For organizations of every size and type, data security is an essential aspect of IT. Hackers are constantly finding ways into our data, which requires constant vigilance by business owners. Being proactive is the key to protecting yourself and your business from data theft.
This may entail working with outside service providers and designating one or more employees to coordinate the program. The program should be flexible since circumstances and risks to customer information is extremely fluid. A stable plan starts with performing background and screening checks on potential employees during the hiring process.
Thieves will send emails pretending to be from existing customers, a potential client, financial institutions, etc. Create an educational program for all employees so they understand the dangers of phishing emails, opening links or attachments from suspicious email addresses, or answering phone calls from unrecognized numbers. Be sure to purchase top-notch security software that includes a firewall and anti-malware/anti-virus security software. Use this type of software on all devices including laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, routers, etc.
Passwords should be a minimum of 10 characters and use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords should also omit personal information and should not be reused. Always use unique usernames and passwords for all accounts and devices. For extra security, consider implementing a multifactor authentication process.
Encrypt all sensitive files and emails. Encrypted files should require a password to open. Make it a priority to back up pertinent information and store any external drives in a secure location. In addition, limit access to pertinent business or customer data to only employees who need to know.
Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when dealing with cybercrime.
Entrepreneurs who work from home can write off a portion of their housing and utility expenses. A sole proprietor who uses 25% of her house as an office, for example, can deduct 25% of her rent or mortgage interest, property tax, homeowners or renter’s insurance, and utilities.
To qualify for the home office deduction, entrepreneurs must have a dedicated space in their home that they use exclusively and regularly for business. IRS agents often focus on these two factors when auditing tax returns claiming the home office deduction. So, it’s important you know what each of these factors mean.
Landlords who spend at least 250 hours a year managing and maintaining
their rental properties may be eligible for the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction. That averages out to just under five hours a week.
Unlike other deductions, the qualified business income deduction does not require that you spend money. Instead, it’s a straight deduction, for up to 20% of net rental income for the year. For clients who qualify, this deduction allows rental property owners to pay tax on as little as 80% of their net income from qualifying rental properties. We even have the option of grouping several rental properties together to meet the 250-hour requirement.
To reach the 250-hour threshold for the QBI deduction, we add up the hours you spend managing the rental property, and also time spent by your property manager, landscapers, repair contractors, and any other people you hire to maintain or manage the rental properties. Rental services that count toward the 250-hour test include:
Keep meticulous records of all the time spent managing your rental properties. Reviewing your time logs is how we—and the IRS—will be able to figure out if you
qualify for the QBI deduction for the year. You’ll need to keep track not only of the time you spent yourself, but also time spent by any other people you hire to work on your rental properties. Your time log will need to track four data points:
President Trump asserted that effective immediately (3/11/20), the Small Business Agency would provide low-interest loans to companies in affected areas. He’s asking Congress to increase funding for the SBA lending program to $50 billion. That would be more than double the amount of loans the SBA’s flagship lending program made here in the fiscal year 2019.
Small businesses must have essential financial statements such as Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, etc. Having these documents available will facilitate the loan process.
Finally, the IRS requires that you maintain separate books and records for each rental property. We can help you set up your bookkeeping, records and time logs so that you can claim this valuable tax deduction.
© Succentrix of Gwinnett & NATP. c/o Ronald Rayner, Operations Manager. March 11th, 2020.