2 months ago

Ivey administration using cutting edge tech to combat state income tax fraud

Under Governor Kay Ivey’s administration, the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) and IDEMIA, the global leader in Augmented Identity technology, on Monday announced enhancements to the IDEMIA eID app, which provides all Yellowhammer State taxpayers the ability to protect their identity and combat state income tax fraud.

“IDEMIA has been an outstanding partner in our efforts to continuously improve our service to Alabama taxpayers through the IDEMIA eID app, which prevents a fraudulent state tax return from being processed in a taxpayer’s name,” Alabama Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to deliver an enhanced IDEMIA eID app for our taxpayers, providing them identity protection and priority processing to get refunds faster.”

The state-of-the-art app enables users to securely protect their identity from theft, verify their tax return and, on average, obtain their refund 60 percent faster than taxpayers who do not use the app. Now, the latest enhancements of the technology are optimized for iOS and Android devices, including compatibility with iOS 12, the new iPhone X lineups and the new Android 9.0 Pie release.

“Our highly secure IDEMIA eID app empowers Alabama taxpayers to take control of their identity to protect themselves and their state tax refund,” Matt Thompson, IDEMIA senior vice president, civil identity for North America, stated. “The latest update enhances the security while making it easier to use, which will delight everyone who uses the app.”

IDEMIA and ADOR entered uncharted waters last year to combat tax theft. Alabama became the first state in the nation to have a full-scale deployment of the electronic ID app for identity protection and to combat state income tax refund theft by using IDEMIA’s cutting-edge technology.

With the free IDEMIA eID app, Alabama taxpayers use a selfie and their driver’s license or state ID card to be digitally authenticated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). After using their eID to opt-in, ADOR notifies taxpayers when a return is filed by sending a notification through the eID app. The app allows taxpayers to securely verify if they filed the return or decline the transaction because it is fraudulent.

“Our clients depend on our professional knowledge to ensure their tax filing needs are met,” Jeannine P. Birmingham, president and CEO of the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants, advised. “The eID app offered by ADOR and IDEMIA provides us a valuable solution to help protect our clients’ identities and their tax returns.”

The app is available for download in Apple’s App Store and in the Google Play Store for Android users. For more information, click here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 mins ago

State Rep. Matt Fridy: Legislature’s general fund lottery proposal would have been rejected by voters

Would voters have approved a lottery with proceeds steered to the state’s general fund over its education trust fund?

We may never know given such a proposal to do just that passed the Alabama Senate this year but was not considered by the Alabama House of Representatives. And when a lottery proposal with 25% of proceeds dedicated to the education trust fund, it still failed to pass the House.

One of those voting against it in the House was State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo). He argued that even if the legislature had gotten enough support to get the three-fifths majority required to send a constitutional amendment for a lottery to be considered by voters on an election ballot, voters likely would have rejected it if proceeds were steered to the general fund.

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“I really haven’t heard from very many other people,” Fridy said on Thursday’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Huntsville radio’s WVNN. “Those that I have heard from, when I explained that this is not an education lottery — this is a general fund lottery for the legislators to spend on the general fund however they want to, it’s nearly unanimous that people tell me, ‘Well, I’m glad you voted no on that because I wouldn’t want that kind of lottery.'”

“I don’t see the reason for putting a lottery out there for a vote when all the polls show us that the lottery that’s being proposed is going to be voted down,” he added. “There’s no reason to waste everybody’s time on a form of a lottery that the voters are going to reject. If we’re going to come with a lottery, it’s going to be one that we feel like the people are going to pass. Otherwise, we’re just wasting everybody’s time, and we’re wasting the taxpayer’s money.”

The Shelby County Republican prefaced his remarks by saying polling he had seen wasn’t tied to this specific proposal but in general.

“I don’t think it would have,” he said. “Now, I didn’t see any specific polling data for this specific lottery proposal at this specific time. But really, I’ve seen polling over the last year with regard to the lottery that shows the kind of lottery people want to vote for is an education lottery, not a general fund lottery.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

46 mins ago

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles’ failure leads to max settlement allowed under state law

The State of Alabama will pay the maximum damages allowed under state law after the Board of Pardons and Paroles allegedly wrongfully paroled and failed to supervise a career criminal.

The state will pay the maximum possible settlement award, $1 million, to the families of Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford — the three north Alabama victims Jimmy O’Neal Spencer has been charged with murdering after his release in late 2017.

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Prior to his release and subsequent alleged murder spree, Spencer had lived a life of crime stretching across three decades, beginning in 1984 at the age of 19. He was convicted and imprisoned for numerous serious property and violent crimes, as well as for numerous disciplinary infractions in prison and for several successful escapes from prison.

On two separate occasions, Spencer was sentenced to life imprisonment. In one memorable case, he attempted to burglarize an occupied home and, refusing to retreat, had to be shot by the homeowner.

Despite all of this, Spencer was granted parole by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on November 2, 2017.

Spencer was at that time released to a homeless shelter in Birmingham where he was supposed to remain for six months. However, after only three weeks, he left.

Spencer then traveled to Guntersville, where he had several run-ins with law enforcement and was charged for multiple violations of the law, including: traffic offenses, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempting to elude police, resisting arrest and illegal possession of a firearm.

Nonetheless, his parole was not revoked — which seemingly led to three innocent lives being taken.

Less than six months after being released, in July 2018, Spencer allegedly murdered Reliford through blunt-force trauma to her head. Her body was discovered only after the bodies of Martin and her seven-year-old grandson, Lee, were found in a nearby home. They also had been brutally murdered.

Spencer was charged in the three deaths with capital murder in August 2018. He is currently awaiting trial in the Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery. The attorney general’s office noted that defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney General Marshall recused himself and was not a part of the settlement negotiations, having previously known two of the victims. He released a statement after the settlement was finalized.

Marshall said, “Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford died horrifically and senselessly at the hands of a monster—Jimmy O’Neal Spencer.”

“Ms. Reliford and Mrs. Martin, whom I knew personally, have been on my mind since July,” the attorney general continued. “Every time I think of what they suffered through, I get angry. I am angry, certainly at Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, but I am also angry that a process designed to protect the public from deviant criminals like Spencer utterly failed them, as well as little Colton.”

The settlement comes as crucial legislation is pending in the Alabama Legislature to reform the Board of Pardons and Paroles to ensure this type of avoidable case never happens again.

That legislation sponsored by State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), HB 380, has passed the House but is yet to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislature is expected to wrap up its 2019 regular session next week.

Marshall’s office crafted the bill and has been a vocal advocate for its passage, as has Governor Kay Ivey.

“Sadly, we know that these victims aren’t the only ones that have been failed by our broken system of pardons and paroles, and that is why I continue to advocate for much-needed legislative reforms,” Marshall concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Congressional support, Air Force decision create critical opportunity for Alabama aerospace industry

Winning the national security space race is crucial for America’s ability to defend itself. Recently, several members of Alabama’s congressional delegation fought to equip the nation for success when they petitioned the Air Force to select a U.S. launch provider based on a competitive, timely process in the best interest of national security.

The Air Force chose to move forward with that approach and has entered the next round of awards which result in an opportunity for Alabama’s aerospace industry to increase its impact on America’s space program.

Because of Alabama’s strong leadership in Washington, Alabama-based aerospace companies are ready to compete to bring the work home. Learn more.

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1 hour ago

Planned Parenthood-organized boycott participant Colorado Sec of State Jena Griswold’s office spent a total of $1,800 in last 3 years in Alabama

Immediately after the Alabama legislature passed and Governor Kay Ivey signed the Human Life Protection Act into law last week, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold reportedly worked with Planned Parenthood to coordinate a press release announcing her office’s plans to boycott the state.

“Internal emails obtained by 9News provide an eye-opening look into how Griswold involved Planned Parenthood in an official declaration regarding the travel of state employees under her purview,” Yellowhammer News’ Sean Ross wrote on Thursday.

However, as it turns out, it is not that much.

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According to Colorado Springs NBC-affiliate KOAA, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office has spent $1,797 dating back to 2017.

In 2017, tourists spent $14.3 billion in Alabama. In 2018, the total grew to $15.5 billion for a total of $29.8 billion. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office accounted for 0.000006% of total tourism spending in Alabama over that period.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

Watch: Injured Auburn PD officer’s K-9 partner visits him in hospital

Auburn Police Department Officer Webb Sistrunk was critically wounded in the line of duty on Sunday night, but his road to recovery got a lift this week.

Sistrunk was airlifted Sunday to Piedmont Columbus Hospital in the shooting that fatally wounded Officer William Buechner and also saw Officer Evan Elliot transported to a local hospital.

Sistrunk’s status was downgraded on Wednesday from ICU to critical care, according to Jessica Roberts, Piedmont Columbus’ communication director.

While Sistrunk will continue to undergo a number of medical procedures moving forward, his spirits were lifted when his K-9 partner, Leon, paid him a special visit in the hospital.

Watch:

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Leon, whose third birthday will be in July, was actually with Sistrunk during the shooting but escaped unscathed, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

“The Sistrunk family thanks everyone for their continued prayers for our officer and asks that you keep the Buechner and Elliott families in your prayers as well,” Roberts said in a statement.

Elliott has been treated and released from the hospital.

There has been a GoFundMe set up for Sistrunk to help cover medical costs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn