New IRS Security Measures Aim to Keep Taxpayers Safe

WP - Security - lock on keyboard

From the Internal Revenue Service:

The Internal Revenue Service has taken new steps for 2016 to protect you and help reduce the risk of identity theft this filing season.

It’s no secret that identity theft of all kinds is persistent, time consuming and frustrating. When criminals steal your personal data (especially your name and Social Security number) they can use that information to file a fraudulent tax return. That’s referred to as tax-related identity theft.

That’s why the IRS, states and tax industry are committed to working together to combat tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. This group, called the Security Summit, has announced stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system that are in effect for the 2016 tax season. The Security Summit designed these protections to reduce the chances that you’ll become the victim of tax-related identity theft.

Need tax help now? Call CEA at (952) 831-0085 or Click Here for assistance.

What’s Changing for You?

The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to you but invaluable to the IRS in protecting you. Here are some important changes you may see:

  • There will be new security requirements when you’re preparing your taxes online, especially when you sign in to your tax software account, to better protect your tax software account and personal information.
  • Some state returns may ask for additional identity information, such as your driver’s license number, to make sure it’s really you.
  • The IRS will still process nine out of 10 federal refunds within 21 days. States have their own refund processing time frames that will vary, and some states may make additional reviews to ensure refunds are being issued properly.

The IRS Needs Your Help

While the IRS is working to strengthen tax-filing security, they are also asking taxpayers to take steps to help protect their information. A few highlights:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don’t leave it lying around.

For these and other tips, see Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, available at IRS.gov.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SMALL BUSINESSES

Small businesses are turning to social media for networking opportunities more than ever. In the recent 2013 Small Business Technology Survey by the National Small Business Association (www.nsba.biz) , nearly 75% of small business owners use one or more social media sites on a regular basis.

Over 800 small business owners were asked, “Which of the following social media platforms do you utilize?” They were allowed to choose multiple platforms. The most popular answers were:

  1. LinkedIn – 57%
  2. Facebook – 50%
  3. Twitter – 26%
  4. Google + – 24%
  5. You Tube – 19%

A quarter of respondents said they don’t use social media at all for business, although that number is half of what it was in the 2010 version of the survey.

So, how do you know which social media sites are right for your business? It seems there are many different opinions on how to figure that out. Here are some great places to start, with opinions from bloggers around the web. Click on the titles to read more.

> Which Social Networks Should my Business Use? By Jackie Kaufenberg at Vivid Image. Includes 4 steps to choosing the right social networks.

> What Social Media Sites Should my Business be On? From Quintain Marketing. An interesting look at what matters when it comes to social media marketing.

> Which Social Media Channels Should I Use for My Business? From Business2Community.com. Goes in-depth to describe the most popular social media networks.

For a copy of the complete NSBA survey, click here > > NSBA 2013 Small Business Technology Survey

IS ONLINE ACCOUNTING FOR YOU?

Online accounting programs are becoming more and more popular with small businesses. They offer a cost-effective way to meet the needs of most small businesses, while targeting only what your business needs in accounting software.

Having your accounting software in the cloud can provide a number of advantages over traditional accounting software:

  1. Reduces your need for costly server and backup hardware. Everything can be managed from your current device.
  2. Eliminates a large, up-front cost for software and associated equipment by charging a small monthly usage fee.
  3. Use and pay for only what you need. You can print invoices and manage your accounts without having to pay for services you might not need, like inventory management or payroll.
  4. Your accountant can have direct access to your books, making file transferring or costly on-site visits unnecessary.

Traditional accounting software makers are focusing a lot of their attention on online services.  QuickBooks is the most popular small business software with over 4 million customers. They now have over half a million online users and have been consistently seeing a 28% rate of annual growth. Their online services continue to develop by adding more customization and easier account access.

There are new cloud-based accounting services popping up every day, so you will want to do plenty of research to find the one that fits your needs best.  To get you started, here is a review of Five Top Picks for Small Business Cloud Based Accounting from cio.com.

5 REASONS NOT TO FIRE YOUR ACCOUNTANT – Cloud Accounting

Cloud - man in desk on topCloud accounting is getting more popular, especially with small businesses. A variety of services are available online, including monthly accounting, payroll, and invoicing. With all these choices, a business can be tempted to think they can replace their accountant with cloud accounting.

In a recent blog post on Huffington Post, Kirk Simpson, the CEO and co-founder of Wave, gives five reasons you should absolutely not fire your accountant. His company, Wave, provides cloud-based software that “gives you the ability to control your invoicing, accounting, payroll and payment processing, all in one application.” Wave’s cloud accounting is geared toward the small-small business with 0-9 employees. Check out their great looking website at www.waveapps.com.  With all that Wave has to offer, Mr. Simpson still insists that businesses should work with an accounting professional. His top five reasons include:

  1. Automated software and cloud accounting can only take you so far.
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know.
  3. Having an accountant do your taxes could reduce your chances of an audit.
  4. An accountant can offer guidance on the future of your business.
  5. Good business is more than plus and minus.

To read the complete article and get more info on cloud accounting, go to Five Reasons Not to Fire Your Accountant