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Passwords continue to be a security risk

According to a recent article in the Journal of Accountancy, passwords continue to be a major security risk. SplashData’s report compiling millions of leaked passwords has found that since 2011 the most frequently used passwords are “123456” and “password”. In addition to using weak passwords people often use the same one for everything. This obviously puts other systems one uses at risk. Further, audits of IT systems security find passwords written down in all sorts of places and unsecured password documents stored in employee computers and mobile devices.

Managing a lot of different passwords can be a daunting task. Some advisors suggest you may want to consider a password manager that securely stores your passwords for various sites. This way you only need to remember only the STRONG password you create to access the password manager. Just search online and you will find several options.

One CPA has devised a standard approach to organizing all his passwords. He starts with his first old ten-digit phone number, followed by the name of the account (i.e. Delta, Amazon, etc.) and ending with a four-digit personal identification number (PIN). This results in a strong password and you only have to remember the PIN.

With a little creativity, one could create a similar organized system to manage what for many has become an overwhelming challenge.

 

The name says it all – it is just that, a tax on athletes. Well, at least it started out that way. The Jock Tax has its beginning in 1991 in California, when Michael Jordan beat the Lakers in the NBA finals. California decided they wanted to tax Jordan for his wages while in the state of California as earnings in California. Illinois then came back with their “Michael Jordan’s Revenge” Tax, stating that they would impose the Jock Tax on any state that imposes a Jock Tax on their players.

The Expansion

More states took to the tax as it could not be voted out by the visiting players, due to their not being a resident. Missouri came on board with the tax in 2009 when the Cardinals lost to the Astros in the postseason, but took it another step further. A representative of the state was disappointed in how the umpires officiated the games in St. Louis; therefore, Missouri has imposed the tax on umpires that are working the games in their state.

The Little Guys

How could taxing these pros that make millions of dollars sound bad? Well, the tax is also levied on team trainers and equipment managers, whom only earn a median income. Teams travel to fair amount of states and these trainers end up having to file 15-20 state tax returns, and the cost of having that many returns prepared piles up in a hurry.

Court Case

In 2015, there was a court case in Cleveland involving two former NFL players regarding the Jock Tax. Cleveland was trying to levy the tax as if the only days that the players had worked in the state of Ohio were game days. Therefore, 5% of their salary was being taxed for playing a game in Cleveland, but the players claimed that they worked throughout the week at practice and video training; claiming that a typical NFL season is 170 workdays long for the players. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in the favor of the players, stating that the tax being levied by Cleveland was “Unconstitutional.”

“Free” States

As of today there are only four states that have professional teams that don’t impose the Jock Tax: Florida, Washington, Texas and Tennessee (who repealed their version of the Jock Tax in 2014). All four states also have no state income tax, explaining why you see many professional athletes living in these states.

 

 

Accounting software shouldn’t be a chore to use

Small business accounting software that’s not available via the cloud can be tedious. Traditionally, it can suck up far too much of your business’ time and effort. This doesn’t add value, and takes the fun out of being in business. Cloud software can save your company time and money.

 Why the cloud?

Think about when you use internet banking. Every time you access this data, you’re using the cloud. The cloud is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. Your hard drive is no longer the central hub.

 Problems with traditional accounting software

 Why the cloud and accounting software are the perfect match

You can use cloud-based software from any device with an internet connection. Online accounting means small business owners stay connected to their data and their accountants. The software can integrate with a whole ecosystem of add-ons. It’s scalable, cost effective and easy to use. In the cloud, there’s no need to install and run applications over a desktop computer. Instead, you pay for the software by monthly subscription.

 Cloud security is world class

As a small business owner, you might be concerned about a cloud service provider storing your data. But the cloud is one of the most secure ways to store information. For example, using cloud software, if your laptop is stolen, no one can access your data unless they have a login to the online account. With cloud software, this is where the data lives – as opposed to on your hard drive.

In the event of a natural disaster or fire, being in the cloud means business productivity doesn’t need to be affected because there’s no downtime. All of your information is safely and securely stored off site. As long as you have access to any computer or mobile device connected to the internet, you’re back up and running.

In addition to this, if you invite users to view your data, you can control the level of access. This is much more secure than the old-fashioned way of emailing your files or sending out a USB stick with your data on it.

Cloud-based software companies ensure that the security and privacy of data about you and your organization is always airtight. If you use online banking, then you’re already primed to use cloud accounting.

 Five ways cloud software benefits your business

  1. You have a clear overview of your current financial position, in real-time.
  2. Multi-user access makes it easy to collaborate online with your team and advisors.
  3. Automatic updates mean you can spend more time doing what you love.
  4. Everything is run online, so there’s nothing to install and everything is backed up automatically. Updates are free and instantly available.
  5. Upfront business costs are reduced – version upgrades, maintenance, system administration costs and server failures are no longer issues. Instead, they are managed by the cloud service provider.

Work smarter with accessible data in the cloud

The beauty of this software is the flexibility it gives you to run your business from work, home, or on the go. You can be confident that you have an up-to-date picture of how your business is doing, no matter where you are.

Software updates can be developed and delivered faster and more easily in the cloud. This means you don’t need to worry about installing the latest version and you’ll get access to new features instantly. With cloud accounting software, you have the option to run your business remotely, from anywhere in the world. And when data is fluid and accessible, the possibilities are endless.

If you want your business to work smarter and faster, cloud accounting software is a wise investment. Working in the cloud will give you a better overview of your finances, and improve collaboration with your team.

If your business is interested in cloud accounting services, please contact Barnard Vogler & Co. We can seamlessly transfer data from your old software and have a new system up and running in no time. We can also help with your back-office needs; from a fully outsourced accounting department to CFO level advice, we can take work off your hands and give tremendous insight in to your business.

 

Another tax filing season means another season of opportunities for tax fraud. And to add insult to last year’s injury, some of the same people who were victims of the IRS’ data breach are being victimized once again.

Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity is reporting the Identity Protection (IP) PIN the IRS sent out to those affected by last year’s “Get Transcript” fraud has the potential of being obtained by those who are not you (i.e. fraudsters). The PIN is initially sent to a person who has been a victim of fraud in the mail. This isn’t where fraudsters are obtaining the PIN. The point of attack is actually back with the IRS on the “Retrieve Your Lost or Misplaced IP PIN” portion of their website. As often happens in this day and age of too many passwords to remember, people misplace or forget their IP PIN. The IRS has created an electronic way to retrieve this PIN, but the system uses the same retrieval method that allowed the “Get Transcript” fraud. The system uses knowledge-based authentication which will have you answer four questions from the credit bureau Equifax. These questions will be something in the ballpark of your previous address, loan amounts and other questions of a similar nature. The problem is the answers to these questions are easy to guess especially since a taxpayer who is using an IP PIN already had their information compromised. A good question is why is the IRS using the same authentication system that caused issues last year?

Additionally, more good news out of the IRS is further review of the “Get Transcript” incident from 2015 has identified an additional 390,000 taxpayer accounts that had potential access. This brings the total number of affected taxpayers to somewhere over 700,000. Not necessarily all had fraudulent returns filed, luckily, but those taxpayers will now most likely have to deal with the IP PIN. Not all is doom and gloom, though. KrebsOnSecurity does have a handy write-up on things you can do to keep yourself from being a victim of tax fraud.

 

 





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