Sunday, December 30, 2012

Renting Your Vacation Home

Learn about when and how to report rental income from a vacation home such as a house, condominium, mobile home or boat.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Charitable Contributions

If you've made any donations to charity this year, you'll want to learn some important rules about deducting charitable contributions on your tax return.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Year-End Tax Tips For Independent Contractors and Self-Employed Workers Who Need Income Tax Relief

With the recession and surging unemployment swelling the ranks of people reinventing themselves, millions of taxpayers are setting up home-based businesses and providing their services as self-employed independent contractors. Whether your new self-employed independent contractor status is a temporary measure or part of your long-planned road map to fortune and glory, there are tax dangers (plus surprisingly lucrative income tax relief) that should grab the attention of every self-employed independent contractor.
We know the IRS is targeting self-employed independent contractors. The government estimates that 85% of the $345 billion tax gap is due to self-employed individuals - freelance professionals and independent contractors who don't get a 1099 the way large business employees do. Being a self-employed independent contractor means you're the boss, unfortunately it also means you're the one on the hook for any problems with back taxes. How you handle your back tax problems will not only determine whether your business will succeed, but it also carries the real threat of jail time if you get it wrong.
To learn more ways to legitimately maximize deductions while avoiding IRS problems, check out Part 2 of this series on Tax Help Tips for Saving Money on Taxes for Freelance Professionals and Self-Employed Individuals.
Read on for my best year-end tax help tips to show self-employed independent contractors how to get the biggest income tax relief possible.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #1: Did you owe back taxes because you made a mistake in your quarterly estimated taxes? If you've spent your life working as an employee, you may be delighted that the first money you receive as a self-employed independent contractor is a flat fee without any taxes taken out. But your joy should be short-lived, this is a case of the taxman being delayed but not denied.
Contact a tax attorney to make sure you have structured your business correctly. If you haven't gotten tax help from a tax attorney yet, there is still time to structure your business to get the maximum income tax relief before the year end. (After that you're stuck with your mistakes. Well, mostly. A good tax attorney or tax resolution specialist can still get you out of back tax trouble, but the best approach is to avoid owing back taxes in the first place.)
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #2: Are YOU really a self-employed independent contractor? Many businesses (large and small) mislabel their employees as "self-employed independent contractors" to get income tax relief and sidestep a host of state and federal laws. If your boss has you misclassified as a self-employed independent contractor and you file as one, you could be in a heap of trouble when the IRS comes knocking on either your door or your boss's door to collect back taxes. Suddenly, all those lovely deductions go out the window and your tax bill explodes. If you feel your boss has misclassified you as a self-employed independent contractor, contact a tax attorney or tax resolution specialist immediately for some self-employed independent contractor back tax help before the year ends.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #3: Are your subcontractors really self-employed independent contractors or are THEY employees? While you may be a true self-employed independent contractor, you need to establish whether your subcontractors are self-employed independent contractors or employees. According to IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2009-20, "the cost of misclassification to employers in additional taxes, as well as administrative time, or the loss of tax-favored status for employee benefit plans, can be steep." If you're not sure, contact a tax attorney or tax resolution specialist to get tax help immediately.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #4: Want to get income tax relief on your 2009 self-employed independent contractor work by delaying paying taxes until 2011? For a host of income tax relief reasons, a self-employed independent contractor might want to defer getting paid until next year. If you did work in 2009 but don't want to pay 2009 taxes on it, simply wait to invoice your clients until January 1, 2010. This 2009 income tax relief technique is perfectly legal for self-employed independent contractors as long as you pay taxes on that income in your 2010 tax return.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #5: Get that root canal before New Year's. The secret to income tax relief is just like the secret to great comedy...timing. A self-employed independent contractor's medical expense deduction is limited to 7.5% of the self-employed independent contractor's adjusted gross income. If you haven't reached that cap yet, go have those dental procedures or that bit of elective surgery (we're not just talking about that nose, the swimsuit season will be here again before you know it). As long as you're under that 7.5% limit, you can get income tax relief from your standard variety medical expense deductions. A little known year-end income tax relief tip - you don't even have to pay for the medical procedures before January 1, 2010. Just put the medical charges on plastic and pay the minimum balance. As long as you had the procedures in 2009, the deduction is good. If your medical expenses are already over the 7.5% level of your self-employed independent contractor's adjusted gross income, you should delay breaking your leg until January 1st, 2010.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #6: Pay your state taxes before the ball drops. As a self-employed independent contractor, one of the best income tax relief strategies is to pay your state estimated tax before December 31st. If you pay by December 31, 2009 you get the deduction (on your federal return) in 2009. You can also charge these expenses on your credit card(s) in 2009 and receive the deduction in 2009, even though you won't be paying for them until 2010. If you are having issues paying your estimated state taxes, a tax attorney can give you tax help to get the maximum income tax relief possible.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #7: Make your stock market losses work to your advantage. If your personal portfolio has taken a nose dive, realize your tax losses before New Year's Eve. Long term capital losses can be used to offset long term capital gains, and up to $3,000 of ordinary income, with any remainder carried forward for use in future years. This is about getting income tax relief not whether you made the right investment choices. If you still believe those stocks will go up again, buy them back on January 1st. Keep in mind that some mutual funds can have high capital gains distributions even as they lose money. The best income tax relief advice is to ditch these first because they are hitting you with a double whammy. As a self-employed independent contractor you have access to some of the best retirement accounts out there like a SEP-IRA. To understand which investing should be done as part of a retirement account, and which should be in your personal portfolio and when to take losses for maximum income tax relief, get tax help from an experience CPA or tax attorney.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #8: Give your personal gifts before Rudolph goes flying. As a self-employed independent contractor, you can give a friend or family member up to $13K annually before the year end without having to pay gift taxes. (Your spouse can give that same amount to the same individual.) You can also give that same amount to your child's or grandchild's tax-free 529 education plan. If you haven't funded such a plan yet, you can make a single contribution covering five years of gifting. That's $65,000 you can give per donor per recipient tax-free. (Your spouse can match that contribution as well.)
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #9: Give gifts to clients: Gifts to clients are limited to $25 per recipient per year, BUT if the gift has your embossed logo on it and tells about your services, it isn't a gift, it is an advertising or promotional expense. There is a fine line here, a quick call to a CPA or tax attorney for year-end tax help will help you stay on the right side of the law.
Year-End Income Tax Relief Tip #10: Take your retirement contribution to the max. Self-employed independent contractors have the best income tax relief vehicle the federal government has ever offered. While individual worker contributions to a simple IRA max out at $11,500, if you're under 50 in 2010 ($14,000 if you're over 50), how is this for serious income tax relief, as a self-employed independent contractor you can use SEP-IRAs to contribute 25% of your wages (or up to 20% of your Schedule C income) up to a maximum of $49,000. The income tax relief to a self-employed independent contractor are massive. A tax lawyer or CPA an give you the tax help to set up the right retirement vehicle for you.
I know that this is a long list but the income tax relief you can get from just paying attention to the calendar is huge. These 20 self-employed independent contractor tax help tips can make the difference between being a Grinch and having a Happy New Year. Your call.

Article Source:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Year End Tax Tips

Business owners quickly turn their focus at the end of the year towards their small business taxes. We have provided a number of helpful tips for small business owners that can pay significant dividends for the following year.
Update Your Accounting
Although you know it is a wise move to always make sure your books are up-to-date, sometimes they are not as accurate as they should be due to all of the other tasks you find yourself doing on a daily basis. Understand your company's financial situation by keeping accurate and up-to-date books. Meet with your accountant for end of the year advice that could be beneficial to your organization.
Defer Income
If your cash flow can handle deferred income, it would be a good move to defer any income until after the New Year. Any payments to your company after the New Year will help cut your tax bill for that year. A deferral strategy should be developed by you and your accountant, and is based mainly in part to how your organization is structured (LLC, partnership, corporation, etc.).
Spend More
If our cash flow permits it (remember, cash is king!), don't wait to make a purchase you know you will need for the following year. Go ahead and purchase the products or services you know your business will need for the immediate future. This will help maximize deductions for the year. Some of the expenses you may need to purchase could include office supplies, paying off bills early, repairs and maintenance, and equipment purchases such as computers or machinery.
Write-Off Inventory
You company can enjoy the added deductions of any inventory you may have that has been damaged or are no longer in use.
Contribute to a Retirement Plan
A great way to reduce your income for this year is to set up a retirement plan or simply making additional payments to your plan before the end of the year. If you are making contributions to a retirement plan, check the contribution limits for your specific plan (401(k), Roth IRA, etc.). Consult with your accountant or financial planner about the best strategy for you when you are thinking about starting or contributing to your retirement plan.
The items listed above are some simple tax tips that could benefit your business at the end of the year. Talk to your accountant about specific strategies that could work with your business.

Article Source:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

End of Year Tax Preparation - What Does Your CPA Need - Really?

It is that time of year again when you are ready to think about what you need to give to your bookkeeper or accountant. Here is a simple and easy to understand list of the paperwork and the reports that person needs to help them prepare your taxes as easily and 'pain free' as possible. No need to put things off this tax season.
Most accounting software programs are very much the same when it comes to running reports so you'll find the steps below similar for other programs too. The Secret to getting this done is in setting aside a half day to do it in. If you wait you pay extra for a "Rush" job, also known as a PIA fee by all bookkeepers and accountants alike. Yes, if you procrastinate then you are an entertaining and anonymous topic of conversation at lunch meetings!
End of Year Information To Prepare For Your Accountant:
1 - All 1099/1096, W-2, W-3 Information on you and your business
2 - December Previous year and January current year Bank Statements and reconciliation reports
3 - Petty Cash reconciliations
4 - Credit Card charges and End of Year Finance Charges
5 - List of Inventory and Assets
6 - Mileage
7 - Home business Use breakouts
8 - Payroll Reports from payroll company
9 - Quarterly reporting tax forms
10 - Draw and investment or payroll information on partners or shareholders
11 - End of Year Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss Statement and Trial Balance
To Retrieve These Reports From Your Accounting Software:
1 - Open company
2 - On menu across top
Click on: REPORTS
3 - On the reports menu
Click on: Company and Financial
4 - Pick the date range of "last fiscal year"
5 - On the reports menu
Click on: Company and Financial
6 - Pick the date range of "last fiscal year"
7 - On the reports menu
Click on: Company and Financial
8 - Pick the date range of "last fiscal year"
9 - On the reports menu
Click on: Accountant and taxes
10 - Pick the date range of "last fiscal year"
11 - On the reports menu
Click on: Employees and Payroll
12 - Pick the date range of "last fiscal year"
13 - "Run" and "Print" all these reports and make a copy for your file and your CPA
(This menu example was taken from the reports section of an accounting software program that is considered the 'industry standard" to most CPA professionals and bookkeepers).
Now you can make that appointment with your tax person and sit back and enjoy the stories you are about to hear from those people who will wait until the last minute to get their paperwork ready and who are slamming their heads against a wall trying to get their reports done. If you took my advice then about now, you may be asking yourself... where is that wine opener anyway!?

Article Source:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

QuickBooks Tips - Year End Tasks for Filing Taxes

The end of the year always adds even more tasks to your already busy schedule, and sometimes it is simply overwhelming and I've often been asked - "What do I need to do?"
Intuit has built a very good "QuickBooks Year-End Guide/Checklist" and it's included right in your QuickBooks program by going to the Help Menu and choosing Year-End Guide.  Over the next few days, we'll cover each topic listed in the Year-End Guide, and offer some additional tips on each of the three sections: Tasks to prepare for filing taxes, Tasks to do if you use subcontractors, Tasks to do if you have employees and some Tips for the upcoming year.
Tasks to prepare for filing taxes:
Reconcile all bank and credit card accounts - now really you should have been doing this every month...but if for some reason it's been several months since these accounts were reconciled here's a quick way to reconcile multiple months all at once - accurately.
  1. Determine which month was the last month that was reconciled.
  2. Gather all of your bank or credit card statements and put them in order; oldest on top and most recent on the bottom.  If you don't have all the statements, please don't be tempted to just "skip" that month, contact the bank and ask for a copy, or if you have on-line banking capabilities get a copy off the internet.
  3. In QuickBooks go to the Banking Menu and choose Reconcile.
  4. In the Begin Reconciliation window
    • Choose the Account you wish to reconcile (you can choose either your bank account or your credit card account) from the drop down Account List.
    • The Statement Date should be the ending date of your most recent statement.
    • The Beginning Balance should be the same as the Beginning Balance of your oldest statement.  If for some reason the amounts are not the same, click the link that says "What if my beginning balance doesn't match my statement?" and follow the instructions in the QuickBooks Help file to determine what is wrong and how to correct the problem.
    • The Ending Balance should be the amount shown as the ending balance on your most recent bank statement.
    • Enter any Service Charge for the most current statement only - (we'll put the rest in manually), please don't be tempted to "add them all up" and put that amount here.
    • Enter any Interest Earned for the most current statement only - (we'll put the rest in manually), please don't be tempted to "add them all up" and put that amount here.
    • Click the Continue button which will bring you to the Reconciliation window.
    • To enter Service Charges and/or Interest Earned for additional months, leaving the reconciliation window open, from the Banking Menu - choose Use Register and enter the transactions individually using the closing date of the statement as the date of the entry.  Additionally you might want to create "Other Names" called Bank Service Charge and Interest to use in the Payee Field when recording these transactions, just to make reconciling easier.
  5. Working from the statements, oldest one first, just go through and check off each deposit and check until you are finished.
  6. If you find checks or deposits on the statements that are not in your QuickBooks file, go to the Banking Menu and choose Use Register, record the transaction with its original date, assigning the amount to either Ucategorized Income or Uncategorized Expenses - so that later you can run a Year to Date Profit and Loss Report, zoom in on those accounts and find the hard copy of the original transaction and correct the entry or entries.
Verify petty cash entries for the tax year - again, this is something that you should be doing every month, but if you have several months that you need to reconcile, it can be accomplished following the instructions above.
Make year-end accrual adjustments and corrections - I usually suggest that you work with your accountant on these matters.
Close your books - I usually suggest that you close your books for the fiscal year with a password - only the QuickBooks Administrator can do this, but it does prevent accidental changes to already reconciled transactions by others.  Of course, the QuickBooks Administrator can make changes to transactions as required and a closing date exception report can be generated by going to the Reports Menu, choosing Accountant & Taxes, and then selecting the Closing Date Exception Report.  With QuickBooks 2011 you don't need to worry about this effecting Non-Posting transactions such as Estimates & Purchase Orders.
Adjust Retained Earning - QuickBooks does this automatically, so there should be no need for you to have to do this manually.
Review details of all new equipment purchased during the year - if you are using QuickBooks Premier (including Premier Contractor, Manufacturing, etc.) you should and can enter details about your fixed asset purchases by going to the Lists Menu and choosing Fixed Asset Item List - otherwise you will have to track these items on an Excel Worksheet, a Word Document, or in QuickBooks itself by adding Sub-Accounts to your main Fixed Asset account for each piece of Equipment that was purchased and adding as much detail as possible in the Name, Description, and Notes boxes.
Make all asset depreciation entries and adjustments - I usually suggest that you work with your accountant on these matters.
Review fringe benefits that need to be reported on Form W-2 - Fringe benefits can include Health and Life insurance, public transportation subsidies, moving expense reimbursements, employer provided vehicles, educational reimbursements plans, group-term life insurance, employee loans that are forgiven, and Union Fringe Benefits.  If you aren't sure if any of the benefits that you offer your employees should be included on their W-2's consult your accountant.
Take a physical inventory and reconcile with book inventory - it is important that you take a year end physical inventory; I usually suggest that you include a copy of that physical inventory sheet for your accountant and let them give you the appropriate adjusting entries to record in QuickBooks.
Print financial reports - from the QuickBooks Year-End Guide/Checklist click on this topic for reports to print.  Keep in mind that these reports will not have adjusting entries from your accountant and that amounts will change.  I would recommend that when you create the suggested reports that you modify them and add a report subtitle called "Prior to Adjusting Entries".  After you have entered the adjusting entries from your accountant, rerun these same reports adding a new subtitle called "After Adjusting Entries".
Print income tax reports to verify tax tracking - from the QuickBooks Year-End Guide/Checklist click on this topic for an explanation of what is involved for this action item.  You should ask your accountant for help in setting up the correct tax tracking for each item on your Chart of Accounts.
Import your tax-related data to Turbo Tax or ProSeries - from the QuickBooks Year-End Guide/Checklist click on this topic for an explanation.  If you do not prepare your own tax returns you can definitely skip this section.
Print and mail forms W-2, W-3, 1099, 940, 941, and 1096 - remember you no longer need to buy pre-printed W-2 and W-3 forms as QuickBooks will print these forms on plain paper; you will still need to purchase preprinted 1099 and 1096 forms.
Archive and back up your data - backing up your data is something that you should be doing on a very regular basis as part of a disaster recovery plan in the event of computer virus, computer failure, etc.
Archiving your data is something that you should do if your file is large - contains more than 3 years of data - although some businesses will have extremely large files after only 2 years.  Creating a new company file each year is not necessary and not recommended for contractors; you probably have jobs that span over the course of 2 calendar years or more and you will want access to complete details relating to those jobs for job costing reports.  There are, howeve,r times when creating a new file is appropriate, such as you have several years of data with early years containing lots of data entry errors, or your data file has become damaged and cannot be repaired.

Article Source:

Monday, December 3, 2012

How The New Tax Laws Might Impact Your Finances

Taxpayers (and tax professionals) are facing a unique set of challenges as the November Presidential election approaches and end-of-the-year tax planning looms. If Congress and the White House fail to act by December 31st, favorable Bush-era tax cuts will expire, along with a variety of business and investment tax breaks, raising income tax rates to levels last seen in 2001.
Unfortunately, our current political and legislative environment only adds to the uncertainty as Republicans and Democrats are both hesitant to act until they know who will occupy the White House next year. This political gridlock combined with a fragile economy and the possibility of rising tax rates has been dubbed by many as Taxmageddon. So what does all this mean for taxpayers? How will the 2012 tax filing season be affected and what approach should taxpayers take for tax planning in 2013? Our best advice is to stay informed of the possible changes that may affect your business and your personal tax position.
Staying in the Know
Many favorable tax provisions expired at the end of 2011. Unless Congress acts and passes retroactive changes by December 31st, many taxpayers will be affected by the following expired provisions when filing their 2012 income tax returns. Historically, many of these temporary provisions have been extended, but this year there is no guarantee that Congress will take action in time.
1. Increase in the alternative minimum tax exemption (AMT Patch),
2. Deduction for state and local tax for itemized filers,
3. Deduction for PMI (premium mortgage insurance) for itemized filers,
4. Provision for Tax - free IRA withdrawals for charitable donations (for those over age 70 ½ ).
Another handful of provisions are set to expire by the end of 2012, and it is unlikely that Congress will address these provisions until after the Presidential election. The IRS warns that late-year law changes make for an administrative nightmare and often result in delayed filings. While taxpayers (and the IRS) remain hopeful for tax reform, we may not see progress until late December making tax planning nearly impossible. Expiring provisions include the following:
1. Bush-era tax cuts in marginal income tax rates,
2. Reduced tax rates on dividends and long-term capital gains,
3. Marriage penalty relief provisions,
4. Expanded refundable credits for the child tax, adoption and earned income credit
5. The moratoria on the phase outs of itemized deductions,
6. The payroll tax cut, which reduced an employee's share of Social Security taxes by two percentage points, and
7. A variety of previously extended temporary tax provisions (tax extenders) which affect individuals, businesses, charities, energy, community development, and disaster relief.
What's New For 2013?
Despite the uncertainty of what will happen to the expired and expiring tax provisions, the recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act will affect taxpayers beginning January 1, 2013. This ruling requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014. To fund this health care mandate, the following two items will be effective in 2013.
Medicare Tax Increase: Beginning in 2013, higher-income taxpayers will be subject to an additional 0.9% tax on earned income. The tax applies to income in excess of a single person's wage and self-employment income over $200,000, or a married couple exceeding $250,000. There is no employer match as this tax increase is entirely paid by the employee or the self-employed individual. There will be employer withholding, but if you are self-employed, you will need to build this into your quarterly tax estimates.
Investment Tax Increase: Beginning in 2013, higher income individuals with net investment income will be subject to a 3.8% tax of the lesser of two amounts: net investment income or the excess of the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income over a $200,000/$250,000 threshold amount. Net investment income includes Interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents, income from a passive business, capital gains and other net gains from the sale of property.
So, Now What?
So what does all this mean for you as a taxpayer and how will this impact your tax planning for 2012 and 2013? The threat of Taxmageddon is real and will likely affect every American household, regardless of income. It's important for each taxpayer to understand that the outcome of the Presidential election coupled with the potential tax law changes make for a foggy and unpredictable future. Today, due to this uncertainty, your trusted tax advisor may not have answers to all of your tax questions and tax concerns.
While taking the most conservative planning approach, by assuming all of the laws will expire or will not be extended, may cause you to pay higher than necessary estimated tax payments or to withhold too much federal tax from your wages, taking a more aggressive approach could cause you to have an unprecedented tax liability at the end of the tax year, as well as additional penalties. Taking a middle ground approach, may put you into either one of the aforementioned predicaments. In the end, it all comes down to being flexible and "staying in the know" so that whatever the outcome, you are prepared, ready to act quickly, and can make educated decisions.

Article Source:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Where to Invest My Money - Don't Give Yourself Option Anxiety

One of the questions I hear every single day is "Where should I invest my money"? When you are just beginning your investment journey this is a very important question as it is vital that you get off to a good start. Too many people have one bad experience with investing and then turn their back on it for the rest of their lives. When you are learning where to invest your money the most common problem is that you have too many options.
I like to call this problem 'Option Anxiety"
The definition of option anxiety is when you have so many options to choose from that you start getting anxious about which one you are going to choose. Pretty soon you are incredibly stressed about which option you are going to take. All of the options start to look pretty good but you just can't make up your mind. In the end you decide that all these options are simple too stressful and its much easier to do nothing. Does this sound familiar? It really is quite a bizarre thing but I'm sure everybody has experienced it at some stage.
When I first began my investing career I used to always get option anxiety when deciding where to invest my money. Should I invest my money in the stock market, should I invest my money in real estate, should invest my money in the bank - quite simply WHERE should I invest my money.
If you too suffer from option anxiety then don't worry, it is an easy problem to solve. There are two main reasons why most people get anxious when they are investing their money for the first time.
1. The most obvious reason is because they have worked extremely hard for their money and they don't want to loose it. This is a very natural emotion as nobody likes losing money. If you come from a family that didn't encourage investing then deciding that you want to invest can be an incredibly big accomplishment in itself.
2. When we are doing things that we don't really understand we get scared. This is totally normal and in fact a very sensible thing to feel. If humans didn't get a little bit scared when we were doing foreign things then we might get ourselves into a lot of trouble very quickly. In saying this it is very important that we don't let this natural fear hold us back form doing anything.
So how did I overcome these problems and decide where to invest my money. I picked an investment strategy that I was comfortable with and then I built up my knowledge and got some expert advice. Pretty soon after that I was addicted to investing. So you are probably asking "how can I learn where to invest my money".
Well the first thing to do is to decide which kind of investment you think you are most suited to. The obvious two choices are Property & Shares. As a general rule you will need more money to get into the property market (although this is not always the case) so it is often a good idea to start with the stock market. Once you have decided what option you would like to take I recommend that you start building your knowledge in that area and then once you have a general idea of what you want to achieve you can start looking for an expert to help you even further.
Don't feel like you need to do everything on your own. Deciding where to invest your money is a very big choice so there is no harm in asking other people for help. If you wanted to become a dentist I don't think you would assume that you could learn how to do it without getting an education from somewhere, would you? So what are you waiting for? There are thousands of free investment resources on the internet all you need to do is to find them, use them and then in turn you will begin to break down your fear of investing. Remember to become successful you need to grow and develop and the best way to do this is to increase your knowledge.

Article Source:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meet The Angels!

Sylvia Barata, Owner/President, Enrolled Agent
Sylvia started her tax career with the Internal Revenue Service. While there she answered tax questions, instructed IRS employees, monitored the toll-free line for accuracy, supervised, and made public appearances as the Media Relations tax expert. She was recognized for her expertise with many awards, including "Federal Employee of the Year." After 10 years, she decided to open her own company, Affordable Tax Service, and in 1985 became an Enrolled Agent. For nearly 35 years Sylvia has been preparing both individual and business tax returns. With her extensive knowledge, Sylvia often assists clients with personal finance planning customized to their needs. She is also trained in the special rules for clergy, people with disabilities, foreign tax issues, and small business needs. Sylvia is dedicated to bringing her clients the best service available. She and her staff of Tax Angels work diligently to help clients reach their goals.
Anne Arms, Enrolled Agent
Anne has been a tax preparer for over 30 years. She brought her considerable skills to the ATS team in 2001. She began her career as a tax preparer, office supervisor, and course instructor for a well-known national tax franchise, then worked as a tax preparer for a private firm before joining ATS. She is also an Enrolled Agent and is very active in the California Society of Enrolled Agents where she served two years as Secretary and now chairs the Education Committee. She served the North Bay Chapter of Enrolled Agents as President in 2002-2003. And she was also the Charter President of the newly formed Solano-Napa Chapter in 2006-2007. Her specialty here at ATS is preparing returns for individuals and fiduciary returns for estates and trusts.
Rudy Ramirez, CT Tech, California Tax Preparer
Deborah Wilson, Client Relations Specialist
Deborah joined ATS in January, 2008. She earned her "ANGEL" wings by providing professional support, and outstanding service to ATS employees, clients and prospective clients. With Deborah, you are guaranteed enthusiastic support and friendly service with a smile.
Mitzi Martinsen, "Girl Friday"
Mitzi first came to ATS as receptionist in 1994 while still in high school. She provided friendly service to ATS clients for two tax seasons, after which she sprouted her wings and left for a life of change and growth. Fifteen years later Mitzi returned to ATS in January 2010 to earn her angel wings as the newest staff member and proudly takes on the title of "Girl Friday." She buzzes around the office providing backup support and assistance to all ATS staff and clients. Her spunk and bubbly personality keeps ATS always smiling.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Intuit QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 Overview

Know more and do more with QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013. Put the sales, inventory and customer information you need to run your retail store at your fingertips.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Selling Your Home

Find out what you need to know tax-wise if you sell your home. For more information, read Publication 523 on

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Haven't Filed a Tax Return in Years?

If you haven't filed a tax return in the past few years, find out how you can get all caught up with your taxes.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Preparing for Disasters

When disaster strikes, you want to be sure you're prepared. This video has tips for safeguarding important documents in preparation for an emergency.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Use QuickBooks to Your Advantage As a Business Owner

Have you ever purchased and used software that someone recommended to you, only to find out that, you were not using it correctly or to its full potential? I think that today, where computers and software basically run every facet of our lives, that we all have experienced this.
Now it might be easy for someone with formal experience with a certain software program to say, "Just read the manual and figure it out ". But in reality, if you have no experience with the software and no experience with the functions of the software, then the task of "reading a manual and figuring it out" can be very cumbersome.
Many business owners have invested considerable amounts on software to run their business only to find out that they were not using it correctly or to its full potential. In my opinion, one of the most important software programs that a business should utilize correctly and to its full potential is its accounting software.
Honestly, what could be more important to a business owner than keeping track of the business's profitability and or bottom line? This brings me to my point which is the significance of Quickbooks clean up. Quickbooks clean up is extremely significant for several reasons but there are two primary reasons that I feel are more significant than the others. These reasons are credibility and cost efficiency.
1st Primary Reason: Credibility 
After all, a non credible financial statement is basically a piece of paper with a group of numbers on it with no meaning at all. What makes a business's financial statements credible? There are several aspects, but in the essence of time I will cover what I think are the 2 major aspects:
Account classification
No matter how accurate your financial statements may be, if you are using a liability account as an expense account or an asset account as a liability account, you are going to lose credibility to whomever may be examining your company's financials. Having a professional look through your chart of accounts to make sure that you are using the appropriate accounts and that they in their suitable place might sound immaterial, but proper presentation goes a long way.
Accurate financials can help a company in various ways. When a company is looking to increase their capital, the 2 major ways of accomplishing this, is by looking for investors or by applying for a loan at a financial institution. Either way, the investor or the financial institution is going to want to examine your company's financials. These financials will be scrutinized to no end because no one is going to just give you their money. Having a professional look through your Quickbooks file to make sure that your transactions are recorded accurately and properly will insure that no matter how vigorous anyone's dissection of your financials may be, you will be confident in the fact that what you have provided is a proper presentation of the transactions that took place.
2nd Primary Reason: Cost efficiency 
As stated above, the main reason why a business owner wants to keep track of what happens in his or her day-to-day transactions is to increase his or her bottom line. Cost efficiency is assisted principally by accuracy. The "bottom line" can be affected through:
Budgeting & Tax Planning
No one can see into the future to know with 100% accuracy what the performance of their company will be. However, budgeting is a way of anticipating the performance of your company in the future and tax planning is a way of anticipating future tax consequences. Observing trends from accurate financial information can create budgets and tax plans that a business owner can rely on to make decisions to increase its profitability and decrease its future tax liabilities.
Ease of professional services preformed
Fees for services such as Tax preparation or Audits and Reviews of company financials can be significantly decreased. By having a professional clean up your Quickbooks file there is a good chance that the there will be less time spent by the tax preparer or auditor/reviewer to perform his or her respective services. He or she will spend less time having to clean up the file, will feel more secure with the accuracy of the recorded transactions, and will be able to spend additional time on the more important issues of the services that you hired them to perform. This in turn may decrease the amount that you will be billed for these services.
In conclusion even if you're not an expert at accounting or with Quickbooks accounting software, having a professional analyze your Quickbooks file annually or semi-annually, can ease any frustrations and inaccuracies that come about. I hope that these points were informative and bring to light the importance of Quickbooks clean up and accurate accounting records.

Article Source:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 5 QuickBooks Questions

1. Ever wonder why after very nicely downloading transactions from your bank account or Credit Card Company the balances never seem right? Of course there are uncleared items in your register; but sometimes the download gets confused about where it left off the last time you downloaded. This can cause duplicate transactions. Review your registers and see if you have duplicates (hint: check the register around the last download date) and just delete them.
2. Why does my sales tax have such a large balance even though I pay it right on time? You probably did not use the "manage sales tax" button on the home page; then select pay sales tax (Hint: make sure you edit the dates for the period end you are paying).
3. Can I add my logo or customize my invoices/estimates/sales orders? Yes you can. In QuickBooks 2012 and prior open an invoice and in the upper right hand corner select the "customize" button. In 2013 go to the menu bar and select formatting; from here you can copy a template, edit the current one or import already created templates. You can have multiple templates for various uses. To add your logo, in the customize window, select the basic customization button at the bottom of the screen. Not enough customization? Go to Layout Designer; here you can add text boxes, move things around, etc. Just remember that whenever you use this template every invoice/estimate/sales order will have the customizations.
4. What is the undeposited funds account? QuickBooks is designed to mirror real life. You probably don't deposit checks one at a time. You probably go to the bank with multiple checks. When your bank statement comes you don't see the detail of the deposit, you only see the deposit total. It can be difficult to reconcile if you have individual checks in your register. What to do? When you receive in payments from customers in the receive payment window the money should be going to undeposited funds. When you finally do get to the bank go to "make deposits" and the list of undeposited funds will come up; from here select the checks you are depositing, select OK and there is your total deposit.
5. How do I customize the homepage? Select edit/preferences/desktop view/company preferences; from here you can select functionality to turn on or off. Hint: you can also customize the icon bar by right clicking the bar and selecting "customizing the icon bar" Here you can add/remove/move around, etc.

Article Source:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Should Landlords Use QuickBooks?

Why Should Landlords Use QuickBook Software?
When it comes to being a landlord there are several beneficial tools that can assist you when it comes to your real estate accounting. One of the best tools you can use to save you money at tax time is using QuickBooks. This software helps in keeping track of finances and can make your job as a landlord much easier.
Save Time & Make it Simple
When it comes to bookkeeping, QuickBooks will handle most of this automatically. It assists in saving time and things such as time consuming paperwork. You can simply run reports and any required information as it pertains to your rental properties. You will always have a good idea of where you stand as far as profits. With the QuickBooks program landlords are assured a stable and reliable product. Used by many businesses worldwide it can benefit landlords as well. Set up is simple and so is the maintenance. With this software you are able to share information with excel, Word and Outlook. Easily you may e-mail and pay invoices. You can now accept credit cards from your renters because with this feature no additional hardware is needed. It may take sometime in getting used to this new system but once you become familiar it becomes a breeze.
Setting Up With QuickBooks
Others who use QuickBooks to assist them in their rental properties will set up their tenants as a customer. They're different properties are defined in classes and you are able to link assets to each class. You are able to charge the tenants for repairs, cleaning and other liabilities. Landlords also run into things such as prepaid rent, refunding of security deposits, bounced checks and such. With QuickBooks you can manage all of these factors.
Tax Time With QuickBooks
Gathering all this information into one system also makes taxes much easier. Landlords have deductions which include things such as repairs, mortgage interest, travel, employees and independent contractors, losses from theft, insurance, professional services and more. All of these can be entered into the QuickBooks system allowing landlords to take advantage and properly calculate their deductions.
Professionals & QuickBooks
With using the QuickBooks program professionals have a overall positive review of the software. This is because they can conveniently keep track of cash flow such as accounts receivable and accounts payable. They can customize various reports and use the system anyway as it pertains to their business. Overall, it makes running their business a lot smoother and can do the same for landlords.

Article Source:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

QuickBooks 2012 Review

The lead centre is all new in QuickBooks and I'm expecting quite a lot from it,
It brings some CRM changes into QuickBooks 2012 which I'm thinking is going
Replace the really nice and neat paper and white board system.

The same review was posted on our site:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

QuickBooks Pro--Easily Manage Your Small Business

Know where your business stands. Nearly 70% of users say QuickBooks helped them be more profitable. Track every dollar coming in and going out with in-depth reporting. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 Reasons Why You Should Use QuickBooks

QuickBooks is the ideal business accounting software for small to mid-sized business owners. Here's 10 reasons why you should be using QuickBooks.
  1. 1. You save time on bookkeeping and paperwork because many of simple bookkeeping tasks are handled automatically making it easier to run your business.

  2. 2. You can easily generate the reports with the information you need, so you always know where your business stands. You instantly know whether you're making money and whether your business is healthy.

  3. 3. You save money because QuickBooks is so affordable. You can use it to run a $5 million or a $25 million business for a few hundred bucks. PC accounting software is truly one of the great bargains in business.

  4. 4. Your business can grow with QuickBooks. QuickBooks will help you design a business plan to use when trying to secure a small business loan or line of credit or to plan for the future. QuickBooks will create a projected balance sheet, profit and loss statement and statement of cash flows in the format recommended by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  5. 5. You can customize QuickBooks to work the way you want. QuickBooks is specifically designed to be flexible and adaptable to a wide range of small businesses. To broaden its appeal, QuickBooks has recently added customized accounting packages for Contractors, Retailers, Health Care Professionals, and Non-Profit organizations.

  6. 6. You can rest assured knowing that QuickBooks is a stable, reliable and proven product. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses throughout the world have chosen QuickBooks as their accounting software. You can't go wrong with a software program with such an extensive installed user base.

  7. 7. You save typing time and errors by sharing data between QuickBooks and over 100 business applications. You can even share data with popular programs, such as Microsoft Excel, Word, Outlook and ACT.

  8. 8. You will get paid faster with QuickBooks online payments. E-mail an invoice or statement and with QuickBooks Online Billing, your customer can easily pay you with a credit card or bank account transfer. No more waiting for the check in the mail!

  9. 9. You can easily accept Credit Cards. With QuickBooks Merchant Account Service, you can accept credit cards with ease. QuickBooks Merchant Account Service is the only credit card acceptance service integrated with QuickBooks software, which means you don't have to enter the same data twice. No additional software or hardware is required. Your customers can use Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

  10. 10. You can pay your bills and bank online. Setup your current bank account in QuickBooks, and you're ready to pay your bills without licking envelopes, sticking stamps, or printing paper checks. Just write checks in QuickBooks as you normally would, then click a button and your participating bank does the rest! Pay anyone in the U.S. from your credit card companies to your pizza service. Online Banking also lets you download your monthly statement from your participating bank directly into QuickBooks for easier reconciliation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Five Ways to Prepare in Advance for Tax Season

Tax season is just around the corner and it is a good time to start thinking about preparing to file your income tax returns. It may be difficult to think about taxes when you have the holiday season on your mind but you will thank yourself later when filing your taxes is a cinch. People who are more prepared for tax season likely save themselves from making costly errors that can come back to haunt them later down the road.
While the logical thing to do would be to prepare yourself throughout the year for tax time this is hardly the route that most people take. If you are one of those people do not fret because you can quickly get prepared by doing five simple things.
Gather Income Information - The first thing to do in order to be better prepared for tax time is to gather all of the information you have that pertains to any income you earned throughout the year. Not only does this include paystubs and/or w-2 forms but also information having to do with any investment income you may have made as well.
Locate a Tax Preparer - Another important step to take before tax season is fully underway is finding a tax preparer, that is if you do not plan to prepare your own taxes in which case you will want to gather all of the books and forms that you will need. There are many choices in tax preparation professionals so you should determine what you are looking for rather it is low cost, a quick refund, or somebody local.
Tally Up Your Write-Offs - For many individuals write-offs make up for some of the taxes that they owe and can greatly reduce tax debt. If you are going to be claiming any write-offs now is the time to start tallying them up so that your tax preparer can include them in your tax forms.
Pay-off Any IRS Balance That Could Prevent You from Getting a Return - You should also consider paying of any balance that you may own to the IRS that may interfere with a return. If you are unable to pay the full amount you may still be able to prevent this from happening by signing a payment agreement so be sure to look into that option as well.
Hold a Teleconference with Your Accountant and Tax Preparer - Finally, in order to be sure that everything is in order you should hold a conference call with both your accountant and your tax preparer if they are not the same person. Teleconferencing is a great way to be sure that no write-offs or income were overlooked. Conference calling programs are often free online and easy to use so you will not even have to fork over any money for your conference call.
Discuss when a good time would be for everyone to do a conference call and before you start the conference call make a list of any questions or comments you may have. If you gather all the important information you need, utilize teleconferencing, and use some good old common sense you could end up not only not paying the IRS any money this year but maybe even getting some back from them which is something anyone can appreciate.

Article Source:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why Use Quickbooks

When you are attempting to run a company you must possess the right tools which will make it possible. With each of those tools you'll improve the efficiency at which you can work and save yourself time and money. One tool that's great to utilize in any business would be the Quickbooks.
Quickbooks is really a computer program which has been popular for a few years now. There are really different types which are being made. This helps you to utilize it in several areas in the company. Before you run out and purchase it you should know all of the advantages that it has to offer.
A lot of people will recognize this system as one way to help the accounting department. If you are a small business owner than you require something that may allow you to maintain track of your investments you have made and the money you are making. With this program you are able to do this and a lot more.
This is easy to use and it has step-by-step instructions for those of us not familiar with it. You can utilize it to create spreadsheets. Fill in these sheets telling you what payments have to be paid every month and also the sum of money which is coming in. All this info is needed for when taxes comes around and to aid you see how your organization is growing.
Additionally it is great to have for larger businesses. The Quickbooks Time Tracker is a great employee scheduling software to use. This can assist you to know the shifts that everyone will be working and to maintain track of the days that everyone takes off.

Article Source:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Overhaul your accounting system with a QuickBooks Tune-up.

Whether you need to prepare for tax time, a financial review or you just need to clean up some problem areas, you'll be prepared with a QuickBooks Tune-up. In four (4) hours, a QuickBooks Professional Advisor will help you clean up and organize your bookkeeping system.

Tune-up Topics:
  • Reviewing your transactions for the year
  • Cleaning up stray entries
  • Customizing reports
  • Balancing general ledger to subsidiary records
  • Additional personalized training

A QuickBooks Tune-up is a smart and affordable way to get a handle on your books. Accurate records allow you to make educated decisions for your business and will save you money! Call Today!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Home Office Deduction

Whether you are self-employed or an employee, if you use a portion of your home for business, you may be able to take a home office deduction.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

4 Benefits of Using QuickBooks For Your Small Business

Starting and running a small business is full of challenges, and one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the finances of the business. No doubt people have recommended to you a variety of different types of software to help you with your bookkeeping, but you want to be sure that you pick the software that will be the most beneficial to you. QuickBooks is one of the best bookkeeping software available today and using this software can help you keep your small business running as it should financially. If you are wondering why you should choose this particular kind of bookkeeping software, the following are just four great benefits you will experience.
Benefit #1 - Easy to Manage All Expenses - One of the first benefits that you will enjoy if you choose this type of bookkeeping software is that it will make it so much easier to manage all of your expenses. You can use this software to keep track of the checks you write and even your credit card bill so you always know where your money is going. With easy entry, you will be able to make sure that you never miss an expense while using this software.
Benefit #2 - Reports Let You Know How You're Doing - Another great benefit of using QuickBooks is that this software comes with a variety of different reports that will help to let you know how you are doing. You can print graphs and charts that show how much money you are bringing in versus how much you are spending each month. You can even look at a report of the past year and see how your business has fluctuated from time to time. These reports can be very helpful to keeping your small business on track.
Benefit #3 - Easy Estimates and Billing - Not only does this bookkeeping software keep track of expenses and offer great reports, but it can help you create estimates and take care of billing tasks as well. The program allows you to quickly draw up estimates for your customers and then to later create invoices for the jobs as well.
Benefit #4 - Makes Tax Time Much Easier - One of the biggest benefits of using QuickBooks is that it actually makes tax time so much easier. You will already have your expenditures and your income nicely laid out within the program, which will make it easier. If you are using an accountant, no doubt they will be thrilled that you are using this software as well, since it will make their job much easier too, which in the long run will save you some money.
QuickBooks is an excellent bookkeeping program to use for your small business. As you can see, there are a variety of different benefits that you can enjoy when you use this bookkeeping software. Why not make dealing with your finances a bit easier and considering using this software for your small business.

Article Source:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oct. 15, 2012 Tax Deadline

If you asked for an extension to file your 2011 tax return, remember that the deadline is October 15, 2012. Learn more at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fresh Start

Find out all the ways the IRS is trying to help taxpayers get a fresh start when it comes to paying back taxes.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fresh Start

Find out all the ways the IRS is trying to help taxpayers get a fresh start when it comes to paying back taxes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Clutter Video Tip: How to File Tax Documents

Get organized with home organizing tips from professional organizers at The Clutter Diet. Having the right systems in place and tools at hand can make tax time much more achievable. In today's video Lorie Marrero will show you strategies to organize your tax paperwork. Following these tips will make tax time less stressful and more efficient.These Clutter Video Tips are posted frequently here on our clutterdiet organizing channel. You can search Twitter for #ClutterVideoTip also to find comments on our organizing tips. Lorie Marrero is the creator of and the author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. Lorie also serves as the national spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International and ambassador of the Donate Movement.