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September 18, 2017

What You Can Do If You’re Worried About the Equifax Data Breach

You may have heard that Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, was recently hit by a cybersecurity attack which has compromised the private credit information of about half of the adults in the United States. Here is some helpful guidance about what you can do to protect yourself.

1) Visit the Equifax website directly for the latest information: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/ At last report, when you visit this site, you can enroll for a free year of Equifax credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The service will include credit monitoring for all three credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — as well as copies of your Equifax credit report. You can also scan for fraudulent use of your Social Security number on the internet; lock and unlock your Equifax credit report; and obtain identity theft insurance. All these services will be provided free for one year.

2) If your credit card was breached, you can rest assured that consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen credit cards. Still, you should go online to monitor your statement. If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your credit card issuer immediately so they can reverse the charge and issue you a new card. Be sure to hold on to your receipts, so you can prove which charges are authorized vs. unauthorized.

3) Debit cards do not automatically have the same fraudulent activity protections as credit cards, and since debit transactions withdraw straight from your bank account, you should pay very careful attention to your debit card account. Call your bank or card issuer and inquire if fraud protection applies. Ask if they recommend issuing you a new debit card. They may suggest you set up “alerts” on your account, so you will receive a notice when a transaction exceeds some threshold amount determined by you. They may also be able to set a password, so that someone who comes into a branch to make a withdrawal from your account has to first present that password. Monitor your debit card statement online, and if you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your debit card issuer immediately.

4) Make sure all your passwords are strong. If you’re using your pet’s name for a password, now is a good time to change it to something less prone to hacking.

5) Do NOT click on a link from an email or social media message regarding an Equifax data breach. It very likely is a scam.

6) If your credit or debit card was compromised, you will likely hear from your bank or credit card issuer first.

7) Optionally, you can visit go.bbb.org/creditfreeze to implement a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports. A freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report or scores, but you cannot be approved for new credit before lifting the freeze. A fraud alert flags your account, but won’t prevent you from applying for new credit.

8) Beware of any ad, email, phone call, or social media message pitching a free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website authorized by the Federal Trade Commission to offer you a free annual credit report. It’s a good practice to check your credit report annually for errors, even when there hasn’t been a report of a data breach.

EZ Accounting will continue to keep you in-the-know! For accounting help, call us at 520-318-4912.

August 21, 2017

City of Tucson Sales Tax Hike

On May 16, 2017, Tucson voters approved a 5-year increase to the City of Tucson sales tax rate. Effective July 1, 2017, the rate rose from 2.0% to 2.5%, increasing the total retail sales tax rate in Tucson, AZ from 8.1% to 8.6%. This change has no impact on Arizona use tax assessment, which remains at 5.6%.

Need help with sales tax filing? Call EZ Accounting today at 520-318-4912.

July 18, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Accounting

 1) By some estimates, you can save as much as 40% on monthly costs by outsourcing your accounting. This is because you pay only for accounting services and avoid the cost of employee salaries, expensive employee benefits packages, and other ancillary costs.
2) Having a lone bookkeeper can be a problem when he or she gets sick, goes on vacation, or quits. By outsourcing, you can benefit from a larger team that can keep your accounting running without interruption. Critical financial information may also be more readily accessible when you need it.
3) Hiring and letting go of accounting staff each time you have a significant ebb or flow in your business revenue can be time consuming and costly. You may find it easier, cheaper, and faster to scale your accounting needs up and down by outsourcing it.
4) No one can grow your business better than you can. Outsourcing your accounting frees you up to focus on growth.
5)  Accounting software and necessary, ongoing upgrades can be a major expense. Let your outsourced accounting firm absorb that cost, and spend the savings on your next vacation!
Ready to outsource your accounting? Call EZ Accounting today at 520-318-4912.
July 18, 2017

Employee or Independent Contractor?

The success of companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are driving a “Gig” Economy. This means there is a larger pool of labor available for short-term contract or freelance work. Many employers are gaining a competitive edge by tapping into it.

It is important that employers determine whether their workers are employees or independent contractors. Employers are required to withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes, and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Employers usually do not have to withhold or pay taxes on payments to independent contractors.

Whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor depends on many factors such as the worker/employer relationship and the amount of behavioral control the employer exerts over the worker.

The IRS provides a free service to help employers determine the status of their workers. To obtain a free determination letter from the IRS, complete and submit Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding, to the IRS. The form is available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss8.pdf.

For payroll support, contact EZ Accounting at 520-318-4912.

May 4, 2017

Did You Miss the April 18 Filing Deadline?

The penalty for filing a late tax return can be significantly higher than the penalty for paying your taxes late. If you did not file and you owe taxes, a return should be filed as soon as possible to reduce penalties. Penalties are usually based on a percentage of the tax owed, plus interest. If you are due a refund, there is no penalty for late filing.

Feeling overwhelmed? EZ Accounting can help. Call 520-318-4912.

May 1, 2017

Identity Theft by Email

Be wary of thieves who may try to obtain your personal financial information via email in order to commit fraud. This criminal activity is called “phishing.”

Phishers target their victims with emails that appear to be from a legitimate business. These emails often ask for highly personal information, such as social security number, bank account number, or credit card information. Phishing emails may also include a clickable link to a fake login screen. This is designed to get victims to share their user id and password information.

Don’t let authentic-looking logos, web addresses, or fake log-in screens fool you. Most financial institutions, including EZ Accounting, will never ask you to send an email containing your personal financial information. The safest way to log into your online accounts is to type the legitimate website address in the url address bar in your internet browser. Save the url link as a “bookmark,” so you can quickly return to it as often as needed.

You can securely share your financial information with EZ Accounting by visiting our website at www.ezaccounting.net. Click on the blue “Transfer a File” button at the top right of the screen and log in with your user id and password.

If you receive a phishing email, you can file a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission’s website, http://www.ftc.gov/ or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

May 1, 2017

New W-2 Scam Warning from the Arizona Department of Revenue

Employers should watch out for a W-2 email phishing scam this tax season, according to a March 2017 news release by the Arizona Department of Revenue. A company human resources or payroll person may receive an email that appears to be from an executive of that business. The email may request employee W-2 data and/or payroll information to be emailed in reply. The Arizona Department of Revenue recommends companies and their staff never respond to the email to confirm the sender’s request. Instead, they suggest payroll or HR connect with the person whose name is on the email by phone or in person.

An organization receiving a W-2 scam email should contact the Department of Revenue’s Identity Theft Call Center at (602) 716-6300, and forward the email to phishing@irs.gov and place W-2 Scam in the subject line. Additionally, any company that falls victim to this scam should immediately file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

February 1, 2017

IRS Contracts Private Debt Collection Agencies

The IRS plans to begin using private debt collectors again as early as spring 2017. The last time the IRS used private debt collectors was in 2009. The 2009 program was scrapped because it was not cost-effective. There were also concerns about taxpayer rights and privacy infringement. The private debt collectors may not have explained all the available payment options, and taxpayers worried their tax information might be shared. Congress hopes the new collection program will work better than prior efforts.

The IRS has selected 4 private collection agencies to collect from 7 million taxpayers who have outstanding tax debt. The collection agencies are: Conserve, Pioneer, Performant, and CBE Group.

The IRS says taxpayers with outstanding tax debt will receive written notice from the IRS that their case is being assigned to a private debt collector. They should receive a letter from the IRS before they receive a phone call from the collection agency.

Taxpayers should be aware that collection alternatives such as installment agreements and offers in compromise are still available through the IRS. A special “currently-not-collectible” status may also be available for taxpayers who are experiencing a severe economic hardship.

To make a complaint about a private collection agency, call the TIGTA hotline at 800-366-4484.

If you receive a tax collection letter and have questions or need assistance, call EZ Accounting at 520-318-4912.

October 16, 2016

Carry Your Health Care Tax Credit Forward

A healthcare tax credit is available to small businesses based on a sliding scale. Businesses that benefit the most are those that employ fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees with average wages under $25,000 per person. Use form 8941 to calculate eligibility and credit. This credit may be carried back or forward if your business did not owe taxes in a qualifying year.

Questions? Call EZ Accounting at 520-318-4912.

October 16, 2016

Does Your Business Have Sales Tax Nexus in Arizona?

You only have to pay sales tax in Arizona if you have sales tax “nexus” in Arizona. This means you have a “significant presence” in Arizona. If you have any of the following in Arizona, you are considered to have sales tax nexus in Arizona:

  • An office or place of business
  • An employee present in the state for more than 2 days per year
  • Goods in a warehouse
  • Ownership of real or personal property
  • Delivery of merchandise in Arizona in vehicles owned by the taxpayer
  • Independent contractors or other representatives in Arizona for more than 2 days per year

Questions? Call EZ Accounting at 520-318-4912.

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