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March 2017 Reporter

March, 2017

Dear Members,


Follow Up to Pennsylvania Sales Tax Changes

In August of 2016 the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue published Rev-717, which outlines changes to items that are subject to sales tax as of January 1, 2017. The biggest change is with non-interred cremation urns, which are now taxable and cremation urns that are interred exempt from sales tax. As long as you come current within the first 60 days of 2017 on items you aren't currently paying sales/use tax on and should be, all penalties and one half of the interest is being waived by the Department of Revenue. Below are funeral industry items that are both exempt and nonexempt from sales tax:

Nonexempt: Hearses, limousines, other flower cars, shrouds, clothing designed and only useable for burial purposes, cosmetics, embalming supplies, embalming equipment, flowers and floral decorations, cremation jewelry, religious articles, guest books, rental of property to the funeral director such as limousines and hearses, and rental of property by the funeral director if a separate charge is made for the rental.

Exempt: Caskets -sold or rented, moveable burial vaults, and markers and tombstones for human graves.

More information on Rev-717 can be found at http://www.revenue.pa.gov/FormsandPublications/FormsforBusinesses/Documents/Sales-Use%20Tax/rev-717.pdf.

Transgender Funerals

Transgender is a word that has been in the news a lot lately. Webster's dictionary defines a Transgender person as someone whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.

Rachel L. Levine, Pennsylvania's Physician General, recommends that if friends and family of a deceased individual let you know the person is Transgender, you should seek input from them on how the deceased should be identified during the funeral process. It is important to follow the lead of family and friends, when you are unsure of a person's gender identity.

For more information, visit www.transequality.org and www.equalitypa.org.

Prescription for a Safe Community

A public health issue that has become more prevalent in communities is how relatives dispose of prescription medications after the passing of a loved one. Loved ones who have recently passed may have prescription medications in their homes posing potential risk of poisoning, prescription medication theft, and unsafe non-medical use by family members. Funeral directors can implement best practices and provide medication safety recommendations to families to reduce the availability of prescription medications and prevent misuse and abuse.

There are two inserts included for Funeral Directors to share with families: Medication Safety and Funeral Directors: Help Your Clients Avoid Prescription Drug-Related Victimization.

Source: PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs


Eastern Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association Officers Installed

Eastern Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association recently held their annual installation banquet at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem. PFDA President, Debra Jo Ashton-Chase installed President, Walter M. Lovitto, Jr. (Trexler Funeral Home, Inc., Allentown), Vice President, Tony L. Moore (Director of Funeral Service Education, NCC), Secretary, James C. Deischer (Pearson Funeral Home, Bethlehem) and Treasurer, Rodney S. Koch (Stephens Funeral Home, Allentown).

Allegheny County Funeral Directors Association Officers Installed(ACFDA)

ACFDA recently held their annual memorial service and installation of officers and new board members at the Highmark Caring Place. PFDA Secretary/Treasurer, Stephanie Doriguzzi installed President, Edward P. Kanai, III, Vice President, John N. Elachko, III, Treasurer, Kevin Dieterle, Secretary, David Mahlstedt, and new board members, Patrick J. Konieczny, James E. Maksin, and Paul J. Urban.

Luzerne County Cremation Fees Increased for 2017

As of February 1, 2017 the fee for cremation permits in Luzerne County increased from $35.00 to $60.00. The increase will help fund a newly created chief deputy coroner position and off-set costs for autopsies linked to drug overdose deaths, which they are expecting will increase this year.

Source: Times Leader, February 13, 2017


Burgettstown Funeral Director Charged with Stealing Preneed Funds

Lynn S. Taucher, a Pennsylvania funeral director, has been charged with stealing over $340,000 from clients over a 9 ½ year period. Instead of placing money that clients paid her in advance for their funerals, in individual escrow accounts, Taucher co-mingled the money with her personal finances. Pennsylvania state law requires the money be put in individual escrow accounts. There are 46 felony charges of theft by failure to make disposition of funds, three misdemeanor counts of the same offense, and one charge each of forgery and insurance fraud.

Philadelphia Funeral Home Owes The IRS

Baker Funeral Home in North Philadelphia, failed to file tax returns and pay taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for many years. The action against the funeral home, filed in 2011, claimed $800,000 in unpaid employment taxes, which includes interests and penalties accrued since 2002. After several motions filed by the government for various other violations by the Baker Funeral Home and owner Vince Baker relating to this original case, the case is pending in district court.


Funeral Arrangement Email Scam

Several member funeral homes have received an email from flexsteven@yahoo.com claiming his mum died in Istanbul Turkey and he wants their funeral home to handle the arrangements. He also provides an email address for the funeral home in Istanbul. Delete this email immediately, it's a scam.

IRS Scam Warning

Cybercriminals are sending emails to payroll or human resource departments, from an email address that looks like it's coming from an executive within the same business, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. The IRS has enacted a number of safeguards in 2016 and 2017 to help them identify fraudulent tax returns.

If your business becomes a victim of a W-2 theft scam, report it to the IRS immediately and they can take steps to help protect your employees and their identity. Information on tax-related scams and ways you can keep on the lookout for these cybercriminals, can be found at www.irs.gov.

UGI Scam

UGI is warning the public of people posing as UGI employees both in person and over the phone. In one incident, the imposter took the owner to the basement to look at the equipment and another person robbed the home. Customers are also receiving phone calls telling them their gas service has been shut off due to lack of payment and the imposter is asking for a social security number and ask for payment on a prepaid credit card.

UGI has some tips for customers: employees have ID cards with their name, company logo, they wear a blue uniform with a company logo on them, and they drive marked and numbered vehicles. Most work is scheduled, unless there is an emergency and most meter reading is done between 7 a.m and 5 p.m. You can call UGI at 800-276-2722 to verify a visit, phone call or email from UGI.


New Member Benefit - Discount Background Checks

Effective staff and vendor management has become a necessity in today's business environment, that is why PFDA is partnering with Coeus Global, a nationally recognized background screening provider. As a PFDA member, you will receive a 20 - 40% member discount.

Choosing the right partner can be the difference between providing a safe and secure environment for your customers and employees, as well as reducing potential risks, and allowing undesirable elements to tarnish your organizations valuable reputation within your community.

Coeus Global's online Employee Management System (EMS) will allow your funeral home, locally or nationally, to effectively conduct background screenings and track staff applicants quickly and easily.

To learn more about this new member benefit discount program please contact James Eirkson at: james@pfda.org or 800-692-6068

Federated's New Drive S.A.F.E Program

Federated Insurance wants to help you prevent your employees and loved ones from being injured or killed in a vehicle crash. Our ongoing, multi-part campaign to reduce vehicle crashes and fatalities now includes the Drive S.A.F.E. program.

There are four major contributors to vehicle crashes: Speed, Attention, Fatigue, and Emotion. Drive S.A.F.E. was created to raise awareness of how these actors contribute to crashes.

Federated designed the Drive S.A.F.E. education program specifically to help employers start the conversation with their employees on driving responsibility and the dangers involved with these behind-the-wheel actions.

Federated marketing representatives will personally deliver the Drive S.A.F.E. program to each of their clients. For more information, contact your local Federated representative or visit federatedinsurance.com.

Funeral Directors Life Recognized as a 2017 Best Workplace in Texas

Funeral Directors Life was recently recognized by FORTUNE magazine and Great Place to Work® as one of the Best Workplaces in Texas for 2017, ranked at #6 overall in the state. The Best Workplaces in Texas rankings are based on feedback from more than 100,000 employees at Great Place to Work–Certified™ organizations with locations in Texas, including several national and multi-national companies.

To see the Best Workplaces in Texas for 2017 list, go to www.greatplacetowork.com.


New Classified Ad Page on the PFDA Website

The PFDA website now has a stand-alone page for classified ads. Members and non-members are permitted to advertise any funeral related products they are looking to sell on this page. The cost to advertise on the page is $55.00 per month, which will also include a listing in the monthly newsletter. It's an additional $5.00 to have a file# attached to your ad. All ad information needs to be sent to Donna in the PFDA office via email to donna@pfda.org or fax at 717-545-7360, by the 15th of the month to appear in the following month's newsletter and on the website.


End-Of-Life Care Seminar

St. Luke's University Health Network is sponsoring "The Most Important Conversation American Isn't Having" on Wednesday April 19, 2017 at 7:30pm. The event will be held at the Central Moravian Church, West Church & Main Streets, Bethlehem, PA. Admission is $10.00 and tickets can be purchased by calling 1-866-785-8537 or at www.sluhn.org/littnerlectureseries.

PFDA Annual Convention

The 2017 Annual Convention and Expo will be held April 23-26, 2017 at Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Pocono Manor, PA. Attendees can reserve overnight rooms by calling 855-356-9208 and asking for the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association block or going online to https://book.kalahariresorts.com/poconos/groups.asp and using the group booking ID 416.

Registration brochures for this year's annual convention are available online at http://www.pfda.org/2017_convention_and_expo/.

Local Association Presidents and Secretaries and PFDA members are asked to submit names of deceased members and immediate family members to be honored at the Service of Remembrance during the PFDA Annual Convention. The service will be held on Tuesday, April 25 at 11:00am.

The annual service awards ceremony will take place during the PFDA Annual Convention on Tuesday, April 25 at 10:30am.

PFDA invites you to join in making a donation to this year's silent auction at Convention. All proceeds go to the Funeral Service Fund and Building Fund. In 2016, $6,000 was raised due to many baskets and items that were received. Your help is needed again this year.

Forms for all of the events listed above are enclosed.

2017 District Meetings

PFDA's Annual District Meetings will be held during the weeks of September 11-14 and September 18-21, 2017.


R. Kline Ashton, Sr., 84, of Palmer Twp., died on January 25, 2017. He was the owner of Ashton Funeral Home, Inc., Easton and a past PFDA Board Member. Kline is survived by three children, which are all PA licensed funeral directors and working in the family business: Debra Jo Ashton-Chase, PFDA President; R. Kline Ashton, Jr. and W. Scott Ashton.

Charlotte Saloom Mowry, 78, of Acme, died on January 29, 2017. She is survived by her brother, Eugene G. Saloom, a PA licensed funeral director working at the Saloom-Peterson Funeral Home, Youngwood.

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