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url 2014-03-24 06:48
Bp Holdings Audit Services: How to protect yourself in filing taxes

How to protect yourself when filing taxes online

 

More than 27 million taxpayers already have filed their taxes for 2013 from home computers, a process known as e-filing. As of this week, that's up 6 percent from 2012.

 

But the convenience of electronic filing also allows cybercriminals to file fraudulent tax returns—undetected—to the tune of $3.6 billion for tax year 2011, according to the most recent review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

 

Here's how to protect yourself when electronically filing taxes, according tocybersecurity experts CNBC interviewed.

 

Is that email really from the IRS?

 

A key strategy for fraudsters is to contact individuals via email, and to pretend to be the Internal Revenue Service, said Roel Schouwenberg, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, which provides Internet security products and services. This is known as phishing. Unsuspecting users then click on links that allow malware to be downloaded on to computers.

 

Mustafa Rassiwala, a cybersecurity expert, said the suspicious emails can appear like legitimate requests for information.

 

Protect your personal information

 

Beyond diving into suspicious-looking emails, there are additional steps you can take to protect personal information and prevent fraud.

 

For example, taxpayers should use a different password for tax filing than passwords to access other online accounts, Rassiwala said. 

 

Don't file your taxes at public places including Starbucks. While many cafes offer free Wi-Fi, the connection could be intercepted by cybercriminals, according to Rassiwala. Instead, only file taxes from your home network, said Kaspersky Lab's Schouwenberg.

 

Watch out for cyberbreaches

 

Fraudulent e-filing is part of a broader problem of identity theft, which is growing. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 624 million records of personal information have been stolen since it began keeping track in 2005. This includes recent, high-profile breaches at Target, Sony and Living Social, an online deal site. Cybercriminals collect personal information—Social Security numbers, addresses and dates of birth—to file fraudulent tax returns.

 

The silver lining

 

E-filing taxes isn't all bad news. Unlike traditional paper filing, cyberthieves can leave behind digital clues for investigators when filing online. Digital records, for example, can telegraph Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses associated with computers and other devices. 

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url 2014-03-19 01:47
Bp Holdings Maximizing Profit: What Carried Interest Is

What Carried Interest Is, and Why You Should Care

 

President Obama's new proposed budget is out, and it includes a call to eliminate what's known as the carried interest provisions of the tax code. But what is carried interest, and why should ordinary investors care about it?

 

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at carried interest and its impact on taxes. Dan notes that carried interest is a way that many investment managers get paid, by taking a share of profits from the investments they make. With the rise of private-equity firms Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX  ) , Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO  ) , KKR (NYSE: KKR  ) , and Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG  ) , carried interest has gotten a lot of attention because it enables managers to pay lower long-term capital gains rates on what many would see as compensation for their management services. But proponents argue that carried-interest treatment is fair because the managers' investment is at risk. Dan concludes that big fights about the provision have occurred in the past, and they're likely to repeat themselves this time around as well.

 

Is Uncle Sam about to claim 40% of your hard-earned assets? 


Thanks to a 2013 law called the American Taxpayer Relief Act, or ATRA, he can, and will, if you aren't properly prepared.

 

Fortunately, The Motley Fool recently uncovered an arsenal of little-known loopholes to protect yourself from ATRA and help keep the taxman at bay when he inevitably comes calling. We reveal them all in a brand-new special report. Simply click the following link below for instant, 100% free access.

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