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Does Your Tax Preparer Have A Record Of Completion?

 

 

Record of Completion

 

Many of you know that it is important to find a tax preparer that knows what they’re doing because in the end it affects you. This year was the start of a new program by the IRS called the Annual Filing Season Program. What this program aims to do is make sure that the people that are preparing tax returns for compensation are competent and know what they are doing. Recently the IRS has stated that 44,000 preparers completed the program for the first year. This is a good sign for people that are looking for help when it comes to preparing and filing their taxes.

The Annual Filing Season Program was started in the hopes that all tax return preparers will maintain a level of knowledge that will help their clients. In order to complete this program a person must complete a certain amount of continuing education. The total needed is 18 hours which consists of 6 hours of “refresher courses”, 10 hours on federal tax laws, and 2 hours of ethics. On top of these requirements those that participate in this program must agree to specific obligations set by the IRS which will make them accountable for their actions.

This program is completely voluntary but can negatively affect the preparer and the taxpayer if they choose to not participate. After December 31, 2015 those who do not participate in the Annual Filing Season Program will not be able to represent their clients before the IRS for tax returns and claims for refunds. This means that if your return is selected for additional review, your tax preparer may not be able to help you with the review. Attorneys, CPA, and Enrolled Agents will have full representation rights for clients but are usually expensive to keep. Those who are part of the Annual Filing Season Program will have limited representation rights, but will still be able to represent clients they have prepared a return for.

We at Cloud Accounting Professionals are proud to say that all our tax preparers have earned the Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. This means that we have put time into keeping up with changing tax laws and made sure we can help our clients when needed. The IRS shows that as of the start of the 2015 filing season there were more than 666,000 tax return preparers with active PTINs. This means that only 6% of those tax return preparers volunteered to take and finished the program.

Many people do not make the commitment to sign the taxes they prepare and to stand by their work. We are proud of helping others to prepare and file their returns and will continue to show it. When you come to Cloud Accounting Professionals to help prepare your taxes, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.

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Why I Should Use Cloud Accounting Professionals ?

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We welcome you to try our expert services. Our staff has over ten years experience in the accounting industry.  We are focused on helping you achieve financial success. You will never worry about crunching numbers,meeting costly deadlines or procuring IRS Penalties.

Cloud Access

Our cloud technology lets you access all your personal information regardless of where you are. It also allows us to assist you in ways a traditional company structure can not. We know keeping in touch with your accountant is difficult, so we made sure you have access our services and experience from anywhere in the world.

Convenient

We offer a convenient way to file your taxes. Documents are sent through the online client portal, so our accountants are ready when you are. If you forget to file a form, there’s no need to worry and reschedule; just upload it at your convenience! We make the process easier by allowing you to submit documents online.

Security

Security is our primary concern. We use data encryption to make sure all communication and data sharing is protected. It’s the same encryption used by big banks. Additionally our Client portal servers reside in accredited data centers with additional power sources and data backups. Your information is protected against almost any disaster.

Expertise

From bookkeeping to taxes, we make sure our staff is experienced in handling all possible problems that may arise when organizing your business information. Unlike other large companies, our professionals are trained year long and serve solely to help you with your accounting needs.

Year long support

Unlike most tax companies, we operate outside tax season to assist you with all your financial needs. We’re open year round so you can call or pass by our office for immediate service. No matter what happens to you or your business, we will assist you during any time of the year.

One Stop Shop

The days of going to one business for taxes and another for bookkeeping are gone.  We get it all done for you under the same roof. We analyze your financial information to see how it affects your taxes. We get you started and review the information to see what other services you benefit from.

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Florida Number One In Identity Theft

ID Theft

 

 

Identity theft as defined by the IRS occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

 

“Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints, and American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013, according to the FTC’s annual report on consumer complaints released today.”

Information Valuable to Identity thieves:

  •         Name, address
  •         Date of birth
  •         Medicare card number
  •         Driver’s license number
  •         Social Security number
  •         Passwords

How does Identity theft happen?

  •          Data breaches
  •          Phony emails from imposters
  •          Social networking
  •          Stolen wallets
  •          Corrupt tax preparation services

Warning signs:

  •         Unusual delay in getting a refund
  •         IRS notifications:

o   Duplicate tax return filing

o   Unreported income

o   Duplicate dependents

Although there are many ways someone may try to steal your identity there are many ways to reduce the risk of theft.

  1.       Minimize personal information kept in your purse, wallet and smartphone.
  2.       Shred documents with any personal information.
  3.       Do not give out personal information.
  4.       Do not click on links sent from strange emails.
  5.       Use complex passwords
  6.       Check your annual credit reports, one CRA every quarter.

 

In previous posts we have said how it is important to trust your tax preparer as you have voluntarily given them the information needed to steal your identity. According to a Treasury Department report, in 2012 there were more than 1.8 million cases of stolen returns from taxpayer identity theft. This crime costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year and the statistics show that is it growing. Which state is currently leading the country in the number of cases, none other than our very own sunshine state Florida.

It seems lawmakers have taken notice of the increasing number of cases and are doing something about it. Last month leaders of the the Senate Finance Committee introduced a bill to improve the protection taxpayers have against fraudulent refunds that were claimed with stolen identities. This month the House passed a bill that was introduced by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. D-Fla,  with co-sponsors Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va, that would make tougher penalties for people that would try to steal tax returns through identity theft.

The intent of the bill is to make stealing the identity of someone less appealing. The bill would increase the maximum penalties for someone caught stealing an identity. It would also add to the definition of identity theft the use of a business or charitable organization to gain sensitive information from people, also known as “phishing”. Another point of the bill would be to have local law enforcement working in better coordination with Justice Department.

It is good to see that lawmakers are trying to put a stop to a growing problem with fraudulent returns and identity theft. As this crime is prevalent here in south Florida it is important to remember that as of right now this bill is not a law, so take care of your sensitive information and make sure to take it to a reputable person if you need help preparing and filing your taxes.

 

Resources:

Ftc.gov/idtheft

Ftc.gov/taxidtheft

 

 

Qualified Educator Expense Still Unchanged 11 Years Later

Since 2003, an eligible educator can take a Pre-AGI (adjusted gross income) deduction of up to $250. Although helpful, the rising cost of standard of living and inflation leaves our educators ignored.

 (Latest annual inflation rate for the United States is 2.0%, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

It’s time for that to change; educators should receive more benefits during tax time. Educators use these funds on items such as books, school supplies, and even software which is paid out-of-pocket to ensure their students have all the materials they need to learn and master their craft.

(In some states, home schools are considered private schools by case law and statute.)

Any expenses educators incur past the original $250 can be deducted towards their AGI, but the problem is they are entered as a Miscellaneous Business Expense, which is hindered by the 2% limitation.This meansif they haven’t reached the limitation, they won’t benefit from their contribution to a student’s learning, and if they have, their contributions will be limited.

EducatorExpense

 

 

Who qualifies?

  • You are a kindergarten through grade 12:

-Teacher
-Instructor
-Counselor
-Principal
-Aide

  • You work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under state law.

 

 Benefits:

  • An Increase to Educator Expense would assist our educators financially.
  • Benefits would trickle down to students as more learning materials are provided to them.
  • It will give us clear understanding of the burden we place on our educators.
  • More incentive for teacher to remain in their profession and give a better experience to students


Sources:
Inflation: http://www.bls.gov/
Qualifications: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc458.html