Don’t Fall for Tax Scams!

Money FlagEvery year, people fall prey to tax scams. We want you to be safe and informed – and not become a victim.

Taxpayers who get involved in illegal tax scams can lose their money, or face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be on the lookout for these scams. 

Identity theft. Tax fraud using identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. In many cases, an identity thief uses a taxpayer’s identity to illegally file a tax return and claim a refund.

fLAG eAGLEPervasive telephone scams.  The IRS has seen an increase in local phone scams across the country. Callers pretend to be from the IRS, The Department of the Treasury and the GAO (Government Accountability Office) in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from these organizations do not provide any personal information or send them any money. Take down their contact information, so we can help verify if they are calling from a legitimate government organization. Often our government has specific telephone prefixes not available to the general public. If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the us and we can assist in dealing with the IRS.

Phishing.  Phishing scams typically use unsolicited emails or fake websites that appear legitimate. Scammers lure in victims and prompt them to provide their personal and financial information. The fact is that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

MONEYFalse promises of “free money” from inflated refunds.  The bottom line is that you are legally responsible for what’s on your tax return, even if someone else prepares it. Scam artists often pose as tax preparers during tax time, luring victims in by promising large tax refunds. Taxpayers who buy into such schemes can end up penalized for filing false claims or receiving fraudulent refunds. Take care when choosing someone to do your taxes.

Return preparer fraud.  About 60 percent of taxpayers will use tax professionals this year to prepare their tax returns. Most return preparers provide honest service to their clients. But some dishonest preparers, prey on unsuspecting taxpayers, and the result can be refund fraud or identity theft.  Choose licensed professionals and reputable companies when hiring an individual or a company to do your return.  Only use a tax preparer that will sign your return and enter their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

OFFSHOREHiding income offshore.  While there are valid reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements. U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and do not comply with these requirements are breaking the law. They risk large penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution. The IRS has prosecuted and collected billions of dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties from people who participated in offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009. Don’t become another  defense statistic. It is a taxpayers right to reduce your taxes, but it also in the best interest of taxpayers to come forward and pay the taxes owed. Call our offices and we will help you legitimately save on your taxes.

Impersonation of charitable organizations. Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working with our government to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.

False income, expenses or exemptions.  Falsely claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to get larger refundable tax credits is tax fraud. This includes false claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit. These taxpayers often end up repaying the refund, including penalties and interest or faces criminal prosecution.

Frivolous arguments.  Frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. There are numerous legitimate ways to contest tax liabilities, before the IRS and  in court. Don’t get trapped  by someone suggesting crazy schemes or defenses to reduce your tax liability or fight the IRS. These may lead to higher taxes, penalties and interest or even criminal prosecution.

Falsely claiming zero wages or using false Form 1099.  Filing false information with the IRS is an illegal way to try to lower the amount of taxes owed. Typically, fraudsters use a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 as a way to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. The fraudster may also submit a false statement denying wages and taxes reported by a payer to the IRS.

Abusive tax structures. These abusive tax schemes often involve sham business entities and dishonest financial arrangements for the purpose of evading taxes. The schemes are usually complex and involve multi-layer transactions to conceal the true nature and ownership of the taxable income and assets. The schemes often use Limited Liability Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, International Business Companies, foreign financial accounts and offshore credit/debit cards.

Misuse of trusts.  There are reasonable uses of trusts in tax and estate planning. However, questionable transactions also exist. They may promise reduced taxable income, inflated deductions for personal expenses, ways to hide your assets, the reduction or elimination of self-employment taxes and reduced estate or gift transfer taxes.  These trusts rarely deliver promised tax benefits.

Tax scams can take many other forms as well. The best defense is to remain vigilant.

This article is provided for information purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal or financial advice. We would be happy to discuss how the information in this article affects or may help you. For more details about this matter, please contact our offices at 847-466-7947847-466-7947 of 702-966-2770702-966-2770.
IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: Pursuant to requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter.

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Document Management – Why Do I Need it!

FileCenter_Box

Why Use Document Management Software?

Is your office currently buried in paper? Having trouble quickly finding a specific document when you have to wade through hundreds of folders in dozens of file cabinets? Running out of space to keep all those files and file cabinets. Tired of spending money on the storage space when you can better use this space? What do you do if a document has been misfiled or lost? If a stiff breeze were came through your office, would papers go scattering everywhere?

Document management software can help you get out from under all that paper, increasing your and your staffs productivity. Document management software can help you easily and quickly scan documents, allowing you to file them electronically in a centralized location. Just for starters Document management software helps reduce waste and overhead costs, streamlines your workflows, reduces printing and shipping costs. Document management software also, often includes professional level PDF and OCR modules, you may already being paying for.

When determining which document management software is best for you, the most import thing is ease of use and portability of your files. The software’s interface should be familiar enough so users of any skill level can be up and running with little or no training and has the features you need to effectively manage your documents. The software should also allow you to easily convert back to your previous system or a new system, avoiding the proprietary structures that make converting cumbersome.

And then there is the cost – until recently these features have been cost prohibitive for the small office.

Recently our office has converted our document management to a software produced by Lucion Technologies – FileCenter. After extensive use, our firm has given this software our Seal of Approval.

With FileCenter you can:

Scan

Go from paper to searchable PDF in a single mouse click. Scanning important documents has never been easier … or faster.

Manage and Organize Your Files

Manage your files in a way that makes sense: electronic file cabinets. Organize your scans, computer files, and e-mail together. Organize & manage your files two ways: using a regular “Explorer” interface just like Windows, or using FileCenter’s electronic file cabinets.

Full Featured PDF Tools

PDF is the standard. FileCenter aims to make bot printing and scanning as efficient and automatic as possible. A basic scan will scan a new document straight to searchable PDF with no additional prompts. OCR runs automatically as part of the scanning process. Literally go from paper to a fully searchable PDF file in one mouse click. And you can stack, join and split PDF’s without even opening them. Or just print to PDF from your favorite software.

FileCenter includes its own PDF editor. Use FileCenter to open, view, mark up, comment and annotate your PDF files. Delete pages, rearrange pages, extract pages, and move pages between files. You can even fill out forms and sign your PDFs with digital signatures or simply type right on your PDF document. The tabbed interface keeps multiple open files at your fingertips.

FileCenter includesPDF Conversion Tools. With one click, convert many kinds of files into the popular PDF format. It’s an easy way to convert office files, faxes, and scans to PDF without opening them.

FileCenter can scan directly to Word. Sometimes all you want from a scan is the text. So why bother with a scanned file at all? With just one command, FileCenter will acquire a scan, run OCR to extract the text, and send the text straight to Word (or your favorite word processor) for editing.

OCR – Automatically

Make scans, faxes and other documents fully searchable. Or pull the text from a paper document into Word. FileCenter integrates OCR (text recognition) as a seamless part of the scanning process. As the scan comes in, FileCenter automatically runs OCR on each page and inserts the text invisibly in the resulting PDF. This makes the PDF searchable, indexable, and lets you copy real text out of the PDF.

Preview

When all you need is a quick glimpse, preview the file without opening it. As fast and easy as thumbing through documents.

Search

Find files effortlessly. Search the keywords and notes in your PDFs or the entire body of your documents.

Share

Share cabinets on the office network or float them onto the cloud. And enjoy the robust Windows file security you’re already used to.

E-Mail Securely

Send  those sensitive files on the fly with a password-protected and encrypted PDF, without the worry of hackers getting to your sensitive information.

Cloud Compatible

FileCenter is full compatible with most popular cloud providers, like DropBox, SugarSync, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive. This means that your FileCenter files can viewed on your local PC, or when you’re on the go through your cloud provider.

And much more…

What will this cost?

FileCenter currently costs just $49.95 for the Standard Version and $199.95 for the Pro Version. NOTE: Some of the above features are only included in the Pro version.

A Free Trial is also available!

This article is provided for information purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal or financial advice. We would be happy to discuss how the information in this article affects or may help you. For more details about this matter, please contact our offices at 847-466-7947 of 702-966-2770.
IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: Pursuant to requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter.

NoteWikipedia: The note-naming convention specifies a letter, any accidentals, and an octave number.