Tax Season means Scam Season – Taxpayers Beware

It is the middle of February and your friend gives you a phone call. She explains how a nice man from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gave her a call last week and helped her dodge a potential fine. Your heart begins to sink as she tells you that she mailed the man a $250 prepaid debit card to avoid any additional penalties. In this scenario your friend was the victim of a scam that is common during tax season.

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THOUGHTS ON ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE

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Another tax season is behind us now and the color green has returned to the Chicago area.

It is this great transformation of nature that makes so many of us love living in the Midwest.

The baseball organization that is headquartered at Wrigley Field has also gone through a transformation; one that would have seemed almost impossible just five years ago. New owners brought in a top notch management team that has re-built the Chicago Cubs from the ground up. They took advantage of the team’s poor records in 2011 through 2014 to go out and draft excellent young prospects. They hired new people to run the minor league teams and have transformed them into competitive teams at all levels. They have upgraded the stadium to provide much needed modern facilities.

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GETTING UNTWISTED

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I am one of the lucky ones who can walk to work. I see some amazing and interesting things on the way.

Some get me irritated. For example, one of the most irritating is when someone flies an American flag and allows the wind to wrap it around its pole. In my opinion, an American flag should not be twisted up…it should blow freely in the wind…free like our Nation.  My attitude is…if your flag is snarled…do something about it. Get on a ladder and unsnarl it.

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The Threat Is Real… Identity Theft

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On May 26 2015, the IRS admitted that the information of more than 100,000 taxpayers was compromised by hackers using their ‘Get Transcript’ application.

In 2016, the IRS revised that number up to 700,000 taxpayers. Data breaches of JP Morgan Chase, eBay, Home Depot, and Target have made headlines over the past few years. Millions of Americans, including myself, have been the victim of some type of identity theft. While Melissa McCarthy adeptly uses humor to address the issue of identity theft in her movie, “Identity Thief,” identity theft is no laughing matter. No one seems to be immune and taking preventative measures, like shredding documents and changing passwords, doesn’t always guarantee immunity. What is a vulnerable taxpayer to do?

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A Flat Tax?

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It seems that anything preceded by the word “flat” is not a good thing: flat tire, flat line, flat beer, or flat tax.

Many people think my aversion to a flat tax is based solely on the fact that the implementation of a flat tax system would significantly impact my role as a tax preparer; but let’s not be so quick to judge the motives of a tax professional.

A flat tax is the ultimate in tax simplification. Calculate your income, apply a percentage and pay the balance due. At first blush this sounds appealing, does it not? But here’s the rub.

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SPRINGTIME USHERS IN ‘HOLIDAYS’

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For most of us who work in the public accounting profession, the time from February through April 15th is known as “Tax Season”.

Tax Season can be both an exercise in long hours and too much time looking at computer screens. But looked at positively, it is also a time when we are re-united with many long time clients who have become old friends. I always look forward to meeting with one particular client who always knows the latest jokes.

Looking over the calendar for the month of March, I was also amazed this year by the number of holidays. These are holidays of the spirit: religious, ethnic, athletic and in one case, academic.

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