Heartbleed Bug- Change Your Passwords!

The Heartbleed Bug was a big internet security bug last week that leaked a lot of personal information from a huge variety of sites: banks, email, social media, shopping, and passwords. Sites are currently fixing the bug. If a site you use was affected, you should change that password immediately. Here is a list from CNN:

Change these passwords now (they were patched)

  • Airbnb
  • Google, YouTube and Gmail
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, Tumblr, Flickr
  • OKCupid
  • Pinterest
  • Wikipedia

Don’t worry about these (they don’t use the affected software, or ran a different version)

  • Amazon
  • Apple, iCloud and iTunes
  • AOL and Mapquest
  • Bank of America
  • BECU
  • Capital One bank
  • Charles Schwab
  • Chase bank
  • Citibank
  • E*Trade
  • Fidelity
  • Healthcare.gov (Health Department said “security protections prevent this vulnerability from occurring.”)
  • HSBC bank
  • Hulu
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft, Hotmail and Outlook
  • PayPal
  • PNC bank
  • Scottrade
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Twitter
  • U.S. Bank
  • Vanguard
  • Wells Fargo

Don’t change these passwords yet (still unclear, no response)

  • American Express

RIP Microsoft Windows XP

Microsoft announced that it will no longer support Windows XP, which is still being used by about one-third of computers. Maybe you don’t use Windows tech support and might be thinking- so what? With the end of tech support also comes the end of patch updates and security updates, making you more vulnerable to hackers and viruses. If your computer is 5 years old or older, there’s a good chance you might still be running Windows XP.

Not sure what you are running? Click this link to find out if you are running Windows XP or not. Learn more about your options here.

Ready to take the plunge and ungrade to Windows 8.1? You can do that here or use the upgrade assistant. All current versions of CheckMark software work with the latest Windows operating systems: CheckMark Payroll, CheckMark MultiLedger, and CheckMark 1099 Software. If you are running an out-of-date version of our software and upgrade your operating system, you might also need to update your software which you can do over the phone at 800-444-9922. Be sure to ask about our latest promotion!

How are Bitcoins Taxed?

If you haven’t heard about Bitcoins yet, it’s currently the largest virtual currency in the world with a market value of around $8 billion dollars and with up to 80,000 transactions every day. Founded just in 2009, Bitcoin has taken the world by storm. The currency is generated by computers and no bank or government backs it. A Bitcoin is created when a computer programmer cracks an automated code, which happens about every ten minutes. Currently there are about 12 million Bitcoins in circulation and a max of 21 million Bitcoins can exist.

How are Bitcoins taxed? Well, the IRS has recently announced how they are to be taxed. All virtual currently, Bitcoin included are to be treated as property, not currency. The type of property depends. It is treated as ordinary income or assets subject to capital gains taxes depending on the circumstanced. They are treated like capital when held like capital such as stocks and bonds. If they are held as inventory or other property, mainly for sale to customers then ordinary gains and losses apply.

Bitcoin miners are at a major disadvantage with the recent IRS announcement as miners must include the fair market value of any Bitcoins they unlock as income.

What affect will the recent IRS regulations on Bitcoin have?

What is the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit?

Many business owners are confused about the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit and not without reason! The IRS has released a lot of information on the credits, who qualifies, and even an estimator to determine how much you qualify for.

If you qualify, you are able to retroactively claim the credit from 2010 through 2013 and then for 2014 and 2015. For the retroactive claims, the maximum credit is 35% of premiums paid, while for tax-exempt organizations, it’s 25%. 2014 will see an increase of 50% for small businesses and 35% for tax-exempt organizations.

The main requirements to get a credit are: 1) You must pay at least half the premiums for your employees (not their families) or 35% for tax-exempt organizations, 2) You have few than 25 full-time employees for the tax year,  3) Your average annual wages for those employees is under $50,000 for that tax year, and 4) the insurance is purchased through the exchange. Even if your organization doesn’t owe taxes, you are still eligible to receive the credit as a refund if it doesn’t exceed income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.

There are some big deadlines coming up for different businesses if you are participating:

  • March 17th: Corporations & S Corporations
  • April 15th: Partnerships and individuals
  • May 15th: Tax Exempt Organizations

If you aren’t able to meet the deadline, don’t forget to file an extension!

Additional Resources:

Tips on Tips- A Guide for the Restaurant Industry

The IRS has been making some changes with restaurant servers… Changing automatic gratuities from a tip to a wage….. now making them subject to more taxes to the employee and employer.

Here are some tips that you can follow :

• Tips are taxable.  You must pay federal income tax on any tips you receive. The value of non-cash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value are also subject to income tax.

Include all tips on your return.  You must include the total of all tips you received during the year on your income tax return. This includes tips directly from customers, tips added to credit cards, and your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.

• Report tips to your employer.  If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, from any one job, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. The report should only include cash, check, debit and credit card tips you receive. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes on the reported tips. Do not report the value of any noncash tips to your employer.

• Keep a daily log of tips.  Use Publication 1244, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record your tips.

You can get more information from: http://www.paycheckcity.com/pages/article.php?page=tip-income

Mandatory Sick Leave: Help or Hurt?

An increasing number of cities and states are requiring businesses to offer a certain number of sick days to their workers. Most businesses do offer some sort of sick leave or the more general paid time off that can be used as needed. However, some businesses do not offer sick days and some even vehemently oppose it, arguing it would severely affect the bottom line having to pay someone for not working, especially in  part-time or hourly wage positions.

Supporters of paid sick leave argue that it is just the right thing to do and it can keep germs from spreading. Others point out that oftentimes low-wage workers who are less likely to have sick days offered, often are the ones who can’t afford to take days off unpaid and need the mandatory paid sick days. Some studies have suggested even if sick days are offered, oftentimes not all of them are taken anyways and they do not affect the bottom line as much as the opponents of the laws suggest.

Question: Does your business offer sick days? Why or why not?

For more information read Laws on Paid Sick Leave Divide Businesses.

Trouble Downloading on a Mac?

If you install our software or any of our trials on your Mac and get the message “PR14_0_0_MacUpdate.pkg can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer”, fret not! By default Apple has changed the security settings to only allow installation of apps from the Mac App Store and identified developers.

To change this permanently or temporarily go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. On the General Tab click the little lock in the lower left corner to unlock the general preference pane. BOOM- you’re done!

Potential Smoking Profits from New Marijuana Industry

No matter anyone’s beliefs on the marijuana industry, it’s undeniable that more and more states are legalizing it for medical purposes and even some, like our own Colorado, for recreational purposes. Although the federal government still says it’s illegal, many entrepreneurs are taking the leap anyways and jumping into the business, expecting it to take off…and some are finding great success in a new industry with little competition. The federal government has said it won’t interfere with states where marijuana is legal, except in the cases where it’s being moved by drug cartels or being sold to minors…in fact, the federal government is looking to pass a bill where it would be like alcohol and up to the states to decide how to regulate and handle it.

Colorado’s retail marijuana dispensaries just opened at the beginning of this year. These dispensaries are required to also grow their own product. A majority of the taxes on it, which is similar to taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, goes to Colorado schools, which are some of the lowest funded per capita in the United States. Colorado has also seen some new businesses pop up in relation to marijuana sales such as marijuana-infused bakeries and marijuana tours where they drive you around. Much like alcohol, you cannot drive under the influence or use in public.

Here in Colorado it sounds as if the opening of the marijuana dispensaries was a little lackluster: yeah, some lines, but the state sure wasn’t a crazy Cheech and Chong adventure. Perhaps it will add to the tourism industry in Colorado but otherwise, maybe business as usual? What do you think will happen? Do you think the federal government will leave it to the states to regulate and focus on drug cartels instead? Do you think these entrepreneurs will find the profits they seek?

If you want to see some numbers and learn more, the Wall Street Journal did a long article on the new industry.

CheckMark 1099 Software- An Easy, Affordable Way to Run Your 1099s

CheckMark 1099 Software is our youngest software but is quite a powerful tool! If you are still scrambling for something to use this year, it might be a great option for you- running unlimited recipients and companies for 1099-MISC, -INT, -DIV, -S, and -R on both Mac and Windows. Easy import features makes 1099s a fast and easy process.

With the print version, you can use preprinted forms for any 1099 the program handles or for 1099-MISC only, you can use a combination of blank 4-up perforated sheets, preprinted Red Copy A, and preprinted 1096. At $69 the program is a steal.

The efile option does everything the 1099-Print software does, but can also e-file with an IRS Transmitter Control Code (TCC) which you can request through the IRS website. The E-file software is $139, no matter how many 1099s you efile!

Learn more about the features on our website or check out the demo to see how easy the program really is. And please contact us with questions- we’d love to help!