Author: Jen

Scanning Apps: Which is worth the download?

If you’re a business owner or just a financially mindful individual, keeping records of your transactions is essential. It’s also much less tedious using your phone to scan a document than finding a printer, scanner or fax machine…yes, fax machines still exist. We wanted to take a look at a few of the most popular scanning apps out there and see which one should be your next download.

 Evernote Scannable:

Scannable is definitely an app tailored to avid users of Evernote.  While you are able to email and save to Evernote, the free version does not allow you to export to different sites like other apps do.  One really cool feature is it allows you to scan business cards and save them to your contacts. It also allows you to save your scan as a jpeg or PDF. In terms of the actual scanning, you can’t easily crop the image, but the quality is still very good.

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Tiny Scanner:

Tiny Scanner, available to both iPhone and Android, is for Instagram lovers for sure. It has multiple filters to choose from and brightness adjusting features. Unlike Scannable, users are able to send their scans via Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, iCloud as well as Evernote. However, there is a limited amount of storage space in the free version. The scanning quality is great and you can easily crop the edges of your document. Although it only saves as a PDF, it does allow you to choose the size of the PDF export (A4, Letter, etc).

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Genius Scan:

Quality wise, Genius scan is very comparable to the other two apps. What sets it apart is an awesome magnifying tool to help you crop perfectly. Like Tiny Scanner, you can save your image as a jpeg and a PDF. The only downfall is there are so many other great features…but you have to pay. Genius Sign ($4.99) allows you to sign documents right on your phone while Genius Scan+ ($6.99) can export your receipts to Expensify to help you track your finances.

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Overall, all of the apps are a great way to keep track of receipts or send documents. From a tax perspective, it is always favorable to have a backup of all of your transactions. If you need help preparing your taxes this year, please visit our live chat at our website (www.semaphoretax.com) to get in contact with one of our experienced tax professionals, or call us at 866-736-2444. We’re excited to hear from you!

 

Tax Penalties: The Reality of Filing Late vs. Paying Late

Uncertainty, fear and confusion are only some of the familiar feelings that flood our thoughts during the inevitable tax season. If you a
re prepared, organized and don’t anticipate an outstanding balance this year, you should be sweat free. If you do, however, have an unpaid balance and don’t have the cash to pay in time, not all is lost! Make the financial decision that has the least impact on your bank account.

FILING your taxes late and PAYING your taxes late hold completely different penalties. In general, here’s what you can expect to pay for each scenario.

(Based on information provided by the IRS)

What if I don’t have the money to pay on time? (failure-to-pay penalty)

  • Every month or part of a month that the tax goes unpaid after it’s due, a 5% penalty is charged on the unpaid taxes (up to 25%)
  • If you filed on time and opted for a payment plan, the penalty drops to 25% once the plan is in effect
  • If you paid up to 90 percent of your taxes and you file for an extension, you may not be responsible for the failure-to-pay penalty (note ̶  you will still pay interest on any outstanding taxes)

What if I file late and I still owe tax? (penalty for failure to file)

  • Every month or part of a month that the return was late, a 5% penalty is charged on unpaid taxes (up to 25%)
  • If you file over 60 days past the due date, the minimum penalty is the lesser of $135 or 100 percent of unpaid tax.

 

As a general rule, it is important to always file on time regardless of if you can pay, as the penalty for failure to file is typically much higher than the failure to pay penalty.If you need help learning about and preparing your taxes this year, please visit our live chat at our website (www.semaphoretax.com) to get in contact with one of our experienced tax professionals, or call us at 866-736-2444. We’re excited to hear from you!

 

Sources:

https://www.irs.gov/Help-&-Resources/Tools-&-FAQs/FAQs-for-Individuals/Frequently-Asked-Tax-Questions-&-Answers/IRS-Procedures/Collection-Procedural-Questions/Collection-Procedural-Questions-3

Social Engineering: What Attacks Look Like

Identity-theft

Twenty minutes is all it took for Shane MacDougall to exploit a Walmart manager into giving him highly sensitive information regarding the big box superstore. From specific details on contractors and pay-cycles to operating systems, the unsuspecting manager did not skip a beat in gladly offering whatever MacDougal needed. Luckily, the social engineer and hacker orchestrated this attack to raise awareness about the issue in front a captivated audience at Defcon’s “Capture the Flag” event.

Social Engineering is manipulating human weakness to gain access to private information. With tax season approaching and refund fraud at an all-time high, it’s important for businesses to be aware of this kind of cunning criminal activity.

 

 

What do attacks look like?          

Curiosity and carelessness are what make social engineers so successful in their pursuit. Here are some of the most common forms of attack:

  • Pretexting: This, like in the Walmart case, is an instance where a hacker impersonates someone in an authority position. Hackers attempt to create a sincere story and background while also trying to form a rapport with the victim
  • Phishing: Typically in the form of an email, phishing thrives on emotions such as fear, greed and a sense of urgency. When a friend is claiming to be held hostage internationally or a company is giving away free Ray Bans, the email may just be infected with malware.
  • Baiting: Just as the name suggests, baiting uses something to lure in victims; this could be anything from signing up for a free music download or plugging in a found USB drive to satisfy curiosity.
  • Tailgating: This happens when an attacker gets access to a secure or restricted area by following in an employee or other authorized personnel.

 

Regardless of the type, a socially engineering attack could be detrimental to individuals as well as businesses this tax season. Ensure that you and you company take the necessary and extra precautions to protect your privacy.

If you think you have been a target of social engineering or need more help understanding your taxes, please visit our live chat at our website (www.semaphoretax.com) to get in contact with one of our experienced tax professionals, or call us at 866-736-2444.

 

 

http://www.chubb.com/businesses/csi/chubb19441.pdf

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2015/05/13/businesses-beware-social-engineering-fraud-could-c

http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-awareness/5-social-engineering-attacks-to-watch-out-for/

http://money.cnn.com/2012/08/07/technology/walmart-hack-defcon/

Tax Fraud: How is the IRS Protecting you this Tax Season?

With thshutterstock_45292546-1e familiar scent of the rapidly approaching tax season in the air, the issue of security and tax fraud linger from years past.

Earlier this year, the IRS confirmed an upsetting $39 million breach where hackers made 200,000 attempts to retrieve taxpayer data. Roughly 100,000 of those attempts were successful.

Based on the August 2014 Identity Theft Report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the IRS paid out eighteen percent, or $5.2 billion, in refund fraud. Although areas remain where the IRS continue to fall short such as authorization controls, this year the GAO reported that the IRS showed to be making improvements.

Tax software providers are following suit by reinforcing security precautions for all users. These include password requirements, security questions and lockout functions.  At the 2015 Security Summit, IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen distinguished twenty new factors to consider when assessing fraud.  “Thanks to the cooperative efforts taking place between the industry, the states and the IRS, we will have new tools in place this January to protect taxpayers during the 2016 filing season.”, says Koskinen.

This, along with the efforts of all taxpayers, will help thwart identity thieves. Here are some ways the IRS urges you protect yourself:

  • Use reliable computer security software with firewalls and virus protection
  • Create secure computer passwords
  • Avoid giving out any personal information over the phone to those claiming to be from the IRS
  • Check your credit report every year
  • Safeguard your SSN and always verify identities of those you give it to

If you think you have been a target of tax fraud or need more help understanding your taxes, please visit our live chat at our website (www.semaphoretax.com) to get in contact with one of our experienced tax professionals, or call us at 866-736-2444.

 

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Semaphore assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Sources:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS,-States,-Industry-Continue-Progress-to-Protect-Taxpayers-from-Identity-Theft

http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665368.pdf

http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667965.pdf

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/06/02/irs-data-breach-senate-hearing/28353983/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/10/20/irs-identity-theft-protection-effort/74262804/