Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Business writing tips

Whether writing a newsletter or a business proposal, your writing says a lot about your professionalism.  In this day and age of email and texting short hand, proper grammar can set you above all others.  Proofreading important documents can help ensure that current or potential customers will see past words and punctuation and hear your message.  Here are a few proofreading and grammar tips:

  1. Spelling – proofread by reading the words in reverse order.  In doing this, your mind doesn’t fill in the gaps of the words; it sees individual words instead of complete thoughts.  This helps to catch spelling errors.
  2. Pause – after proofreading a document, set it down and come back to it after a break.  Taking a fresh look at your writing will give you a chance to see things that were overlooked in the heat of the writing.
  3. Homonyms and the like:
    1. “their” means someone owns something; “they’re” means they are; and “there” refers to directionality
    2. “two” is a number; “too” means also; “to” is a preposition usually leading up to a clarification of something
    3. “sale” is when something is for sale, or having a sale; “sell” is when you are trying to sell something;  and “sailing” is a leisure sport (unless you’re off the coast of Africa)
    4. “your” is another ownership reference; “you’re” means you are
  4. Commas and decimals – always double check commas and decimal places in numbers.  As a seller, you would be none too pleased to realize you proposed to sell something for $100.000 instead of $100,000.  While you might be covered legally, professionalism is key.
  5. Extra eyes – when in doubt, have someone else proofread your document.  When you are deep into the idea you are trying to express, writing errors can be easily overlooked.  Having someone else look over your writing can catch errors that you are too involved to notice.
Proposals and newsletters can fall flat for any number of reasons.  Don’t let proofreading be one of them.

John Robert Voynich, CPA

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fake IRS telephone call - don't fall for it!

We've seen fake IRS emails for the past few years and have advised how to avoid being victimized by them.  Earlier this year, Brad Williamson posted an entry on this blog that warned of various IRS-related scams.  His post is a really good read and contains a link to a page from the IRS Web site containing information on various types of scams and how to avoid them.

Receiving an e-mail or a call that purports to be from the IRS can be unnerving.  As the individual tax filing deadline approaches and many are rushing to get taxes filed (or extended), the "bad guys" appear to be increasing their efforts to catch you at a vulnerable moment -- perhaps thinking that you won't take the time to check out their story and will just pay up.  We've had reports just this past week of people receiving telephone calls claiming to be from the IRS.  Don't fall for it!

Here is a page on the IRS Web site from last year about these telephone call scams.  It offers a few simple things you can do to make sure that the call is legitimate (TIP: it probably isn't).  Here's an excerpt:
These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.
It seems that there is no end to people trying to get your info (and ultimately your money).  We think it's best if you keep it for yourself!  Oh, and don't forget about the April 15th tax filing deadline!

Craig Rhinehart