Newsletter

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT FILING YOUR TAX RETURN

To Our Clients:

You will be pleased to know that we will be utilizing the same ultra-efficient and accurate professional tax preparation software that we have been using for the last 10 years to prepare your tax returns. However, after the tax returns are prepared, there will be a change in the manner in which your tax returns will be filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the Franchise Tax Board. Starting with this year, we will be filing your tax returns for you, electronically.

With a great degree of encouragement from the federal government, several states have mandated that tax preparer’s who prepare over 100 tax returns per year, file individual tax returns electronically. California is one of those states. Therefore, starting with the 2003 tax returns, we will be filing your tax return electronically (through our software provider) directly to the federal and state governments. The major difference between filing a paper tax return and an electronically filed tax return is efficiency, for you and the government. As in the past, you will still receive your complete paper tax return for your files. However, you will not receive the government copies to sign, place in envelopes, and mail. We will do that part, electronically.

After we complete the preparation of the tax return, we will send your copy to you with another form (#8879) IRS e-file Signature Authorization. After you approve the tax returns, you must return the signed 8879 to us, with a PIN number of your choosing. Once we receive the signed form back, we will then file the tax returns electronically. We request your cooperation in reviewing the tax return immediately upon receipt, and returning the form to us promptly, by fax or mail, which will allow us to efficiently file your tax returns, on time.

Obviously, there will be an additional administrative burden placed upon us to keep track of tax returns that have been prepared but not e-filed, pending return of the authorization forms. Again, we need your cooperation in keeping the system running as efficiently as possible.

For those of you who have tax returns reflecting refunds, we are told that the wait time is reduced under this system to less than two weeks (as opposed to the old 6 – 8 week lag time.) To make it even more efficient, if you are receiving a refund, you can have the funds wired directly to your bank account by the IRS and the FTB. All I need is your bank number and your account number. (Don’t let it bother you, they know where your bank account is.)

For those of you who will owe money, the filing of the tax return does not have anything to do with paying the balance. If you owe, you can still pay by the April deadline. You will receive separate payment vouchers to send the payment when you want to, but the tax returns will have already been filed.

For those clients who mail in your tax organizers, we will handle the process in the same manner as before, and send the tax returns and authorization form to you. For those out of state clients, most states now accept electronically filed tax returns, and we understand that because the IRS and the FTB has approved us for electronic filing, we will be automatically approved in your state, as well.

Sincerely,

Gary M. Barnbaum, CPA, CMC

CLIENT NEWSLETTER ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT

At our weekly Tuesday morning breakfast meeting, the West Valley CPA discussion group was pleased to have a detective from the LAPD to discuss this ever-growing problem. What follows is a summary of her remarks.

Consolidate your bank accounts. Close those accounts that are rarely used. Some banks only provide bank statements on a quarterly or even a yearly basis. If a thief knows this, they will strike during the first part of a quarter or early in the year. The victim may not become aware of the problem for many months.

Be aware that your signature is not read by the bank, because of changes in the law of negotiable instruments. That law went into effect in 1994. There is virtually no such thing as a forged signature.

Therefore, every person needs to take “reasonable precautions” to safeguard their own bank account. If “reasonable precautions” are not taken, the victim may be the looser, not the bank.

When ordering new checks, have them mailed to the bank. Everyone is familiar with the plain brown box they are shipped in, especially the thieves.

Keep unused checks out of sight and locked up. If a thief is going to steal a check, it will be out of the middle of the checkbook and the victim will not miss it for a long time. And when the missing check is noticed, it may be dismissed as a printing error.

A completely filled in check can be altered. There are chemicals that can lift the ink right off of the paper. Today, the only people who buy clothespins are kindergarten teachers, and thieves.

Reconcile your bank account each month.

When a check is cashed at the market, Tele-check does not check I.D.

Don’t ever put outgoing mail in your mailbox for the postman to pick up. Many thieves prowl neighborhoods and get into mailboxes and garbage. By putting garbage in the street, it becomes public material.
Be sure to shred all items connected with credit cards, checks, bills, mailing labels, and other personal information.

There are computer programs that can print checks on blank paper stock. The portable laser printer has made writing fake checks much easier than printing counterfeit money. Printing checks is a pyramid scheme. Money is needed by x-cons, drug addicts, and even college students. The guy at the top owns the computer and the printer. All he needs is valid identification. Today, many college students are ending up with criminal records because they are all too quick to use their I.D.’s for the wrong reasons, just for a few bucks.

The fake social security number industry is enormous. That number is used for identification purposes, but it should not be, by law. Most companies in the health industry use your SS# for ID purposes (except Kaiser). In many cases it is not necessary to give out a SS#. Be careful with giving out SS number.

Limit credit cards to 2, possibly 3. Lots of credit cards make for larger targets. The third credit card should be used exclusively for internet purchases.

Permission for someone else to use the check of another person applies to one check at a time. Permission to use a credit card is automatically permanent.

Elder financial abuse is also rampant by people becoming friendly to lonely elderly people, by caretakers, and by greedy relatives. Protect the elderly from this problem.

Gary M. Barnbaum, CPA, CMC