Years ago a mentor in my business life told me, as I struggled with my first smart phone that in no time I’d be tweeting, text messaging and blogging. She was right!
Unfortunately, what she didn’t tell me was, that social media can take a photo and utilize it to present a picture that is not fact.
I’ve never been a fan of having my picture taken. However, last year I did allow a photo of myself to be taken at a business mixer. I had forgotten all about it.
Sometime after the business mixer I severed ties with the organization I was photographed with. I had met some good people in the organization but it wasn’t the right fit for me.
This morning I received an e-mail advertising the business mixer. In the photos on the invitation was my photo with the CEO of the organization I was formerly associated with!
After an e-mail, a call to a friend dealing with Internet security and a call to a social media expert I came to the realization—the rude awakening if you will, that your have few rights in a public venue as to whether your picture can me taken. Additionally, I posed for this picture. Finally, the question is, who took the picture? The person advertising the event, or the organization I posed with?
This was quite a learning experience for me. While I can’t change past events, I will take steps to prevent my likeness being used without my consent and in a manner which does not accurately reflect current facts in the future.
Please do not ask to take my picture. The answer will be a polite no. If you take a scan of the room or a group shot which I believe captures me in the background I will ask you nicely but firmly to remove that picture or video from your device.
Wow…who would have thought social media could be so interesting and educational.
Several months ago I was asked to write an article discussing things accountants wished people knew. Here you have it:
So you want to know what I, a Certified Public Accountant (more commonly known as a CPA) wished people knew about their taxes? I really could write a book, but here are my top ten:
1. When you sign your return you are swearing that you have been truthful. Lying on your tax return is against the law! The IRS takes a dim view of less than truthful taxpayers, imposing hefty penalties, interest on unpaid taxes and in some cases prison time.
2. When you ask a licensed tax professional to prepare your tax return they are swearing that to the best of their knowledge their client has told them the truth. Our signature on your tax return is our testimony to that fact. Please do not ask us to lie for you! The IRS will impose penalties and in some cases bar us from preparing tax returns in the future. This is our livelihood, and we are not willing to risk it.
3. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you expect to owe money, you must attempt to estimate your tax liability and submit it with your extension. If you wind up owing taxes after you have filed your extension you will likely be assessed for interest and underpayment penalties.
4. Do not neglect to file your tax return. If you do not file, and you have a tax liability due, you will be assessed a non filing penalty, possible underpayment penalties in addition to interest which is compounded monthly.
5. If your tax professional recommends making estimated payments, by all means either make them or adjust the number of exemptions you claim on your earnings. Either making estimated payments or having more federal taxes withheld from each paycheck will lighten your tax burden on April 15th avoiding underpayment penalties and interest.
6. Your tax professional did not get you that big refund. You are merely receiving the repayment of an interest free loan you gave the government. By adjusting the number of exemptions you claim on your earnings you can have more money in your pocket each payday. You might even be able to invest these funds and actually see returns on your money.
7. Tax laws are constantly changing. Each year your tax professional attends (or should) classes to stay abreast of the most current tax laws. To those that attempt to prepare their own taxes, I generally ask them if they intend to take out their own appendix or represent themselves in court. There are some things that you should hire a professional to do. Preparing your taxes is one of them. For those that insist on going it alone, I do give them my card and let them know I am also licensed to represent them before the IRS at a later date.
8. Preparing your taxes doesn’t end with filing. You should sit down with your tax professional during the year to review your tax situation, especially if you’ve had a substantial change in income, increased or lost a dependent (child born or child leaves the nest), change jobs, or change marital status.
9. Don’t commingle funds. If you own a business, do not pay personal funds from that business bank account. This is especially true, if you are seeking to limit your liability through the formation of a legal business entity such as an Limited Liability Company, or corporate entity. Commingling funds can nullify the legality of the protection afforded by such entities and cause the corporate veil to be pierced.
10. Do not ignore IRS correspondence. The IRS will not go away or forget about you. Taking care of correspondence at the outset will avoid additional grief later and possibly save you money in the long run.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
Dear Mr. Redford… About your tax bill…
Hello all…so a slow start to my blogging…but I see so much, I think other than by Tweets and Facebook posts and newsletters…here is a way to continue to stay in touch.
Recently a came across an article which reported Robert Redford was suing New York over a $1.6 million dollar tax tab for selling the Sundance Channel. You can read the entire article at:
As a diligent accountant, I read this matter with great interest. Now for my response:
Dear Mr. Redford:
I am sure you are hopping mad at the tax bill you received. However, your anger is misplaced. Please head to your powder room and look into your mirror. Then, please ask yourself if you had discussion with your accountants, brokers and other advisers responsible for preparing your tax return.
New York State, as do many other states which impose state income taxes, access taxes on your income in that state regardless of your residency.
Now, my advice here is free—-so you can take it for what it’s worth, BUT I highly doubt you will prevail in your lawsuit.
No matter where this error in reporting your income originated, it is, regardless, an error. Your accountant, should amend your returns to correct your Utah State income tax (removing the portion of income resulting from the sale of the New York asset) and prepare a New York State income tax return to include the income from the sale of the asset.
You should then request abatement of penalties and understand you will be responsible for interest on unpaid taxes.
So, Mr. Redford, I am sorry to hear of your situation, but attorneys and lawsuits are not always the answer.
Certified Public Accountant.
PS….I am currently accepting new clients.
Photo Credit: Robert Redford at an event at the US Embassy in London.
Date: 25 April 2012, 19:13:55
Author: U.S. Embassy photographer JP Evans
Rhonda A. Mannes,