Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to make sure your personal finance is on the right track

Being on track with your finances can bring a feeling of satisfaction and content. But this is not possible without any hard work and discipline. Each of us desires a stable financial situation but sometimes things don’t fall into their rightful place, thus problems arise. One can’t avoid financial problems, how you face them is the real issue. You should be able to bring back your personal finance on the right track after some financial problems.

First, you must learn. You need to have a good knowledge about personal finance to know which way to go on your finances. Don’t fall into a huge debt and take your financial situation on the right track with the following simple tips provided by the The Southbourne Group with the help of a few financial experts as well.

Develop a better understanding today

If you are one of those young readers, you should begin working out your personal finance today. Learn its basics and consider opening a savings account. Grow it, build it, save it! Your future’s financial condition will surely be secured by growing your savings. You can also make smarter financial decisions later in your life if you learn to save early.

The Southbourne Group also wants those parents reading this to teach their children on how to make proper financial decisions with regards to their own money. This way, they would be more careful about spending their money, making them smarter in creating financial decisions than others.

Know what’s in your paycheck

With a little knowledge about your paycheck, you might be surprised with some disappeared amounts even though you didn’t spend them. Notice important details on your paycheck and understand each of them such as your national insurance contributions, pension contribution, student loan payments and tax code.

Basic needs should be your priority

Just take a look at this quote: “If you buy things you do not need soon you will have to sell things you need.” Take a deep breath and think twice before buying other expensive things that will make you forget about your basic needs. Make sure that you’ll always pay your house rent, bills, foods and tax first before anything else.

Make a good financial record

Make one if you still don’t have any financial record. But if you currently have one then see to it that you update it with details organized properly to guarantee the balance between your income and spending. Doing this could also ensure that you’re still within your set budget.

Grow a savings account

As mentioned earlier, building a savings account can greatly help your financial future, thus the company of Southbourne Tax Group inspires each reader to save their own money, especially the young ones. Grab the best deals available where you can also depend on comparison sites in finding them.

Plan your goal

Defining a financial goal will inspire you to do your best in building your savings. Don’t give up on your goal and always find a way to keep your personal finance on track.

Always apply the appropriate knowledge and attitude to make sure your personal finance is on the right track. How you take care of personal finance today will define your future financial situation. Southbourne Tax Group provides those mentioned above with the hope of helping you in your finances.

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Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to make taxes easier as a property investor

Southbourne Tax Group has been a part of different projects that includes tax services to various businesses and individuals. Since its beginnings, the firm has been showing unrivaled commitment to their clients and giving them necessary guidance with their taxes.

Southbourne Tax Group targets to provide help specifically to property investors with this post. A few tips will be provided that can make taxes at least a bit easier to individuals or businesses. But first, as a property investor, remember to have a correct tax return.

As mentioned earlier, having an appropriate and complete tax return is indeed crucial for property investors since they often come under inspection when submitting returns. Call your accountant today and talk about important tax matters and define what can and can’t be claimed as a tax deductible expense.

Hiring a tax specialist is one of the recommendations of Southbourne Tax Group to help you make your taxes easier. Offsetting the net loss from negative gearing against other income can reduce your tax payable. Claiming the interest of a property is also plausible if it is available for rent.

Always confirm if you have the right coverage when checking your insurance policy. Experts add that a standard home and contents insurance policy won’t cover specific risks included in property investing. Make sure that you will never forget the costs you are rightfully entitled to as well.

As a self-managing landlord working from home, you surely have some expenses and such costs can be claimed as well but only a fair and reasonable part of it. On the other hand, Southbourne Group also recommends getting the service of a professional property manager because its costs can be a deductible expense too.

Moreover, a property manager can assist the organization while creating a potential tax benefit. Such professional can also handle very well the administrative responsibilities involved in an investment property. Completing and compiling paperwork are no problem to property managers as well.

Mentioned above were only some of the basics to make your taxes easier as a property investor, Southbourne Tax Group encourages you to contact them for further guidance.

Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to avoid making mistakes in your taxes as a property investor

Since its foundation, Southbourne Tax Group has been providing trusted tax service to different businesses and individuals. And to give some help to property investors the firm prepared some helpful tips that can at least make taxes easier for them and to reduce their tax-worries. But first, remember that as a property investor, you must have a correct tax return.

When submitting returns, landlords usually come under inspection so it is really important to have complete and appropriate tax returns. Ensuring about the legitimacy of all claims and maximizing tax return amount involves a thorough discussion with your accountant on what can and can’t be claimed as a tax deductible expense.

Making taxes easier for you may also involve hiring a tax specialist. Southbourne Tax Group provides a few more tips below to help property investors with their taxes.

Reducing your tax payable could include offsetting the net loss generated by negative gearing against other income. You can also claim the interest of a property if it is available for rent.

Checking your insurance policy must also include having the right coverage. Being a landlord, you should know that a standard home and contents insurance policy won’t cover particular risks involved with property investing. You surely have costs that you are rightfully entitled to, so see to it that you won’t overlook them.

Working from home as a self-managing landlord had costs wherein you can claim a fair and reasonable part of it. Southbourne Group also suggests hiring a property manager because its costs can be a deductible expense, which is a good thing, right?

Property managers have the ability to create a potential tax benefit while assisting the organization as well. An investment property includes administrative responsibilities, which can be taken good care of property managers. Having a problem with compiling and completing important paperwork? A property manager can indeed provide a great help in this matter and make it easier and simpler for you.

All those given tips above are some of the ways to help you avoid making mistakes on your taxes as a property investor. For more information about taxes, contact Southbourne Tax Group today.

Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to steer clear of tax-time stress as a property investor

As a property investor, having appropriate and correct tax returns is imperative. As a company who exerts brilliant dedication on providing tax services to businesses and individuals, Southbourne Tax Group prepared some simple tax tips to property investors in managing their taxes.

Landlords often come under inspection when submitting tax returns, thus it is essential to have a complete and appropriate returns. Contact your accountant and discuss important tax matters to identify what can and can’t be claimed as a tax-deductible expense. You can ensure all claims are legitimate and the tax return amount is maximized with this.

Making your taxes easier is possible with the help of a tax specialist, so better get their professional service today. Below are more tips provided by Southbourne Tax Group.

Reducing the tax payable involves offsetting the net loss generated by negative gearing against other income. If a property is available for rent, then as a landlord, you can claim the interest, but if for example, it is lived for half a year and then leased as a holiday rental for the other half you can’t claim the interest for the full 12 months.

Make sure that when checking your insurance policy, you’ll have the appropriate coverage. With a standard home and contents insurance policy, experts said that landlords won’t be covered for particular risks involved in property investing.

Surely, you have costs you are rightfully entitled to, so make sure you won’t forget them. As said earlier, consulting your accountant regarding what can and can’t be claimed before submitting your claim is vital.

Being one of those self-managing landlords, having costs from working at home is usual, but don’t forget that you can claim some of them. But remember you can’t claim all the costs included from working at home such as buying a computer or the monthly internet bills, however, a reasonable part of this may be deductible.

Hiring a property manager also provides great help. The costs included in getting their services can be a deductible expense. They can help you save time because they can create a potential tax benefit while assisting the organization as well. Taking good care of the administrative responsibilities involved in an investment property is easy for them. Compiling and completing important paperwork? A property manager can handle them.

Tax-time stress is often inevitable but with those mentioned above, you can steer clear from major tax-time stress as a property investor. Keep in touch with Southbourne Tax Group to understand this subject better.

The Southbourne Tax Group: Why Tax Refund Fraud Losses Are Growing Rapidly

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Over the past five years, the IRS has been experiencing issues around identity theft. Evidence of stolen identity tax refund fraud, or simply tax refund fraud (TRF), began to emerge as early as 2004 when individuals began submitting fictional tax returns from prison. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in 2004, prisoners submitted 18,000 returns, which cost U.S. taxpayers $68 million. In 2010, they submitted 91,000 returns, with a loss of $757 million. Over that time, the prisoners also increased the average amount of money they collected, jumping from $3,777 in 2004 to a staggering $8,318 in 2010. Their tax fraud scheme exposed a flaw within the tax filing system.

Organized criminal enterprises understand flaws in the tax filing and refund system that allowed them to exploit procedural weaknesses and reap large returns for their efforts. TRF has evolved into a sophisticated criminal enterprise process with organized fraud rings filing thousands of fraudulent tax returns annually.

Factors Leading to the Growth of Tax Refund Fraud

The advancement of technology has had implications across many facets of TRF. The increase in personal computing power of taxpayers, the evolution of the Internet since the early 1990s, the ability to electronically file tax forms and subsequent growth of third-party tax filing services and the ability to receive tax refunds via direct deposit (including prepaid debit cards) have all been major contributing factors to the growth of TRF. Additionally, the conversion of personally identifiable information (PII) to digital records has created an opportunity for cybercriminals to steal PII in large quantities, as evidenced by recent health care provider and government agency data breaches.

The IRS has offered and allowed direct deposit of tax refunds since the 1980s; however, it never built systems to confirm that deposits were being made to an account of the same name as the tax filer. In 2008, TIGTA reported that “the IRS has not developed sufficient processes to ensure that more than 61 million filing season 2008 tax refunds were deposited into an account of the name of the filer.” In fact, TIGTA found that the IRS was not in compliance with direct deposit regulations. The IRS claimed that it was the responsibility of the taxpayer to ensure compliance — which obviously played into the fraudsters’ hands.

The problem of multiple direct deposits to one account was evident in a 2012 report in which an analysis of 2010 data indicated that 4,157 direct deposit refunds totaling more than $6.7 million went to just 10 accounts.

A corresponding July 2012 TIGTA report recommended that the IRS limit the number of direct deposits to one account. The IRS agreed with that suggestion and instituted a limit of three direct deposits to one account for the 2015 filing season.

A New Trend Takes Hold

Around 2010, a new trend emerged centering around true identity theft. Based on lessons learned from the prisoner tax filing scam, organized criminal groups (OCGs) focusing on TRF began to emerge. OCGs from street gangs to international crime groups learned that they could make a lot money with little risk involved. The OCG would obtain true identity information about a taxpayer, which is otherwise known as “FULLZ” in Dark Web marketplaces. The OCG would then submit a tax return in the victim’s name with fictitious employment and wage documents to support it.

Since two returns cannot be filed for the same person in one year, once the victim would submit a true tax return it would be rejected, alerting them to the identity theft. One of the issues at hand is that the IRS does not reconcile wage documents from individual returns to those supplied from employers until six to nine months into the year. According to TIGTA, the IRS may have paid $5.2 billion in potentially fraudulent tax refunds on 1.5 million tax returns in 2010.

So Where Does One Get FULLZ Information?

FULLZ information is readily available from many places. These include data breaches, retail stores, health care records and more. Once cybercriminals get access to this data, they will then put the information into a website marketplace that allows fraudsters to access any of the data that is available for a price. Many of these websites are in what is known as the Dark Net or Dark Market. The Dark Net listings provide fraudsters with all the information they would need to execute TRF.

If you are a novice or would-be fraudster, there are websites that will provide a how-to tutorial for committing TRF. The pictures below are examples of a few websites that teach people each step of TRF, from getting a person’s PII and opening a bank account in that individual’s name to actually submitting a fraudulent tax return and receiving an illicit refund.

Another important thing to note is that rules, regulations and silos within companies hinder the organizations’ ability to effectively communicate, share information and limit the losses from TRF. However, the bad guys are not hindered by any such rules and regulations. They are free to communicate among themselves about successes, failures and other conditions that will help refine their processes to be more successful. This is usually done in Dark Net chat forums. In these forums, criminals are free to discuss what was successful and what was not.

Technology has made it increasing easy for fraudsters to commit their crimes anonymously. The Internet and phone channels provide areas that can be used to grant anonymity. On the Internet there are many products that provide virtual private network (VPN) services to hide the true identity and IP address of the bad actor; two of the best known are Tor and I2P.

Data Breaches Fuel the FULLZ Supply

All data breaches are not created equally. Some of the large retail breaches over the last 18 months, while significant, do not pose as much of an identity theft risk as the more recent health insurer and government data breaches. Some of the high-profile retail breaches involved payment card compromises, which would allow a fraudster to create and use counterfeit cards. Typically, card issuers will bear losses associated with counterfeit card use, sparing consumers any financial burden. However, data breaches that involve complete PII records of consumers present a high risk of identity theft and TRF.

Until recently, the compromise of full PII data often came from malicious insiders with access to consumers’ information. Insiders at banks, medical offices, schools and other organizations that possess PII help provide access for criminal enterprises. Large-scale data breaches at health insurers and government agencies have provided a tremendous supply of consumer PII to cybercriminals looking to execute TRF.

So far in 2015, more than 100 million PII records have been compromised through health care and government data breaches alone. For example, the IRS announced that the breach of its Get Transcript system may have included the PII of 334,000 taxpayers. Unlike payment card compromises, these breaches may have profound negative effects to individuals for years to come.

IRS Attempts to Control the Issue

In response to TIGTA’s direct deposit concerns, the IRS introduced limits on Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposits for the 2015 tax season. It implemented new procedures about how money would be sent to accounts by ACH and by check. For instance, a new direct deposit refund request limits the number of refunds that can be deposited into one bank account to three. After three deposits into one bank account, the IRS will convert any subsequent direct deposit refund requests to a paper check and mail the check to the taxpayer’s address. Also, the IRS is limiting the number of bank accounts among which a taxpayer can split one refund to no more than three.

These changes were implemented in an effort to curb TRF. However, the reforms did not achieve the intended result because fraudsters adapted their tactics to exploit systematic weaknesses. The issues that arose for the 2015 tax season are twofold:

  1. Workarounds With Tax Preparation Services

The master accounts associated with tax preparation services are a weakness in the system to which fraudsters navigated once the IRS instituted the direct deposit limitations. When an individual files a tax return with a refund through some of the popular tax preparation services, the refunds are often routed from the IRS to the tax preparation company, which then sends it to the individual’s bank and account of record.

Through this method of filing, fraudsters were able to bypass the direct deposit limits. Refunds processed through master accounts do not contain robust event descriptions. The lack of event descriptions means the banks can’t detect and stop these refunds since they have no information from which to validate and match information to the bank account.

  1. Financial Institutions Cannot Help Monitor for Fraud

The direct deposit limits took financial institutions out of the game with regard to being a detection point. An ACH deposit coming from the IRS to a bank contains a robust event description including the name, address and Social Security number of the beneficiary. Financial institutions were in a position to detect suspicious activity of multiple deposits going to one account for the benefit of individuals not named on the account.

As with many regulations and controls designed to stop fraud, there are unintended consequences. As a result of criminals’ ability to adapt to the ACH limitations, they found another way. Their new methods resulted in a higher success rate and increased losses to U.S. taxpayers.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

TRF is expected to increase dramatically for this tax season. According to the IRS, fraud losses will reach a staggering $21 billion by 2016, while just two years ago, losses were $6.5 billion.

Recent large-scale PII data breaches will contribute to the growth of TRF. Although the IRS is making changes to try to limit fraud, there are still structural weaknesses in the process that will allow this activity to continue.

Are There Solutions to the Tax Refund Fraud Issue?

No one solution will stop tax refund fraud, but it can be slowed down and its losses limited. The focus should be on better fraud detection capabilities. The detection process should be built like an onion with multiple layers and parties involved. Proposed cuts of the IRS’ budget by more than $800 million for fiscal year 2016 may make it increasingly difficult for the agency to create a better detection strategy, however.

Limiting the number of direct deposits to one account is a good start. However, financial institutions need to be brought into the detection loop. The refund process via master accounts must be enhanced to the point where the name, address and Social Security number of the beneficiary are included in the event description of the ACH transaction between the master account and the receiving bank. Once that is done, banks can build fraud strategies to identify multiple deposits to one account.

The IRS, financial institutions, tax preparation service companies and card companies should work together to devise and implement detection controls that may allow each party to potentially identify suspicious activity, raise red flags and halt the refund process to allow for identity verification. With a detection process that includes all these parties, there will be three different industries that can review refund transactions at different points in the process. This could significantly decrease the losses that are seen with tax refund fraud.

Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here

The Southbourne Tax Group: Beware the Latest Tax-Season Spear-Phishing Scam

You may have heard of the CEO scam: that’s where spear-phishers impersonate a CEO to hit up a company for sensitive information.

That’s what happened to Snapchat, when an email came in to its payroll department, masked as an email from CEO Evan Spiegel and asking for employee payroll information.

Snapchat’s payroll department fell for it. Ouch.

Here’s a turn of that same type of screw: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week sent out an urgent warning about a new tax season scam that wraps the CEO fraud in with a W-2 scam, then adds a dollop of wire fraud on top.

A W-2 is a US federal tax form, issued by employers, that has a wealth of personal financial information, including taxpayer ID and how much an employee was paid in a year.

This new and nasty dual-phishing scam has moved beyond the corporate world to target nonprofits such as school districts, healthcare organizations, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies and tribal organizations.

As with earlier CEO spoofing scams, the crooks are doctoring emails to make the messages look like they’re coming from an organization’s executive. Sending the phishing messages to employees in payroll or human resources departments, the criminals request a list of all employees and their W-2 forms.

The scam, sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), first appeared last year. This year, it’s not only being sent to a broader set of intended victims; it’s also being sent out earlier in the tax season than last year.

In a new twist, this year’s spam scamwich also features a followup email from that “executive”, sent to payroll or the comptroller, asking for a wire transfer to a certain account.

The wire transfer scam isn’t tax-related: it’s just hitching a ride on the tax-related W-2 scam. Some companies have been swindled twice: they’ve lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars sent out via the wire transfers.

The IRS is telling organizations that receive the W-2 scam emails to forward them to Phishing IRS, with the subject line of “W2 Scam”.

If your business has already fallen for the scam, it can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), operated by the FBI. Employees whose W-2 forms have been stolen should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission or the IRS identity theft.

The IRS says that employees should also file a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF) if their own tax returns get rejected because of a duplicate Social Security number or if instructed to do so by the IRS.

How to sidestep the scam

But before you even get to the sad state of having to file a report about getting ripped off, it’s better to avoid falling for the bait in the first place.

Unfortunately, that’s getting tougher as crooks get more and more cunning. Case in point: the carefully crafted, well-disguised attack that led to the hacking of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s Gmail account. The attack relied on a shortened Bitly link to mask nefarious HTML code.

Screenshots of the Bitly link used against Podesta show that even the longer links hiding behind rigged Bitly links can be made to look, to an untrained eye, like they’re legitimate.

One step that can protect against phishing attacks is to pick proper passwords. Even though strong passwords don’t help if you’re phished (the crooks get the strong password anyway), they make it much harder for crooks to guess their way in.

Use two-factor authentication whenever you can. That way, even if the crooks phish your password once, they can’t keep logging back into your email account.

Also, consider using Sophos Home. The free security software for Mac and Windows blocks malware and keeps you away from risky web links and phishing sites.

The Southbourne Tax Group: Straight Talk – Be aware of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ of tax scams

The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.

Today’s topic: IRS warns of the “Dirty Dozen”

The concern: Every year, the IRS compiles their “Dirty Dozen,” a list of common scams that can affect taxpayers at any time of the year, but strike more often during filing season as consumers finalize their tax returns.

How the scam works:

Phishing schemes Criminals pose as a person or organization the taxpayer trusts or recognizes. They may hack an email account and send mass emails under another person’s name. They may pose as a bank, credit card company, tax software provider or government agency. Criminals go to great lengths to create websites that appear legitimate but contain phony log-in pages. These criminals hope victims will take the bait and provide money, passwords, Social Security numbers and other information that can lead to identity theft.

Business email compromise (BEC) / W-2 phishing scam Cybercriminals use spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their W-2s “for a quick review.” But it’s not real, and those who reply are sending employees’ names, Social Security numbers and income information to scammers, who then file fraudulent returns for tax refunds.

Tax identity theft Tax-related identity theft involves scams with the intent to steal personal and financial data from taxpayers or data held by tax professionals. One such way is when a scammer uses a stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return and claiming the refund. It also happens when someone uses your SSN to earn wages, and sticks you with the tax bill.

Fake charities Groups masquerade as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. One type of abuse or fraud involves scams that occur in the wake of significant natural disasters. Scam artists impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Scammers can use a variety of tactics; some operate bogus charities and contact people by telephone or email to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.

Tips to avoid these scams:

File early. File your tax return as early as possible to avoid a scammer filing instead.

Be secure. Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.

Know the IRS. The IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.

Be aware of your credit. Check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure there are no unauthorized accounts.

Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

Know phishing. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.

Be informed. To see the remaining “Dirty Dozen” and find more tax-time tips, visit the IRS website.