Michigan Warns of Debt Payment Scam

The Michigan Department of Treasury warns taxpayers about a debt payment scam aimed at individuals.

Under the scam, people try to pay their state government debts, including tax debts, with routing numbers of two U.S. Department of Treasury bureaus: the Financial Management Service (FMS) and the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD). To route payments, taxpayers use their social security numbers as their checking account number and list the bank as either the FMS or the BPD.

The department stated that it will reject debt payments made as a result of this scam.

Press Release, Michigan Department of Treasury, August 10, 2017

Why you should consider outsourcing bookkeeping services

As a small business owner, you have many things taking up your time. You manage social media accounts and marketing plans and employees. Managing your company’s accounting may seem like one of the easier things that you do, so you may not notice how much time you lose keeping track of income and expenses in an old spreadsheet—or worse, with pen and paper.

Here are some ways that outsourcing your bookkeeping services and choosing a cloud-based accounting program can make your job easier.

Maintain mental energy and focus

The phrase “multi-tasking” originated with computers, long before we ever talked about it in the context of people. As we as people pressed ourselves to do more and more tasks with fewer and fewer breaks in between, we also started talking about context switching.

Context switching is, basically, the time it takes you to refocus on a task when you’re interrupted. In the Bryan Braun article I liked to, he talks about taking a phone call when he’s working on a research paper. In that task, for him, context switching is incredibly expensive; it takes him much longer to get back to work on the paper than it does to handle the phone call. He’s better off letting the call go to voicemail and calling the person back later.

When you’re responsible for putting little bits of attention towards several different projects every day, you lose time every time you’re done one, and you have to focus on the next. We see this in terms of procrastination; we check email, social media, and go get a cup of coffee. Really, this is your brain dumping old information so that it can get ready for the next task. It makes sense that you want to spend as much of your day as possible being productive, and as little as possible being unproductive.

By keeping the interface simple and the accessible, the systems Manville and Schell, P.C. employ, make it easier for you to stay focused and get through your work day.

You can’t actually do everything

There’s a myth in American entrepreneurial culture that successful entrepreneurs need to be able to do it all. They need to be experts on SEO, have intimate knowledge of tax details, and have instant and detailed knowledge of the inner workings of every part of their company.

In truth, no successful company can run this way. In the startup phase, many entrepreneurs do end up picking up a little bit of everything, but as a company grows and expands, one of the crucial steps that entrepreneurs must go through is learning to delegate to other people, so that they can focus on building and growing the company.

Outsourcing bookkeeping services is just one way that an entrepreneur can take a set of tasks off their plate, freeing up time for other work. Instead of spending time cutting and pasting into each separate invoice before emailing it out, cloud based accounting services manage the process for you. When you mark an invoice paid, that payment shows up on your balance sheet, and arrives in reports about income from different customers.

When you’re not quite ready to hire an accountant, but have enough income that you need to track it over the course of the year, cloud based accounting software is a perfect fit.

Improve performance in other areas

Unless you are actually an accountant, most people do not enjoy the process of maintaining their business’s books. Many people find it confusing, and worry that they’re tracking the wrong things, and potentially exposing themselves in the case of an audit or other complication.

When you use cloud based accounting software like lessaccounting to outsource your bookkeeping services, you gain back not just the time you spend entering and re-entering data, but the time you spend researching, making sure that you’re tracking the right things, and worrying that you’ve got it all wrong.

That time can then be turned around and used for more productive tasks, like managing your SEO and marketing, building links to and from your website, and working with your employees to make sure they’re on track with your brand.

If you need to let go of something within your business to make time, consider outsourcing bookkeeping services to a cloud based accounting platform like lessaccounting today.

TAKING THE LEAD THROUGH ANTICIPATION

“When rapid change happens you have to anticipate more.” – Joey Havens, CPA

Wise words and so true, but easier said than done if you haven’t practiced the skill of anticipation.

Have you considered the importance of developing the competency of anticipation?  Not the feeling, we learn that at a very young age, but the action of preparing for the future; we have to filter through all the data and changes happening daily to get to the future facts. Future facts are what Daniel Burrus, futurist, calls hard trends; we know these things will happen, such as increased bandwidth, further automation, faster processing, etc. Instead of getting bogged down with soft trends, which Burrus describes as assumptions, we need to zero in on the hard trends that will impact our future.

Questions to consider:

  1. Are you considering relevancy?
  2. Are you thinking big enough?
  3. Are you sharing information or actually communicating? (There is a difference.)
  4. If it can be done it will be done, but if you don’t do it who will?
  5. What if you could tell your clients what will happen? (How much value will that bring?)

As you start anticipating the future and ask yourself these questions, be aware of your mindset. Are you aiming to keep up or leap ahead? Daniel Burrus points out with the powerful skill of anticipation you have the ability to jump head and take the lead.

What future facts do you see?

Check your 2017 withholding!

 

Withholding too much tax from your wages isn’t wise in the long run. Try to match withholding as closely as possible to your actual tax liability for the year. Invest the extra money in yourself, not the IRS.

Cosigning a loan can hurt financially and emotionally

Cosigning a loan for a friend or family member may seem like a good way to help your loved one establish credit or get back on track financially. But be sure to use your head as well as your heart to make the decision. Why? When you agree to cosign a loan, you become equally responsible for the debt. That means you will have to make payments and satisfy the loan if your friend or family member doesn’t or can’t. A recent survey by an online credit card marketplace shows that 38 percent of cosigners had to repay some or all of a cosigned loan. Another financial impact: cosigning the loan negatively affected the credit score of 28 percent of cosigners because the other person didn’t make payments or made them late. Cosigning has an emotional side, too. According to the survey, 26 percent of cosigners said the experience damaged the relationship with the person they were trying to help.

Make some time for tax and financial planning

For most of us, summertime is a bit more relaxed, giving us time to do the tasks we tend to put off. Consider making time to take care of tax and financial tasks. Examples include planning for college or retirement, getting your will written, or building a simple budget. Call if you need help.

College or retirement – Which should you fund first?

Saving for your children’s education or your own retirement – how do you decide which is more important? A typical retirement will generally last longer and cost more than your child’s education. If you cannot adequately fund both, maximize your retirement savings first. There are far more options for your child to finance his or her college education than there are for you to fund your retirement.

2018 HSA limits announced.

The IRS recently announced the 2018 inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts. For 2018, taxpayers can contribute up to $3,450 (up from $3,400 in 2017) for single coverage, or up to $6,900 (up from $6,750 in 2017) for family coverage.

The maximum out-of-pocket figures are: $6,650 for single coverage (up from $6,550 in 2017) and $13,300 for family coverage (up from $13,100 in 2017).

Summer business tip

Summer is a good time to do business entertaining. Normally, deductions for business entertainment and meals are limited to 50 percent of the expenses. However, you can write off 100 percent of the cost of a company picnic or other get-together. Note that you can’t restrict the outing to only a select few employees. Keep records of the cost, the date, the attendees, and the business purpose.

Two facts about your chances of being audited

Your chances of being audited are probably lower than you think. A look at the latest IRS statistics for 2016 reveals two interesting and reassuring facts about the risk of an IRS audit.

One of these facts is that audits are becoming less common. The number of individual tax returns the IRS audited fell to a 12-year low last year, to just above 1 million. Audits have been declining steeply over the last five years, which the IRS commissioner said was due in part to declining budgets and a smaller workforce.

Another fact is that IRS audits happen most often to the super-rich. The statistical chance of being audited increases dramatically for people of higher income levels.

For example, filers that made near the average U.S. income only had a 0.4 percent chance of being audited. That frequency doubled once annual incomes reached $200,000, and doubled again at incomes greater than $500,000. By the time a person reports $10 million in income, they have a one-in-five chance of being audited, according to IRS statistics.