Warning: Another QuickBooks Phishing Scam

According to the Better Business Bureau Northwest, there’s a new email phishing scam targeting users of QuickBooks accounting software:

Victims receive an email in their inbox with the subject line, “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.” The email claims to be a confirmation from Intuit that a business has changed its name and contains a hyperlink that the recipient can click on to cancel the request. However, if email recipients click on the link, it directs them to a site that downloads malware to their device… the malware allows criminals to capture passwords and other personal information from a device.

Some good tips from the BBB Scam Alert statement

  • Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as jsmith@company.com.
  •  Check the destination of links: Hover over links to see where they lead. Be sure the link points to the correct domain (www.companyname.com) not a variation, such as companyname.othersite.com or almostcompanyname.com. Scammers can get creative, so look closely.
  • Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.
  • Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.
  • Don’t believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address.

Source: Accounting Today — Better Business Bureau warns of QuickBooks phishing scam

Financing Sources for Small Business Owners

Gerri Detweiler — head of Market Education for Nav — is well-known for being able to share complex financial information in an easy-to-understand format.  She turns her gift to the topic of small business financing in this upcoming FREE webinar, presented by CPA Academy.

Course Description:  Small business owners often feel overwhelmed when looking for financing, and spend over 33 hours, on average, researching funding options. Funding is critical though; according to the SBA, insufficient capital is the second most common reason for small business failure. Many entrepreneurs turn to their accounting professional for advice, but with over 1300 alternative lenders competing with some 6500 traditional lenders to offer small business financing, you may be overwhelmed as well. So, be prepared! In this webinar you’ll learn how to help your small business clients successfully navigate the complicated world of small business financing.

I was so disappointed that I found out about their last presentation of this webinar too late to promote it, and was delighted when she let me know she would be giving another 1-hour live talk on January 24th (1:00pm Eastern, 12:00pm Central, 11:00am Mountain, 10:00am Pacific — http://www.cpaacademy.org/webinars/a0D1A000011dIjgUAE

She’s shared her slide deck with me, and I can tell you that as a small business owner in need of financing, this is one 1-hour well-spent.

Role of the Board of Directors & Audit Committee Within a Cooperative

One of my favorite educational organizations is the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives.  They have regular webinars and live seminars, as well as their annual conference.  This upcoming webinar on the role of a cooperative’s board of directors and audit committee sounds like it might be of particular interest to many of my clients and colleagues.

An overview of the duties, legal responsibilities and issues related to service as a Director in a Cooperative, including the interaction of Directors with Officers and Members and how the Audit Committee fits into the “best practices” model of cooperative governance.

This webinar will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 @ 02:00 PM ET / 01:00 PM CT / 12:00 PM MT / 11:00 AM PT.

Source: NSAC Cooperative Learning Network – The Role of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee Within a Cooperative

New Due Dates for Many Tax Returns in 2017

The biggest news for 2017, in the world of tax preparers, came back in 2015, but didn’t make much of a splash outside of our world.

Lady Gaga: They’re changing the due dates for partnership returns, C-corps, and 1099s!


Lady Gaga: Yes, that’s what I said! Can you believe it?!!

Nancy: Aaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuugggggggggggggggggggaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We were all a-flutter, but no one else really cared. From our perspective, having lobbied for it for so long, it’s seriously one of the most significant pieces of tax legislation for years. So I get that maybe this doesn’t seem like big news to non-tax-preparers, but for us, this is huge. The IRS never changes due dates. I mean, sure — you’ve got your weekends and totally random federal holidays (Emancipation Day, anyone?) here or there, but that just temporarily pushes things forward a day or two. We’re talking about a permanent change for all eternity. Or until the next time. As I said: THIS IS HUGE.

And it’s ultimately a good thing. But it is going to be a major challenge for us this season, so we’re asking you to be patient. And kind. (Please both.)

So what are these huge changes I’m going on about?

The main bits:
1) 1099s used to be due to recipients postmarked January 31, and e-filed with the IRS by March 31. The due date for recipients hasn’t changed, but now they’re due to be efiled with the IRS two months earlier, on January 31.
2) Partnerships used to be due April 15. They’re now due a month earlier, on March 15.
3) C-Corps used to be due March 15. They’re now due a month later, on April 15.

Why? And so what?

I’ll deal with the “why?” first.

The problem with the prior due dates was that it was hard for the IRS to match reported income against the income you said you had on your personal return, and sometimes, it was even hard for you to tell them about it in a timely fashion. For example —

1099s: you’re a freelancer (or more likely, a Chicago landlord) and you get your 1099s from clients (or renters) in early February. You decide to ignore it, because you didn’t really want to report that income anyway. You file in mid-February and get your refund. The IRS receives your 1099 copies on March 31. Now they have to chase you down for the refund that you weren’t entitled to. Make it due two months earlier — problem solved.

Partnerships: so you get a partnership K-1 sent out on April 15. This is a flow-through document that needs to show up on your personal return… ALSO DUE ON APRIL 15. That’s an easy one. Make it due a month earlier — problem solved.

C-Corps: the opposite of above. No flow-through documents. No reason to have it due a month early.

Taxpayers and preparers were struggling with problems created when flowthrough entities’ Schedules K-1 arrived late, sometimes within days (before or after) of the extended due date of their partners’/owners’ personal returns and up to a month after the extended due date of their partners’/owners’ business returns. Late Schedules K-1 made it difficult, if not impossible, to file a timely, accurate return. The Tax Division found that much of the issue related to late Schedules K-1 were a result of the increasing quantity and complexity of flowthrough entities.
Source — http://www.thetaxadviser.com/issues/2016/aug/nex-season-due-dates-have-new-logical-order.html

Much of the issue related to late Schedules K­1 were a result of the increasing quantity and complexity of flowthrough entities. The interconnection of business entities and those that own them demanded a more logical flow of information between parties.
Source — http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/newsletters/2015/oct/new-tax-return-due-date-changes.html

Now, the “so what?”

Well, I’ll tell you what.


No, you probably don’t. But try owning a business or consulting with business owners, and you’ll find out fast. People are either actively trying to avoid taxation of income, or they are simply not super-responsible about reading emails and following up with requests. Either way, getting W-9 info from folks by the due date of January 31 is nearly freaking impossible. (Which is why I STRONGLY suggest that small business owners get W-9s before they give vendors their initial check. See my blog post on the topic, here.)

So. Someone doesn’t get their info to you on time and their 1099 goes out late. The only way you’ll be penalized for this is if THEY report it to the IRS. Now… why would they report it to the IRS if THEY are the ones who didn’t respond to the request for a W-9 in a timely manner? Yes, that’s my point. In effect, if someone were impeding your ability to send them a 1099, you really sort of had an extra two months to follow up and argue with them about it — or rather, provide a persuading picture of what will happen if they DON’T respond. Furthermore, let’s say you’re in the rare situation of having a recipient’s W-9 info in a timely fashion, and you send them their 1099 on time… and it’s wrong, and they notice it! You have time to go back and fix the 1099 before it even gets filed with the IRS.

No longer. Now you are required to e-file those 1099s with the IRS on the same day you put them in the mail to recipients. Not only are we going to see a lot of late-filed 1099s, but we’ll also see a lot of amendments. This is all going to increase the burden on accountants during a time of year when they’re already trying desperately to help close out client books (and in my case, implement new Point-Of-Sale systems for clients who end up making the transition in January; don’t ask).

Partnerships: Okay, I’ll admit, I really do like this new due date, in theory. I’ve often been delayed in filing a client’s personal tax return by lingering K-1s, or I’ve filed their return and a K-1 gets submitted after the return is filed. This is a great change, in theory.

But I’m a small business accountant, and I’m the only one in my firm that does taxes! NOW ALL MY S-CORPS AND PARTNERSHIPS ARE DUE ON THE SAME DAY!

I no longer get to take a 5-day vacation at the begining of February. I deal with 4th-quarter taxes in the first two weeks of January, 1099s all-month-long, and launch straight into tax prep before the end of the month. By March 15th, I will be a shell of my former self.

Send help.

C-Corps: Oh, yay. We get an extra month. I’m sorry… are there actually non-fiscal-year small businesses who file as C-Corps? I think I have two. Yeah, this does not help me at all.

In summary — I may die, but it’s okay. These changes are ultimately a good thing. They make sense. I just don’t know how we’re going to deal with them as a firm without my completely losing it.


LOVE this chart that summarizes many of the new due dates and compares them to the old ones; one-stop shopping —



Some Restaurants Adding Surcharge in Response to Minimum Wage Hike

Just read a well-written article about how some restaurants are dealing with the quickly-rising (after years of stagnation) local minimum wage, which was shared by one of my most respected restaurant accounting colleagues, Stacey Byrne.  It hit home, as we’re dealing with many of the same issues in Chicago: my small business restaurant clients are committed to living wages and benefits for their workers, as well as a safe and inclusive work space, but their margins are already so narrow, in what is a famously competitive and labor-intensive industry; also, the discrepancy between the massive amounts front-of-house are taking home and the paltry amounts back-of-house are taking home is painful — many chef-owners make substantially less than their FOH staff, or are committed to trying to even out this inequity and internal struggle. Many of them are switching to service charges instead of tipping, or re-structuring so that back-of-house workers have customer interaction, and can therefore participate in tip pooling.

Definitely worth a read: California Restaurants Add Surcharge After Minimum Wage Hike.

And for a reminder on how tipping works, an earlier blog post: Restaurant Tipping — How It Works.

Safe Harbor Relief for 1099/W-2 Filers Who Make Mistakes (It Happens)

Great new ruling from the IRS — if you send out a 1099 or W-2 that turns out to be incorrect, but the amount is $100 or less ($25 or less for tax withholding), then you don’t have to amend it.

“Section 202 of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-113) amended sections 6721 and 6722 to provide that an error on an information return or payee statement does not need to be corrected to avoid a penalty if the error relates to an incorrect dollar amount and differs from the correct amount by no more than $100 ($25 with respect to an amount of tax withheld).”

Not All High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans Are HSA-Eligible

I’m getting a lot of questions from clients right now about whether or not they should set up a Health Savings Account.  The answer — for most — is that it’s a moot question.  They probably aren’t eligible.

Just a high deductible isn’t enough. Health insurance plans must meet other criteria to become HSA-eligible.

As this article from The Finance Buff puts it, “a high-deductible health plan is not necessarily a High Deductible Health Plan” (HDHP): Not All High Deductible Plans Are HSA Eligible.

According to IRS Publication 969, to be an eligible individual and qualify for an HSA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) on the first day of the month.
  • You have no other health coverage.
  • You are not enrolled in Medicare.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The IRS defines a high deductible health plan as any plan with a deductible of at least $1,300 for an individual or $2,600 for a family, but as we just noted, not all plans that have a high deductible are eligible.  Value Penguin explains:

In actuality, few are HSA-eligible, because the IRS specifies—deep in its guidelines—that “except for preventive care, [the] plan may not provide benefits for any year until the deductible for that year is met.”

If you aren’t sure if your health insurance qualifies you for an HSA, call the insurer and ask. If you purchase a plan through the federal Marketplace, the answer should be in the plan information available through the exchange website.

Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make for 2017

My favorite blogger is back again with his list of New Year’s Resolutions for Tax Pros. In his characteristically disarming comedic style (“…while being able to speak confidently about the tax law will undeniably make you more appealing to the opposite sex, that’s not my main motivation here…”), he walks us through some suggestions for making 2017 a better year as tax planners and preparers.

As Nitti explains, “the five resolutions discussed below share a common theme — each one will help you adjust to the changing landscape we’re sure to face as 2017 unfolds.”

1. Learn the Trump Tax Plan
2. Be Able to Explain the Difference Between Static and Dynamic Scoring
3. Understand the Tax Consequences of Entity Conversions
4. Learn the Ins-and-Outs of Section 1202
5. Understand How to Compute and Minimize S Corporation Built-In Gains

Read the full article here: The Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make-2017