Monthly Archives: February 2020

Don’t be a victim of tax fraud: Tips for filing

For tax scammers, tax season equals ill-gotten profits. Tax refund fraud victims usually first learn of the crime after having their returns rejected because scammers beat them to it. 

Here is what you can do when you’re ready to file to avoid becoming a tax fraud victim:

  • File before the fraudsters do it for you. Your primary defense against becoming the next victim is to file your taxes at the state and federal level as quickly as possible.
  • Get an IRS IP PIN. Michigan residents are now eligible for the IRS Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) Opt-In Program. An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. It helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept their electronic or paper tax return.
  • Use a credible tax preparer. You should beware of tax preparation firms that claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund, ask consumers to sign a blank tax form, refuse to provide a preparer tax identification number or provide copies of your tax returns, or charge outrageous fees. Anyone can file their taxes for free using IRS’s Free File Software or Free File Fillable Forms.
  • Watch out for tax-related companies. Some legitimate-looking companies claim to be able to “free” consumers from tax liens, wage garnishments, levies and “unbearable monthly payments” for huge upfront fees. Other companies claim to be able to settle debts to the IRS for pennies on the dollar, and yet others will claim to give you an advance on your refund but will never hand over the balance of the money. Instead of paying big upfront fees to shady firms, consumers having trouble paying taxes should contact the IRS or their state comptroller. The IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent office within the IRS that provides free help to consumers having trouble paying their federal taxes. Consumers experiencing difficulties paying state taxes should contact the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers for guidance.
  • Don’t use insecure Wi-Fi. Skip using the Wi-Fi at a coffee spot, hotel or fast food location to file tax returns online. These locations are prime places for hackers to intercept and steal your personal information.
  • Use direct deposit for refunds. Get your refund via direct deposit rather than by check so criminals can’t redirect it to their address or steal it from your mailbox.
  • Keep your eye on your information (again)! Do not leave your tax returns or any of the key paperwork in the car, on the kitchen counter or on top of the desk at home.

Next week, the final part of this series, will include tips on how to tell if you’ve been a victim and what to do if you become one. See The Star from Feb. 13 for the first part of the series. If you have questions, please contact LCC Director of Information Security Paul H. Schwartz at schwarp1@lcc.edu.

OER Awards Program now accepting new proposals

To address textbook affordability and support the Competitiveness and Innovation focus area of the college’s strategic plan, LCC’s OER Award Program is opening a new round of monetary incentives for adoption, adaption and creation of Open Educational Resources. OER are accessible, openly licensed text, media and other digital materials instrumental for teaching and learning.
 
Awards are available to all teaching faculty (adjunct and full-time) at LCC. Individuals, teams, and departments or programs are encouraged to work together for continuity.
 
Teaching faculty are invited to submit proposals in three categories: adoption of existing OER material, revision and/or remix of existing OER material, and development of new OER material. This innovative program supports quality, low-cost learning materials, development of new educational content, and publishing.
 
Proposals are being accepted until April 13. For more information, check out the LCC Library Research Guide and contact OER Project Manager Amy Larson at larsona5@lcc.edu.

Nominate an LGBTQIA+ Icon for the 2020 Prism Icon Display

Have you gathered inspiration from someone in the LGBTQIA+ community locally or nationally? Would you like to showcase an LGBTQIA+ individual who has made important contributions to society? Now is your opportunity – nominate them for our LGBTQIA+ Icon display!

The LCC Employee Prism Alliance, with support from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is presenting the LGBTQIA+ Icon display during April 2020. The display will rotate to various Downtown and West campus locations. It will include posters and biographical information about icons. An opening reception and presentation will be held 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, in the Gannon Building Grand River Room.

The LGBTQIA+ community has so much to be proud of, and celebrating those who have made, and continue to make, positive contributions to society is important. In celebrating LGBTQIA+ icons, we are taking our lead from LGBTQIA+ History Month celebrations, which honor icons yearly. For example, The Equity Forum has a 2019 list of icons on its website.

We encourage you to nominate LGBTQIA+ individuals whose life and achievements have made a difference in your life. Nominations are open to all LCC students and employees, and are due Wednesday, March 6.

If you have any questions, please contact Fran Krempasky, Prism Steering Committee Member/Resources Chair.

What about benefits? Form 1095-C mailing

LCC offers an array of benefits to employees, but understanding those benefits can be confusing. Each week, Human Resources hopes to explain the many facets of our LCC benefits.

As a large employer, LCC is required each tax season to provide Form 1095-C to all employees who had offers of health coverage and enrollment in that coverage during the previous taxable year. The 1095-C displays the months you were offered coverage, the months you and any eligible dependents were enrolled in coverage, and the minimum cost to be enrolled in coverage (which could be different than what you actually paid).
 
If you were offered medical coverage through LCC in the taxable year 2019, you will receive your 1095-C in the mail to your home address on file with Human Resources. Please be on the lookout for this mailing in the coming days.
 
As a reminder, the 1095-C is not required to file your 2019 federal income tax returns.
 
If you have any questions or require an electronic copy of your 1095-C, please contact Mara Fisher at perrym16@star.lcc.edu.

StarTalks nominations due March 13

StarTalks is seeking nominations for this year’s event! StarTalks will be held in May in Dart Auditorium. Each talk will be recorded and shared with the campus community.  

Do you have a colleague who has inspired you and others in the LCC community? Or maybe you work with someone who is retiring soon who would like to share their reflections on their time at LCC? Find more information or nominate a colleague, student, alumnus or yourself to give a StarTalk online. Nominations are due March 13. 

Watch your LCC colleagues’ StarTalks from 2019 and be inspired: Andrea Lake, “The Power of Meaningful Conversations” and Monica Del Castillo, “You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are.”  

A round of Applause! for Justus Rohlfs

This week, we’re applauding Justus Rohlfs of ITS and Marketing.

“I would like to recognize and thank Justus Rohlfs for all his hard work and dedication to LCC, but especially his work here in the past 12 months as part of the web team,” Nick Myers wrote in the award. “I was out most of January for the birth of my son, and he stepped up in a big way in my absence. He kept up on all the website requests, including events and marketing projects. It was a huge relief to me and my family to not have to worry about work for a couple weeks while we were adjusting to our new life. Not only has he helped in my absence, but has also been a key contributor in the web relaunch efforts since late 2018, including the majority of the accessibility improvements and enhancements we’ve done with the web. He also does great work with video and media services, which is his primary role at the college. He is a huge asset to LCC.”

This regular “Applause!” column features the good work you and your colleagues do around the college. It’s powered by Applause! Awards, an LCC-wide program designed to recognize you for providing excellent customer service. Know someone who deserves to be featured here? All awards are given by employees, to employees, and everyone is eligible.

In the news

Press clips for the week include:

Free Social Security presentations available

Social Security is an important piece of the retirement puzzle. If you are ready to better understand the filing process and learn strategies to help you with your choices, you’re in luck!
 
Representatives from Waddell & Reed and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company will be on the Downtown Campus 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m. March 3 to present on Social Security. Food will be provided at both time slots and space is limited.
 
Please check out the event flyer for more information and how to RSVP for one of these free and beneficial presentations.

Awards Showcase nominations due next week!

You only have a few days left to nominate your colleagues for the 2019-2020 Experience #Starpower Awards Showcase! These exciting awards are designed to honor the hard work, innovation and dedication of you and your peers.
 
One person will be honored in each of these categories:

  • President’s Award (Outstanding Achievement Award)
  • Provost’s Award (Teaching Faculty of the Year)
  • Provost’s Award (Academic Professional of the Year) 
  • Galaxy Award (Administrator of the Year)
  • Aurora Award (Diversity Excellence Award)
  • Superstar Award (Public Safety or Facilities Employee of the Year)
  • Eclipse Award (Safety Award)
  • Shining Star Award (Support Person of the Year)
  • Rock Star Award (Student Employee of the Year)
  • Rising Star Award (New Employee of the Year)
  • Giving Star Award (Philanthropic Award)

You can submit your thoughtful nominations on the Experience #Starpower Awards Showcase webpage. Nominations are due by close of business Tuesday, Feb. 25. 

Did you nominate someone in a prior year who did not win? The #Experience Starpower team gets many quality nominations every year, and would like to consider your nominee again! Just update your previous nomination with any current accomplishments. The #Experience Starpower team can forward your previous nomination to you, upon request. Simply go to the webpage and re-enter your information. The nominee cannot have won in a previous year.
 
Don’t forget, you can recognize the smaller successes of your co-workers every day with Applause! Awards. Applause! Awards are featured in The Star and are shared with the person you are recognizing.