New Year’s Resolutions: Tax Season and Online Security
Published on: January 22nd, 2015
We have barely finished creating our lists of New Year’s resolutions and before we know it, the taxman will cometh. This means that it’s time for the annual deep dive into a combination of paper and digital documentation to tally up a year’s worth of business receipts, cancelled checks, credit card statements, bank records, insurance files, etc. Considering the entire time-consuming process, January is not too early to start planning for that April 15th tax deadline.
The Taxman is Closely Followed by Cybercriminals
Nobody looks forward to tax time, but at least the online filing process has made it so much easier. Right? Unfortunately, online filing has become complicated by the fact that the taxman is now closely followed by an array of cybercriminals, hackers and identity thieves.
In 2013, the incidence of tax return fraud reached epidemic proportions. The IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit has significantly expanded its investigations and prosecutions for identity theft and refund fraud theft. In 2013, the IRS mailed out $4 billion in refund checks to identity thieves that had defrauded 1.6 million taxpayers. The Justice Department has warned both consumers and businesses alike that aggressive scammers engaged in online identity theft have been linked to international criminal organizations. The Department of Homeland Security is strongly encouraging taxpayers to be proactive and follow online security practices.
Commit to Improving the Efficiency of Your Financial Processes
Tax season actually provides the perfect opportunity to examine your business’ financial processes and record keeping. Perhaps it’s time to overhaul your financial systems? Many small businesses efficiently handle their daily finances, record-keeping and tax preparation with a software product such as QuickBooks. Consider the following QuickBook features:
- Know where your business stands by checking your profit and loss statements plus your balance sheet with just one easy click.
- Stay in sync with your bank and automatically download and categorize bank and credit card transactions.
- Easily track your expenses for tax time and use mobile apps to photograph and record receipts with your smartphone.
- Run your employee payroll and file payroll taxes.
- Email customized professional invoices with company branding and accept mobile payments.
- Record and pay bills from vendors and schedule recurring payments.
- Automatically backs up your data everyday with bank-level security.
- Five users can access QuickBooks keeping your data up to date.
Commit to Online Security Especially During Tax Season
As a business owner, safeguarding your data is always “Mission Critical.” Cybercriminals use tax season as a prime opportunity to take advantage of weak online security. Even businesses using QuickBooks or another software product, continue to work with an accountant or tax specialist on the IRS tax filing. When you are sharing tax information, financial data and identity information with anyone at any time, safeguard your online security with the following steps:
- Only share business data and personal information via a secure network. Only use a network that is password protected. Never transfer information over a network that is publically available. Never conduct online activities such as tax filing, banking and shopping over an unsecured wireless network.
- Back up your data and store your electronic tax files securely. Use a strong password to protect the files.
- Never e-mail your financial information or send as an e-mail attachment.
- Use online encryption software. Check that the sites you are using have secure http addresses to ensure security during the transmission of sensitive data.
- Use a reliable firewall to prevent outsiders from accessing your private network.
- If you are working with an accountant, inquire about what security measures they have in place to protect your personal information.
Time to Follow Up on New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business
Does your business have a list of New Year’s resolutions for 2015? Is increasing the efficiency of your business’ financial processes a goal for the year? Computer Troubleshooters can help you increase both the efficiency and security of your business’ financial processes. With tax season upon us, it’s an ideal time to reevaluate your business’ financial systems. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to evaluate your current financial and data security practices.
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