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August 2017

Dear Members,

STATE

REMINDER - New Sales and Use Tax Guidance Issued

The PA Department of Revenue has retracted the April 6, 2017 letter responding to numerous sales and use tax questions conveyed by PFDA, and has provided new guidance in response to PFDA's original request related to sales and use tax. It is critical that you review this letter as there are major changes from the original opinion.

To access the new guidance on sales and use tax issued by the PA Department of Revenue, please go to www.pfda.org and click the link in the breaking news section on the home page.



LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

House Bill 424 Signed by Governor

On July 7th, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 424, which amends the Vital Statistics Law of 1953 by allowing physician assistants to supply and sign medical certifications of death or fetal death. This change will take effect on September 7, 2017.

NATIONAL

NFDA Issues Warning On Heritage Cremation Providers

NFDA wants members to be aware of Heritage Cremation Providers, an online cremation business that has state enforcement actions against them in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee. Heritage Cremation Providers, which also operates under the name of Legacy Funeral Service, claims to be a low-cost, family-owned, locally based cremation service. However, they just collect money from customers for services and then they contact funeral homes that do removals and cremations to do all the work.

The Better Business Bureau has reported that the owners, Joseph Damiano and Anthony Joseph Damiano, Heritage Cremation Providers, and Legacy Funeral Services have been ordered to discontinue operations in Florida, Georgia and Colorado. Also, the State Funeral Board in North Carolina has advised funeral homes in that state that if they do any work for Heritage Cremation Providers, they will be charged with aiding and abetting an unlicensed provider of cremation.

NFDA is warning funeral homes in states where there are no sanctions against Heritage or Legacy, about the enforcements in these other states, and recommending that they seriously consider the potential consequences before agreeing to do business with these two companies or their customers.
Source: NFDA Bulletin, July 3, 2017

NFDA 2017 Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections

In July, NFDA released its cremation and burial report. Once again it showed a steady rise in cremation and there are several factors that contribute to that: "including consumer cost considerations, environmental concerns, fewer religious prohibitions of the practice and changing consumer preferences, such as the desire for simpler, less ritualized funeral practices."

The report found that the national cremation rate was 50.2% in 2016 and is projected to increase to 78.8% by 2035. Cremation is projected to exceed the 50% mark in 44 states over the next eight years, up from just 16 states exceeding 50% in 2010.

The projections for Pennsylvania are: 2018– burials will be 44.5% and cremations will be 49.7%, and by 2030 burials will only account for 25.1% of deaths, but cremations will account for 70.0 %. NFDA members can find more information on the report at http://www.nfda.org/resources/business-technical/cremation/cremation-exclusive-member-resources
Source: NFDA.org July 2017

NFDA 2017 Consumer Survey

The Consumer Survey for 2017 showed again, for the fifth year in a row, that consumers know it's important to pre-plan their funerals, but that only 21.4% of the 62.5% that feel it's important have relayed the information to their family members. The main reasons Americans have not made prearrangements are because it's not a priority to them and it costs too much to prepay. The survey also revealed that families want more personal services and the way families are honoring and celebrating their loved ones is constantly changing.

NFDA members can read more about the survey results at http://www.nfda.org/news/media-center/nfda-news-releases.
Source: NFDA Bulletin, June 26, 2017

NFDA Partners Exclusively with LendingUSA to Offer At-need Financing

NFDA has added LendingUSA to its list of exclusive endorsed partners. LendingUSA provides families, who are finding it difficult to pay for a loved one's funeral, with at-need financing solutions.

There is no risk to funeral homes when a family finances through LendingUSA for a funeral, as it's the family's responsibility to work directly with LendingUSA to pay off the loan. Funeral payment is usually made to the funeral home within three business days via direct deposit. To learn more about LendingUSA, NFDA members can go to www.nfda.org/endorsedproviders or by calling their NFDA member services representative at 800-228-6332.
Source: NFDA Bulletin, June 26, 2017

The Opioid Epidemic and Bloodborne Diseases

With the recent increase in the misuse of opioids there are headlines daily on all news outlets about the crisis and how it's impacting communities nationwide. Funeral service professionals and embalmers need to know that people who inject drugs can become infected with HIV, the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the hepatitis C virus (HCV) or other bloodborne pathogens.

The CDC has reported that due to the increase in injection drug users, hepatitis B and C infections have reached epidemic proportions in many states. People can become infected just by having contact with a surface, equipment or object that has infected blood on it. Since hepatitis B and C can live outside the body for at least a week, funeral home employees need to make sure they are taking the right measures to protect themselves from these bloodborne pathogens when handling any remains.
Source: OFDA The Buckeye Director, June 2017

Operation Honor Guard

In 2013, Rich Darby, whose family owns six funeral homes and a cemetery in Illinois, started Operation Honor Guard. Operation Honor Guard is a not-for-profit organization that provides financial support to organizations that provide military funerals for veterans and service members. The money helps the organizations purchase uniforms, equipment, rifles, etc., that are needed for a service. What started out as a grassroots effort, has now grown to include corporate sponsors, between 22 to 25 donation sites, a National Day of Giving, which is October 11th this year, and fundraising over $60,000.

The program continues to grow, but Darby needs some large corporate donations so they can hire staff and put a process into place to reach their goal of outfitting every honor guard in the US. If you are interested in becoming involved, go to operationhonorguard.us.
Source: Memorial Business Journal, June 1, 2017

BUSINESS TIPS

Protect Your Funeral Home's Social Media Sites

Daily there are news stories about personal information, including social media accounts, being accessed by hackers. When hackers have accessed business social media sites, they have posted posts that are detrimental to those businesses. There are best practices that can help minimize your chances of being hacked: 1. Update your computer and internet browsers regularly; 2. Pay for a good antivirus, spyware, adware program to protect you; 3. Create a password that is at least 10 characters long, use both upper and lower case letters, use numbers and symbols, and use different passwords for each account; 4. Your password should not include personal information like your phone number or birthday, the word password, anything in a sequence like 1234 or abcd, and it shouldn't be used on numerous sites or accounts. 5. Make sure you use a verification step for logging into your accounts by having a code texted to you or by sending you an email; and 6. When multiple employees are logging into your accounts you should set different level of access to employees, so that everyone doesn't have access to the password.
Source: The Director, July 2017

Build Relationships With Community Members Before They Need To Plan A Funeral

In many cases, people only think of a funeral home when they must plan or attend a loved one's funeral. Don't you want people to think of your funeral home first? Below are a few ways you can create relationships in your neighborhoods without planning someone's funeral.

In your community, there are various events like parades and graduations that happen yearly. They are many ways you can sponsor one of these celebrations, it can be as simple as offering to create a video to show at the event or give to people after the event. This allows you to show the services you offer and get your name out to the community.

Provide your community members with funeral planning resources, end-of-life resources, advice, and the latest funeral trends. You can educate the community by sharing articles on social media and placing brochures at other community businesses.

Funerals bring families and communities together during sad times, so why not host an event at your funeral home during happy times, like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. When you invite people into the funeral home, you are giving them a chance to meet the staff, see your facility and see everything you can offer to them.

Communities have doctors, nurses, clergy, first responders, etc. Do you have good relationships with these other end-of-life professionals? If you don't, you should, because networking is the key to getting referrals. These partnerships will help you, the other professionals and the families you serve.
Source: funeralOne Blog, June 14, 2017

PARTNERS


The Heat is On

If your job takes you outdoors when it's hot and humid, it can stop being pleasurable and become very dangerous. Preparing for working in heat and humidity can provide you protection from potentially deadly conditions.

Here are some heat related warning signs: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness/feeling light-headed and confusion.

Here are some best practices when working in the hot weather: pace yourself when working in the heat; hydrate with plenty of water or sports drinks, but no alcohol or caffeine; dress appropriately-—light-colored, lightweight, loose fitting clothing; stay out of the midday sun whenever possible; and wear sunscreen.
Source: Federated Insurance

LEGAL CASE

PA Vault Manufacturer Being Sued

Von-Crete of Hanover Township, PA is being sued by Wyomissing man due to muddy water overflowing from the vault that held his mother's casket. James G. Cardi discovered these conditions after he had his mother's coffin disinterred to check the waterproofing seal. On the day of his mother's funeral Cardi saw water collecting in the vault and was concerned about it, but a Von-Crete employee said that was normal and they proceeded with the funeral. Cardi, was bothered by the situation so he arranged to have the casket disinterred and found the vault full of water, the casket floating in muddy water, and the body submerged inside the coffin.

SCAM

Scam Alert!

The latest scam involves callers impersonating IRS employees and telling victims that a certified letter that was sent to them was undeliverable and has been returned to the IRS. The caller then proceeds to refer to the "Revenue Service's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System" and informs the victim they must pay the money via a prepaid debit card.

Victims should report suspicious calls to the Treasury inspector at 800-366-4484 and to the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
Source: The Kiplinger Letter, June 30, 2017

PFDA NEWS

Update Your PFDA Membership Information

PFDA will be updating the membership database information in September. Enclosed is a form for every funeral home to update their information. Please return the form to PFDA by August 15, 2017 so that your correct information is in the system.

UPCOMING EVENTS

2017 District Meetings


PFDA's Annual District Meetings will be held during the weeks of September 11-14
and September 18-21, 2017. We will be offering 3 continuing education credits. This year's speakers will be PFDA Past President Norm Shropshire and Curtis D. Rostad, CAE, CFSP, FACFEI, former Executive Director of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association. A registration form is enclosed.

OBITUARIES

Samuel A. Campanaro, 77, of Bangor, died on June 18, 2017. He was the owner and operator of Samuel A. Campanaro Funeral Home, Bangor.

Edward J. Kaufman, 80, of Montoursville, died recently following a brief illness. He is survived by his son, Scott, a licensed funeral director and owner operator of Kaufman Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Williamsport.

Jayne Ann Glunt, 46, Cambridge Springs, died on July 3. She is survived by her dad, Harry, a licensed funeral director, previous owner of the Glunt Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc, Edinboro, and a Past President of PFDA; her mother, Judith, who also works in the family business; a brother, David, a licensed funeral director and the president and supervisor of the family business; and a sister-in-law, Margaret, who is also working in the family business.

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