The IRS Dirty Dozen

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IRS Dirty Dozen

By Debbie Gregory.

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What does the IRS have to say?

Every year the IRS releases a list of the most common taxpayer scams to help the general public identify and hopefully avoid falling victim to. The following is the list for 2019.


The IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” worst scams for 2019 (grabbed right from the IRS’ website):

  • Abusive tax shelters, trusts, and conservation easements – See IR-2019-47
  • Frivolous tax arguments – See IR-2019-45
  • Failure to report offshore funds – See IR-2019-43
  • Improper claims for business credits – See IR-2019-42
  • Scams involving disasters and charitable causes – See IR-2019-39
  • Inflating deductions and/or credits – See IR-2019-36
  • Falsifying income and/or creating bogus documents – See IR-2019-35
  • Promises of inflated tax refunds – See IR-2019-33
  • Tax return preparer fraud – See IR-2019-32
  • Identity theft – See IR-2019-30
  • Phone scams – See IR-2019-28
  • Pervasive phishing schemes –  See IR-2019-26


The IRS also has a quick intro video about the Dirty Dozen list:


For more information or to read the full text on any of the Dirty Dozen listed above, check out the official IRS website:


VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association encourages its members and supporters to be on the alert and protect all of your information.

Avoiding Business Tax-Related Identity Theft

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Identity thieves are constantly looking for and creating new scams to utilize other people’s information to their financial advantage. Tax-related identity theft broadens the criminal’s choices for fraud. Utilizing a business’s tax identification number instead of an individual’s social security number allows the criminal to file fraudulent business taxes, claim fraudulent tax credits, or obtain any number of business-related tax benefits.


How can you tell if your business is being used in a fraudulent way?

It is essential to understand that just like personal identity theft, when anyone’s identity can be stolen at almost any time, a business is just as vulnerable. Here are a few ways to tell if your business’s identity has been stolen:

  • You try to file your business taxes and they are rejected by the IRS for “duplicate filings” yet you had not previously filed
  • Your extension request has been rejected for a similar reason
  • You receive an unexpected tax document with incorrect information


How can you safeguard your information?

There are many ways you can safeguard your information including these tips:

  • Always use reputable tax professionals if you hire someone to do your taxes for you. Make sure that your professional is also diligently keeping your information safe.
  • Look for a CPA who has training or certification in cyber security.
  • Never share your passwords, security number, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information with anyone that does not absolutely need to have this information.
  • Be very wary of any email asking you for personal information.
  • Never click on a link in an email that seems even slightly suspicious. Remember that the IRS is not going to email you that they will conduct an audit or something of that nature.
  • Keep a close eye on your credit score.
  • Never write your entire account number when paying for something with a check.
  • Always shred documents that you do not need, don’t just toss them out. Criminals routinely go through trash bins looking for sensitive documents.


A Huge Red Flag:

Most emails sent by scammers contain quite a lot of misspelled words and terrible English grammar. A professional company or government agency is much more careful when communicating with their clients.


Worried something is amiss?

Immediately file a fraud alert on yours or your business’s credit report by calling Equifax (888-766-0008), TransUnion (800-680-7289) or Experian (888-397-3742). After you have filed your reports, make sure that you directly call the issuers of any credit cards that you feel may have been impacted.

Does Your Small Business Have a Retirement Plan?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Small businesses generally don’t think they are able the to provide their employees with a retirement plan. Business owners are financially pulled in a multitude of different directions including wages, raises, bonuses, new equipment, new locations, marketing, hiring, training, and more. Large corporations understand that an attractive benefit package helps retain employees and saves them the costs of hiring and training a new employee. It makes a great deal of  business sense to include a retirement savings plan with your other benefit offerings for your employees.


Why does My Business Need a Retirement Plan?

If you currently don’t offer retirement there are three reasons why you should:

  1. As the owner you may be thinking of selling your business to fund your retirement and perhaps when the time comes to sell, the value of the business may not be as much as you anticipated and funds necessary for a robust retirement.
  2. Contributions to employee retirement plans are tax-deductible for the business.
  3. One of the greatest benefits for an employee is retirement savings. They will often stay with a company longer if they are offered attractive benefits and this helps you compete against companies that want to hire your valuable employees.


How To Select A Plan?

The best way to choose the appropriate retirement plan for your company is to sit down with a specialist and go review options. There is not a one-size-fits-all plan. There are so many different types of plans available including IRA-based plans, defined contribution plans (401Ks), and pensions. Some of these plans are more expensive for the company than others so it is best to consult a professional.


Once you have decided to offer retirement benefits and you have selected the right plan with a professional financial advisor, it is time to inform your employees of their eligibility to participate in the plan. Each plan has its own specific rules for informing your employees of their eligibility (the financial institution will provide the specifics based on the plan you select).

Some of the information you generally need to provide your employees includes:

  • the time frame to enroll in the plan,
  • any costs or salary reduction on the employee’s part,
  • how much the employer will contribute on an annual basis,
  • an official description of the plan from the financial institution it will be with,
  • a notice about balance transfer if the employee leaves the company or chooses to move the account to a different financial institution.


As most businesses know finding and keeping good employees is expensive and time consuming. Offering good incentives, such as a retirement savings plan, helps retain good employees which can save your company money in the long run. Plus, as a business owner you need to take care of your own retirement beyond the hope that your company will sell for enough to keep you comfortable once you choose to stop working.


By Debbie Gregory.

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Brandi Leifo was living in a domestic violence shelter without any clear direction in life, or real training, job or even a home to live in. Brandi did not have any support structure but she had an idea and absolutely nothing to lose.


Brandi had a vision for a future and developed a mission to break stigmas and make a real social impact.  With only $15, some creative portfolio items, and an honest desire to do good, Brandi created Evio Beauty Group to bring together products that are good for your skin, your community, and the planet.


With two brands, Evio Beauty is an eco-conscious skincare and makeup company that focuses on sustainable, natural cosmetic products.  The Evio community is an online platform that provides education on a wide variety of topics such as feminism, fashion, beauty, and cannabis.

Brandi’s critics told her she was crazy to try to break into the over-saturated cosmetics market with zero experience, but she didn’t listen to them. Her first real ‘yes’ in the industry came from Unity Clothing that placed an order for Brandi’s conceptual line of lip-gloss, mascara, bronzers, eye shadow, and blush. They placed their order before there was an actual product and Brandi began work to deliver their order within three


Fast forward, today Evio is projecting over $5 million in annual sales and has attracted interest and investment from many other large corporations and manufacturers of personal care products. Social impact is truly the core of the business and Evio partners with many others to do good in the world and works with organizations such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Evio Beauty uses makeup as a way to confront stigmas and to promote the idea of kindness.


Evio also owns a subsidiary company called Iona Cannabis Corp. that houses all of Evio’s cannabis developments and activities. Evio and their partner Aurora Cannabis will soon be launching an exclusive set of 6 beauty products featuring hemp-oil. They are working hard to develop cannabis-infused products that will help reduce their carbon footprint while offering new and exciting “affordable luxury” products to the world with real health benefits.


Interested in learning more? You can check out their website here :


Regardless of whatever negativity life tosses your way, there is always a way to turn your path around and start a new journey. As the saying goes “when one door closes, another opens.”  VAMBOA hopes that Brandi Leifo and Evio’s story inspires and motivates you.

Resources for Women Veterans Building a STEM Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Female veterans now-a-days are increasingly starting and growing businesses in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer, Mathematics) fields. Women who served in the military are more likely to pursue a STEM-related occupation than their civilian counterparts.

Their military service background and exposure to dangerous environments better prepares them for the often-chaotic world of being an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs are people who demonstrate high levels of confidence, independence, self-efficacy, and have solid decision-making skills; all of which a veterans usually possess.

There are still some challenges that female veterans face more than their male or their civilian counterparts.


Resources Needed by Female Veteran Business Owners in STEM Businesses:


1.) A Supportive Network

Having access to a supportive network of mentors and peers can be very challenging for a woman and that important for military-connected woman in STEM fields. Networks for women generally lack essential ties to other critical resources such as funding.

Growing a network is time consuming and requires a solid strategy to be successful. To cultivate a good network, with a wide variety of contacts, women veterans should commit themselves to attending an array of events including conferences, business-focused programs, trade shows, and more. Be genuine and be mindful that you aren’t only focusing on selling your business, learn from others and cultivate a meaningful network.


2.) Help with Resources

The key to obtaining the resources you need as a woman veteran is to be honest and direct about where your business is and what challenges you face. Some find local small business development centers helpful.  Often as a veteran, there are many programs tailored to your specific demographic. Do a quick Google search and you will find a wealth of online resources that will help guide you in the right direction.


3.) Funding from Alternative Sources

Women in STEM fields experience challenges when seeking business capital. Women owned businesses typically raise smaller amounts of capital and usually rely on personal funds as their primary source of financing. Looking towards alternatives such as crowdsourcing or group funding platforms (such as GoFundMe) can be instrumental at early stages for women seeking capital. Utilizing alternative sources can help move you into the next growth phase as large banks are more likely to fund companies that already posses their initial capital.


Your military life has prepared you for many challenges that are unique to your service and will greatly benefit your life as a civilian. Seeking assistance from other female veterans as well as addressing issues specific to your unique role will help you gain the insight and help that you need to be successful as a civilian entrepreneur.