Business Support

Keeping payroll, HR and financial records indefinitely dramatically increases the risk of identity theft by hackers.

Shred sensitive documents no longer needed and wipe them off computers, printers, copiers and other equipment. Don’t rely on using File Manager because they do not insure that the wiped data cannot be hacked. Be especially careful if your business donates, sells or returns leased equipment to other organizations.

Outside vendors that manage asset disposal can help, but they also pose risks. Choose a vendor that:

· conducts background checks on employees;
· offers risk indemnification;
· tracks assets during the disposal process; and
· disposes of your equipment in an environmentally responsible way.

Minimizing unnecessary storage

There are different guidelines for how long to keep business v. personal data:

General rules
Retain records that support items shown on your tax return at least until the statute of limitations runs out — generally three years from the due date of the return or the date you filed, whichever is later. However, there’s no statute of limitations if you fail to file a tax return or file a fraudulent one. So you’ll generally want to keep copies of your returns themselves permanently, so you can show that you did file a legitimate return.

· Employee records—keep for 3 years from termination.
· Employee earnings records—keep for at least 4 years after termination. For records involving unclaimed property, such as an unclaimed paycheck, check state laws.
· Timecards—keep for at least 3 years if your business engages in interstate commerce (i.e. is subject to the FLSA); at least several years, regardless.
· Employment tax records—keep for 4 years from the latter of the date the tax was due or the date the tax was paid.
· Travel and entertainment records—keep mileage logs, receipts and other supporting documents for 4 years (IRS rules).
· Sales tax returns—keep as long as state law requires.
· Business property—keep records that substantiate costs and deductions (purchase, depreciation, amortization and depletion documents) until the asset is sold, traded in or disposed of plus 7 years, according to IRS guidelines.

When in doubt, don’t throw it out
It’s easy to accumulate a mountain of paperwork (physical or digital) from years of doing business. If you’re unsure whether you should retain a document, a good rule of thumb is to hold on to it for at least six years or, for property-related records, at least seven years after you dispose of the property. But, again, you should keep tax returns themselves permanently, and other rules or guidelines might apply in certain situations.

Bookkeeping

It’s easy to lose track of deadlines and be scrambling at the last minute, or worse, forget! There’s nothing more frustrating than having to pay a fine that could have been avoided.

Below is a list of tax filing dates and important deadlines for the 2018 tax year. Take a few minutes to save each relevant filing date to your calendar.

January 17, 2018:
Estimated Quarterly Payments
Note: Individuals, you do not have to file this payment due on January 17, 2017—so long as you file your 2017 tax return by January 31, 2018 and pay the remaining balance owed with your return.

January 31, 2018
Form W-2 Filing Deadline
Form 1099-MISC Copy A Filing Deadline: If you are filing a Form 1099-MISC and reporting amounts in Box 7, this deadline applies to you.
Copy A must be filed with the IRS by this date. Copy B must be furnished to the contractor no later than February 15, 2018.
If you don’t have amounts in Box 7 on your Form 1099, February 28 is the deadline for paper filing or March 31 for electronic filing.

February 15, 2018
Form 1099-MISC Copy B Filing Deadline

February 28, 2018
Form 1099-MISC Copy A Filing Deadline
If you work with independent contractors, this filing deadline applies to certain types of 1099s. If you are filing Form 1099-MISC and don’t have amounts in Box 7, February 28 is the deadline for paper filing. March 31 is the deadline for electronic filing.

March 15, 2018
S Corporation and Partnership Tax Returns Due

April 17, 2018
Estimated Quarterly Payments
Individual Tax Returns Due
Corporation Tax Returns Due

June 15, 2018
Estimated Quarterly Payments

September 17, 2018
Estimated Quarterly Payments

December 31, 2018
Tax Moves Deadline- any tax saving moves for the year need to be done by today.
Deadline to set Up a Solo 401 (k)

The filing dates listed above are relevant to your business’s federal tax return. If you plan to file for an extension of state taxes, you’ll need to do that separately.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to meet other filing deadlines and requirements not listed in this post. Do your research and work with your tax preparer early on to ensure you’re well aware of your filing obligations throughout the year.

Bookkeeping, Business Support

If you’re like most businesses, your fiscal year ends on December 31. Make sure you’re not stuck at your desk frantically pulling files while everyone else is out celebrating the holidays— start early.

Just follow this list of to-dos, marking them off as you complete them. Then enjoy the end of the year with clients, friends and family.

 

Bookkeeping

It is important to make sure that your books are up to date. This not only makes tax preparation a breeze, but it also gives you important insight on the health of your business. Without accurate books you can't tell if you are making a profit, spending too much on overhead or have customers that owe you money.

Follow these 3 steps to get your books caught up

  1. Make sure that all of your transactions are entered in your accounting system. Pro tip: if you connect your bank account to your accounting platform, this will be automatically done for you.
  2. Make sure that transactions are allocated to the correct categories- this step will help you find tax deductions.
  3. Reconcile your bank accounts- this step is important to make sure that transactions cleared the bank for the correct amount and to ensure that there aren't any duplicated entries or other errors.
  4. Make End of Year Journal Entries- your bookkeeper will take care of this, if you DIY your bookkeeping you can research how to do this or hire a bookkeeper for a Year End Review of your books to make sure that they are accurate and adding adjusting journal entries.

If you haven't been keeping up with your bookkeeping and don't have the time to do it yourself, don't wait until the last minute. Your bookkeeper and tax preparer get very busy at this time of year and rushing can lead to unnecessary stress and increases the risk of costly mistakes.

Contact me if you need help getting your books caught up.

Taxes

The more disorganized your information is, the bigger the tax bill (not to mention, your tax preparer's) will be, now is the time to be proactive.  If you did the bookkeeping steps above, you are halfway there.

  1. Know when the dates for filing taxes are due. Noting the due dates for the year in advance will help you set a schedule. Mark them on your calendar and formulate a plan for making sure you are ready when they come around.
  2. Make sure that you send W-2 to your employees and 1099 forms to your contractors by the deadline.
  3. Complete bank reconciliations. This should have already been completed in the section above, if it hasn't yet, don't delay! This is important to ensure that the correct income will be reported and potential deductions recorded for when you need to know them.
  4. Set up a meeting in December with your CPA or tax preparer. This will allow you to create a plan of attack and give you and your tax preparer a chance to discuss potential problem areas. Request a list of what they will need from you, any templates they’d like you to use and copies of last year’s working papers for reference. Ask for clarification on anything that’s unclear before things get busy.
  5. If you plan to do your own taxes, research what items you will need and what software you will use.

 

Business Health

Take a moment to check the pulse of your business.  The beginning of the year is usually the best time to make needed adjustments.

1- Review your business structure to ensure it’s still a good fit
Have you outgrown your sole proprietorship or other current legal structure? If you decide to make a change, the first of the year is the time to do it.

2- Revisit your business plan and adjust it accordingly
Update your privacy statement, add new sales targets, and create or update customer policies. This simple act focuses your thoughts and ensures that your goals align with your company's current state.

3- Review your marketing plan (or create one if you don't already have one)
Is your advertising paying off? It's fun to implement new advertising strategies but with all the other hats you wear, it’s easy to forget to look back at what worked, what should be stopped, and what should be kept and improved. Analyze your marketing channels and see if you are getting a return on investment. This includes print materials (brochures, business cards), social media presence, online advertising, sponsorships, print ads, etc.

4- Review your Website
Take a look at your website, does it look outdated? are parts not working? Is it mobile friendly?
If your website is made with WordPress, when is the last time that core, plugin and theme updates were installed? Do you have backups?

A secure and updated website is critical for your business' reputation and can impact your revenue. Make sure that all security patches available have been applied and that you have current backups. Plan any redesigns or repairs to ensure that your business' virtual presence is modern and professional.  Contact me if you need help with your website.

 

 

The above content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Bookkeeping

Your bookkeeper can ensure that your books are always up to date.What does your business' accounting have to do with your car's maintenance?  A lot.
 
Most people take their car for regular oil changes and tune-ups to keep it running smoothly and prevent a costly repair.  On the other hand, many small business owners treat their bookkeeping like a major car repair, they wait for a problem (such as a tax deadline) to occur and then they reach out to a professional to fix it.
 
That is not the best approach to treat your business' books.  Sure, your accountant is a skilled professional and well qualified to repair your books from months or years of neglect but they can help you better if you approach your business accounting like an oil change. Do it often, with a series of smaller and less expensive sessions.   Monthly is a good frequency for many small businesses but some very new or very small businesses can get away with a quarterly bookkeeping update.
 
There are several benefits to this approach:
* It's cheaper- when you use a bookkeeper, you are not stuck paying your tax preparer/CPA up to 3 times the rate that a bookkeeper charges to clean up the mess
 
* It's fast-  regular bookkeeping keeps your finances running smoothly, your bookkeeper can clean up small issues as they come up instead of letting them accumulate.
 
* It's informative- just like an oil change inspection can let you know if something in your car needs attention, like a brake replacement. Up to date books give you a current snapshot of the financial health of your company so you can make informed decisions about investment, clients that are past due, expenses that could be trimmed,  and any other adjustments needed to the cash flow.
 
* Easy tax filing- your tax preparer can quickly complete your return (or do it faster yourself) when everything has already been allocated and organized throughout the year.
 
 
This all adds up to less stress, less hassle, and less cost, especially when you factor in extra deductions that your tax preparer can find for you when your books are clean and up to date.