August 2020
Our Back-to-School Issue:
Kudos to School District Professionals, Families & Students
We want to begin this month's e-newsletter with a shout-out to those people who have been working hard throughout the summer to prepare for children going back to school.

Jim Mathieson, CPA, co-founder of the firm and retired managing partner, plays a role as an elected Community Unit School District 200 board member. We thank the board, the faculty and staff, and all the parents and students who are adapting to delivering education safely in the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes our own team members who have little ones (or big kids!) going off to school. Whether learning in person, virtually or a hybrid of the two, we're thinking of you.
Beware of the "Dirty Dozen" List of
Tax Scams Unveiled by the IRS
Riots_ Robbery and Marauding Concept. Portrait of disguised villain in black mask posing at camera on white background
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams with an emphasis on schemes related to COVID-19 tax relief.

"Tax scams tend to rise during tax season or during times of crisis, and scam artists are using the pandemic to try stealing money and information from honest taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "The IRS provides the Dirty Dozen list to help raise awareness about common scams that fraudsters use to target people. We urge people to watch out for these scams. The IRS is doing its part to protect Americans. We will relentlessly pursue criminals trying to steal your money or sensitive personal financial information."
seniors using tablet and smart phone
Among the list of the "Dirty Dozen" are:

Phishing: The IRS’ criminal investigators have seen a tremendous increase in phishing schemes utilizing emails, letters, texts and links. Most of the new schemes actively play on the fears and unknowns of the virus and Economic Impact Payments (EIPs).

Fake charities: Criminals frequently exploit natural disasters and other situations, like
the COVID-19 pandemic, by setting up fake charities. Fraudsters may even claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS.

Threatening impersonator phone calls: Typically, a criminal claiming to be with the
IRS makes a threatening phone call and attempts to instill fear and urgency in the victim.
In fact, the IRS will never threaten a taxpayer or demand an immediate payment.

Social media scams: These include emails where scammers impersonate someone's
family members, friends or co-workers. Using personal information, the criminal may email the victim with a link containing malware.

EIP or refund thefts: Criminals this year also turned their attention to stealing Economic Impact Payments. This often stems from identity theft whereby criminals file false tax returns or supply other bogus information to the IRS to divert refunds to wrong addresses or bank accounts.

Rounding out the list are:
  • Senior fraud 
  • Scams targeting non-English speakers 
  • Unscrupulous return preparers
  • "Offer in Compromise" mills (unscrupulous debt resolution mills)
  • Fake payments with repayment demands 
  • Payroll and HR scams
  • Ransomware

Stay vigilant against these scams. Use a healthy degree of caution and when in doubt, please give us a call.
Celebrating Being Among the "Best Places to Work"
Last week we gathered virtually to be part of the Daily Herald Business Ledger's celebration of the "Best Places to Work in Illinois 2020."

A total of 73 companies were honored as the 2020 Best Places to Work in Illinois, sponsored by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, MRA -- The Management Association, and Small Business Advocacy Council.

The statewide survey and awards program is designed to recognize and honor the best places of employment in Illinois and we were proud to be among them. Best Companies Group of Harrisburg, PA, managed the overall registration and survey process, analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.
Our People Make a Difference
Another fond good-bye

We said goodbye to another intern this summer, Jessica Hagen. Jessica joined us for what had to be history's longest "extended tax season." We appreciated her contribution to us and to our clients. She's headed back to Illinois State University, where she will complete her bachelor's and master's degrees during the next two years.
Golf was in the air this month as our partners took to the tees for a good cause. The Lions Club Golf Outing on August 19 was a smashing success with a fund-raiser via silent auction that far exceeded expectations. We were proud to sponsor a hole at the beautiful Cantigny Golf.

We also participated as a sponsor of the DuPage County Bar Association Golf Outing held at Naperville Country Club on August 26. As new members of the DCBA, we were happy to be part of this annual event which funds the DCBA Foundation and Legal Aid.
(L to R): Brian Hagene, Ron Austin and Brett Mathieson on the links at the Lions Club golf outing
(L to R) Brian Hagene, Brett Mathieson and Brian Eisenmenger at the DCBA golf outing
What We Did On Our Summer Vacations
Before we say goodbye, we want to ask you: "What did you do on your summer vacation?" Granted, it's a different kind of year for travel and vacations. But we know the importance of rest and relaxation (R&R) as well as the joy of time together with family and friends. Here's an album of some of our team's time away.
Cindy Gunderson and hubby got away to visit Cindy's brother and sister-in-law at beautiful Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver, Indiana
The Austins headed for a weekend of hiking, kayaking and biking in Galena and the Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savannah, Illinois
Jennifer Grealish and significant other Robert spent some relaxing time on Lake Geneva
The three young Austins--Luke, Claire and Leah--scaled a cliff while on their weekend away
Brandon Soris was volunteer coach of his son's Little League Team, complete with temperature checks and facemasks
We hope you got a chance to get some R&R yourself this summer... or maybe you're planning a Labor Day get-away. Whether you are back in the office or working virtually, or enjoying some well-deserved time off, stay safe. Please let us know how we can be of service to you.
Ron Austin, CPA
Brian Eisenmenger, CPA
Brian Hagene, CPA
Brett Mathieson, CPA
John Straus, CPA