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Sending Tax Docs/Contracts via Email


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I keep getting asked to send tax documents and contracts over email to producers, which makes me super uncomfortable. When absolutely required, I encrypt the document and send a text with a password to the requester. But, people seem annoyed sometimes with this system, and it's cumbersome. I try to avoid as many annoyances as possible when dealing with producers (for obvious reasons), but I feel pretty strongly about not transmitting sensitive information this way. What is the general approach around here to this problem?

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I think you have the only good solution, since more convenient options end up compromising security.

You could use something like Firefox Send or Lufi, which lets you limit how much and how long files can be downloaded. But that won’t stop people from just emailing around files insecurely. (This happened to me.) A similar thing can happen if you use conventional services like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Ultimately having the files themselves be password-protected is the best solution I can imagine. Plus it’s not a terribly uncommon practice in the business world. I’ve received tax documents as password-protected PDFs.

I suppose you can use a dead-simple password scheme, like the recipient’s phone number.

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The best thing you can do to protect yourself this day and age is to do a credit freeze at all the credit bureaus.  Due to a recent federal law, it is free to do so.  After the Equifax "we're sorry for leaking everyone's info" saga and Verizon Wireless thinking it was cool to send 5 new iPhones to Hungary under an account opened with my social security number (that's not fishy at all especially considering I've never even been a Verizon customer / they don't even operate in Hungary / I've never even been there before either!), I locked all my credit down and I only temporarily unfreeze it if I have to apply for a loan / rental property etc.

 

More info about the process is here:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/09/21/equifax-free-credit-freeze-new-law/1377815002/

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I've always felt a little uneasy about how cavalier production can be with SS numbers and personal info. Not just via email- but all the I-9 and W-9 forms and timecards on set. Not to mention some of the absurd start paperwork- the information within someone could use to take out a loan or apply for credit cards, etc. Who knows what PA's or others see all of that stuff. I don't think I've ever seen any of that paperwork kept in any kind of secure manner.

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IANAA [not an accountant], but as I understand it, you can give an “04” EIN to your  clients — I’ve done that for years — but also have to file a Schedule C with it. You can’t just stick the 04 number on your 1040... and Uncle gets upset if your clients file a 1099 with your 04 (a lot of them do) but nobody files a matching Return. 

 

On the the other hand, Sched C makes it easier to deduct legit business expenses. And report your SE contribution on non-withheld earnings. 

 

Bottom line: talk to a CPA. Which you should do anyway, if you’re a self-employed professional. It’ll save money in the long run, and possibly other major inconveniences. 

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