Wednesday March 5, 2014
I've been suspicious of Bitcoin ever since its inception and have never used in the electronic currency myself, only doing research to write What Is Bitcoin?, although thousands if not millions of people have used the currency and even profited from it. However, the glory days of Bitcoin are over after two massive hackings robbed hundreds of millions of dollars from Bitcoin users in the past week.
Bitcoin digital currency storage site Flexcoin announced on March 3, 2014, that it was shutting down after being hacked and robbed of all coins the day before. Cold storage coins, which are held offline and are not connected to the Bitcoin network, can be returned to Flexcoin users. But if your coins weren't in cold storage, you're out whatever you paid for your Bitcoin currency given that there's no insurance taken out as stated in Flexcoin's terms of service.
The equivalent of somewhere around $600,000 (Bitcoin value fluctuates continuously) were stolen when, according to Flexcoin's March 4, 2014 update, the hacker "successfully exploited a flaw in the code which allows transfers between flexcoin users. By sending thousands of simultaneous requests, the attacker was able to 'move' coins from one user account to another until the sending account was overdrawn, before balances were updated." You can read more details about how the hacker pulled off the attack at flexcoin.com.
Last week, Mt Gox, which hosted the majority of Bitcoin transactions worldwide, was hacked and the value of the currency dropped to $440. The value had gone over $1,000 just three months ago in November, 2013, however, a month prior the value dropped to $110 after an FBI shut down. The amount stolen from Mt Gox is reported as being $460 million after last week's hacking. According to Wired.com, another $27.4 million went missing from its bank accounts. Mt Gox has filed for bankruptcy. The only information currently posted on the Mt Gox website is a legal document detailing its bankruptcy filing.
Tech For Anyone has a great explanation with some wise advice at the end of the article, Why Bitcoin is in Trouble after Mt Gox Shutdown. Bitcoin users and anyone who is interested in this currency should give it a read.
Tuesday February 25, 2014
We're a few weeks into the time of year known in the U.S. as income tax season, and I've been researching personal tax software like I've been doing every year since 2005. Tax software has come a long way, and now has branched into mobile apps for iOS and Android. Naturally, my 2nd annual February Android apps of the month are my tax app recommendations.
With the expanding Android market in the U.S. and worldwide, I'm surprised that TurboTax and H&R Block haven't done more with their tax apps for Android. TaxACT has a wide vareity of apps, including one that you can use to complete just about any return on an Android tablet. The IRS2Go app is back, with a few helpful tax tools.
Get the details on the top picks for Android tax apps:
Monday February 24, 2014
Is it looking like there's no way you can file your income taxes on time this year? You can get an extension in just a few minutes and file your return in October. The fastest way to get this done right now and at no cost is to file for an extension online. If you pay state income tax, remember to file an extension with the state, which is also free.
Remember that if you're not getting a refund or you're not sure if you will, you still need to pay an estimate of your taxes with the extensions to avoid penalties! An extension only gives you more time to finish your return, there is no extension beyond April 15, 2014 to pay taxes. If you overpay the estimate, you'll get the money back. Don't underpay, or you're probably looking at penalty fines and interest.
Image by dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Thursday February 20, 2014
Have a tax question? If you ask the IRS, you will probably be waiting a long, long time for an answer. About U.S. Government Info reports that taxpayers get through the IRS help via telephone 68% of the time, and nearly half of paper correspondence goes unanswered for over six weeks. Flash back to 2004 to compare getting human tax help by dialing up the IRS, and you'll find that the IRS actually had a better track record back then, when 87% of calls were answered in about 2.5 minutes. Despite the growing number of returns being e-filed and shifting resources to provide improved services to taxpayers, the IRS isn't effectively answering taxpayer's questions.
So where can you get answers to tax questions without spending a lot of money for the services of a CPA? Use tax software. First of all, if you're still filing a paper return, you have a much higher probability of making errors compared to using tax software, where you answer questions in step by step tax interview and plug in numbers while letting the software do the math and put the numbers in the right place on tax forms.
Learn more about how tax software answers questions.