For many years now, the IRS has been continually warning the public about the ever-changing tax scams used by individuals to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers. These schemes can take place by mail, email, or over the phone and most often involve tricking the taxpayer into giving up personal financial information or intimidating the taxpayer into making fake tax payments directly to the scammer. On August 6, 2015, the IRS released yet another warning to taxpayers alerting them to new variations of these scams.
One of the most common schemes is deception over the phone by impersonating an agent of the IRS or another governmental agency. The new variation of this scheme involves the use of technology. Nowadays, scammers have the ability to change what shows up on a taxpayer’s caller ID to make it appear as if it is a legitimate call from the IRS or another agency, such as the DMV. In addition, to make the call seem genuine, they will gather as much of the taxpayer’s online personal information as possible. Finally, they will use false names, titles, and badge numbers to try to establish their fraudulent identities.
Another way to deceive taxpayers is by mail. In some circumstances, scammers will duplicate official IRS letterhead and direct taxpayers to the nearest bank or business at which they can make payments. Some fraudsters will even provide an actual IRS address to which the victim can send his or her proof of payment.
The IRS stresses that the underlying factor of these scams is fear. Scammers will often use threats of arrest, deportation, or license revocation. In addition, they will emphasize that the matter is urgent and requires immediate attention. The IRS also highlights that while scammers used to only target vulnerable individuals, such as elderly taxpayers or taxpayers whose first language is not English, this is no longer the case. Today, any taxpayer is at risk. In fact, according to the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received approximately 600,000 complaints since October 2013. In addition, there have been over 4,000 victims with a combined total of $20 million in financial losses due to these scams.
In order to protect yourself, here are a few of the tips that the IRS has listed on its website. The IRS will never:
For more information on how to protect yourself or what to do if you find yourself a target, go to the IRS website.
I was intrigued by the article “High Performers and High-Potential Employees Are Not One in the Same” , by Andre Lavoie. So I did a bit more investigation and found some other references out there. The consensus was:
High Potentials help you achieve your future.
High-potentials have the ability and aspiration to be successful leaders within an organization. A high-performer may also have high potential but not necessarily. They may be great at their job and take pride in their work and accomplishments, but don’t have the potential (or desire) to assume a leadership role. Lavoie lined out four traits of high potentials vs. high performers:
1. Proactive vs. reactive – High potentials take a proactive approach to problem-solving, planning for the future versus waiting until a problem occurs and reacting.
2. Leaders vs. followers – High-potentials are characterized by their ability to go above and beyond. They don’t leave the office the second the clock strikes five. They don’t focus on themselves but on the team as a whole.
3. Receptive vs. unreceptive to feedback – Employees who are truly receptive to feedback will take immediate action, not to save their own skin, but to become an all-around better worker. Employees with high potential will avoid making the same mistake twice.
4. Knowing the business vs. knowing the job – High performers and high potentials both strive to reach peak performance, but high potentials aim above that peak. They can clearly see how their work contributes to overall success and set out to achieve the company vision through achieving their individual work goals. Whereas high performers seek to do well as individuals, high potentials desire to do well as a company. High potentials have that entrepreneurial spirit.
So what should companies be looking to retain? High performers for today. But high potentials for tomorrow. And we need those future leaders. These are the high potentials you should be identifying and sending to leadership development programs. Everyone need not apply.
The housing market is beginning to turn around in Nevada over the last couple years. Data provided by Trulia.com indicates that twice as many home sales occurred in 2015 when compared to the bottom of the market in 2009. Many home owners who either lost, or liquidated, their homes over the past several years are finally in a stable financial position to get back into the market.
Many of the homes that are being purchased during this period of growth are those that have either been left vacant for years, require some refurbishing, or need massive upgrades and overhauls to qualify for lending, or to even be livable! Even new homes require additional capital influx in order to complete the front or backyard landscaping.
When we purchase a house, many of us use this required influx of capital to negotiate down the current selling price. But how many of us keep track how much actual additional capital we put back into the house after the sale has been completed? Improvements and substantial repairs such as landscaping, a new roof, fencing, etc., should be accounted for and included in your basis (capital costs) of your home. Keeping track of and having the appropriate record keeping of, these improvements can save you thousands of dollars in capital gains, and possibly net investment income tax, when you decide to sell the home in the future. Even if you decide that renting the home is a better course of action, having an accurate recordkeeping of the basis will allow you to depreciate the maximum allowable amount in order to reduce the rental income created from the business use of the property.
Keeping track of your basis in real property is an important part of homeownership that many of us forget about until it is time to sell. Twenty years from now, will you remember how much you paid the landscaper to put in a sprinkler system? Probably not. So help your future self out of a headache, and probably save a couple bucks, and keep track of those expenditures that you put into your new home. And after you are done, sit down on that new patio with a cold drink and relax, you’ve earned it.