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(2/14/18) - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers of a growing scam targeting tax preparers.

Scammers steal sensitive client data from tax preparers and use it to file fraudulent tax returns. The tax refunds are then deposited into taxpayers’ real bank accounts. The scammers will follow up by calling and posing as debt collection agency representatives, informing taxpayers of a refund deposited in error and asking them return the money. 

If you file your taxes electronically, and the return is rejected because one has already been filed with your Social Security number, you may be a victim of this tax preparer data breach.

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The IRS has outlined the steps you need to take if you are affected by the scam and need to return an erroneous tax refund to them:

If the erroneous refund was via direct deposit:

  1. Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
  2. Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.

If the erroneous refund was a paper check and hasn't been cashed:

  1. Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  2. Submit the check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below. The location is based on the city (possibly abbreviated) on the bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND on your refund check.
  3. Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  4. Include a note stating, "Return of erroneous refund check because (and give a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check)."

The erroneous refund was a paper check and you have cashed it:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • If you no longer have access to a copy of the check, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) (see telephone and local assistance for hours of operation) and explain to the IRS representative that you need information to repay a cashed refund check.
  • Write on the check/money order: Payment of Erroneous Refund, the tax period for which the refund was issued, and your taxpayer identification number (social security number, employer identification number, or individual taxpayer identification number).
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund.
  • Repaying an erroneous refund in this manner may result in interest due the IRS.

For the nearest IRS office to return paper checks, visit the IRS website.

(2/1/18) – Yesterday, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS) was named as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE).
While SERS’ legal team is still reviewing the details of the lawsuit, we believe that all actions taken by SERS regarding the changes to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) were legal and prudent. 
We are confident that the actions taken by the Board and the Legislature are in the best interest of SERS and its members and retirees and we will prevail in this action.
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For nearly two years, SERS held several open meetings with representatives from all advocacy groups, including OAPSE, to discuss possible benefit changes and their effects on SERS and its membership. We modeled the effects of numerous combinations of changes before deciding on the COLA changes that were implemented. We are disappointed that OAPSE’s opposition to these changes was not registered during the open process when they could have been addressed with input from all interested parties.

(1/30/18) – On January 23, 2018, SERS became aware of fraudulent activity on the online member portal. SERS immediately shut down the online portal and began investigating.

Through our investigation, we have determined that this is not a breach situation on the part of SERS. Rather, the intruders established new online accounts for 21 retirees using personal information that was stolen during the data breaches of other companies. The intent was to redirect pension payments to an online bank account that only they could access. We believe our investigation of the fraudulent activity has been thorough and that we have contacted everyone affected. 

If you established your own online account, it is highly unlikely you are affected. However, you should check your account just to be sure. As a precaution, SERS locked down numerous accounts that had recent activity or similarities to other accounts that were fraudulently accessed. We don’t believe these accounts were affected, and all you have to do is call us at 800-878-5853 to reopen the account.

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(1/29/18) - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated the income-tax withholding tables for 2018. The updated percentage method tables reflect changes in tax rates and tax brackets, and will be effective on your February 1, 2018 check. The withholding information is posted on

  [Read More...]

How Does This Affect Me?

Depending on your tax bracket and number of allowances on your W-4P form, your retirement payment may be more or less than previous months. Review your 2017 payment stub and compare it to a 2018 payment stub for the change.


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