’s in office is to assess the risk cyber-crime presents to all Missourians.

“Anthem was hacked. You think about the large retailers that have been hacked and things like that. Just applying those same concepts and ways to what we do in the Auditor’s office,” said Galloway.

She says she will assess the personnel in the office and the audits that are already underway.

“I have all intentions of completing the audits that are currently in progress and reporting those findings to the public,” said Galloway.

Galloway, a Democrat, was appointed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, to replace Schweich, a Republican who ran unopposed for Auditor in the 2014 election cycle.  Two of the remaining key members of Schweich’s staff in the auditor’s office, Deputy Auditor, Harry Otto and Trish Vincent have resigned.

Galloway’s office has announced John Luetkemeyer will serve as Deputy State Auditor and Michael Moorefield will be her Chief of Staff.

Luetkemeyer is a career certified public accountant and Auditor’s Office staff member since 1981. Moorefield most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the State Treasurer’s Office.

 

Amendment Ten worries Missouri Governor Nixon (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon is reviewing the implications of an amendment approved this week that he thinks limits his power to keep the state budget in balance.

Governor Jay Nixon announces he will make cuts and layoffs in the Department of Motor Vehicles if the legislature carries through with a proposal to provide only eight months' worth of funding to that Department.

Governor Jay Nixon.

Nixon and the Republican-dominated legislature have butted heads repeatedly about Nixon’s practice of withholding funding from projects and programs after lawmakers approve a state budget. Nixon says it’s his job to keep the state from deficit spending throughout a fiscal year.  Amendment Ten, approved by 57% of the voters earlier this week, lets the legislature override his decisions to withhold.

Nixon says the present situation illustrates the challenge the legislature has created for itself and for him–a budget that requires state revenue to grow twice as fast as it is growing. “You can’t spend money we don’t have,” he says.

Lawmakers say they have been forced to put the amendment before voters because Nixon has played politics by withholding funds.   Some Republicans already are talking of overriding some withholds when the new legislative session begins in January.   Nixon says he’ll just do the best he can to keep the budget in balance.

AUDIO: Nixon press conference 15:00