Archives for February, 2017

W2 Phishing Scam

February 20, 2017 – Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a warning about Form W-2 phishing scams that businesses and organizations could be facing in 2017. These scams were once limited to the corporate world, but are now targeting school districts, tribal organizations, and nonprofits.

Phishing refers to a general trend of cybercriminal activity in which emails are sent out from seemingly reputable sources, requiring some degree of private or personal information from the victim.

The Form W-2 phishing scam usually appears as though it is coming from an organization’s executive officer, and is sent to an organization’s payroll or HR department requesting the names of all the organization’s employees and their W-2 forms. Once cybercriminals have this data, they are able to commit any manner of identity-theft and tax-related crimes.

In addition, cybercriminals are pairing the Form W-2 scam with an older scam requesting that organizations wire transfer funds to the criminal. Organizations that fail to recognize the Form W-2 scam are more likely to be victimized twice.

For more information, please visit the IRS website here: https://www.irs.gov/uac/dangerous-w-2-phishing-scam-evolving-targeting-schools-restaurants-hospitals-tribal-groups-and-others

Smith Marion & Company would like everyone to be aware of these phishing scams, and would like to help keep our businesses and organizations safe from cybercriminal activity. 

SMCO Manager Kendra Dockham Volunteers for VITA

February 13, 2017 – Cal State, San Bernardino has been hosting the Inland Empire’s Volunteer Income Tax program (VITA) for over 30 years. Through the VITA program, community members with a qualifying income can have their taxes prepared for free by undergraduate CSUSB student volunteers, who gain valuable experience and insight into the taxing and accounting fields.

Smith Marion & Co. CPA Kendra Dockham remembers participating in the VITA program during her undergraduate at CSUSB, and has been volunteering and supervising the program since she graduated in 2011. She monitors and assists the students who quickly find themselves over their heads, as she once was. She recalls preparing a total of two tax returns on her first day of volunteering—a strenuous, eight-hour task at the time.

Kendra believes that the VITA program is a “win-win for both students, and community members.” While at first the students struggle to learn and apply their skill sets to the diverse and often challenging world of tax preparation, they eventually begin to swim, gaining invaluable insight and experience in their future careers. Community members, of course, get their tax returns prepared correctly, and for free. It is such a valuable service, that Kendra has had community members recognize her as they come back year after year.

David Marion, CPA, and partner of Smith Marion & Co. says, “The VITA program does a great service to the community. Smith Marion & Co. is proud to be able to partner with VITA and help both the students and the community members as a whole.”

The VITA program takes place at various locations on Fridays and Saturdays through April 15th, and you can visit CSUSB’s website for more information. Thank you again to Kendra, for volunteering her time and efforts.

Smith Marion & Co. Partner Peter Wesch Participates in the Polar Plunge

February 8, 2017 — Winter in the month of January brought snowfall to the San Bernardino National Forest, along with much needed relief from southern California’s drought. Residents in the Lake Arrowhead community experienced more snowfall than usual this year, which melts and feeds into the community’s namesake body of water.

Peter Wesch, EA, and partner with Smith Marion & Company, dove headlong into the freezing Lake Arrowhead last Saturday, February 4, for the ninth annual PolaRotary Bear Plunge. Pete, along with other prominent community members and leaders, volunteered to submerge himself in the ice-cold waters as a means of raising money for Rotary Club, and charities of their choice. The Lake Arrowhead Resort (generally unused in February, due to snow on the beach) hosts the jumpers, who have collectively raised over $175,000 for Rotary and other charities in the past eight years.
The Rotary Club determines that half of the first $1000 raised goes to the Rotary Foundation, while the other half of the first $1000 goes to the charity of the jumper’s choice. All money raised above the $1000 mark goes directly to the chosen organization.

Pete’s charity of choice was Last Chance Corral, an organization that offers asylum to abandoned or unwanted horses. The horses arrive in various conditions of health, sometimes from neglect or abuse. Some are entirely healthy, but come from owners who are unable or unwilling to continue to take care of the horse properly. The care and adoption program that Last Chance Corral offers is vital to preventing the suffering and slaughter of horses without a home.

Smith Marion & Company is proud to have partners who are actively involved in their communities, and in Pete’s case, who are willing to plunge into liquid ice for the causes that they believe in.