What should small business owners be doing right now to prepare for tax season.
Automate your tax prep
In today's world, there are countless programs, apps and services available to help make tax time less of a burden. Using QuickBooks in your business to track your sales, expenses and other financial information helps to make the tax preparation process more streamlined. The way taxes should be dealt with is to automate the process. The earlier you proceed towards automation, the less time needed to work in tax season, which means more time remaining to focus on your business.
Review your business expenses
As every business owner knows, tax season means taking stock of the company's income, expenses and deductions. To get ahead of this task, business owners should do this throughout the year, thus ensuring a smooth ride when it comes time to file taxes.
The biggest part of preparing for taxes is what should already have been done which is keeping track of all business expenses throughout the year. If everything has been entered into your accounting system in a timely fashion, then the hardest part is done. If not, you need to set aside some time to gather and enter everything correctly."
Implementing a good filing system, is key to making sure you can easily locate and organize all your business expenses. Again, accounting software like QuickBooks Online is affordable option for small businesses looking to sync and track bank account activity, expenses and invoices.
Learn which tax law changes will affect you
Tax laws are constantly changing, and it's wise to stay alert and up-to-date on changes that could affect your business. Business owners need to recognize that new reporting requirements for the Affordable Care Act have begun to take effect, and if your company offers health insurance, you'll need to make sure you're meeting those requirements.
If you're unsure of what any tax law updates could mean for your business, be sure to consult your accountant.
Best practices for tax time
Understand your deductions and requirements. Consult with a tax preparer before the end of the year will help them clean things up, take better advantage of available deductions, and hopefully costs. For example, many owners may not be aware that the tax code only allows a 50 percent deduction for meals and entertainment. However, there is an allowed deduction of 100 percent for specific meals, like holiday parties, or when an employer provides a meal for employees at work, for the employer's convenience. Knowing how to track these items during the year will ensure the best possible deduction.
Think about how future plans will affect next year's numbers. Are you going to be selling your business next year? Speak with your accountant about the reporting method you use — cash basis or accrual basis. The method will impact your P&L [profits and losses]. When a buyer is looking at your business, less profit can influence whether they will buy.
Save up for tax-day liability costs. With no cash to cover the tax liability, the consequence is usually additional fines and penalties that would not have been accrued with proper planning and focus. Our recommendation is to create a separate bank account. As money comes in, set it aside into that account ... and when Tax Day comes, you have the cash on hand to cover your liability.
Know when to outsource. Many small businesses are successful due to their do-it-yourself approach to solving problems. Taxes are sometimes best left to the professionals. By hiring a professional, you ensure that they're done correctly, and free yourself up to continuing managing your primary business needs.