Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to improve your personal finance

“Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.” This can also apply on how you handle your personal finance. You’re probably not here if you already have a perfect financial condition, but it seems you’re currently looking for ways on how to make your personal finance better, with this short read, The Southbourne Group hopes to impart even a bit of knowledge that can help you with your finances.

It’s fine to not have a perfect financial situation every time, but always make room for improvements. First, you should learn about the important aspects included in personal finance and understand each crucial element. Having ample knowledge can lead to a better financial life later but don’t forget to be very responsible at the same time.

Improve your personal finance with the following guidelines prepared by the Southbourne Tax Group. This is made with the help of some experts as well.

Earlier the better

Working on your personal finance at an early age is advised. Having a better understanding of it and having a saving that is continuously growing can definitely lead to a brighter financial future. To add, here’s a quote that may encourage you to take action on your personal finance today: “Studies show that people who learn to save early in life usually make smarter financial decisions later”.

If you’re already a parent, share the knowledge of proper money management to your children to help them understand the importance of taking good care of their own money. With your imparted knowledge, your children will surely have a disciplined financial life in the future.

Make sure to understand your paycheck

Not being very familiar with your paycheck may make you question those disappearing amounts since you didn’t even have the chance to spend them. Determine and understand your national insurance contributions, pension contribution, and also the student loan payments and tax code.

Deal with the basic needs first

Fulfilling your basic needs always comes first, thus guarantee to pay your house rent, bills, foods and tax on time.

Maintain a proper financial record

Record your income and spending and organize important details to make sure both are balanced. If you don’t have any records, better create one today. This way, you can monitor your set budget and if everything is in the right place.

“Savings, remember, is the prerequisite of investment.”

Saving money can result to a lot of good things that’s why The Southbourne Group encourages each reader to save their own money. If possible, find the best deals available by going to comparison sites.

Define your goal

Set a goal and make plans to make it work. Don’t give up and do your best to reach that goal. Having a financial goal will make you more motivated to do better on your personal finance.

Improving your financial situation requires the right action and the right knowledge. Working out those two will make everything fall into their rightful place.

Southbourne Tax Group hopes for a better financial future to everyone.


Southbourne Tax Group Review: How to be good on your taxes as a new college graduate

The following are some basic pointers to review by Southbourne Tax Group that can help you do well on your taxes as a new college graduate.

Remember that if you’re single and have an adjusted gross income below $80,000, $2,500 of the interest portion of student loan payments can be tax deductible, and below $160,000 for a married person filing jointly.

Thinking about the expenses on your job hunting? Those can be tax deductible as well but on specific conditions only. If you’re searching for a new job in a new career field or working full-time for the first time, you can’t deduct the expenses included in those. Expect major tax breaks in your first job if you’re moving to a new and different city.

Consider contributing on your company’s 401(k) to get a jump start on retirement savings and to secure up to $18,000 from your income taxes. You could also secure $3,400 per year if you are a single filer by contributing to a health savings account and if you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. On the other hand, you can secure $6,750 if you have a family coverage. Having a flexible spending account and putting your hard-earned money on one can keep another $2,600 out of your taxable income.

As a new college graduate, are you planning to be a freelancer, or to be your own boss? Then look forward to getting big deductions for business expenses. Save that 25% of what you’re earning for the IRS, Southbourne Group advises.

Understand better the lifetime learning credit and know its uses. With post-secondary work at eligible educational institutions, you can claim up to $2,000 of the tax credit. If you’re a single filer and your adjusted gross income is below $65,000, or a married person filing jointly with below $131,000 adjusted gross income then such is possible.

You already know that saving money can cut your tax bill, right? If you’re a single filer that has an adjusted gross income of less than $31,000, qualifying for the saver’s credit is likely. A married person filing jointly may also qualify with an adjusted gross income of less than $62,000. With this, you can reduce your tax bill by up to 50% of the first $2,000 (for single filers) or $4,000 (married filing jointly) you contribute to an eligible retirement plan.

Lastly, Southbourne Tax Group wants you to avoid overspending on tax software and acquiring professional help. Instead, they recommend to people with simple tax situation of using the free packages provided by some tax software companies. Seek the professional help you need at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program or other related programs that can help you meet a pro with little or no cost at all.

The Southbourne Tax Group: Redovisning av halvsanningar

Oktober 2008: En rapport från en mäklarfirma på Satyam datorer ger en 'samla' rating, vilket innebär att den förväntar sig att beståndet att gå upp. Betyget baseras på företagets höga cash/marknaden cap baserat. Det IT-företaget hade rapporterat ett saldo av Rs 4.500 crore i slutet av räkenskapsåret 2007-08. Rapporten ger en ett år riktkurs på Rs 373 för beståndet. Lagret stänger Rs 273 dagen skrivs rapporten.

Januari 2009: Samma mäklarfirma släpper en hastigt-kompilerad rapport att avbryta den föregående rating. "Lågt Börsvärde, hög cash status som inte längre innehar," säger den. Den 7 januari 2009 medger grundare av Satyam datorer att blåsa kassa och banktillgodohavanden av Rs 5,040 crore, överdriva gäldenärers position (pengar lånade) av Rs 2,650 crore gentemot den faktiska siffran av Rs 490 crore och sekretessavtal eller underskattning av skulder värda Rs 1 230 crore.

Satyam redovisning bluff, en av de största i Indien, lämnade miljontals investerare i sticket, när aktien föll från Rs 179 till Rs 23 i en börsdagen.

Aktieanalytiker oförmåga att identifiera de "luckorna" i Satyam böcker och ring varning klockor visade sig vara kostsamma för investerare. Vetat investerare grunderna i läsning bokslut och tekniker som används av företag för att rapportera falska siffror, skulle de ha bett sin rådgivare några giltiga frågor om Satyam finanser.

The Southbourne Tax Group: Why Tax Refund Fraud Losses Are Growing Rapidly



Over the past five years, the IRS has been experiencing issues around identity theft. Evidence of stolen identity tax refund fraud, or simply tax refund fraud (TRF), began to emerge as early as 2004 when individuals began submitting fictional tax returns from prison. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in 2004, prisoners submitted 18,000 returns, which cost U.S. taxpayers $68 million. In 2010, they submitted 91,000 returns, with a loss of $757 million. Over that time, the prisoners also increased the average amount of money they collected, jumping from $3,777 in 2004 to a staggering $8,318 in 2010. Their tax fraud scheme exposed a flaw within the tax filing system.

Organized criminal enterprises understand flaws in the tax filing and refund system that allowed them to exploit procedural weaknesses and reap large returns for their efforts. TRF has evolved into a sophisticated criminal enterprise process with organized fraud rings filing thousands of fraudulent tax returns annually.

Factors Leading to the Growth of Tax Refund Fraud

The advancement of technology has had implications across many facets of TRF. The increase in personal computing power of taxpayers, the evolution of the Internet since the early 1990s, the ability to electronically file tax forms and subsequent growth of third-party tax filing services and the ability to receive tax refunds via direct deposit (including prepaid debit cards) have all been major contributing factors to the growth of TRF. Additionally, the conversion of personally identifiable information (PII) to digital records has created an opportunity for cybercriminals to steal PII in large quantities, as evidenced by recent health care provider and government agency data breaches.

The IRS has offered and allowed direct deposit of tax refunds since the 1980s; however, it never built systems to confirm that deposits were being made to an account of the same name as the tax filer. In 2008, TIGTA reported that “the IRS has not developed sufficient processes to ensure that more than 61 million filing season 2008 tax refunds were deposited into an account of the name of the filer.” In fact, TIGTA found that the IRS was not in compliance with direct deposit regulations. The IRS claimed that it was the responsibility of the taxpayer to ensure compliance — which obviously played into the fraudsters’ hands.

The problem of multiple direct deposits to one account was evident in a 2012 report in which an analysis of 2010 data indicated that 4,157 direct deposit refunds totaling more than $6.7 million went to just 10 accounts.

A corresponding July 2012 TIGTA report recommended that the IRS limit the number of direct deposits to one account. The IRS agreed with that suggestion and instituted a limit of three direct deposits to one account for the 2015 filing season.

A New Trend Takes Hold

Around 2010, a new trend emerged centering around true identity theft. Based on lessons learned from the prisoner tax filing scam, organized criminal groups (OCGs) focusing on TRF began to emerge. OCGs from street gangs to international crime groups learned that they could make a lot money with little risk involved. The OCG would obtain true identity information about a taxpayer, which is otherwise known as “FULLZ” in Dark Web marketplaces. The OCG would then submit a tax return in the victim’s name with fictitious employment and wage documents to support it.

Since two returns cannot be filed for the same person in one year, once the victim would submit a true tax return it would be rejected, alerting them to the identity theft. One of the issues at hand is that the IRS does not reconcile wage documents from individual returns to those supplied from employers until six to nine months into the year. According to TIGTA, the IRS may have paid $5.2 billion in potentially fraudulent tax refunds on 1.5 million tax returns in 2010.

So Where Does One Get FULLZ Information?

FULLZ information is readily available from many places. These include data breaches, retail stores, health care records and more. Once cybercriminals get access to this data, they will then put the information into a website marketplace that allows fraudsters to access any of the data that is available for a price. Many of these websites are in what is known as the Dark Net or Dark Market. The Dark Net listings provide fraudsters with all the information they would need to execute TRF.

If you are a novice or would-be fraudster, there are websites that will provide a how-to tutorial for committing TRF. The pictures below are examples of a few websites that teach people each step of TRF, from getting a person’s PII and opening a bank account in that individual’s name to actually submitting a fraudulent tax return and receiving an illicit refund.

Another important thing to note is that rules, regulations and silos within companies hinder the organizations’ ability to effectively communicate, share information and limit the losses from TRF. However, the bad guys are not hindered by any such rules and regulations. They are free to communicate among themselves about successes, failures and other conditions that will help refine their processes to be more successful. This is usually done in Dark Net chat forums. In these forums, criminals are free to discuss what was successful and what was not.

Technology has made it increasing easy for fraudsters to commit their crimes anonymously. The Internet and phone channels provide areas that can be used to grant anonymity. On the Internet there are many products that provide virtual private network (VPN) services to hide the true identity and IP address of the bad actor; two of the best known are Tor and I2P.

Data Breaches Fuel the FULLZ Supply

All data breaches are not created equally. Some of the large retail breaches over the last 18 months, while significant, do not pose as much of an identity theft risk as the more recent health insurer and government data breaches. Some of the high-profile retail breaches involved payment card compromises, which would allow a fraudster to create and use counterfeit cards. Typically, card issuers will bear losses associated with counterfeit card use, sparing consumers any financial burden. However, data breaches that involve complete PII records of consumers present a high risk of identity theft and TRF.

Until recently, the compromise of full PII data often came from malicious insiders with access to consumers’ information. Insiders at banks, medical offices, schools and other organizations that possess PII help provide access for criminal enterprises. Large-scale data breaches at health insurers and government agencies have provided a tremendous supply of consumer PII to cybercriminals looking to execute TRF.

So far in 2015, more than 100 million PII records have been compromised through health care and government data breaches alone. For example, the IRS announced that the breach of its Get Transcript system may have included the PII of 334,000 taxpayers. Unlike payment card compromises, these breaches may have profound negative effects to individuals for years to come.

IRS Attempts to Control the Issue

In response to TIGTA’s direct deposit concerns, the IRS introduced limits on Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposits for the 2015 tax season. It implemented new procedures about how money would be sent to accounts by ACH and by check. For instance, a new direct deposit refund request limits the number of refunds that can be deposited into one bank account to three. After three deposits into one bank account, the IRS will convert any subsequent direct deposit refund requests to a paper check and mail the check to the taxpayer’s address. Also, the IRS is limiting the number of bank accounts among which a taxpayer can split one refund to no more than three.

These changes were implemented in an effort to curb TRF. However, the reforms did not achieve the intended result because fraudsters adapted their tactics to exploit systematic weaknesses. The issues that arose for the 2015 tax season are twofold:

1. Workarounds With Tax Preparation Services

The master accounts associated with tax preparation services are a weakness in the system to which fraudsters navigated once the IRS instituted the direct deposit limitations. When an individual files a tax return with a refund through some of the popular tax preparation services, the refunds are often routed from the IRS to the tax preparation company, which then sends it to the individual’s bank and account of record.

Through this method of filing, fraudsters were able to bypass the direct deposit limits. Refunds processed through master accounts do not contain robust event descriptions. The lack of event descriptions means the banks can’t detect and stop these refunds since they have no information from which to validate and match information to the bank account.

2. Financial Institutions Cannot Help Monitor for Fraud

The direct deposit limits took financial institutions out of the game with regard to being a detection point. An ACH deposit coming from the IRS to a bank contains a robust event description including the name, address and Social Security number of the beneficiary. Financial institutions were in a position to detect suspicious activity of multiple deposits going to one account for the benefit of individuals not named on the account.

As with many regulations and controls designed to stop fraud, there are unintended consequences. As a result of criminals’ ability to adapt to the ACH limitations, they found another way. Their new methods resulted in a higher success rate and increased losses to U.S. taxpayers.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

TRF is expected to increase dramatically for this tax season. According to the IRS, fraud losses will reach a staggering $21 billion by 2016, while just two years ago, losses were $6.5 billion.

Recent large-scale PII data breaches will contribute to the growth of TRF. Although the IRS is making changes to try to limit fraud, there are still structural weaknesses in the process that will allow this activity to continue.

Are There Solutions to the Tax Refund Fraud Issue?

No one solution will stop tax refund fraud, but it can be slowed down and its losses limited. The focus should be on better fraud detection capabilities. The detection process should be built like an onion with multiple layers and parties involved. Proposed cuts of the IRS’ budget by more than $800 million for fiscal year 2016 may make it increasingly difficult for the agency to create a better detection strategy, however.

Limiting the number of direct deposits to one account is a good start. However, financial institutions need to be brought into the detection loop. The refund process via master accounts must be enhanced to the point where the name, address and Social Security number of the beneficiary are included in the event description of the ACH transaction between the master account and the receiving bank. Once that is done, banks can build fraud strategies to identify multiple deposits to one account.

The IRS, financial institutions, tax preparation service companies and card companies should work together to devise and implement detection controls that may allow each party to potentially identify suspicious activity, raise red flags and halt the refund process to allow for identity verification. With a detection process that includes all these parties, there will be three different industries that can review refund transactions at different points in the process. This could significantly decrease the losses that are seen with tax refund fraud.


The Southbourne Tax Group: Beware the Latest Tax-Season Spear-Phishing Scam


You may have heard of the CEO scam: that’s where spear-phishers impersonate a CEO to hit up a company for sensitive information.

That’s what happened to Snapchat, when an email came in to its payroll department, masked as an email from CEO Evan Spiegel and asking for employee payroll information.

Snapchat’s payroll department fell for it. Ouch.

Here’s a turn of that same type of screw: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week sent out an urgent warning about a new tax season scam that wraps the CEO fraud in with a W-2 scam, then adds a dollop of wire fraud on top.

A W-2 is a US federal tax form, issued by employers, that has a wealth of personal financial information, including taxpayer ID and how much an employee was paid in a year.

This new and nasty dual-phishing scam has moved beyond the corporate world to target nonprofits such as school districts, healthcare organizations, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies and tribal organizations.

As with earlier CEO spoofing scams, the crooks are doctoring emails to make the messages look like they’re coming from an organization’s executive. Sending the phishing messages to employees in payroll or human resources departments, the criminals request a list of all employees and their W-2 forms.

The scam, sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), first appeared last year. This year, it’s not only being sent to a broader set of intended victims; it’s also being sent out earlier in the tax season than last year.

In a new twist, this year’s spam scamwich also features a followup email from that “executive”, sent to payroll or the comptroller, asking for a wire transfer to a certain account.

The wire transfer scam isn’t tax-related: it’s just hitching a ride on the tax-related W-2 scam. Some companies have been swindled twice: they’ve lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars sent out via the wire transfers.

The IRS is telling organizations that receive the W-2 scam emails to forward them to Phishing IRS, with the subject line of “W2 Scam”.

If your business has already fallen for the scam, it can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), operated by the FBI. Employees whose W-2 forms have been stolen should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission or the IRS identity theft.

The IRS says that employees should also file a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit (PDF) if their own tax returns get rejected because of a duplicate Social Security number or if instructed to do so by the IRS.

How to sidestep the scam

But before you even get to the sad state of having to file a report about getting ripped off, it’s better to avoid falling for the bait in the first place.

Unfortunately, that’s getting tougher as crooks get more and more cunning. Case in point: the carefully crafted, well-disguised attack that led to the hacking of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s Gmail account. The attack relied on a shortened Bitly link to mask nefarious HTML code.

Screenshots of the Bitly link used against Podesta show that even the longer links hiding behind rigged Bitly links can be made to look, to an untrained eye, like they’re legitimate.

One step that can protect against phishing attacks is to pick proper passwords. Even though strong passwords don’t help if you’re phished (the crooks get the strong password anyway), they make it much harder for crooks to guess their way in.

Use two-factor authentication whenever you can. That way, even if the crooks phish your password once, they can’t keep logging back into your email account.

Also, consider using Sophos Home. The free security software for Mac and Windows blocks malware and keeps you away from risky web links and phishing sites.