How Working with Nonprofits is Beneficial for Design Engineers (or Professional Services Firms)

   It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” - Napoleon Hill

Choosing any professional for a job is never easy. Most people don't know exactly what design engineers do, and they certainly don't know how to judge how competent they are.

But your potential clients might one day need the services of an A/E firm (don't leave out professional services firms) and wonder how they'll be able to choose the best one. While experience and skill in the industry are understandably important, not being deliberate enough in this selection process can have serious ramifications.

Maybe a business chooses an A/E firm based on a recommendation, but there's no innovation or creativity. Or a selected design engineer lacks dedication to the project, leaving the client wishing they could ditch the contract for someone else.

     How can a potential client see into the heart and mind of a design engineer professional whose work is done largely behind the scenes?

These are difficult scenarios, but not uncommon. How can a potential client see into the heart and mind of a design engineer professional whose work is done largely behind the scenes?

While past projects are one way to accomplish this, so is the right kind of work with nonprofits.

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Signs That a Criminal Stole Your Information from Your Tax Preparer

Paid tax preparers are an integral part of the U.S. tax system. They do about 60% of all returns each year, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Not all tax professionals are alert to the subtle signs of data theft. The IRS and its Security Summit partners note that there are many cases where tax preparers are victims of theft and don’t even know it.

Cybercriminals often leave very few signs of their intrusion. A tax preparer might not even realize that the cybercriminal stole client data until a fraudulent tax return was filed with the information, and their client becomes an ID theft victim.

In many cases, when someone files a tax return using your Social Security number, you won’t find out until after the second return is filed. The second return could be from you or the person who has stolen your information.

This is one reason tax professionals should use strong security protections to prevent data theft from occurring. It is also very important for you to recognize the signs whether your tax preparer had a security breach.

Here are some warning signs that a tax preparer’s office may have experienced a data theft:

  • Your company’s e-filed returns that were filed electronically begin to be rejected by the IRS. The reason given is that someone already filed a tax return with the same Social Security or Tax ID number.
  • Your company hasn’t filed tax returns but begin to receive taxpayer authentication letters from the IRS. These letters include the 5071C, 4883C and 5747C.
  • Your company hasn’t filed tax returns but receive refunds.
  • Your company receives tax transcripts that they did not request.
  • The professional or company who created an IRS online services account receives an IRS notice that the account was accessed. They might also receive an IRS email saying their account has been disabled.
  • Your company unexpectedly receive an IRS notice that an online account was created in its (or your) name.
  • Tax professionals or your company are responding to emails that neither sent or does not remember sending.
  • The tax preparer’s network computers are running slower than normal.
  • The tax preparer’s computer cursors moving or changing numbers without someone touching the keyboard.
  • The tax preparer’s network computers lock out employees.

It is not likely you will have firsthand knowledge of the last three but it is good to ask questions about the tax preparer’s operations to ensure there are no surprises.

Even if you don’t receive a notification letter from the IRS but suspect a fraudulent return has been filed with your information, you can still take action.  You may prefer to contact us. We can follow up and file the required forms.

IRS Form 14039

When another a tax return has been filed with your Social Security number, use IRS Form 14039 to alert the IRS. When you complete this form, you will report that someone stole your identity and filed a return using your identity and has affected your tax account. You also provide the  tax year affected and the last return you filed prior to the identity theft.

The IRS and its partners are alerting tax preparers about the signs of an ID theft as part of the Tax Security 101 awareness initiative. The goal is to provide tax professionals with the basic information they need to better protect taxpayer data and to help prevent the filing of fraudulent tax returns.

…but it is up to your team to watch for signs to know if your tax preparer has become a victim with a data breach.

Need help? Contact us today!

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Telephone: (904) 731-9222 
Email: admin@huntercpa.com

Lewis Hunter
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Lewis Hunter
Lewis founded Hunter & Associates in 1990 to help small-business owners achieve their potential. He manages the firm’s client relationships, regularly soliciting assessments of our team’s progress and seeking feedback on our performance and value-added services. He is an expert in cost accounting, overhead rate management and transition planning for architecture and engineering firms. Lewis also manages or performs all examinations of overhead rates that are reported to state transportation departments, including indirect cost rate audits for firms qualified as disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs). He has managed the attestation services for applicants seeking reimbursement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for costs incurred in remediation of petroleum contamination of underground storage tanks as well.
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