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The Teller County Business Buzz highlights the local economic scene, promotions, acquisitions and expansions. Contact Pat Hill at pat.hill@pikespeaknewspapers.com or 686-6458 for the chance to be featured.

CHAMBER WARNS OF CONTINUING PHONE SCAM

The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce is once again warning businesses about an active phone scam in Woodland Park.

Businesses are receiving phone calls from a caller with a foreign accent, claiming to represent Black Hills Energy. The caller ID may display a number and show Black Hills Energy as the caller, but the Chamber of Commerce warns that is a spoofed number.

The callers claim that the business owes an amount of money which must be paid immediately, or face discontinuation of services.

The Chamber is urging those who receive this call to hang up. Those who proceed with the calls will be asked to purchase a pre-paid Visa credit card and call the number back. Please do not do this.

Contact the Black Hills Energy customer service number provided on your utility bill to confirm that this is a scam.

Those who fall prey should report the scam to the Woodland Park Police Department at 687-9262.

Please be aware that scam callers may use the names of other utility companies to trick you into paying them funds. Again, hang up if you receive this call.

IRS RELEASES 2019 OPTIONAL STANDARD MILEAGE RATES

The Internal Revenue Service has issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

As of Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:

• 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018;

• 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018; and

• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate increased 3.5 cents for business travel driven and 2 cents for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2018. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. Taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses, except members of the Armed Forces on active duty moving under orders to a permanent change of station.

The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously. These and other limitations are described in section 4.05 of Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2019-02, posted on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

- Compiled by Breeanna Jent

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