If you have a CIO or IT manager who is in the know, you may have already had discussions about the following items. If you manage the IT functions yourself, then read carefully so you don’t miss the boat!
Handling all that data. A push for developing business intelligence and analytical tools is on the rise to help businesses manage the massive amounts of data they have. Experts agree that utilizing analytical tools will be a key competitive advantage in 2012. Why just store all that data? Why not try and get something out of it? Before building a giant data integration and business intelligence strategy, CFOs need to ask themselves one main question: What kind of data does the business value most? How can your IT staff deliver information and reports that your company needs most if they don’t know the answer to question 1?
Cloud computing. The Cloud is not going away. If you don’t even know what the Cloud is, it’s an umbrella term for delivering hosted services over the Internet. Low-cost cloud services are expected to become increasingly available, as well as traditional vendors are offering or will be offering cloud services. The ability that business leaders will have to reach out and download a new cloud service without the assistance of an IT staff will only increase in 2012. One key thing to think about if you move to the Cloud is how to keep all those services integrated and secure.
Blog based on article at CFO.com “How 3 Big IT Trends Will Affect You and Your CIO in 2012”
According to the NY Times, credit scores are getting a facelift.
A company called CoreLogic has introduced a new type of credit report which contains additional consumer data than what the traditional credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) show.
Have you missed a rental payment that is now in collections or are you behind on HOA dues? Have you been evicted or served child support judgments? Ever taken out a payday loan? All of this is included in the new credit report. There is also the possibility to show that your house is worth less than what you owe.
Since most of this information is already available to the public, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to compile this data to help lenders determine credit worthiness. An estimated 100 million American consumers will have a CoreScore credit report. The actual score will only be available to mortgage and home equity lenders at this time. Next year, CoreLogic will begin to evaluate whether the report should include even more data, like your payment history on utility and cellphone bills.
The positive: the added information can help illustrate positive behaviors otherwise not noted.
The obvious negative: consumers may now have additional dings in their credit history that previously went undetected. Consider yourself warned.
There has been much debate recently over Mitt Romney and his paying only 14% of his gross income in taxes in 2010 and still only 17.5% after itemized deductions (see his tax return at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/romney-2010-tax-return.html). This is the same percentage of taxes that a single person making only $60,000 would pay. Does this sound fair to you? Now how does a business man making over $21,000,000 pay less than this single person? He does this with one of the multitude of tax benefits that the rich enjoy, the carried interest rule.
The carried interest rule is a tax law that many hedge fund managers enjoy including Romney and hedge fund managers like John Paulson. These people organize a partnership, get many investors to give them money to be limited partners, and invest it how they see accordingly. They can invest in businesses, stocks, options or land and agree to give the managers a certain percentage of the profits. Since the underlying asset is capital in nature, they are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15%, even though this is usually their only source of income.
Now to John Paulson. This is a hedge fund manager who in two years during the economic crisis made the biggest profits ever by an individual, $9,000,000,000. This profit wasn’t made by doing some benefit to society, but exactly the opposite. It was made by simply making bets that the housing market would tank (which it inevitably did) and the next year by betting that gold would go up. It seems to me that there is a huge problem in the tax code when somebody who does no benefit to society gets taxed less than the average person with a college degree. In fact, some of the bail out money that was given to banks to keep them liquid was just given to them as a conduit to Paulson so he could collect on his bets. This taxation doesn’t seem fair to me, but at least Paulson’s Advantage Plus fund can’t beat karma like it can the system, it lost 51% in 2011 by investing in Bank of America and Citigroup, among others.
Did you ever wonder how many people do not actually pay their taxes under our “voluntary compliance” system here in the United States? Well, it turns out that the latest IRS estimates show about 15% of the total tax liability owed for 2006 was actually collected.
This rate is virtually unchanged from the 2001 compliance rate and amounts to $450 billion for 2006. This represents a $105 billion increase over the2001 estimated tax gap of $345 billion. Enforcement efforts and late payments reduce the net tax gap to $385 billion for 2006 which is still $95 billion greater than the $290 billion net tax gap in 2001. While these numbers are staggering, the growth in the tax gap somewhat mirrors the growth in total tax liabilities. Furthermore, the increased estimate may well result from better data and improved estimation methods.
This “tax gap” results from three different types of non-compliance: failure to file, underreporting taxable income, and underpayment of amount of tax due. Underreporting of income continues to be the largest contributing factor to the 2006 gross tax gap accounting for $376 billion of the $450 billion total. Tax non-filing and underpayment of tax accounts for $28 billion and $46 billion, respectively.
As you might imagine, non-compliance is lowest where there is third-party information reporting and/or withholding, such as wages and salaries. Conversely, amounts not subject to information reporting had a 56% net misreporting rate in 2006.
Just think how much progress we could make towards reducing our horrendous deficit if this gap were closed!
Washington has recently renewed its interest in worker classification issues, i.e. employee v. independent contractor. In September the IRS and Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to share information regarding worker “misclassification.” The same month the IRS established a new voluntary classification settlement program that provides some relief from federal unemployment for eligible taxpayers who agree to prospectively treat workers as employees.
This has been a bone of contention from the IRS for decades because businesses that hire workers as independent contractors save money on federal employment taxes. There is a facts-and-circumstances based test under common law to help determine the proper classification that considers whether the employer has the right “to direct and control” how the worker performs the services provided.
Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 does provide some relief from worker misclassification. As long as a taxpayer has a “reasonable basis” for treating a worker as an independent contractor, Section 530 may allow the worker to be treated as a nonemployee.
President Obama’s plan, “Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future: The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction,” released in September 2011 includes provisions that would permit the IRS to issue guidance on proper worker classification and require the prospective reclassification of workers who are currently considered misclassified, and whose reclassification would otherwise be prohibited under Section 530.
Of course all this awaits congressional action on the President’s jobs plan or perhaps a new separate bill to address worker classification issues.
Let’s assume you are a law-abiding taxpayer but do not get around to filing your return until later in the filing season. Suddenly you are informed that two returns have been filed using the same social security number. Yours! Guess what? Your identity has been stolen.
To avoid having your identity heisted, there are a number of things you should know.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email with requests for personal or financial information, or to notify you that you are being audited or getting a refund. If you receive an email like this, forward it to the IRS at http://email@example.com.
Identity thieves might gain access to personal information by stealing your wallet, requesting information about you on the phone, rifling through your trash or accessing information you have provided to an unsecure internet site. If your social security number is stolen, another individual might use it to get a job. When that person’s employer reports the income to the IRS it will look like you have underreported your income. When this occurs, contact the IRS to show that the income isn’t yours.
It is important to be extra vigilant now since IRS impersonation schemes flourish during the income tax filing season. Such scams can take the form of e-mail, phone, fax, even tweets.
For more information about identity theft, including how to report it, search “Identity Theft” on the IRS.gov home page.