How To Avoid Mistakes on Your Taxes

shallow depth of field of accountant calculating financial data

Income tax returns are a necessity no working person can avoid although many do try. With three additional days to file tax returns (tax day is April 18), no excuse will excuse you from tax penalties and interest. Stop procrastinating and start your taxes now.

 

Tax Planning
Gather necessary paperwork and place it near tax booklets, 1099s, and W-2s. Include last year’s tax returns, social security numbers, car title loans, checkbook, credit card number, and bank account number in the pile. Additionally, tax filers should pick a date to file taxes. Ensure few happenings are occurring that day. Concentrate on completing your taxes. Since tax filing can become stressful, dedicating time toward taxes lessens the chance mistakes occur due to rushing, incorrect answers, or sloppy writing.

Use Tax Preparation Software or A Tax Professional
Mistakes increase when a person fills out tax returns without software or a professional. It’s too risky to follow the instructions on the form due to yearly tax changes, typos, and mathematical errors. Online tax preparation websites, tax preparation software, tax accountants, tax lawyers, and tax services (HR Block, Jackson-Hewett, etc.) are the preferred suggestions for successful tax filing. Fewer mistakes occur when one or more options are in your arsenal.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The time dedicated to tax filing is the time to relax, read, and respond. Slowly process one question and answer at a time. Rely on last year’s tax returns, paperwork, and changes during the year to complete the form. Review the completed tax form. Compare the tax form to last year to ensure the placement (not the answers) is similar. If changes in placement occur, read it and understand why. E-filers should complete an e-signature. Printed forms should include a signature with today’s date at the bottom of the last page. Attach necessary forms to the correct place on the tax return and include supplemental forms and paperwork behind the tax return.

Don’t send it off until the next day. This provides the opportunity to mentally leave the situation and return with an objective mindset. This is where double-checking for mistakes prior to send-off are mandatory. Pay taxes owed by selecting a payment method. Provide a bank account number for direct deposit or request a check in the mail for refund filers. In the case taxes aren’t complete on time, the IRS allows filers to file an extension.

Find Answers to Puzzling Questions
The IRS website contains supplemental information that the standard return doesn’t provide. The main issue with tax returns is finding and filling out tax schedule forms. The IRS has all tax forms available on the website. Google form attachment name and tax year to find forms as well. You can also call the IRS if a phone conversation is your preference.

For tax software or tax websites, answers pertaining to software or web issues are on the website. For accountants, tax services, and tax lawyers, the professional should answer the question promptly.

Neatness Counts
While you’re reviewing the tax return, neatness counts. Can you read what you wrote? If you cannot read your handwriting, don’t expect an IRS representative to comprehend it. Sloppy writing is the fastest way to hit “return to sender” on your tax returns.

With less than a month to go, tax filers cannot afford to wait any longer. April 18th will arrive soon, so use these helpful methods to turn a stressful time into a pleasant joyride. The IRS expects every working citizen to pay taxes, and error-free tax forms make the IRS’s job easier. Use this advice for state tax returns.

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Toshiba’s Massive Accounting Disaster

For decades, few companies had enjoyed the respectability and prestige that had surrounded that of Toshiba, which includes several companies, ranging from office equipment to computer hardware.

Toshiba Envy of Industry

For 140 years, the industrial conglomerate had set corporate standards others could only hope to achieve.
Toshiba leadership did more than just run an efficient and profitable company. Toshiba consistently combined profitability with modern corporate management. One Toshiba executive ran the Tokyo Stock Exchange, then became the nation’s postal chief.

Toshiba’s Fall

All of that came crashing down in April of 2015, when a huge accounting scandal rocked not just Japan, but world financial and industrial markets.
Toshiba admitted it had massive accounting issues. However, the depth of the company’s woes weren’t revealed for several months, when the Wall Street Journal reported the company overstated its profits by more than $1 billion.
According to a former Japanese prosecutor, the source of Toshiba’s accounting discrepancies primarily came from its employees underreporting costs on long-range projects and controversy regarding inventory values. This resulted in Toshiba overstating profits by approximately 150 billion yen (1.2 billion dollars) between 2008 and 2014.

Who Was To Blame

The report said two Toshiba CEOs, Atsutoshi Nishida (2005-2009) and Norio Sasaki (2009-2013) pressured employees to meet sales targets after the 2008 global recession. It said the tension frequently increased right before the end of a quarter or fiscal year, which may have pushed accountants to postpone losses or push forward sales. The two were inter-company rivals who, in July 2015 eventually resigned from other positions.

Several other board members eventually resigned, with many coming from outside the company.

Restructure

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, attempting to revive the Japanese economy by attracting more outside investors, has made revamping corporate structure a focal point. Part of his plan included requiring each publicly traded company to have at least two outside independent directors on its board.

Toshiba responded by naming as its new president, Masashi Muromachi.

Shortly after accepting the post, Muromachi said he regretted causing trouble to the company’s 400,000 shareholders, both domestic and international, and clients and other authorities. He vowed that the new management would revive the company and regain the public’s trust.

Comeback

In September 2015, Toshiba reported its net losses for that quarter totaled 12.3 billion yen ($102 million). Included were disappointing sales in televisions, appliances and personal computers.

In December 2015, Muromachi said the scandal had reduced Toshiba’s market value by $8 billion dollars. Further, he predicted an annual record loss of 550 billion yen ($4.6 billion dollars). He further announced a revamping of its TV and computer businesses.

He also said Toshiba would suspend fundraising for two years. Days later, a company representative announced Toshiba would seek 300 billion yen ($2.5 billion), increasing Toshiba’s debt to more than 1 trillion yen (about $8.3 billion).

In May 2016, Toshiba announced that Toshiba’s former medical division head, Satoshi Tsunakawa, was named CEO.

Some of the revamping is working. In December 2016, Toshiba raised its outlook by 21 per cent and increased its sales force by 3.2%.

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Pablo Escobar’s Accountant

Everyone has heard of the Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord who rose to power and lead the infamous Medellin drug cartel throughout the 1980s, but less is known about his brother and accountant, Roberto Escobar. Roberto grew up alongside Pablo, experiencing the tremendous growth of his brother from their middle class upbringing to his rise in stature as one the wealthiest, most powerful, and most wanted men in the world.

Roberto knows much, if not all of the story, from first hand accounts. After all, he was the official accountant of the cartel, keeping track of the billions upon billions of dollars that were piling up as a result of the lucrative importation of contraband cocaine into the United States, as well as many other far reaching countries. That, and of course the blood stained profiteering that Roberto’s brother, Pablo, took part in by both bribing and killing off law enforcement that stood in his way.

Leaving a Violent Past Behind

Despite Roberto’s brother’s violent tendencies, ones which Roberto himself claims he does not possess, the Escobar’s power was mostly adored by the people of Medellin. The cartel was considered heroic. Still, many people held strong hatred for the violence and illicit activity that took throughout the 80s, and while Roberto was serving a sentence in a high security Columbian prison, he received a letter bomb in the mail. The bomb would go off, leaving Roberto blind in one eye, and reminded of the not-so-average life he once lived.

Breaking Down the Numbers

Being an account is a serious occupation, keeping track of every penny that makes its way in and out, recording and analyzing each transaction. Imagine doing this for the most notoriously violent drug cartel in the world. Columbia, in the 1980s, was a mess of corruption, easily making room for a destructive and overpowering cartel that rub heads and eventually toss aside the government. Consider, maybe, that in order to be such a successful criminal organization, some tidy methodology was as hand. And, perhaps, that man behind that methodology was Roberto himself.

Pablo has written an autobiographical book titled, “The Accountant’s Story,” in which he breaks down his personal account of the cartel’s rise and fall from power. In the memoir he purports the following facts:

  • During one point, the Cartel was taking in so much cash that they were spending over $1000 a week in rubber bands just to secure the money piles.
  • So much money, in fact, that some of it went to the rats, who would nibble away chunks.
  • Roberto does not excuse his brother’s violence, and he claims that he has always distanced himself from it.

Roberto lived in what seems like the only time and place where such a wild and extraordinary story could take place. What is more, he adds a riveting contrast to the violence and disarray that so often surrounds the legend of Pablo and the Medellin cartel. An accountant, a job so often characterized as dull and orderly, but instead, but a role acquired to keep checks and balances for violent drug lords who were quickly uprising over a city. The lesser known of the Escobar brother’s, Roberto’s story is one worth noting.

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Signs You Need a New Accountant

bad-accountant

How do you tell that your accountant is under-performing? Do you trust your accountant to a fault? Bad accountants can go on for years without exposure. An effective accountant is very critical to the success of business. For many years, business owners have assumed that as long as their business is not getting audited, the accountant must be doing his or her job. In truth, many tax problems experienced by various businesses can be attributed to poor accounting.

Your accountant has probably been with your since you started your business and for that matter, it might be difficult to decide when it’s time to move on and find better services. Here are a few signs that will let you know it’s time to hire a new accountant.

 

Do they understand your industry?

An accountant who doesn’t understand your industry can cost your business a lot of money in the form of excess taxes, legal fees or even payrolls. There are accountants who have the training and experience to meet the needs of your industry. An accountant who understands your industry will deliver quality technical and commercial advice. If your accountant doesn’t understand your industry or fails to deliver comprehensive experience, it’s a sign that you need a new accountant.

 

Do they provide you with a regular review of your financial and tax affairs?

As a business owner you probably have a hard time keeping up with your financial affairs while at the same time trying to realize your business goals. For this purpose, you hire an accountant to help you with some of the heavy lifting. A good accountant should keep you informed and up to date with your financial and tax affairs.

They can set up a face to face meeting with you, send you an email, a newsletter or even call you. If your accountant makes no effort to keep you informed, it just might be the sign you need to hire new accounting services.

 

Do they provide value for your money?

While the money you pay for accounting services is important, what matter is the value of services you get. You might be paying expensively for the accounting services your business needs and yet there might be under-performance issues in your accounting department. While accountants’ fees vary greatly, you should receive value for the services you pay for. Accountants should provide you with a quote for all the services they will offer your business. They should be transparent about their pricing and also inform you of any additional services your business might need. An accountant who fails to do so probably doesn’t provide value for your money either.

 

Are they subject to lawsuits or complaints?

It is important to have periodical checks with your state board of accountancy for any form of complaints that they may have against your accountant. If your accountant faces non-compliance issues or any disciplinary action on file, consider hiring a new accountant.

 

Do they provide you with good services?

Good services include meeting deadline schedules and delivering accurate work. A good accountant should have a highly disciplined process that meets the needs of a client. You are counting on your accountant to pay your taxes on time, pay your employees and other time pays for any goods or services your business needs. Lack of a highly disciplined process is a sign that deadlines will be missed which could result in fines.

 

How about hiring a new accountant?

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Fraud in $4 Trillion Trade Finance Has Banks Turning Digital

trade-fraudStandard Chartered Plc, which lost almost $200 million from a deceit at China’s Qingdao port two years ago, has teamed up with DBS Group Holdings Ltd. to develop an electronic ledger of invoices that uses a parallel platform to the block chain employed in bitcoin transactions. The risk impersonated by fraud in the $4 trillion trade-financing industry has provoked banks to start discovering distributed-ledger technology like the one that underpins bitcoin. Lenders such as Bank of America Corp. and HSBC Holdings Plc say they are looking at block chain for trade finance and other banking applications.

Block chain followers debate that the technology will change the face of banking, helping lenders cut billions of dollars in costs. Trade financing, a centuries-old banking mainstay, may become ground zero for block chain adoption because it promises to do away with paper invoices and the fraud that accompanies them if banks can come together around a joint platform.

The banks conducted a trial late last year — code-named Trade Safe — that used a shared ledger of as many as 60 mock invoices, according to Gautam Jain, Standard Chartered’s global head of digitization and client access for transaction banking. Details from an invoice are used to generate a unique hash value stored on the ledger, which appears if another bank tries to register the same details separately, according to Jain.

HSBC and Bank of America said in separate e-mails they’re involved in a number of block chain projects including applications for trade finance. Citigroup Inc., meanwhile, said it’s in the “early stages of exploration” to assess how the technology can help in treasury and trade. None of the banks provided any specifics.

Despite the incentives, block chain will only be able to solve the fraud problem if banks agree to club together to use the central registry, according to Liew Nam Soon, Ernst & Young’s Asean managing partner for financial services.

“There has always been a culture of competitiveness and challenges in banks working together on large-scale projects or involving more than a handful of banks,” Liew said. “There is evidence, however, that this is changing with the current digital disruption in the industry, compelling many banks to collaborate.”

The issue for any partnership on a distributed bill is removing participants to determine on common standards in adopting a same invoicing platform. For example, a series of information fields from a check that will be used to beget a crush value for a block chain will need to be negotiated with a opposite banks, Standard Chartered’s Jain said. Banks will also need common messaging standards, according to Accuity’s Balani.

“The hurdles are associated to similar a common routine and ensuring that a singular handling complement can be adopted for all,” pronounced Owen Jelf, the London-based tellurian handling executive of Accenture’s collateral markets practice. “Think of it like putting 7 people who pronounce 7 opposite languages in one room to try to settle a problem, in this box how to settle a trade financial transfer.”

It helps that one of a biggest advocates for digital ledgers in banking is an obvious former banker. Blythe Masters, who once ran JPMorgan Chase Co.’s line business and assisted invent credit-default swaps, is now an arch executive officer of Digital Asset Holdings LLC that is seeking to popularize a use of block chain in a financial industry.

Standard Chartered and DBS are working with an Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, a supervision group that pursues to allege record and telecommunications in a city, to nurture a distributed bill used in a TradeSafe trial. The IDA wishes to commercialize a record and is in debates with other banks, an orator pronounced in an e-mailed respond to questions, disappearing to yield names or a timeline.

“We need committed partners,” an IDA said. “Trade financing is borderless and banks that do adopt this record will be means to advantage regardless of a nation of origin.

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