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7 Posts authored by: Ebong Eka

2017 was a thrilling year for Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest, an agricultural startup in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. Webb managed to start, grow and raise the necessary capital to make AppHarvest a reality. He secured an investment from AOL cofounder Steve Case’s seed fund, Rise of the Rest, in addition to funding from other major players in the agriculture industry.

 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Webb to learn more about his company and his desire to economically revitalize the Appalachian region.

 

1. What is AppHarvest? 

 

AppHarvest is an agricultural startup that will soon break ground on its first $60 million greenhouse. We selected Pikeville, Kentucky, due to its location and access to nearly 70% of the U.S. population within a day's drive. Utilizing revolutionary growing techniques, AppHarvest will supply sustainable produce to consumers nationally.

 

2. Why do you believe there is a need for AppHarvest in Appalachia?

 

Eastern Kentucky has experienced crippling economic decline due to the decline of coal. The unemployment rate is nearly double the national average. The workforce is rooted in faith and grit, and it will persevere. As a result, several major political figures have partnered with us to bring jobs back to Pikeville.

“We are planting seeds of innovation and hope in Eastern Kentucky with home-grown engineers, like AppHarvest, leading the way as we strive to bring Silicon Valley to Silicon Holler,” said Republican U.S. Representative Hal Rogers. “We are developing a high-tech workforce for high-tech enterprise in the Appalachian region to elevate our competitive edge for jobs and economic development. The resiliency and sheer talent of our people are the very reasons why we are able to diversify our economy and advance incredible ideas, like these high-tech greenhouses, in one of the most rural parts of the country.”

 

 

3. How did you get started in the agricultural sector? Why agriculture instead of the existing job landscape?

 

My background is in large scale solar development. I believe high-tech agricultural is like solar development 10 years ago. We will see a spike in the development of high-tech greenhouses and indoor farming because we can compete with conventional farmers, and consumers are demanding local/regional produce that is higher quality and without pesticides and non-GMO seeds.

 

4. In a short time, you've managed to bring all sides together (politics, local governments, business leaders etc.) to make AppHarvest become a reality. Why was this necessary for the success of AppHarvest?

 

Partnering with a community and state was a critical part of our strategy. Eastern Kentucky wanted to pursue this with us and together we will make the region the high-tech greenhouse capital of the U.S.

 

5. You've raised funds and partnered with industry titans like Steve Case and J.D. Vance. Investors believe in your vision for the region. Why?

 

The agricultural system in the U.S. is broken and many winners are going to help fix it.  AppHarvest will be one of the many winners. Here’s how we differentiate ourselves:

 

      • No pesticides: Our integrated pest management system removes harsh chemical pesticides from the equation.

 

      • Non-GMO seeds: What we grow is what you get – no health-harming genetic modifications necessary.

 

      • 80 percent less water: Our greenhouse will operate using 80 percent less water than that typical open field agriculture.

 

      • Diesel fuel use reduced by 75 percent: Our location positions us to use one-quarter of the transportation fuel compared to produce shipped cross country from the U.S. West Coast and Mexico.

 

6. What advice would you give entrepreneurs or small business owners that need to raise capital for their business?

 

Find a community that wants to work with you and partner with that community. Cities across America would love to work with entrepreneurs. I encourage folks to get out of the four or five major markets and go back home or into a city that wants you.

 

It all starts with the groundbreaking

 

The idea for your business is important. One of the most helpful pieces of advice Webb shared was the importance of finding partners in cities that want you. In other words, you must build relationships in your quest to start or grow your business.

Visit www.AppHarvest.com, if you want to learn more about Jonathan Webb and his company’s efforts to change the financial landscape by bringing jobs and opportunity back to Eastern Kentucky.

 

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About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

The right tools can help elevate your bottom line. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is an important tool used to manage customer relationships, processes and sales within teams. It includes all customers, clients and sales leads.

 

CRM tools are vital for every business that focusses on achieving excellent customer relations and improving sales with relatively little effort. They allow companies more time to focus on converting more leads and looking for additional ways to grow. CRM software can help eliminate missed opportunities by helping you identify and close new sales. Here are my reviews of the five best CRM tools to increase your business sales.recruit-3236547_640.jpg

 

Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the more popular all-in-one CRM tools available. The user-friendly platform offers important features like sales forecasting, lead generation, opportunity and contact management, in addition to workflow automation. Salesforce was once associated primarily with established enterprises and big companies, but the company has recently focused on providing solutions for small businesses. The small business version allows you to utilize the CRM resources and tools at a lower price.

 

Pipedrive

Disclaimer: I use Pipedrive for my business. Why? Pipedrive puts the focus on the actions that matter most to small business owners. The system tracks activities and productivity, while measuring results. This tool makes sales more efficient based on the belief that, while one may not be able to control outcomes, he or she can take charge of what drives deals towards completion. Additionally, Pipedrive allows you to follow up on each deal by attaching activities to your to-do list at a glance.

 

Using the visual sales pipeline, you can see all your deals in one place, resulting in better control of the process. Pipedrive also has a mobile app that allows you to access both your deal and contact information from anywhere. The software integration, innovations and automation grant you all the information you need before a call or meeting. Also, through Pipedrive you can capture the performance of your team in one easy location.

 

Zoho

Zoho comes with many options that you can tailor for your business needs. This CRM tool is intuitive, easy-to-use and pocket-friendly. Small businesses easily build a tailor-made CRM solution through Zoho’s Marketplace, as the adoption process is natural. It offers a set of instructions to install extensions.

 

Insightly

Insightly is made to help you establish deep customer relations and expand your business fast. It allows you to build relationships through discovering links, and it provides relationship maps to guide users.

 

Through automated lead capture and distribution, the tool matches the right lead and representative at the right time – ultimately, to generate faster sales. You can also use Insightly to set up workflow automation and on-time delivery. Insightly starts with a free standard plan that can be upgraded as the business expands. It is a scalable solution that is simple but grows as your company grows.

 

Hubspot

Hubspot gives salespeople more time to find deals and close sales, instead of spending time on data entry. Since interaction tracking is automatic and deals are featured on one dashboard, visibility is improved without any extra work. Hubspot offers storage of up to one million users, regardless of the size of your business. Keeping your activities organized is always a challenge for small businesses. Hubspot helps businesses get organized effortlessly by displaying your entire sales funnel in one place.

 

Hubspot may help to improve your productivity, since it synchronizes with your inbox. Increased productivity makes selling and closing deals a lot easier because now you can create and measure mail templates, send personalized sequences and get notifications when a prospect opens a mail or download you sent. Why does this matter? It makes following up with your prospect easier and more comprehensive.

 

More on this topic:

Shopping Around For Customer Relationship Management Tools

 

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Each February, at the start of Black History month, I reflect on the many contributions African Americans have made to the country, to the economy and to our communities. Going back decades, we can see the impact civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks and many others have had in creating opportunities for people like me today.

 

As an immigrant to the United States and a recently sworn-in U.S. citizen, I have always understood the importance of “economic opportunity” in this country. This is one of the major reasons I focus so strongly on economic empowerment, which is a powerful way to improve the lives of millions of Americans, and to increase their ability to have an impact – not only in their communities but also in their environment, their country and their business community.

 

I’m inspired by the stories of successful African Americans entrepreneurs, like Bob Johnson, founder of BET, Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, Oprah Winfrey and many others.

 

These entrepreneurs and countless others like them gave me the idea that the American dream, though difficult to achieve, is possible. I was inspired by the importance of solving problems related to money – problems that can lead to economic empowerment. It doesn't mean you have to start the next Fortune 500, but it does mean if you have an idea and a dream, you can make it a reality.43928880_s.jpg

 

The U.S. economy rewards hard work. It rewards innovative thinking. It incentivizes people to take their ideas, send them to the marketplace, and exchange those ideas and actions for money and influence. To me, Black History Month serves as a reminder there are Americans who look like me succeeding despite difficult racial and economic setbacks in the past.

 

As a result, I devoted my life to not only writing a bestselling book about entrepreneurship, Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan, but to focus on helping minorities, women, and people of color, by giving them the tools to start and grow their lives through entrepreneurship. Black History Month also reminds me of my journey and how being in this country has given me an opportunity to make my dreams a reality.

 

I lived and spent time in multiple countries and numerous continents while playing professional basketball 18 years ago. I’ve also visited repressive regimes where freedom of speech is non-existent – let alone the freedom of entrepreneurship. I've seen opportunities in the U.S. that I’d never be exposed to in other parts of the world.

 

America is not without flaws, nor without faults. The civil rights movement as we currently know it is still young and America still has a long way to go regarding racial inequality and economic empowerment.

 

If you have an idea and a dream, and you're able to communicate that idea effectively, the United States of America is one of the best places for you to make that dream become a reality. Black History Month reminds me of how Wally Amos wanted to bake and sell cookies, so he created Famous Amos – doing $1 million in revenue in his second year of business. Thomas Jennings was one of the first African Americans to obtain a U.S. patent in 1821 for his innovative way to dry clean clothes. Sarah E. Goode, who ran a furniture business, invented the foldaway bed and was the first African American woman to receive a patent in 1885.

 

The contributions of Amos, Jennings and Goode not only improved the lives of African Americans but also the lives of all Americans. Black History Month reminds me that my experiences in tax, small business, accounting, sales, pricing and marketing can be used to empower others. The contributions of millions of African Americans to the community and economy will continue because this is a land of opportunity, and my goal is to make it as easy as possible for people like me, and for all Americans, to survive and thrive.

 

Related Article: Martin Luther King’s 4 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Learn more about how Bank of America is driving economic and social progress

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

  

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka Headshot.pngAs a small business, it's very important to charge what you are worth. Yes, it’s easier said than done but I want to share what your prices say about you, your expertise and your business.

 

A small business owner is challenged by charging what you are worth, having a healthy enough profit margin and collecting on sales. In a previous post I discussed the importance of cash management. Cash management includes collecting from your accounts receivables, or from the bills that your clients owe you for services that you've already provided.  Higher prices and a larger profit margin allows for more growth for your business.

 

One of the many things your potential customer thinks about when considering doing business with you is, "Will I receive value greater than the price that I'm going to pay?" There are two reasons people spend money:

 

  1. To get a desired result
  2. To solve an important problem

 

How well you solve that problem, or how much they want that desired result will dictate the price that they are willing to pay.

 

Some clients have said to me, "…but Ebong, if I'm the lowest price, maybe they'll come and buy from me, and then I can eventually charge them more." This never happens and never works. I'll give you a recent example.

 

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Earlier this year, a personal finance app company announced they were going to start charging $3 a month for their app that was initially free. The app helps users save money and make better financial budgeting decisions.  The level of negative complaints from consumers in response were astronomical. People were more upset about paying $3 a month, or $36 a year, for a tool that helped them save thousands of dollars every year.

 

 

The company believed if they charged for their app, their customers would see the value and pay. But no one wants to be surprised. The customers’ expectation is that it would be free, so they expected it to be free. When you change that expectation, people get angry.

 

Now let's apply this to your business.

 

Your customers have a lot of questions when you have lower prices than your competitors:

 

  • Why is this person’s price so cheap in relation to the next competitor?
  • Is this a new business?
  • Do they have the requisite expertise necessary to do what I need to have done?

 

74127740_s.jpgCustomers don’t want to feel they are making a buying mistakes – so they’ll go with the higher price

because it’s a safe bet.

 

Here’s another example:

 

If I had a luxury car for sale for $25,000 and the Kelly Blue Book stated the same car should be worth about $40,000, you would think something is wrong.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE 4 CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT MISTAKES THAT FAIL SMALL BUSINESSES

 

Is there an engine in it? Does it have brakes? Does it have wheels? What am I missing? Is it stolen?

 

You know why? Mainly because it's not congruent to what I expect for the value I'm trying to receive.  The same thing is happening to your business.

 

Here's a simple tip that you can use to check pricing. Research your nearest competitor’s prices. Match the price that they charge, and then provide more value. And value doesn't have to be in the form or a discount. Value can be in the form of additional services that doesn't cost more.

If you're a graphic designer and you provide design services to create a logo, maybe you could add additional revisions to the logo as a bonus. In reality, you may charge several hundred dollars extra for that, but say, "Look, for this particular package, I'll give you three revisions for free. If you want unlimited revisions, it's going to be double the price."

 

The bigger goal is being able to provide something that people want and value. Customers spend money for a desired result or to solve a problem. It’s almost never because of price. The successful competitors in your industry are charging more than you are because they understand this principle.


About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

         

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka Headshot.pngOne of the most frequently asked questions about taxes I receive this time of year is: “What if I can’t pay all of my taxes on Tax Day?”

 

Great question – I get it, life happens and sometimes for many small business owners, cashflow is sporadic and in some unfortunate cases anemic.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLES MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT EBONG EKA

 

So what do you do if you didn’t pay what you owe the IRS on tax day?

 

1. Don’t panic and don’t bury your head in the sand. The IRS isn’t trying to ruin your business, yet panicking or avoiding the issue will only lead to more troubles in the long run. Clients I’ve represented before the IRS could have avoiding large penalties if they had immediately dealt with the issue instead of putting it off.

 

2. File your return on time and pay as much as you can. Hopefully, you filed a valid extension to avoid the “Failure to file timely” penalty. You may still be subject to the late payment penalty if you don’t pay everything you owe by the filing date. Paying as much as you can upfront could also decrease the interest charges as well.

 

3. Consider obtaining a personal loan or credit card to pay what you owe. Why? Credit cards and personal loans generally have lower interest rates than the interest rates provided by the IRS.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: BEWARE THE NICKEL & DIMERS

 

18022330_s.jpg4. Don’t wait for the IRS - Contact the IRS for an installment agreement. The installment agreement is a payment plan to pay the taxes you owe on your tax return. Visit the IRS.gov for Form 1127 – “Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship.” Form 1127, and its supporting documentation, should be filed as soon as you’re aware of taxes you owe or a tax deficiency you can’t pay without causing undue hardship.

 

Also, visit the IRS.gov for Form 9465 Installment Agreement Request. The IRS charges a fee to set up the installment agreement.

 

5. Don’t ignore letters or bills you receive from the IRS. Contact the IRS immediately if you receive letters or bills from them. Your situation will only get worse if you ignore bills or letters from the IRS. Additionally, IRS correspondence will provide instructions on what to do as well as what information they need from you. Contact your tax advisor or CPA if you have any questions.

 

Speak to your tax advisor if you have a problem with paying your taxes on time, need an installment or payment plan or have general questions about notices/letters you receive from the IRS. As a reminder Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Enrolled Agents and Lawyers are the only people who can represent taxpayers in front of the IRS. Just remember not to panic if you have a tax issue because help is only a quick email away!

 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

          

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka Headshot.pngThe Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, provides affordable health insurance across the U.S. through subsidies to consumers as well as offering tax credits to small businesses.

 

Even though the Trump Administration seeks to repeal and replace the ACA, it will take time for the political process to occur. Thus, there is still an opportunity for your small business to benefit from the tax deductions or credits for the 2016 tax return year.

 

What’s the difference between a Deduction and a Credit?

 

Before we go into how the ACA affects your small business, let me be clear on the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction. A tax credit directly reduces your tax liability. For example, if you owed $1,000 in taxes to the IRS and received a $500 tax credit, you would only have to pay $500. Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions in your tax liability.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT EBONG EKA                

 

A tax deduction is different because it indirectly reduces your tax liability by reducing (through increasing) the expenses used to arrive at income. I've always told clients that having or receiving a tax credit is always better and more lucrative than having a tax deduction. Please speak to your tax advisor for what works specifically for you.

 

Do you qualify for ACA tax credit?

 

As a small business owner, you may be eligible for the small business healthcare tax credit if you meet the following conditions:

 

  1. You cover at least 50% or more of your employees' insurance premium costs;
  2. You must have fewer than 25 full-time employees;
  3. Your full-time employees' annual wages are less than $52,000 each in the 2016 tax year. Your credit may be limited or phased out if wages are higher;
  4. You must purchase health insurance coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

 

Finally, here's a shared responsibility payment notice: If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees including full time and equivalent employees, i.e., you have two part-time employees who split a full- time job, you're not subject to the employer's shared responsibility provisions. If you employ fewer people, you have other incentives as well.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE TOP 7 TAX SCAMS OF 2017 YOU MUST AVOID

 

How much of a difference does the tax credit make for your business?

 

32147912_l.jpgFor tax years beginning in 2014 or later, the maximum credit increased to 50% of premiums paid for small business employers and 35% of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers. Additionally, the credit is available to eligible employers for two consecutive taxable years.

 

For example, if you pay $50,000 a year toward employees’ health care premiums — and if you qualify for a 50% credit, you save $25,000 per year. Imagine what you can do for your business with that money!

 

Tax credits are advantageous because they help you save money on taxes which you can use to hire more employees or purchase more equipment. 

 

Regardless of where you sit politically, if you are a small business owner, there's a great opportunity for you to save money on your taxes by way of the small business healthcare tax credit.


Speak with your tax advisor about your eligibility for the tax credit and how much may be available to you before the ACA is repealed and/or replaced.

 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka Headshot.png“Dear Mr. Eka,

 

We received your tax return. Please confirm the following information so we can process your refund.

 

Sincerely,


The IRS”

 

If you ever received a letter like this from the IRS, you may want to celebrate your coming refund. Unfortunately, it had the opposite impact on me: I had not yet filed a tax return for 2015, so I should not be expecting a refund.

 

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That's when I realized someone filed a fraudulent tax return with my information and social security number. If you are a small business owner, identity theft and tax fraud are increasing and could be problematic for you and your business. Every year, the IRS releases a list of currently prevalent tax scams. Here are 2017’s top seven tax scams and how to protect yourself against them.

 

1. Phishing. Still the most popular trick because it keeps working. Crooks and scammers send a fake email directing you to a website to enter your information. They then steal your information to either file false tax returns or file false tax refunds. If something does not look right to you, don't click on the link in the email.

 

2. Phone scams. As a small business owner, my office phone number is readily available. As a result, I receive phone calls from people claiming to be IRS officers. The caller may threaten to have you deported, seize your assets and property, or threaten criminal prosecution and a variety of other things. If you receive a phone call from the IRS and it doesn't sound right to you or they're trying to receive information from you, hang up and call the IRS back by going to the IRS.gov website to find more information and then see if actually you were called. The IRS doesn't normally call you. If it's a first time, they will send you a letter in the mail.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: FIVE IRS-APPROVED IDEAS TO MINIMIZE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS TAXES

 

3. Identity theft. It is important to be aware about identity theft during tax time. I felt violated when it happened to me. I received letters from the IRS and from the state that I filed tax returns asking me to confirm whether I filed the tax returns. The IRS aggressively pursues criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using somebody else's Social Security number so contact them if you may be a victim of identity theft.

 

4. Return preparer fraud. One of the biggest problems that reputable tax return preparers like myself and others is the number of unscrupulous tax preparers who mislead tax payers. These tax preparers try to encourage tax payers to falsify expenses and deductions so they can receive credits they may not be entitled to.

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5. Fake charities. Some scammers pose as a fake charity so you can donate money with the hopes that you can get a tax deduction for your donation. You should receive a receipt after your donation which you must keep for supporting documents. Visit the IRS.gov website and search for eligible charities that have been registered with the IRS that allows you to get the tax deduction for donating funds to that particular charity or for any contributions.

 

6. Inflated refund claims. If you're a taxpayer, beware of any tax preparer who offers you inflated refunds, including those who promise to get you a large refund or ask to be paid based on the size of your tax refund. People who are either CPAs or enrolled agents are required by law not to get paid on contingency.

 

7. Falsely padding deductions on return. Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsify deductions or expenses on their tax return in order to pay less than they owe or to receive a larger refund. It's never worth it. The extra $100, $500 or even $1,000 you may receive is never worth the effort and the headache you would get if caught by the IRS. If caught, you and the tax preparer may be subject to interests and penalties.

 

It's imperative for you to pay close attention and not put yourself in those situations so you can continue running your business and not worry about getting scammed.

 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

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Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

           

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