Tag Archives: Blacks

Tax Season 2017 -Who’s Doing Your Taxes?

Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Tax season is scam season and the cyber crooks are trying every possible trick to get your money. African-Americans, people of color, senior citizens and immigrants are especially targeted. Why? Because we are not educating ourselves. Tax scams targeting black people in the past included a scheme for slavery reparations. Immigrants are vulnerable because they do not always understand the American tax system and can be easily intimidated with threats of deportation. Seniors are also easily threatened. According to a study by Home Instead Senior Care nearly one in 10 seniors reported being victimized by a phone scam. These scams usually involve someone posing as an IRS official demanding immediate payment of taxes.

Scams, phishing attacks and social engineering are the most common tools used to rip people off. So what can you do? First of all be aware of how the IRS works. Second, be aware of how the crooks work. Simply put, educate yourself. The AACR is here to help

Lets talk about tax preparers. If someone else is doing your taxes there is a a way to find out if this person is legitimate. Check the IRS tax preparer directory. You can search for a tax professional or discover if you are dealing with a crook.

Anyone can claim to be a tax preparer. Only four states have mandated requirements for tax professionals, California, Maryland, New York and Oregon. In all the other states anyone can claim to be a tax preparer and charge for their services. There is no standard or requirement to meet any minimum educational competency or training.

Here are a few tips to spot them.

  • All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. The only way to get a PTIN is to register with the IRS.  And the PTIN should be included on your tax return. 
  • Don’t ever sign a partially completed tax return!  A legitimate tax professional will never ask you to do this regardless of how complicated your return may be.
  • Your tax preparer should ask for all documentation of your income. Be suspicious if you are not asked for your W-2 or other documentation of earnings, deductions or credits.
  •  Don’t ever agree to false documentation or deductions. Remember you are ultimately responsible for what is on you tax return. And fines, penalties and even prison is a definite possibility.
  • Your preparation fee should not be based on a percentage of your refund. This may cause a disreputable preparer to inflate deductions or credits.
  • Never pay your taxes or penalties to your preparer. These go directly to the IRS. If they don’t get there its on you.
  • Avoid any tax preparer who claims to have secret method to lower your tax bill that the IRS doesn’t want you to know about.
  • Be alert to all unprofessional behaviors like someone who does taxes from their home or have no set office.
  • Provide only copies of your documents. You keep the originals. 
  • Make sure your preparer is easy to contact and responds promptly.
  • If you spot any of these red flags report the preparer to the IRS using Form 14157. Also file a complaint at Fraud.org.

Tax season is scam season. Educate yourself to the scam, traps and tricks!

Blacks in Technology

Ask anyone who knows  and they will tell you that black people are difficult to find in the technology industry. Silicon Valley has a color problem and its really no secret. But there are blacks in technology. 

As matter of fact Wayne Sutton, formerly of  NewMe accelerator and founder of PitchTo, believes African-Americans all over the nation are active in the technology industry. The problem is that no one knows or have heard about them.

Businessinsider.com published a 2013 article highlighting the most influential black people in the technology industry. These black men and women are thriving in the heart of the technology industry in many various roles. We need to know who they are and what they are doing.

You may ask why? Because even though we are under-represented black people are present in the technology industry. And because we are present we have an influence on whats happening. And technology is whats happening, make no mistake about that. 

According to Inquirer.net Apple Computer, the sweetheart of Silicon Valley, employs mostly white and Asian men. The website reports that Apple Computer employees  are made up of 54% white males and 23% Asian men making on average $100,000 annually. Currently 80% of Apples employees worldwide are men. In their defense most major technology companies do not hide or deny the problem.

Google, the worlds most powerful search engine, released its employee diversity numbers  last week.The numbers clearly indicate the seriousness of the problem. The Google report revealed only 30% of the company’s employees globally are women. Only 35% in the United States are non-white. Asians make up 30% of non-whites at the company.

Silicon Valley management positions are nearly devoid of minorities and women. Wayne has written about the problem of gender imbalance in his Wall Street Journal Blog.   Wayne stated; “Three words keep coming to my mind as I think about why there is a gender imbalance: money, power and respect.”  

But as I have said before its not always the technology company’s fault. Blacks and minorities suffer the curse of not coming prepared for the jobs the technology industry offers.  And who’s fault is that? There are few African-Americans in college majoring in IT or computer or software engineering.

According to a 2013 New York Times Report nearly one half of the nation’s workforce are women. Unfortunately they take up only 26% of science, technology, engineering or math jobs according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African-Americans make up  just 11% of the workforce but hold only 6%  of technology jobs. Hispanics are 15 % of the work force but are only 7 % of the technology work force.  Women and minorities have made progress in science and math in the last several decades. But this progress has been slow. In the technology sector and the rapidly growing field of computer science, women’s slice of the pie has actually shrunk in the past 20 years, while other  minorities saw only small gains.

The question remains; how will this issue be addressed? The website Thinkprogress.org has an interesting article outlining some possible solutions to making the nations technology heart a little more colorful.

The African-American Cyber Report believes that technology is taking a greater and greater role in the life of black people. And we need to find our place in the technology industry. But that does not mean that we are always welcome. There has been some talk of discrimination in the great Silicon Valley. We have to fight for our place at the table and the the technology industry is no different. Black people can only take our place in the technology industry if we prepare ourselves. So if we are not educating our children to take their place in the technology field we can’t expect things to change. Can we?

Now you know.