Intuit lobbies against small businesses

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With tax day behind us, small businesses across the country can finally move on to enjoying the warmth of spring. Unfortunately, the tax system has grown increasingly complex and burdensome for small businesses. According to a 2014 NSBA survey, more than 40% of businesses spend over 80 hours dealing with Federal Taxes. So, who is to blame for the pain small businesses endure year after year?

It’s not (entirely) the government’s fault

You can’t blame the federal government for not trying. However, past attempts by the federal government to simplify this nightmarish process have been futile. There has been no action on President Obama’s proposed legislation on return-free filing or pre-fill tax filings, where the IRS would compute your tax or pre-fill your tax forms based on the information already collected from employers, banks and other institutions.

The party pooper

As with any groundbreaking legislation, there is opposition and critics. Some say that the already overly burdened IRS is not in a position to take on this monumental task. Others say that the complex US tax laws prohibit such a filing system. With any contentious legislation, it is always interesting and surprising to see who opposes seemingly obvious reform. In the case of return-free tax filing, one of the biggest opponents is the tax preparation software maker, Intuit. According to opensecrets.org, Intuit had paid several million dollars to stymie moves by the government to offer return-free filing. A Forbes story says Intuit had derailed the California’s free electronic filing program and was influential in putting to sleep a similar program at Virginia.

What is Intuit is afraid of?

Intuit generates a major chunk of its $4 billion in revenue from sales of TurboTax, its popular tax preparation software package. Intuit certainly has a lot of reasons – over one billion of them - to keep the status quo. If there is a free alternative to Turbotax, Intuit’s ultimate revenue machine will be punctured.

Hey Intuit, leave the government alone

While offering tax preparation software solutions is not a core mission of the government, in this particular case its demanding citizens to comply with a complex tax code, and hence it’s obligated to offer all technological means to reduce this unwelcome burden. The idea of return free filing is not new; In fact, it’s prevalent in European countries like Denmark and Spain.

Resistance to changes in our tax system comes in many forms – no doubt it has been a political hot potato for decades. But, in the case of streamlining the arduous filing process for small businesses, the feet dragging is coming from big business – Intuit. We urge Intuit to allow the government to proceed with return free filing.

 

Zoho and the Heartbleed Vulnerability

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Quick note:
All Zoho servers are patched, and your data is safe.

The details:
Soon after the information about this vulnerability became known, we started patching all our servers using the newer, protected versions of OpenSSL. This operation was completed in a few hours after the news broke out. We renewed our SSL certificates too. So, we are no longer vulnerable.

As of now, we have no indication that the vulnerability has been exploited against any of the Zoho applications. However, we would like you to follow these safeguards.

1. Change your Zoho account passwords immediately.
2. To be doubly safe, enable Two Factor Authentication (TFA) for your accounts.

We will update this post, as and when we have more new info about the vulnerability.

Zoholics — Zoho Creator Hackathon

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developers-logo

Join us for the very first Zoho Creator Hackathon!

 

We’re kicking off our first Zoholics Developers event with a bang!
This will be an exclusive hackathon offered to our conference attendees before we meet up Thursday and Friday.
We are very excited for an occasion to celebrate the creative genius of Creator users, and there will be large prizes for the top three winners!

How do I start?  
If you haven’t already, register! Only conference attendees are eligible, and you can’t use an app that you made earlier.

What should I build?
We’re looking for new apps built with Zoho Creator that will be interesting to the community.

Submit your app:
Submit by sharing your apps with hackathon@zoholics.com by Thursday, March 20, 9am PDT. The Zoho Creator team will review all submissions and announce the winners at the event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Questions?  hackathon@zoholics.com
-Team Zoho

Official terms and conditions are here.

Get the Most Out of Your SXSW Interactive Experience

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sxswi-2104Every year it’s the same. You spend months looking at the schedule, planning your every move and RSVPing to dozens of parties; then, like footsteps in sand at high tide, SXSW Interactive is gone, and with it, your chance at networking with some of the most influential people in the world.

Where did the time go? Did you make the most of your week? Are you coming home with relevant connections that will move you and your business forward in the coming months and years?

If you’ve been to SXSW Interactive in the past, you know the pandemonium that is about to ensue starting today and lasting through next week. If this is your first SXSW, get ready for one of the most unique, exciting and physically draining experiences of your life.

In its 27 years, SXSW has gone from a music conference with roughly 300 badge holders to a music, film and interactive festival with over 50,000 attendees. There are movie stars, rock stars and technology stars who have launched some of the most celebrated works of art and creative ideas of the last decade.

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Gunning for Gold: Why Owning a Business is Like Training for the Olympics

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As a small business owner, one needs to stay inspired at all times. Everything around you motivates you to follow your dream and do anything you can to keep it alive. Watching a sporting event like the Winter Olympics, is a great reminder to stay committed to your business goals.

When we watch the Sochi events on YouTube or read about it in the news, rarely do we think about the preparation, the intense training these athletes had to undergo to be eligible for competing at the greatest sporting event in the world. We remember only the winners, the people who performed exceptionally well. We forget about the years, the decades of hard work that come down to just a few seconds.

Ever thought what you and a sportsperson training for the Olympics have in common?

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5 Sales Lessons from The Wolf of Wall Street

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wolf-of-wall-street1

I’m the antithesis of a movie snob. For me, movies are a source of entertainment. A chance to disappear from the real world and lose yourself in the characters and the plot for a couple hours. I don’t analyze every last detail. I don’t look for deeper meaning in every scene or scrutinize the cinematography. If I’m entertained, it’s a good movie in my book.

So when it comes to the Academy Awards — airing this Sunday night — I’m on the outside looking in for most nominees in the coveted, “Best Picture,” category.

Not this year.

For this first time ever, I made it a point to see as many of the nominees as possible. One of those was Martin Scorsese’s latest project “The Wolf of Wall Street.” If you haven’t seen or heard anything about this movie, it is the story of the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).

The picture received both critical acclaim as well as scrutiny due to its language and graphic content. I enjoyed the movie, but I do understand that it is not for everyone. The lives portrayed by DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and other actors are larger than life. At one point DiCaprio is sitting on his yacht and literally throwing $100 bills into the ocean calling them “fun coupons.” It’s the ultimate tale of excess and greed and the characters pay for it in the end.

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Work Smart and Play Smart with Zoho at SXSW Interactive 2014

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sxswblog (1)I’ve lived in Austin for eight years now, and every March it’s the same. Our city morphs into the epicenter of everything that is “cool.” From entrepreneurs and start up giants, to world-class musicians and actors, all eyes are on Austin for 10 days.

And we Austinites embrace it. So at Zoho, we decided to finally get out there and join the festivities. We want to meet as many of you as possible. We want to hear your stories. Most of all, we want to provide you with a place to relax, recharge and get your much-deserved share of free drinks (a must for SXSW goers).

Consider this your invitation to our first annual Zoho SXSW Interactive party. Look, we understand parties during SXSW are about as common as twentysomething festival attendees in tank tops and sunglasses, but think of this one as a cut above the rest.

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