News & Tech Tips

How to Recognize and Avoid IRS Scams

The IRS is a major target for scammers, who use a variety of methods to trick taxpayers into giving up their personal and financial information. Here are some tips to help you recognize and avoid IRS scams:

  • Phone call scams: The IRS will never call you out of the blue to demand payment. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, hang up immediately. Do not give them any personal or financial information.
  • Email phishing scams: Phishing emails often look like they’re from the IRS, but they’re actually from scammers. These emails may contain links or attachments that can infect your computer with malware. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, don’t click on any links or open any attachments.
  • Protect your personal information: Identity theft is a major concern, so it’s important to protect your personal information. Don’t give out your Social Security number or other sensitive information unless you know who you’re giving it to.
  • Choose a trustworthy tax preparer: Tax preparer fraud is another way scammers can steal your money. Choose a tax preparer who is reputable and takes the security of their clients’ information seriously.
  • Beware of social media scams: Scammers may impersonate IRS agents or tax professionals on social media. Be careful about who you interact with on social media, and never give out personal or financial information.
  • Avoid ghost tax preparers: Ghost tax preparers do not sign the tax returns they prepare, which can lead to errors or fraud. Make sure your tax preparer signs your return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
  • Verify IRS letters: Scammers may send fake IRS letters through the mail. If you receive a letter from the IRS, verify its authenticity by contacting the IRS directly.
  • Stay cautious of robocalls: Robocalls impersonating the IRS are becoming more common. The IRS does not initiate contact through pre-recorded calls. If you receive a robocall from someone claiming to be from the IRS, hang up and do not give them any personal or financial information.

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from IRS scams. If you think you may have been a victim of an IRS scam, contact the IRS immediately.
Here are some additional tips to help you stay safe from IRS scams:

  • Only use official IRS websites and contact information.
  • Be suspicious of any communication that demands immediate payment or personal information.
  • Never give out your Social Security number or other sensitive information over the phone or through email.
  • Be careful about what information you share on social media.
  • Keep your computer and software up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Use a strong password and change it regularly.

By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from IRS scams and keep your financial information safe.

At Whalen CPAs, we are committed to safeguarding your financial well-being. It’s essential to stay informed and vigilant when it comes to IRS scams. If you ever encounter a suspicious communication or require assistance with any tax-related matter, don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts. Your financial security is our top priority.

Unlocking the Power of Effective Receivables Management: 10 Insights for Financial Success

Managing accounts receivable (AR) is a fundamental aspect of financial health for any business. A robust AR system ensures steady cash flow, minimizes outstanding balances, and fosters strong client relationships. This comprehensive article delves into AR management, offering ten actionable insights to optimize your receivables processes and drive financial success.


  1. Effective Data Collection: The foundation of effective AR management lies in accurate data collection. Comprehensive client information, including accurate contact details, lays the groundwork for seamless invoicing and follow-ups. Train your staff to confirm the contact details at every client interaction to maintain communication.
  2.  Tailored Payment Term Flexibility: Customize payment terms to suit your business and clients. Offering flexible terms can incentivize timely payments while aligning with your clients’ financial cycles. Upon account set-up, inform clients of your billing policies. If possible, arrange billing multiple times monthly to capitalize on pay cycles.
  3. Immediate Invoice Dispatch: When you deliver your product or service, the clock starts ticking. Don’t delay invoicing; immediate issuance improves transparency and signals professionalism.
  4. Automated Reminders: Gentle yet persistent reminders significantly enhance collection rates. Implement automatic reminders for approaching due dates, ensuring your clients get regularly reminded of their obligations.
  5. Employee Training on Procedure: Educating your staff about AR procedures is vital. From invoicing to communication, ensuring your team understands their role in the AR process bolsters efficiency.
  6. Embrace Payment Automation: Automation isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a game-changer. Automated invoicing, reminders, and payment processing streamline the process and reduce human error. Set up online payments so clients can promptly pay invoices. Offering online payments removes a barrier to prompt payment because people may not have stamps available or may not use checks.
  7. Streamline Dispute Resolution: Promptly address any disputes that arise. A straightforward and efficient dispute resolution process prevents payment delays and preserves client relationships.
  8. Incentivize Early Payments: Consider offering discounts or incentives for early payments. This strategy can nudge clients toward settling their invoices promptly. Discounts of only a few dollars are often attractive to budget-conscious people.
  9. Multi-Channel Communication: Communicate with clients through multiple channels. While emails are effective, a mix of phone calls, text messages, and postal mail can keep the bill on the client’s mind. Many older adults avoid using technology, so use methods that reach all clients.
  10. Regular Accounts Receivable Check-Ups: Just as your health requires regular check-ups, so does your AR management. Schedule routine reviews to assess the effectiveness of your strategies and implement necessary improvements. Run an accounts receivable aging report monthly and look for accounts overdue by 60+ days. The rate of payment for invoices aged past 60 days drastically drops. Work hard in the first couple of months to secure payment. Offer payment plans for lagging accounts with contracts outlining the frequency and amount of each payment.

Optimizing accounts receivables management in a dynamic business landscape is paramount to financial stability. Implementing these ten insights will streamline your AR processes, bolster client relationships, enhance your cash flow, and pave the way for sustained business growth. If you are struggling with where to start, we can help. Contact Us

Unlocking Business Attractiveness: A Buyer’s Perspective

Every business owner hopes to harvest the wealth locked up in the business. Unfortunately, most owners over-value their businesses. This has an enormous impact on the success of the transition into life after business because owners who count on the business for retirement can experience catastrophic disappointment. According to Christopher Snider, in his book Walking to Destiny (2023), 75% of business owners “profoundly regretted” the decision to sell their business 12 months after selling.

Sean Hutchinson (2023), Partner of Strategic Development at Ready for Next, says this is because the owners were ready to transition but were not transition-ready. Hutchinson reminds business owners that the most valuable businesses are transition-ready due to their attention to operational excellence that affects all seven value domains of a business. Hutchinson contends that businesses add or subtract value daily due to their actions toward each value domain. The value domains are:

  • Culture
  • Risk
  • Strategy
  • Productivity
  • Financial Performance
  • Leadership & People
  • Sales & Marketing

For business owners, the key to adding value begins with viewing the company from a buyer’s perspective. Snider (2023) calls this approach a business attractiveness score. This quantitative scoring process can allow owners to get their businesses in shape before they feel the urge to sell, thus unlocking the best value for their business and preparing for the transition to the next chapter of their life.


The value domains can be grouped to provide four factors for business owners to consider in their transition readiness. These factors are business factors, forecast factors, market factors, and investor considerations.

The Four Key Factors That Buyers Consider and Their Value Components
Business Factors
  • Leadership & People: Buyers want to buy a well-managed business. This means having a team of experienced and capable executives who can execute the company’s strategy. This also necessitates carefully crafted succession plans that optimize a continuing history of strong leadership.
  • Strategy: Businesses that don’t rely too heavily on key managers can withstand changes in leadership without too much distress. Owners cannot be the top producers or salesmen in strong businesses because potential buyers understand they will lose customers when the transition occurs.
    • Intellectual property: Buyers value businesses with valuable intellectual property (IP). This can include patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
    • Location and Facilities: Inattention to the business’s facilities can diminish value because the new owners must make costly repairs and adjustments.
    • Operations: Processes and systems should be robust, documented, and up to date. A prospective buyer will begin factoring in discounts to the sale price if the business operations are weak.
  • Sales & Marketing: A solid customer base is another essential value driver. A large and loyal customer base likely to continue doing business with the company is crucial to a successful transition. The customer base should also be broad, not concentrated on a few large contracts. Buyers also want strong brand awareness to build on the company’s reputation.
Forecast Factors
  • Financial performance: Buyers want to see a business with a solid financial performance history. This includes factors such as revenue growth, profitability, and debt levels. Buyers will seek a long history of continuous growth and a solid recurring revenue model.
Market Factors
  • Productivity: Buyers are also interested in businesses with potential future growth. This can be assessed by looking at factors such as the size of the market, the competitive landscape, and the company’s products or services and comparing these to the current productivity of the business. Businesses maximizing their market and being competitive now will likely sustain that into the future.
    • Industry trends: Buyers also consider the overall industry trends when evaluating a business. This includes factors such as the industry’s growth rate, the competition level, and the regulatory environment.
Investor Considerations
  • Risk: Each company has its own risk inherent to its market. Companies with a proven track record of mitigating risk are favorable investments to buyers. Risk mitigation occurs by following documented compliance measures, developing succession plans, and evaluating buy-sell agreements. Competitive companies are those with low legal susceptibility, appropriate insurance coverage, and strong community support.
  • Culture: A company’s culture is its lifeblood. Companies with low morale, poor communication and problem-solving, and ineffective management will likely score poorly in attractiveness to buyers. A strong culture is born from ensuring the right personnel are in the right positions within the company. The culture grows as employees see themselves as part of a team that aims to serve the customer base and grow the business enterprise.

Here are some additional tips for business owners who are thinking about viewing their company from a buyer’s perspective:

  • Be realistic about the business’s financial performance and operations when self-evaluating.
  • Remember that exit planning is a good business strategy because it focuses on value.
  • Get professional help from a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) at Whalen CPAs.

Businesses can make themselves more attractive by understanding and improving the factors influencing buyers. Thinking about your business as if you were going to sell it will help you maximize the proceeds when you are ready to sell. Maximizing the profit from the sale of your business can help you transition well into the next great chapter of your life.


Hutchinson, S. (2023, August 22). Value Enhancement Process [Presentation] CEPA: 2023 August, Online.
Snider, C. M. (2023). Walking to destiny (2nd ed.). Think Tank Publishing House.

Why Exit Planning is Essential for Business Success

Exit planning, although often only associated with the end of a career, is actually both a starting and end point. It’s not just the final stage. Exit planning is about preparing and implementing systems throughout the business’s life that protect and grow value so that you can maintain a profitable business today and possess an attractive business to potential buyers. Let’s examine the facts about exiting a business and discuss how exit planning is a good business strategy to implement over the life of a business.

Owner Readiness

According to a recent State of Owner Readiness survey conducted by the Exit Planning Institute (EPI), 99% of business owners agreed that a transition strategy is important for realizing future personal and business goals. However, 94% had no “life-after” plan, 79% had no written exit plan in place, and 49% had done no planning at all! Equally disturbing is that 63% of owners planned to transition within the next ten years. The saddest news is that, according to EPI, over 70% of businesses on the market do not sell. This is even true of family-owned businesses; only 30% transition into the second generation and only 12% into the third.

What is Exit Planning?

Exit planning is a process of operating a business through thoughtful planning, effort, and strategy that is transferable due to its strong structural, human, customer, and social capital. This concept interweaves an owner’s personal, financial, and business goals into a cohesive plan that focuses on creating business value today.

What is Value?

When a business is offered for sale, the price of the business is composed of two different parts: the tangible and the intangible assets. Tangible assets are those things that show up on the business’s balance sheet. Only about 20%-30% of a business’s value comprises tangible assets. The intangible assets make up as much as 80% of the value of the business. These intangible assets include the four capitals (structural, human, customer, and social) that manifest as goodwill, management strength, reputation, operations, and company culture. Inattention to intangible assets prevents businesses from successfully transitioning, which is why attending to these important aspects of business is a must to improve the value of a business.


The Four Intangible Capitals

Focusing on Value

It should be noted that value and income are not synonymous. Focusing on income keeps some business owners entrenched in maintaining their current lifestyle with little thought of their next chapter in life. Fortunately, focusing on the intangibles that add value to a business are best practices that should generate more income now while improving future value.

Business value improves through a cycle called value maturity. The Exit Planning Institute has developed a Value Maturity Index™ to help owners and advisors move through a value enhancement process called Value Acceleration Methodology™. This methodology begins by identifying the current value of a business, protecting the value by de-risking actions, and building the value through improving the intangible capitals of the business. Once the business value is in a growth curve, the owner can manage the business and further increase value or choose to harvest the value of the business through a transition event.


As you can see, exit planning is a comprehensive endeavor that requires meticulous preparation and a targeted approach. It’s not a step taken at the last moment; it’s a strategy woven into the fabric of your business. In the dynamic business world, where change is constant and the future uncertain, a well-crafted exit plan shields against unexpected storms. The exit isn’t an end; it’s a new beginning. Learn More.

Navigating the Future: 5 Essential De-Risking Strategies for Businesses

The business landscape constantly evolves, and businesses must be prepared for anything. That’s why it’s essential to have a strong de-risking strategy in place. De-risking strategies help companies to mitigate their risks and protect their assets.

5 Essential De-Risking Strategies

Here are five essential de-risking strategies that businesses should consider:

  1. Succession planning: A well-crafted succession plan ensures the business can thrive without key figures. This involves identifying and grooming internal talent and developing relationships with external candidates.
  2. Buy-sell agreements: Buy-sell agreements protect businesses from the financial and operational disruptions that can occur when a partner leaves. These agreements outline the terms and conditions under which a partner’s interest can be bought or sold.
  3. The 5 D’s of Exit Planning: The Exit Planning Institute cites the 5 D’s as death, disability, disagreements, distress, and divorce. Any of these can devastate a business. Planning appropriately for how the company will be transitioned when facing one of these challenges helps bring peace of mind when tragedy strikes.
  4. Risk mitigation strategies: Risk mitigation strategies help businesses identify and reduce risks. This can involve implementing internal controls, purchasing insurance, and complying with regulations.
  5. Financial contingency planning: Financial contingency planning helps businesses to weather unexpected financial challenges. This involves setting aside reserves and planning to reduce costs or raise additional capital.
Other De-Risking Strategies

In addition to the five essential de-risking strategies listed above, businesses can consider several other strategies. These include:

  • Cybersecurity preparedness: Businesses must be prepared for cyberattacks and data breaches. This involves investing in cybersecurity measures, training employees, and planning to respond to incidents.
  • Intellectual property protection: Businesses relying on intellectual property (IP) must protect their assets. This can involve registering trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
  • Diversification of revenue streams: Businesses should diversify their revenue streams to reduce their reliance on any one source of income. This can involve expanding into new markets, launching new products or services, or developing new partnerships.
  • Supplier and vendor management: Businesses must carefully manage their suppliers and vendors. This involves assessing their financial stability, operational efficiency, and contingency plans.
  • Regulatory compliance: Businesses need to comply with all applicable regulations. This can help to protect them from fines, penalties, and other legal challenges.

De-risking strategies are essential for businesses of all sizes. By implementing these strategies, companies can protect themselves from risks and ensure long-term success. Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPAs) can help you de-risk your business. Whalen has two CEPAs on their team who are happy to discuss these strategies with you.