Don’t Get Scammed This Tax Season

Thousands of people are conned out of money every tax season by scammers. The problem with these scams is that they sound very convincing and if you don’t know what to look for, then you could easily be taken advantage of by one of these con artists.  There’s a lot of approaches that scammers use, but today we’re going to talk about The IRS-Impersonator Phone Scam.

This is probably the most common tax scam every year. What happens is that a scammer calls you claiming to be an IRS employee. They share their name and an IRS ID number both of which are fake. They also seem to already know some info about the the person that they are calling and can even make their caller ID look like it’s from the IRS. Normally they say that you owe the IRS money and ask for immediate payment. If you don’t comply they begin making serious threats, including jail time- which is pretty ironic because that’s what they’re going to get when they get caught.

Another tactic scammers use is telling you that you have a refund solely to get you to share personal information, which they can use for illegal purposes, like stealing your identity or your tax refund.

So how do you know if a phone call is really from the IRS? First off, the IRS will not call you to asking for immediate payment over the phone.

Second, they won’t call you at all unless they have first contacted you by mail. They won’t ask for your personal information won’t make threats regarding law enforcement and arrests.

If you have any other questions about tax scams, or about filing your taxes, then you can also contact us at

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The Perfect Leadership Trio

Chip Conley, author of ” The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business, says your management team should consist of a brain trust that includes a “passionate visionary,” a “get-your-hands-dirty operator,” and a “responsible, finance-minded executive.”

But how do you use this in your business?

1. Passionate visionary. The passionate visionary is a creative idea person. She sees the market need and just how to sell and position the product so that clients or consumers will want the offering.

The visionary often has more ideas than budget. The finance role can help the visionary evaluate the profitability of her ideas and prioritize projects. The operator can help to execute the visionary’s ideas.

2. “Get-your-hands-dirty” operator. The operator is an executor. She is a systems builder who can develop the systems, job descriptions, procedures, and processes that make the company unique.

The operator takes the visionary’s ideas and makes them happen. She needs the visionary’s ideas because she would rather take someone else’s ideas and work with them than create her own. She also needs the support of the finance executive to stay on budget and to focus on one project at a time and avoid hiring too many people.

3. Responsible, finance-minded executive. The finance expert helps to make the dollars work for the company. She can tell us how much we need to sell and how much we can spend.

Without a finance executive, a company often spends more than it brings in and may not have a viable profit plan. It may also run out of cash, which can cause problems with creditors and investors.

All these traits can help create the perfect leadership trio for your business. For more ideas on how to be the best leader check out our article Seven Qualities of a Good Leader.

The following includes excerpts, reproduced with permission, from an article by Sandi Smith. The article features insights from The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business, by Chip Conley./span>

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Key Elements to Successful Teamwork

At our recent leadership retreat our team focused on two topics: Trust and accountability. After reading several books and having lively discussions for two days it became clear that a firm must have trust in order to hold people accountable. This is not a new or difficult concept; however, becoming a true, high trust organization can be very difficult.

I am often asked, “How am I supposed to hold my other partners accountable?” This statement is usually included in a discussion about partners being peers, and although partner accountability is much needed, there has been an unwillingness to create it. According to Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Stephen M. R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, the breakdown here is one of trust or simply a lack of trust. Covey outlines 13 behaviors of high trust teams, four of which are:

  • Straight Talk
  • Create Transparency
  • Deliver Results
  • Practice Accountability

If you do not have these four behaviors consistently within your firm then you most likely have a breakdown of trust. Lencioni outlines what happens when you have an absence of trust and how it creates: invulnerability, artificial harmony, ambiguity, low standards, and a reliance on status and personal ego. When you have these things within your firm, you do not have trust and you cannot have accountability.

Creating accountability starts with creating real trust by becoming vulnerable to each other, gaining buy-in, holding each other accountable to established goals, and producing results. The leadership of any firm is responsible for holding each other accountable. Trust and accountability are obtainable; you are just going to have to work hard to get them.


The following includes excerpts, reproduced with permission, from a blog entry by Bryan Shelton.

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Identify Your Firm’s Future Leaders

Leaders are increasingly being asked to identify the emerging leaders in their organizations.

To help in this process, we recently examined 360-degree performance appraisal data on more than 120 emerging leaders from 18 North American companies to see what leadership competencies ranked as important in selecting internal associates for leadership roles.

Here are the top five competencies for emerging leaders:

1. Effective at collaboration.

  • Assist others in the completion of their tasks to support the team goals.
  • Build and maintain cooperative work relationships with others.
  • Listen to and value the input of others.
  • Effectively collaborate in meetings and in informal interactions.

2. Deliver consistent and collective results.

  • Work on the right tasks by ensuring they know their top deliverables and those of the team.
  • Finish what they start.
  • Assume personal responsibility for achieving outcomes under their purview.
  • Actively lend their support to others to help ensure team success.

3. Manage their and others’ time.

  • Use technology to effectively track and steer their work and that of the team.
  • Develop contingency plans in anticipation of possible problems and adverse consequences.

4. Effective in relationship management.

  • Make the effort to understand and meet the needs of others.
  • Personalize work relationships to facilitate productive and collaborative work settings.

5. Active meeting contributors.

  • Prepare beforehand, reviewing the agenda and selecting in advance where they will make a contribution to the agenda.
  • Listen openly to the ideas of others and give feedback in a constructive way.
  • Volunteer and accept action items resulting from the outcome of the meeting.


Source: AICPA CPA Insider The following includes excerpts, reproduced with permission, from an article by Robert Denker, Ph.D.

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Attorneys for the Rich Anxiously Await Trump’s Plan for Estate Tax

Chances are most people will never have to worry about paying a federal estate tax, since the value of most people’s estates don’t exceed $5.34 million. However, if president Trump has his way, not even the very few taxpayers that would have otherwise been affected by this law, will have to worry about it either.

Some of the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers, the roughly 5,000 people affected by the federal estate tax are excited to hear of Trump’s plan to eliminate this tax completely. In addition, several attorneys who represent this group of taxpayers are waiting to see what happens. That’s because with change comes many dominos, like filing new paperwork and other documents to make those changes legal and binding.

Other attorneys who represent wealthy clients expect to see other taxes on the wealthy even if the estate tax is repealed. As one attorney noted, “there will always be taxes on high-net worth individuals.” Plus, even if the estate tax is repealed, the wealthy could still get hit by high taxes upon death in other ways, such as paying capital gains tax on appreciated property.

Meantime, Trump has not stated how his plan would or would not affect the gift tax, which also plays an important role in estate planning. In any case, if the estate tax is repealed, the Tax Foundation estimates that it would cost the government about $240 billion over the next decade. It might still be too soon to know the exact effects of eliminating the estate tax, but those changes could be coming soon.

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Millions of Big Earners Should Expect Higher Payroll Taxes in ‘17

For those who have been excited to see their tax bill go down under a Trump administration, there might be cause for some concern, especially for some of the country’s highest earners. That’s because for the millions of workers who pass a certain threshold a tax hike is coming. So why the increase?

First, this change was in place before President Trump won the election in November. This scheduled change comes in the form of an adjustment to Social Security payroll taxes, and it will affect a lot of high earners. Over the past several years, workers have paid a 6.2 percent payroll tax to Social Security, which is matched by employers and automatically deducted from their paychecks.

That number will remain the same in 2017, but there is a catch. It used to be that workers only paid that amount on the first $118,500 they earned for the year. This year, that threshold increases to $127,200. That will amount to hundreds of dollars for anyone affected. Meantime, for self-employment workers, the news is even worse because they are forced to pay the full Social Security tax themselves without splitting the cost with an employer.

So how many people are we talking about? Anyone that makes less than $118,500 won’t be affected but the estimated 12 million workers that make more than that will see a hit, which amounts to one of the biggest changes in the tax code in nearly 30 years.


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How Will Tax Reform Really Take Shape Under Trump and Ryan?

It’s no secret that both President Trump and other republican lawmakers want to change t he nation’s tax code and lower taxes across the board. However, as you might expect, they have different visions as to how to go about this. To be clear,though, both sides of the argument, namely the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan do have the same stated goals: lower the tax burden on Americans and simplify the tax code. They just don’t have the exact same plan to do get it done.

For starters, the House, led by Ryan wants to cut the tax brackets from seven to three with the numbers being 33 percent, 25 percent and 12 percent. Originally the president had proposed 25 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent, but he has since raised his numbers to match the House.

Both the president and the House want to raise the standard deductions. The House checks in at $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for married couples, while Trump wants $15,000 and $30,000 respectively. Meantime, the House wants to wipe out all itemized deductions except charitable donations and mortgage interest. Trump on the other hand wants to keep all itemized deductions but cap them at $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers.

Both the House and Trump want to lower investment income taxes, aka capital gains. The House would like to lower the rates to half of the standard income rates:16.5 percent, 12.5 percent and 6 percent. Trump would lower them by much smaller amounts. As for corporate tax rates, Trump wants to tax all of that income at 15 percent, while the House is proposing a cut from 35 percent to 20 percent.

These are just a few of the major changes expected to take place, but there will likely be others. So stay tuned because one way or another your tax bill will be affected.

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Did I Accomplish All I Wanted?

When you think about life, what do we have that comes of lasting value? Eventually, we go to the grave and the things that we acquire don’t go with us, but the memories that we leave behind and relationships with others will be long lasting. I recently had an interesting experience with one of my new clients. He’s an individual that launched a disruptive retail company that has been growing at a tremendous rate. While Nordstrom and Macy’s have been closing stores, this guy is growing with his very disruptive model. We were visiting the other day and I found out that we were second cousins.How small the world became as we realized that we both share the common heritage of a second great grandmother. In the 1850s she had migrated penniless from Europe and walked across the plains in a handcart company. As they were crossing, they got caught in an early winter snow storm in Wyoming.Nearly half the party died. She was eventually rescued by a group from the Salt Lake Valley.  While she was rescued from death, never fully recovering from the effects of frostbite, she lived long enough to have two sons. One of those boys was a common great-grandfather to this new client and myself.
We discussed how small the world becomes at times in life. You never know in our day to day routines,who we are going to run across, but with every interaction, you leave a memory, and you determine how it goes. Was it a positive? Negative? When you left that meeting together, did you leave on the note of lifting and building one another? Was there a social interaction? I encourage you to think about the goals that you have as you move through life and ponder upon moving living it with a purpose, so that when the time comes, you can reflect on it and ask yourself “did I do all the things I wanted to on my pathway?”.

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Could “Red” States Actually Be Considering Tax Hikes?

Revamping the nation’s tax system is a very hot topic in Washington D.C. at the moment and that’s not going to change any time soon. One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected president was his stance on simplifying the country’s tax system and lowering the nation’s tax bill. This was a common theme amongst House and Senate republicans during the election, as well. However, some states that typically vote republican are now singing another tune.

According to recent reports, several red states are actually considering new taxes as a way to give their tax revenue dollars a boost. Many of these states, including Kansas, recently made big waves by cutting taxes across the board. However, they are now finding depleted budgets with no relief in site.

That’s why Kansas, along with several other states, including Arizona, Tennessee and Missouri are all considering raising taxes or creating new ones, including raising gas taxes, among them. Meantime, lawmakers in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana and Mississippi are all considering different tax hikes, including raising tobacco taxes, increasing sales and property taxes, creating an Internet sales tax and additional vehicle taxes.

On the other hand, states that have just voted to put republicans in control are still considering tax cuts, including Iowa and New Hampshire. No matter where you live, taxes continue to be a hot topic just like they are on Capitol Hill. 2017 stands to be an interesting year for tax reform, one way or the other.

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Important Tax Filing Deadlines You Don’t Want to Miss

Before you send in your tax return there are a lot of things you have to remember, which is why having a tax checklist is good idea. Of course, the right accountant will help you with that as well. However, before you ever get to that final point in the tax-filing process, you need to be aware of several changes to the tax laws, and of course deadlines. After all, missing a deadline can end up being very costly.

So as the 2017 tax season kicks off, here are a few important deadlines to make a note of, because missing these might hurt you.

• 1040 Filing Deadline – first off, the deadline this year for filing your taxes is actually on April 18 and not April 15. That’s because the 15 & 16 fall on the weekend and April 17 is a holiday. The extension deadline falls on October 16, but you have to file for that extension by April 18.

• Refund Delays – for those claiming the additional child tax credit or the earned income credit, they will have to wait a little longer to get their refunds, due to a new law to help fight tax fraud. The IRS will begin sending those refunds on February 15 and they will likely start arriving around Feb. 27.

• Small Business Filing Dates – there are several deadlines that will affect many small businesses, including the date to turn in Form 1065 partnership return, which has been pushed up by a month. It’s now due two and half months after the tax year closes instead of three and half months. That means this year the deadline is March 15 instead of April 15. Conversely, the deadline for Form 1120 C corporation returns has been moved back a month from March 15 to April 15. The due date for 1120S returns of S corporations will remain the same.

• Compensation Forms – employers and business used to have till the last day of February or March 31 to turn in W-2 and 1099 forms to the IRS, but that deadline is now January 31.

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