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When your business creates a budget for the year, you must try to predict extra expenses. You cannot be sure exactly how much money you will spend, but you can predict a few extra expenses based on the past year, how your projects have gone, and what your business does every day. Use these tips to predict business expenses, save money, and avoid any problems that occur when your team runs out of money. Check Last Year’s Ledger When you have listed your expenses , you should read your ledger from the year before. You can see how much money you spent on certain projects. You can check the overages, and you can predict any extra expenses in the ...
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Tax preparers are required by law to protect taxpayer information. Each tip we’ve shared with you over the 12 days of cybersecurity helps you stay safer in the online world. NSA wants you to stay safe, not only because taxpayers are at risk, but because you’re a business owner. The consequences of a data breach or other cybercrime can be extensive and could collapse the business you’ve built. Here is what the Insurance Information Institute says you could be liable for if your data is compromised: If your computer systems are hacked or customer, employee or partner data is otherwise lost, stolen or compromised, the costs of response and remediation ...
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After consulting with various industry sources, NSA has compiled a list of suggested actions you should take in order to improve your cybersecurity. Look them over and begin implementing them today. Hardware Encrypt all hard drives on all machines that store confidential data Perform regular back-ups of all computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices on secure storage media or offsite encrypted cloud servers Install and regularly update business-class antivirus and firewall software on all devices Activate pre-installed encryption options on your devices Update device software and firmware regularly; set updates to install automatically ...
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What if someone gets a hold of your computer’s password? Your phone’s PIN? The answer is simple: they have access to your data. In the case of your phone or tablet, that means they have your personal (or perhaps business) contact lists emails. The list of information available on your computer is longer, and the items that can be stolen are unpleasant to contemplate. Modern devices, especially mobile electronics, have multi-factor authentication (MFA) capabilities, and you should use them. Requiring two forms of identification in order to access your electronics makes it harder for criminals to steal your information. Log-in options for multi-factor authentication ...
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By now, you’ve used the FTC’s small business guides , this IRS resource , and the Sample Information Security Policy in the Member Resource Library, and have written a data security policy for your office. Perhaps you even spoke to a local IT specialist about it. Now is the time to give a copy to everyone who works for you. Your data security policy is like an addendum to your employee handbook that lays out your expectations for handling confidential client information and information about your business. The security policy document is just as important as the handbook, if not more, so make sure everyone reads it from cover to cover and asks questions ...
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Almost every piece of computing equipment in your office retains data in one way or another. Even your networked printer can hold on to information. Using built-in erase programs for computers, phones, printers, tablets, and so on isn’t enough to render data inaccessible. Hackers have access to tools you don’t, including software that can un-erase drives, or reconstruct data after it has been fragmented. Knowing that, don’t put your old machines in the trash or recycle bin before you remove the printer or computer’s hard drive. The next step in making sure your information can’t be recovered or un-erased is this: physically destroy anything that can ...
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On Data Privacy Day, start encrypting your documents and communications! Using secure communications platforms, document sharing, and client portals, are an absolute necessity. Phishers, hackers, and cybercriminals of all kinds are eager to get their hands-on identifying information belonging to you or your clients. Everything they steal equals money. Do not email identifying information, tax forms, organizers, or anything that could be used to steal someone’s identity, as an attachment. Make sure your clients don’t send you documents that way. It isn’t safe. The best cloud-hosted accounting software and communications application providers will ...
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Cybersecurity and office security go hand in hand because a guest in your office only needs a few minutes alone to photograph documents or information that’s laying around, and use it for their own gain. Identifying information is very useful for a cybercriminal! What if a criminal copied your email password off the sticky note on your desk? They can log into your email inbox as you, which gives them access to your contact list. That means the people you send and receive email from can now be targeted for phishing attacks…phishing attacks that come from your legitimate email address. Those emails could ask your clients for anything, from Amazon gift ...
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WiFi at the coffee shop is so convenient. It’s great when your favorite restaurant has it, too. It’s a great convenience, but using it is not in your best interest for secure communication or anything that involves logging into websites. Why? You can’t be guaranteed of the security of their WiFi. There’s no way to know what precautions if any, the owners have taken to keep you safe. Basic password access for public WiFi is fine for checking the news or the weather, but don’t use it for email, online purchases, or work-related access. Without proper security protocols for the connection, you’re at risk of having your information stolen. If you MUST do ...
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When you write your passwords down, someone can steal your notes. Recording them in a text document on your computer or phone gives hackers a treasure trove if you get hacked or your devices are stolen. You can do better than that. Passwords need to be super-secret, so use a secure password management app. Password management apps like Dashlane (all NSA members get a discount on their premium plan) keep all your log-in info safe — across your desktop and mobile devices — and available to you all the time through secure servers. This app will generate strong passwords for your accounts, and store them, so you don’t have to remember them or write them ...
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Helping your clients build a budget is probably the most important task you can undertake. Many people don’t budget, simply because they do not know how. This is not only problematic when it comes to daily spending, but also long-term savings. Many of your clients may be focused on retirement plans and saving into a 401k, but those savings might not be helpful when your clients need access to senior care. It is important to help your clients set aside funds specifically for senior care, so if the need arises, they do not need to tap into another form of savings to afford this care.  Here is a guide to helping your clients budget for senior care. ...
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Backing up your data is an important best practice. It is unpleasant to think about computers crashing, power surges, viruses that lock down your machines, and calamities that might befall your office, but they do happen. Without data back-ups, your business is in trouble. There are many ways to back up your information. Check out How-To-Geek’s article “ What’s the Best Way to Back Up My Computer? ” for an overview of options. Whichever of these options you choose, you need to back up on a regular schedule. The more frequently you back up your data, the less downtime you have. Time equals money. TIP: Don’t use one back-up option. Use two. Redundancy ...
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Regularly (weekly) check your antivirus software and apps for updates and install them. Without updates, your software can’t protect you from the latest threats. Don’t leave yourself open to attack! To get the most out of your antivirus programs, set them to update automatically or to notify you when an update is available. This is also true for built-in services like Windows Defender. Lifewire has a great article about ways to back up your data. Read more he
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Don't fall for phishing emails! Here’s a general rule of thumb: if an email looks suspicious, it probably is. Do not click on any links in the strange email and don’t respond to it.  If the email seems to have come from a client or someone you do business with, you can always call them to verify the message. By reaching out to them directly, you might help them discover they’ve been hacked, confirm that they have been, or find out that the message was legitimate. In any of those cases, you’ve done your part to keep yourself cyber-safer. Suspicious emails that come from big companies should be reported. For example, if Microsoft sends you an email that ...
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Dealing with your business cybersecurity starts with a simple step: ask yourself if you’re using best practices.  Do you?   YES NO Encrypt all hard drives on all machines that store confidential data     Use secure offsite data storage     Turn off computer systems at night, on weekends, and vacation     Shut down computers when you leave for appointments & lunch, and then restart and log back in when you return.      Use multi-factor logins for smartphone and tablet apps, like a fingerprint scanner combined with a drawn ...
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On January 2, 2020, Kiplinger's Retirement Report published A New Tax Break for Rental Income featuring an interview with NSA's President Joel Grandon. ... The QBI rules are one of the hardest provisions in the 2017 tax law to navigate, according to Joel Grandon, enrolled agent and president of the National Society of Accountants. There is no hard and fast rule for determining whether your real estate rental activity is a trade or business, other than a safe harbor, which is difficult to meet. It’s best to seek out the advice of a good tax preparer, Grandon says... Read more h
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Today, December 5, 2019, the IRS released the finalized version of the Form W-4 for 2020. The new form incorporates changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which are designed to make withholding estimates easier. It also features minor edits, and revised language in "Your Privacy." Other changes since the draft release are more visual. They include: the Form W-4 is now a full page there are no withholding allowances (which is why the title of the form changed to “Employee’s Withholding Certificate”) steps 1 through 5 to guide employees through the form instructions, worksheets, and tables follow the first page Tax preparers, accountants, ...
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My house has a roof, windows, doors, locks, security system, insulation and a lot of other items that make my home safe.  Cyber security is no different from the safeguards I have in my home. I want up-to-date anti-virus software, firewalls, drive encryption, strong passwords, etc. to help maintain a well-protected house of data.  As accountants and tax professionals, we have been entrusted with data that needs to be protected from cybercriminals and we must take measures to secure this information. (If you have renewed your PTIN for this year, you may have noticed the data security responsibilities statement on the renewal process.)    This was a friendly ...
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NSA’s partner, Dashlane , shared this article with us about password safety in the aftermath of a data breach. Unfortunately, cyber security events of this kind are happening with increasing frequency. Just this month, shortly after launching, Disney+ was hacked, exposing the data of subscribers to cybercriminals. In fact, that information is already on sale on the dark web. Pay special attention to Eléonore’s simple password tips. They are easy, actionable, and can keep you safer. -Editor Eléonore Le Bihan Every week or so, news of yet another company’s data breach breaks. Often, the news stories will include a list of what data was or wasn’t ...
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The Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners opened this year’s National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning for holiday shoppers on Cyber Monday to secure their computers and mobile phones to reduce the threat of identity theft. During the holiday season, criminals take advantage of large numbers of people shopping online to steal identities and money – as well as sensitive tax and financial data that can be used to file fraudulent tax returns when the filing season opens in early 2020. “The holidays may mean the shopping season to consumers, but it’s the hunting season for online thieves,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Identity ...
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