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Two New Tax Scams to Watch Out For

Posted on August 13th, 2019

Marianne Kern, CPA
Owner, President
Kern & Associates CPA, P.A.

Although the April filing deadline has come and gone, scam artists remain hard at work. As such, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams that reference taxes or mention the IRS, especially during the summer and fall as tax bills and refunds arrive.

The two new variations of tax-related scams that are currently making the rounds are what the IRS has dubbed the “SSN Hustle” and the “Fake Tax Agency.” The first involves Social Security numbers (SSNs) related to tax issues and the second threatens people with a tax bill from a fictional government agency. Both display classic signs of being scams.

The SSN Hustle

The latest twist includes scammers claiming to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s Social Security number. In this variation, the Social Security cancellation threat scam is similar to and often associated with the IRS impersonation scam. It is yet another attempt by con artists to frighten people into returning “robocall” voicemails. Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the person’s SSN.

Fake Tax Agency

This scheme involves the mailing of a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy. The lien or levy is based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to a non-existent agency, “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency. The lien notification scam also likely references the IRS to confuse potential victims into thinking the letter is from a legitimate organization.

A Reminder about Phone and Email Phishing Scams

The IRS does not leave prerecorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many variations of the phone scam, victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other verbal threats include law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation or revocation of licenses.

Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear to be from anywhere in the country, including an IRS office. This prevents taxpayers from being able to verify the true caller ID number. Fraudsters also have spoofed local sheriff’s offices, state departments of motor vehicles, federal agencies, and others to convince taxpayers the call is legitimate.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

There are, however, special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. Examples of when this might occur include times when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or the IRS needs to tour a business as part of a civil investigation (such as an audit or collection case) or during a criminal investigation.

If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS that is fraudulent, report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. The Report Phishing and Online Scams page provides additional details.

Taxpayers should also note that the IRS does not use text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.

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Three Tips for Getting an Accurate Business Valuation

Posted on August 8th, 2019

Jack Kern
Owner, President
Outsourced Accounting Department, Inc.

If you’re conscientious about financial reporting, you may already have a sense of your company’s worth, but in some instances, you might need a formal business valuation, such as:

  • Certain transactions: Are you selling your business? Planning an IPO? Need financing?
  • Tax purposes: This includes estate planning, stock option distribution, and S Corporation conversions.
  • Litigation: Often needed in cases like bankruptcy, divorce, and damage determinations.

There isn’t a single formula for valuing a business, but there are generally accepted measures that will give you a valid assessment of your company’s worth. Here are three tips that you can use to give your business a more accurate valuation.

  1. Take a close look at how your business operates.  Is your business profitable, and do your internal financial statements reflect that? Does it incorporate the most tax-efficient structure? Have sales been lagging or are you selling most of your merchandise to only a few customers? If so, then consider jump-starting your sales effort by bringing in an experienced consultant who can help.

Do you have several products that are not selling well? Maybe it’s time to remove them from your inventory. Redesign your catalog to give it a fresh new look and make a point of discussing any new and exciting product lines with your existing customer base.

It might also be time to give your physical properties a spring cleaning. Even minor upgrades such as a new coat of paint will increase your business valuation.

  1. Tangible and intangible assets.Keep in mind that business valuation is not just an exercise in numbers where you subtract your liabilities from your assets, it’s also based on the value of your intangible assets.

It’s easy to figure out the numbers for the value of your real estate and fixtures, but what is your intellectual property worth? Do you hold any patents or trademarks? And what about your business relationships or the reputation you’ve established with existing clients and in the community? Don’t forget about key long-term employees whose in-depth knowledge about your business also adds value to its net worth.

  1. Choose your appraisal team carefully.Don’t try to do it yourself by turning to the Internet or reading a few books. You may eventually need to bring in experts like a business broker and an attorney, but your first step should be to determine the level of business valuation certification that will be required.

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