Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: How can I report someone I suspect is committing tax fraud?

C.T.

Answer: There are several ways to report suspected tax fraud.

If it involves state taxes, you can contact the N.C. Department of Revenue Criminal Investigations Division by mail at P.O. Box 27431, Raleigh, NC 27611-7431; by phone at 800-232-4939; or online at www.ncdor.gov/contact-us/report-tax-fraud.

Information they will need includes the name and address of the person you are reporting, a brief description of the alleged violation including how you became aware of this information, the years involved, and so on. “Although you are not required to identify yourself, it is helpful to do so,” according to the DOR.

To report suspected tax fraud to the federal government, you can contact the Internal Revenue Service through www.irs.gov/individuals/how-do-you-report-suspected-tax-fraud-activity. There are various forms on that page you can print out and mail in depending on the nature of the suspected fraud. You can also call the tax fraud hotline at 800-829-0433.

Q: Can I take water plants from a city park to rehome them in my yard?

M.G.

Answer: No. “We do not allow anyone to collect plant materials in parks,” said William Royston with the city recreation and parks department.

Q: When will the Dog Days of Summer end?

A.B.

Answer: Depending on how you count them, we’re either in the early days of the Dog Days or about two weeks from the end of them.

The phrase “dog days” refers to a period of hot and uncomfortable weather during July and August. The days included in that period vary, and in ancient Rome the dog days were considered to last from July 23 or 24 to Aug. 23 or 24.

They are “now often reckoned from July 3 to Aug. 11,” according to Dictionary.com, and the phrase is also more generally used to denote “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence.”

The phrase is a translation of the Latin phrase “dies caniculares,” which means days of the dog star, because during those months, the rising of Sirius, the dog star, coincides with the rising of the sun.

Sirius, part of the constellation Canis Major (the name means “the greater dog” in Latin), is by far the brightest star in the nighttime sky. Some ancient stargazers concluded that the sun and Sirius rising together made the days extra hot. But the star has nothing to do with the heat; the sun gets all the credit.

Even in ancient times, some people recognized that fact. Richard Hinckley Allen, the author of “Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning,” quotes an ancient astronomer, Geminos, as saying: “It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the dog days; but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun’s heat is the greatest.”

Among the old wives’ tales about the dog days of summer are claims that, during that period, sores or wounds won’t heal as fast; that dogs go mad at that time of year (a belief that may be tied to the fact that overheated pups will pant and drool, making them look rabid); that snakes will go blind and strike out wildly; and that fish won’t bite.

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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