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By Matt Sorensen

The IRS recently released updated the extension rules for 990-T tax returns that are required for certain self-directed IRAs. Form 990-T is a tax return that must be filed by an IRA when it receives what is known as unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”).

For a description on UBTI and 990-T returns in general, see my prior article here. The new rules allow an IRA to receive a automatic 6 month extension of time to file by filing IRS Form 8868. Previously, IRAs required to file a 990-T, were only allowed an automatic 3 month extension. The new extension procedures were released in January 2017 and apply to 2016 990-T returns. To claim the extension, the IRA must take the following steps.

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Posted By Jeff Nippes

Tax Season Checklist

Feb 17, 2017 5:00:52 PM

Dear Tax Preparer,

Tax season in here and that means making outreach efforts to potential new clients and pinpointing which major tax law updates existing clients should be aware of prior to making an appointment with you. However, there's several other moving parts that come into play when preparing for what we hope is a successful tax season. 

Here's a checklist of things you should take care of prior to tax season so that everything runs smoothly.

  • Make sure your e-file information is up to date. Look into your state and local e-file regulations as well as federal so that you're compliant with the e-file mandate. If any of the information attached to your EFIN has changed, make sure to update it right away or apply for a new e-file account if necessary. Don't forget to train your staff in using software and e-filing tools properly.
  • Start reaching out to clients early. Send year-end tax letters detailing the most relevant tax law updates to your particular client base, including state and local updates. Send 2nd and 3rd letters and phone calls. Many people will wait until the last minute to do their taxes so they will tend to go with the tax preparer that comes to mind – which is called top of mind awareness. (Think the bazillion commercials you see about the same soft drink – they just want to make sure you when you do get thirsty that you think of their soft drink) Same thing with tax customers – they are more likely to use a tax preparer that has been following up with them.
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Posted By Jeff Nippes

Decisions - How to Choose the Best SEO Provider for your Tax Business

You already know that search engine optimization (SEO) is key to driving prospective clients to your firm’s website. And, to ensure it’s done correctly, you’ve decided to go the professional route - but how do you pick the right SEO provider for your firm? The selection process can be daunting because it’s not your area of expertise. Nevertheless, you’ve invested in your firm’s online presence and SEO has the power to either expand your reach or hide you on page eight of search results.

The questions you should ask are not too dissimilar from those involved in choosing an undergraduate school. Back then you knew there was a lot riding on your decision, but you didn’t exactly know what to look for. To help you select the best SEO provider for your firm we’ve created the following tips - no admissions interviewed required.

  • Get the inside scoop - Client experience is a central component in selecting an SEO provider. To ensure you know what you can expect from a company, take your research beyond their website. Search the Internet for client reviews and reach out to users for feedback. After all, there’s a reason that college brochure showed polo-wearing students engaged in mind-broadening conversation, instead of the quad littered with red Solo cups. Sometimes you need to do a little digging to get the full picture.
  • False Promises – Beware of SEO providers that claim to know Google’s algorithm or promise to remedy your SEO woes in six weeks or less. Similar to assuring your parents that pledging a sorority/fraternity won’t affect your grades, providers that make these claims are simply saying what’s needed to get a ‘yes’. Google’s algorithm changes between 500-600 times a year and given the amount of revenue tied to it, we can safely assume those in the know are few and do not include SEO providers. These changes, combined with an ever-evolving online landscape are also why successful SEO takes time. If you’re in the market for immediate results, consider adding pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to your online marketing strategy.
  • What’s your major? For some of us our college short list criteria was simple. On-campus Taco Bell? Done. Others took a more analytical approach – can I double major in finance and accounting? Just as you wouldn’t attend a school for culinary arts if your interest was finance, don’t select an SEO provider that doesn’t specializes in your field. SEO and content are closely linked, so the more accounting knowledge your provider has the better able they are to optimize your content.
  • What’s the tuition refund deadline? Don’t forget to check the fine print. Ensure you’re familiar with the provider’s cancellation policy and what it means for your firm specifically.  For example, if the optimized content is “owned” by the SEO provider and your firm loses it, your search engine ranking will suffer. Also, in the event of cancellation be aware of synced content sources, such as your blog and Facebook feed. Remember, if your blog is no longer updated neither is the synced feed.
  • How about a degree from International Correspondence Schools (ICS)? Many of us are still haunted by Sally Struthers’ ICS commercials from the early 90’s - “Do you want to make more money? Of course, we all do.” Struthers voice of desperation would then tout a long list of learn-at-home programs practically guaranteed to catapult you into success, like TV/VCR and gun repair. No word on the number of injuries sustained by those majoring in the latter. Obviously, things aren’t always what they seem and ignorance can cost you. In recent years search engine ranking methodologies have become more stringent, but not all SEO providers have updated accordingly. Black hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, target search engines rather than a human audience resulting in a poor user experience. At first you may see a jump in your website’s ranking but, just like those who spent time learning TV/VCR repair, you’ll soon learn it wasn’t worth the effort. That’s because search engines base rankings primarily on user experience, and your site will be blacklisted faster than you can request your academic transcript. Remember, like a good education there are no shortcuts to quality SEO.

Just like large universities are a good fit for some and small liberal arts colleges work better for others, there’s an SEO provider for every accounting firm. A little due diligence up front can save you a headache down the road, but remember, it’s always better to transfer than drop out altogether.

To learn more about search engine optimization and common terms used, download our free whitepaper, The Search Engine Optimization Dictionary for Accountants today. 

Article written by Heather Frechette Crowley, Director of Product Marketing at CPA Site Solutions. CPA Site Solutions is a partner with MyTax and helps over 7,500 accountants grow their firm’s through innovative online marketing solutions including website design, search engine optimization, social media management, and pay-per-click advertising. For more information, visit www.cpasitesolutions.com/Mytax or call (800) 896-4500.

 

Posted By Jeff Nippes

Pre-Tax Season Checklist

Oct 5, 2016 3:50:06 PM

Dear Tax Preparer, The end of extension season is just around the corner so you know that means: tax season itself is going to be here soon. That means making outreach efforts to potential new clients and pinpointing which major tax law updates existing clients should be aware of prior to making an appointment with you. However, there's several other moving parts that come into play when preparing for what we hope is a successful tax season. Here's a checklist of things you should take care of prior to tax season so that everything runs smoothly.Read More

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Posted By Jeff Nippes
Email phishing scams have become much more prevalent as of late. Hackers pretending to be the IRS target unsuspecting taxpayers in an effort to coerce individuals into providing sensitive personal information, including their passwords In the latest iteration, scammers are targeting tax preparers. How Does it Work? Rather than pretending to be the IRS, hackers disguise themselves as the preparer’s tax software provider. Tax professionals receive an email containing a link which is represented as a download containing an update to the tax preparer’s current tax software package. The naming convention uses the name of the recipient’s software package with the extension “.exe”. Instead of a software update, the program once downloaded, tracks the keystrokes made by the user, revealing passwords, login information, and other sensitive data.Read More
Posted By Jeff Nippes

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