March/April 2005

All of your business needs. One easy solution.

04/12/2005       Vol 2 Issue 3/4

http://www.offassist.com


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
The Good: I was elected to the Board of Directors and will be serving as Historian for the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA). I am really honored to be a part of this wonderful organization and truly have enjoyed being a part of this wonderful group of professionals. I also passed the Digital Literacy and EthicsCheck exams, so I am now officially and EthicsCheck'd VA and will be taking the CVA (Certified Virtual Assistant) exam later this month.

The Bad: Somehow My Yahoo ID was hijacked last month. A business associate (or who I thought was one, they were hijacked also) sent me a link, I followed it to a Geocities website where it asked for My Yahoo ID and password. Knowing that Yahoo and Geocities merged a while back, I didn't think anything of it. Ha! Thankfully the people over at Yahoo were wonderful about helping me get my ID back and I never use the same password twice. Those of you that know me, are laughing right now - yes, even I fell for it. Lesson learned. Make sure to check out Tom's Tech Tip. He'll be covering this for this issue.

The Ugly: My goodness this has been a super busy couple of months for me. Between the above, my normal clients and a few others, I did not get a chance to make the newsletter for March, so we are combining the two.

Protect Your Computer and Your Identity from Others 
So, you receive an e-mail from your best friend telling you to check out this cool site on Yahoo! This guy is always sending you links and stuff, so no biggie, you head on over to take a look. A very nice Yahoo! style layout loads up, but then asks you to "Log In" to Yahoo before continuing. So you do, but nothing happens. Nothing that is until the next time you try to access your My Yahoo and find that it has been hi-jacked and your user name/password no longer work.

This sound far fetched? Think identity theft can't happen to you? Guess again, it happens to THOUSANDS of people every day, but there are some simple things you can do to help prevent things like this from happening to you.

1.) In the case above, your "friend" sends you a link to a private home page on Yahoo designed to gather user names and passwords. If your in doubt about whether you should log in or not, simply go to www.yahoo.com and log in there. If the other page is STILL asking for your user name and password even though you are logged into Yahoo, it is most probably bogus.

2.) This may seem obvious, but a lot of people make this mistake every day: If your spam filter said it was spam, it probably is. Just because they say they want to sent you money or be your friend does not mean that they really will/do.

3.) Not as obvious: Just because your spam filter DID NOT say it was spam, doesn't mean it isn't. Never open any attachments that you are not 100% sure of what they are. Never respond to an e-mail from someone you are not 100% sure of. These will help cut down not only on your risk of identity theft but also on the amount of spam and virus' you get in the future.

4.) Most on-line mail programs offer a free or low cost spam filter. If you are using an off-line mail-reader, you may need to contact your mail host and find out how to set the filter up. Alternatively, you can begin to build your own spam filter on most off-line readers (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc).

5.) Keep your Virus software and Spyware scanner up to date and scan on a daily basis. There are two great free products available out there that will prevent most of not all "no user input required" type incursions. The first is AVG Free Virus scanner available from www.grisoft.com, the second is Microsofts new AntiSpyware Beta (available at http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/
spyware/software/default.mspx
).

As always the best defense is just to be smart. Don't give out your passwords or other private information to anyone, always double check the address bar when logging into a new site, and new open any attachments unless your 100% sure you know what they contain. E-mail and the Internet are two very powerful tools both as our friend and as our worst nightmare, with a little bit of care you can make sure you stay friends for a long, long time. 

Tom Beauchamp is the owner of LAN’s Edge in Austin, TX. LAN’s Edge is a computer gaming center that offers PC and xbox gaming as well as a high speed internet connection and PC sales and repair.  He can be reached at daystar@lansedge.com. Visit http://www.lansedge.com for more information.

"No, son. When Little Bo Peep lost her sheep that wouldn't be tax deductible, but I like your thinking".

This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. (c) 2005
Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA.

Please visit our affiliates:
(NOTE: I only refer those businesses I personally work with and have had good results with)

Ultra-secure checks for Quicken, QuickBooks, etc.

 
Important Tax Deadlines
April 15 - The most coveted of dates for those CPAs I know - Deadline to file personal, partnership and trust tax returns.

April 15 - Deadline to pay estimated taxes for Quarter 1 2005.

April 15 - Deadline to deposit 941 taxes for Quarter 1 2005.

April 30 - Deadline to file IRS Form 941 for Quarter 1 2005.

April 30 - Deadline to deposit federal unemployment tax for Quarter 1 2005 if more than $100.

April 30 (Texas Only) - Deadline to file/pay TWC Employer’s Quarterly Report for Quarter 1 2005.

 

 

Navigating The Internet Sales Tax Laws
by: Tim Knox
QUESTION: I have been contacted by my local city government to say that my business is scheduled to be audited to determine if I owe any sales tax from items purchased on the Internet. Can they really make me pay this tax? I thought you could buy things online tax free? -- Katie R.

ANSWER: I hate to burst your internet bubble, Katie, but they are within their rights to audit your business and demand payment of sales tax on items purchased on the Web.

Internet sales taxation has been a topic of contention even before Amazon sold its first book and Priceline booked its first flight.

One of the more controversial points is that no one, including our own government, seems to have a clue how to implement a fair and logical Internet taxation process.

With over 7,500 different local, county and state taxation systems in the United States, you can understand the controversy. In 1998, Congress did what it usually does when faced with a potentially explosive issue like Internet tax collection -- it decided to put off making a decision. Congress enacted a three-year moratorium on the collection of taxes to give an appointed advisory board time to come up with an acceptable solution.

That moratorium ended last year and opened the door for municipalities to begin collecting sales tax on their own.

Here in Alabama the sales tax collection department is airing radio spots asking Alabamians to step up to - and toss dollars into - the proverbial collection plate. The commercial kindly suggests that if I have purchased anything from an online retailer, I am honor-bound to proclaim such purchases and submit the appropriate sales tax to the collection department right away. They thank me in advance for my cooperation.

So, Katie, when the auditor shows up at your door the best thing you can do is smile politely and be totally forthcoming. The sales tax that you pay is a small price for the convenience of shopping online.

Now where did I put all those Amazon.com receipts?

Small Business Q&A is written by veteran entrepreneur and syndicated columnist, Tim Knox. Tim's latest books include "Small Business Success Secrets" and "The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!" Related Links: http://www.smallbusinessqa.com http://www.dropshipwholesale.net

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/


Spotlight On... Melde Specialty 

For our March issue, all eyes turn to Melde Specialty Construction. Melde Construction started in 1976 as a two-man operation. Since those early days, Leon Melde has built his company into one of the premiere residential remodeling businesses in south and central Austin, Texas. Their specialization on high end, custom remodels has led them to work with some of Austin's top designers and architects.

From their humble beginnings, Melde Construction has grown to 10 field personnel. They have also had to had add a dedicated office staff. Their continued growth led to  contacting OffAssist for flexible additional help with their weekly bookkeeping tasks.

For more information about Melde Specialty Construction, please visit their website at http://www.meldespecialty.com/

 


Have an article you’d like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted?
Email candy@offassist.com.