IRS impersonation scams prey on taxpayers

The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is advising consumers about a tax scam that has resulted in an “explosion of complaints about callers who claim to be IRS agents – but are not.” These IRS impersonation scams count on people’s lack of knowledge about how the IRS contacts taxpayers. The IRS never calls a taxpayer about unpaid taxes or penalties; the initial contact is made by a mailed letter. If you get a call purporting to be from the IRS telling you to send money for unpaid taxes, hang up and report the scam to the FTC and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.tigta.gov.

 

QuickBooks Online Goes on the Road

If you do business outside of your office walls, you need remote access to QuickBooks Online. You can have it.

One of QuickBooks Online’s most compelling benefits is its portability. While its desktop counterparts remain chained to your desktop PC or notebook (with limited remote capabilities), many of the features found in browser-based QuickBooks Online can be easily accessed via iOS and Android smartphone and tablet apps.

These apps don’t look and work exactly like QuickBooks Online, and they don’t do absolutely everything you can do in the browser-based versions, but the most common accounting tasks you’d want to do away from the office are supported.

These mobile apps give you and your staff the freedom to manage numerous accounting tasks away from the office, whether you’re at home, a customer’s location, a conference or convention, or any event where you can sell products or services. You can, for example:

  • Enter expense data

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Figure 1: You can either snap a photo of a paper receipt or enter expense information manually on your smartphone or tablet.

  • Build new records for customers and vendors
  • Create invoices and estimates
  • Receive payments, and
  • Issue sales receipts

You can do all of that on a smartphone. The iPad version offers more, including reports and account registers.

Easy Operations

QuickBooks Online mobile apps take advantage of the capabilities of whatever device you’re using, so it’ll be easy to jump in and start using them by clicking on links or buttons, entering data or choosing from lists, and returning to previous screens when necessary. Their user interfaces and navigational tools are very similar.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the free app, you’ll simply sign in using your QuickBooks Online user name and password. Your accounting files are then automatically synchronized with the mobile app, after which you can open the navigational menu, which appears in the left vertical pane.

The apps are arranged slightly differently, but they’re roughly comparable, the iPad version offering the most options, of course. They all have a link to an Activity screen, which is an audit trail of sorts. It displays transactions entered in QuickBooks Online on all devices.

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Figure 2: You can view transactions already entered in QuickBooks Online and create your own on your mobile device.

Simple Forms

Say you’re working from home and you need to create a customer invoice. You’d click on that menu item, then on the “+” sign and fill out the form similarly to how you would back in the office. You’ll have access to your existing customer list and your database of products and services, or you can add your own. So you’d:

  • Select your customer from the list that opens
  • Change the dates, terms, sales tax status, discount and deposit if necessary
  • Choose products and/or services from the list and modify the quantity if necessary
  • Add a note or customer message if desired, and
  • Save the invoice.

All data that you enter, modify or delete is periodically synchronized; you can also refresh it manually.

QuickBooks Online’s sales forms – invoices, estimates and sales receipts — all work similarly. You can record payments in the mobile apps, as well as expenses you incur outside of the office.

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Figure 3: If you sell products or services outside of the office, you can create sales receipts and offer to email copies to customers.

Of course, if you’ll be selling away from the office using one of QuickBooks Online’s mobile apps, you’ll want to be able to accept credit and debit cards. We can help you get set up with a merchant account that will allow you to do that. Remote payments are sent to QuickBooks Online, so your bookkeeping tasks will be greatly simplified.

If you use any kind of mobile device, there’s really no reason not to use a QuickBooks Online mobile app – unless you absolutely never work away from the office, never meet with customers at their sites, and never sell anything remotely. If you do any of those things ever, you’ll find that their convenience and flexibility can help you save time, manage your workflow better, and increase sales.

For more information or assistance, contact Brenda J. McGivern, P.C. at 866-895-1614 or visit http://www.bmcgiverncpa.com

Consider a buy-sell agreement for your business

Marriages end, and so do business ventures. If your business is owned by two or more persons, a buy-sell agreement is one of the most important legal documents your business can have. This document provides for the “buyout” of an owner’s interest when that owner leaves. Here are the areas that a buy-sell agreement should typically address.

  • Describe the events that will trigger the agreement, such as a divorce, disability, death, or notice that an owner simply wants to leave.
  • Set a value for each owner’s interest, or provide a formula to value each interest at a later date. Your agreement might require an independent business appraisal.
  • Without a method to set the value, there could be some serious problems. Let’s say you and your partner reach a point where you can no longer work together. You believe the company is worth $2 million. Your partner refuses to sell, but he makes you a $100,000, take-it or leave-it offer for your 50% interest. You could face a drawn-out legal battle to settle things.
  • Outline a funding plan. Different purchase and financing plans can be used to cover different situations. For example, cross-purchase agreements allow the remaining owners to buy an exiting owner’s share. A redemption agreement allows the company to buy back an exiting owner’s share. Financing options might include owner financing (an installment contract) or life insurance, in the case of an owner’s death.
  • Prevent unwanted transfers. Generally owners don’t want a business associate they didn’t choose. Yet this could happen if one owner divorces, dies, or sells his shares to an outsider.

A buy-sell agreement is designed to provide fair compensation to an exiting owner, while making it possible for the remaining partners to continue in business. We can work with you and your attorney to develop a buy-sell agreement or to review your existing agreement. Call us.

Your social security benefits may be taxable

Did you sign up for social security benefits last year? If so, you may have questions about how those payments are taxed on your federal income tax return.

The good news is the formula is the same as prior years. That’s also the bad news, because the thresholds for determining taxability are not indexed for inflation, and did not change either. Those thresholds, or “base amounts,” remain at $32,000 when you’re married and file a joint return, and $25,000 when you’re single.

How much of your social security benefit is taxable? To determine the answer, calculate your “provisional income.” That’s your adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest, certain other exclusions, and one-half of the social security benefits you received.

When you’re married filing jointly, your benefits are 50% taxable if your provisional income is between $32,000 and $44,000. If your provisional income is more than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable. For singles, the 50% taxability range is $25,000 to $34,000.

In some cases, diversifying the types of other retirement income you receive can reduce the tax burden on your social security benefits. Contact us if you want more information or planning assistance.

Change in tax treatment of health insurance reimbursements

In the past, you may have chosen to reimburse your employees for health insurance premiums instead of establishing a group health insurance plan. Those payments were typically made as part of an employer payment plan and were generally tax-free. Under the Affordable Care Act, that treatment is no longer allowed. Instead, payments you make to employees so they can purchase their own health insurance are now considered taxable wages. Continuing with the former method could lead to penalties of as much as $100 per day per employee.