December 10, 2018
Unfortunately, cyber scammers never take a vacation. In fact, the IRS has issued a warning of a surge in fraudulent emails that bait potential phishing victims with fake tax transcripts. Links within these emails lead recipients to documents containing the well-known malware, Emotet.
Fraudulent emails will look as if they are coming from the IRS and specific banks and financial institutions. These emails usually have an attachment labeled "Tax Account Transcript" or something similar with a subject line that uses some variation of the phrase "Tax Transcript." Be warned that scammers will likely also use other subject line verbiage.
This season’s scam targets not only individual taxpayers but businesses as well. If an employee opens the malware, it can spread through a company’s network requiring a time-consuming and expensive fix. Employers should be sure to educate employees on this newest scam and offer a refresher course on how to spot fraudulent emails.
Remember, the IRS never sends unsolicited emails or sensitive information via email. If you think that you have received a malicious email, do not click on the message. Instead, forward the potential fraudulent email to firstname.lastname@example.org and then promptly delete it. If you receive such an email at work, do not interact with it and alert your IT department immediately.
If you’re claiming deductions for business meals or auto expenses, expect the IRS to closely review them. In some cases, taxpayers have incomplete documentation or try to create records months (or years) later. In doing so, they fail to meet the strict substantiation requirements set forth under tax law. Tax auditors are adept at rooting out inconsistencies, omissions and errors in taxpayers’ records, as illustrated by one recent U.S. Tax Court case.
If you’ve ever yawned your way through a wordy, boring document, you might have wondered if your own writing was as hard to understand. Luckily, there’s a great tool to measure the readability of your writing, and it’s as close as your word processor. (Note: For this article, we use Microsoft Word as our example. Details will vary if you use another application.)
Over the past year, we’ve all spent more time than usual at home—which may mean you’ve paid more attention to your utility bills than in previous years. If you’ve noticed a creep upward, here are some easy ways to help keep your energy costs down.