Monday, December 30, 2013

Additional Medicare Tax

The additional Medicare tax may apply in 2013 for income amounts above certain thresholds.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

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!?

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Why Hiring A Professional Tax Preparer Is A Good Idea

This article looks at the reasons why small and even bigger businesses must hire professional CPAs instead of using tax return software for filing returns. Many ordinary businessmen do not know the pitfalls that await them once they use software for filing the returns. Business owners and all other people responsible for filing business taxes must read this article to know the difference between the two ways of filing tax return.
Why to get assistance from a certified public accountant for filing tax returns?
Whether your business is located in Virginia or any other state of the US, you must ensure that its tax returns are filed year end. There are many advantages of hiring a professional CPA for tax preparation. Let us discuss these advantages.
Ever-changing tax law
Every year all the tax laws revise. It is very difficult for the software vendors to immediately incorporate all the changes in their software. However, certified public accountants can easily comply with the new additions. One reason why many small business owners do not try to file tax returns for themselves is change in tax laws. Therefore, the biggest advantage of getting your returns prepared by CPAs is accommodating of all new changes.
Double-checking for mistakes
Tax preparation is an error prone process. There are many different types of calculations involved and software can also commit mistakes. However, CPAs usually calculate tax by software but also check it manually for double verification. This further decreases the chances of errors in filing tax returns.
Tax refunds
Usually it is very difficult for the software to tell you whether you have any tax refunds to claim or not. But certified public accountants tell you right away if there are any tax refunds that you can claim on your tax.
Handling complexity
The tax returns can get very complicated at times. Ordinary business owners are not able to handle all the different adjustments that need to be made in filing a complete return. CPA professionals can handle even complicated tax matters without getting lost into the complexities.
Subjective judgement
Tax return software can only make calculations. It cannot give any opinion to the business owner or management about what to do. On the other hand, professional CPAs can help businesses minimize tax liabilities and given them practical advice beneficial for many future years.
Depend on qualified CPAs only
Small and medium sized business owners often tend to rely on just accountants. They do not look into the fact that their accountants are certified or not. There are many advantages of working with a qualified certified public accountant. An uncertified accountant will not be able to handle complex accounting matters. He will also fail to fully understand the various tax laws that need compliance during tax preparation.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

6 Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

No one welcomes tax time. Small business owners especially are besieged by a mountain of paperwork. But this is a good time to start looking at your strategies for this year and begin strategies for next year that will save you a lot of time and effort. Here are six tax tips every business owner should be aware of.
1. Keep good records and record as you go - Hopefully you've been saving your receipts throughout the year because you will need those receipts if you do get audited. Unfortunately many small business owners get into the habit of tossing their receipts in a box, and then they have to go through that box and itemize them when tax time rolls around. However if you keep your records as you go, tax time becomes a breeze because you'll have an instant record of how much you spent on what.
2. Know when it's time to outsource your tax preparation. Many business owners put off doing their taxes because they just don't have the time to do it. Others dread the arduous task of trying to figure out which numbers go where on the forms. It's probably better to outsource your taxes to someone who knows all the tax laws. Who knows how many tax deductions you might be missing? Only a tax professional stays up to date with changes in tax laws so that you can minimize the impact taxes have on your business.
3. If you do get audited, don't worry, just call a professional. Being audited isn't fun, but if you have a professional helping you, then it isn't so bad. Just keep good records and call for help if you do get audited. You should also remember that being audited doesn't necessarily mean you did anything wrong.
4. Ask your tax professional which accounting software is best to use if you're keeping your own books. Some tax professionals use a certain type of software, like Quickbooks, that is available to small business owners. By using the software they use, all you have to do is send them your electronic file when tax time comes.
5. If you use part of your home as an office, make sure that you include all direct and indirect expenses. This means homeowners association fees, repairs, maintenance, homeowners insurance, rent, interest on your mortgage, property taxes, and more. Ask your tax professional to give you a checklist of things to include.
6. Report the interest from your business bank accounts on Schedule B rather than Schedule C. This is because the interest isn't subject to the self-employment tax. On the other hand, if you are either a shareholder of a sub-S corporation or belong to a partnership, then you'll see your interest go to your Schedule K-1, although it will still be reported on Schedule B.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

What Holiday Spending Is Tax Deductible?

Helping out people in need is a great way to spend any day. It's especially great during the holidays when need can often be most apparent. The advantages to charitable giving are numerous, but one great perk to giving this year is the fact that some charitable gifts are tax-deductible and can provide some modicum of tax relief.
In order to claim the deduction you must ensure that you understand all the rules. Charitable contributions can reduce your overall tax burden this year, and you are doing so while performing a greater good. However, when it comes to tax law, you must be aware of the rules and procedures.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your holiday buck:
  • When claiming charitable deductions, you must itemize first. You must report any itemized deductions on the Schedule A federal form 1040 lines 16-19.
  • Only the donations you make to qualified charities are deductible. To see whether a certain organization is qualified or not, ask to see their IRS letter stating they are recognized as a qualified charity. You can also search online through IRS Publication 78. Remember that temples, mosques, churches and synagogues are considered by the IRS to be de facto charities and are therefore eligible to receive donations.
  • Cash deductions, no matter the amount, has to be substantiated by bank records (via credit card receipt or canceled check) or in writing by the charity. The writing should include the amount, organization and the date they received the donation.
  • Any cash deductions which cannot be substantiated, like cash donations without receipts or donations made to individuals directly rather than to a qualified charity, will be disallowed. This includes paying for Christmas presents or being an anonymous donor. This doesn't mean you cannot do these types of random acts of kindness. It just means that you are not able to claim the deduction.
  • If your paycheck has funds taken out for charity, make sure that you keep your pay stubs, your W-2 or any other documents that are furnished by the employer that shows the amount withheld.
  • For non-cash item donations, the general rule is that a person can take deductions for the overall fair market value concerning those items - what that item would sell for. Be very specific when you are documenting your donations, noting each description and condition.
  • Donation rules for vehicles (including airplanes and boats) are slightly different. Rather than using fair market value, you are limited to gross proceeds from the sale if the value is $500 or more. Refer to form 1098-C and attach it when you send in your tax return.
Now that the holidays are right around the corner, charitable giving is needed more than ever. If you decide to give to charity, make sure you receive a little something back. For more tax relief help, contact your tax advisor.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maximizing Your Return - Year End Tax Planning

Surprise parties are fun. Tax surprises are not which is why year end tax planning is so important. The complexity of year end tax planning is affected by changes in your life such as; a change in marital status, having a child, significant change in income and many others. Taking time at the end of the year to review income other than regular wages like dividends and other investment income ensures that you will have adequate funds available to cover any tax liability.
By discovering potential liabilities before the end of the year you will have the opportunity to take steps to offset some them. For example, cleaning out a closet for charitable giving or prepaying daycare expenses for the coming year are two ways to potentially offset liabilities. Year end planning affords the opportunity to make or increase traditional IRA contributions as well.
Another way to offset all or a portion of a tax bill is the opportunity to defer income until the New Year. The advantage of deferring income, salary, and bonuses until after the first of the year is that the tax implications of that income will not be fully felt for more than a year to come. This strategy provides an opportunity to save for the taxes associated with that income.
Contact your CPA or accountant today so you will have plenty of time to review your tax situation. A meeting with your tax professional before the end of the also provides the opportunity to become familiar with tax law changes that may have an affect on the upcoming year.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

What Does Year-End Mean?

The year-end for a business refers to the fiscal year-end but it also relates to what needs to be done at that time.
As the fiscal year-end is usually a 12-month period the business as been operating, it can be shorter if it is the first year the company is in business; sometimes this is necessary for tax planning purposes.
Note that fiscal year-end is does NOT always coincide with the calendar year-end. It can be from July of this year to August of the next year, as long as it is a 12 month period.
In any event, at that time the business needs to be prepared to ensure their business financial records are final and complete.
In order for business taxes to be accurately calculated there needs to be:
  • proper finalizing of business transactions in the bookkeeping records
  • accounting for everything related to the business finances in a proper manner
  • ensuring reconciliations are accurate and complete
  • anything else that is needed assess corporate or business taxes.
The Bookkeeper's Essential Role
The end of the year of any business can be a very busy and hectic time. There are preparations to be made for the proper filing of the company taxes that will only be correct if the bookkeeping records throughout the year have been properly maintained and perfectly organized.
Most businesses will hire an outside tax accountant to handle their end-of-year tax filings in order to ensure it is calculated and filed in accordance with the latest income tax laws.
A good tax accountant will be current on all matters relating to business tax and will be able to obtain the most tax savings possible for the business.
Although bookkeepers are well trained professionals with a good understanding of the company's financial transactions, the expertise of taxation should fall with a professional that is exterior to the company. However, the bookkeeper is uniquely positioned to assist with the year-end and working with the tax accountant is instrumental in making sure this process runs smoothly.
Frontline Role of the Bookkeeper
At the close of the year, the bookkeeper needs to provide certain information for the tax accountant.
Usually, the tax accountant will provide a list of the information they need to properly assess the business taxes and facilitate tax planning.
Being aware of what the tax accountant requires in advance is helpful to the bookkeeper in being proactive and anticipating what information should be collected and assembled.
It also for the betterment of the business if the bookkeeper is well versed with these requirements and is familiar with the process of the filings that are being prepared.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Income Tax Implications of The Healthcare Reform Act - Obama Care

On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Landmark Health Care Reform Act and was immediately challenged in court. The result was that many people were left confused about the law and its' effect your personal bottom line and taxes in particular.
The new law which incorporates a slew of new regulations and requirements for businesses and individuals is intended to increase the number of people covered by medical insurance and by doing so reduce the cost for everyone. The Health Care Reform Act commonly referred to as Obama Care is being phased in over the course of eight years with the vast majority of the law in place by the end of 2014.
One of the ways the law is intended reduce costs is through the creation of state-based exchanges. These exchanges allow lower income individuals and families to purchase coverage by taking advantage of cost sharing. Small businesses may also purchase insurance through the state exchanges and take advantage of similar cost benefits. The state exchanges will be available to individuals and families who are between 133-400% of the federal poverty level which is incomes from about $23,050. to $92,200 for a family of four.
The Health Care Reform Act, Obama Care does require that individuals without employer provided health coverage purchase their own or be subject to a tax penalty. The penalty for not purchasing coverage is based on income and therefore varies. The tax penalty will be eased into effect and at its' maximum will run from $695 to $2,085. per year. For a family of four with a household income of $50,054. the average tax penalty will be about $1,251. per year.
The majority of households, estimates range from 70-80%, who do not have some form of employer based health coverage will be eligible for premium support and as such will have access to state exchanges. The average family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year will pay about $3,400 a year for insurance.
The cost for an average family of four breaks down as follows:
Household Income: $50,000.
Total Cost of Insurance: $17,853.
Tax Credit: $14,468.
Final Cost to Taxpayer: $3,385.
The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation website provides a great tool to calculate your actual cost for health insurance beginning with the year 2014. The health reform subsidy calculator allows you to put in your family income, size and your age and calculates exactly what your costs will be.
In most cases businesses who employ more then 50 people, full-time, will be required to provide health insurance coverage under this law. The law states that if you have more then 50 full-time employees and at least one of them receives the premium support tax credit a fee (tax penalty) of $2,000 per full-time employee (excluding the first 30) will be assessed. This applies only to employers who do not offer health coverage already.
For employers who do offer coverage but still have a full-time employee who receives a premium support tax credit the employer will have to pay a tax penalty of $3,000. for each full-time employee receiving a credit or $2,000. per employee, excluding the first 30, whichever is less.
It is important to note that all the tax penalties for employers pertain to full-time employees only. For example a business with 100 employees of which only 49 are full-time is exempt from providing coverage.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Education Tax Credits

Find out how you or your child can get a tax credit for going to college or some other post-secondary education institution. Get even more information by typing "education center" in the search field at

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taxes and Tax Haven

What Is Nonresident Tax
If you go to the definition of what is a nonresident tax, it is a return that comes to a state of which you are not a natural resident of. You might be working in an another state or country or you could make earnings in another state for which you need to file a nonresident tax return. If you fall into any of these categories, you might need to be clear about nonresident tax a bit more. You will then need to figure out the amount of income that you make in the nonresident state as well as the income that you make in the home state. Most of the federal returns even include the nonresident tax returns. Thus, it is necessary to complete one's federal returns and then make a separate effort to file in nonresident tax returns. The legalities of filing nonresident tax returns may vary from country to country.
So how do you go about listing your income and deductions? In most states you need to first list out the total income as per the federal return in one column while in the other column one needs to write in the income that comes in as a nonresident. The total in both columns needs to be considered in order to calculate the percentage of the non-resident income as per the total income. Every state has its own laws by which one needs to allocate the taxable income or one's tax liability accordingly.
What are Tax Havens
In such cases one often seeks out tax haven. These are countries like Anguilla, Nevis, British Virgin Islands, Singapore Hong Kong, Mauritius and other countries. Over the last two decades the number of tax havens has increased. These have evolved as most people search them out in order to protect their interests. The advancement of technology and communication has allowed these tax havens to come within reach of many people and they can avail of the benefits of storing their money and saving tax liabilities on them.
Their Characteristics
So what kind of services can you expect from a tax haven? They usually have the following characteristics:
• They are usually financial centers based offshore
• It can be a country or an organization that offers business services even to non nationals
• The business services consist of offshore trusts, registration of vessels, investment funds management, offshore foundations, offshore banking and others
• It is a legal as well a safe means of reducing one's tax liabilities
When the economy is struggling and people are reeling under effects of low income and high tax liabilities, tax haven come to the rescue. People can resort to the offshore banking services of tax havens and get their money secured and away from unwanted tax liabilities. However, before one decides to approach such a country or organization, it is best to refer to the legal guidelines of their own country or state to understand the legalities involved.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why You Should Outsource Tax Preparation?

To outsource tax preparation you can utilize companies that specialise in such services and partner with them to create customizable and workable solutions. Such firms do more than simply prepare tax returns; they provide the full gamut of services that ensure efficiency through a thoroughly defined process, underscored by qualified, experienced and expert staff. The process begins with data gathering, then planning and analysis of the company data, and then to producing relevant output in a systematic format that meets compliance and regulatory standards.
Services Provided
The usual tax preparation services offered include preparation of income tax returns for partnerships, companies and individuals. Also included are fiduciaries, non-residents, exempt organizations, preparation of estate and gift tax returns, and sales and use tax returns for states. Clients' expectations must be met when they outsource their tax preparation. The company is expected to examine the client's balance sheets, and appropriately classify its items. Additionally, P/L items must be effectively classified and analyzed based on a customer's request. Sales tax liability services are often a common request by firms that outsource tax preparation.
The Importance of Software
Customers in this day and age expect that the company hired will utilize software in the preparation of their tax returns and expect every request made to the company to be satisfied. Fortunately, tax preparation outsourcing companies are accustomed to using the latest software such as Lacerte, Ultra Tax, ProSeries, Drake Software, Prosystem FX, CCH, TaxWorks, TaxWise, Turbo Tax, ATX and Go-system in order to satisfy their clients' needs. The software provides a reliable platform for timely, well-organized and precise preparation of clients' tax returns.
Know How and Expertise
The company is obligated to provide professional capability in two key areas; these are individual and business tax preparation. Clients that outsource it demand that the staff of the outsourcing company is qualified, licensed, and possess in-depth knowledge of corporate and partnership income tax. Staff at the company must also be experts in the effective use of current tax preparation software and are exposed to continuous training in new software to ensure that they remain current and on the cutting edge of their craft.
Information Security and Privacy
When you outsource tax preparation, privacy is a key factor to consider. Tax preparation outsourcing companies are required to ensure that their client's information privacy is a high priority. The companies must demonstrate their commitment to confidentiality regarding client information. When you outsource tax preparation it is important to ensure that the company you choose operates in accordance with a thorough security policy to provide you with a guarantee of the protection of your information, especially in the area of offshore taxation services. Find out what best practice mechanisms they put in place to ensure your privacy. One of the best scenarios for protection is to implement a paperless office. This is enhanced by a dual monitoring system with state of the art firewalls and access control lists that are maintained and monitored. Check out the levels of security for machines and networks. Ask about point-to-point data links and make sure their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement. Once these measures are in place you can be sure about the privacy of your data.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Filing Taxes - Home Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

How Homeowners Can Get The Maximum Tax Refund.
Owning a home. Ask any homeowner what's so great about owning versus renting, and most will say "the tax deductions!" That's right because all homeowners who itemize their taxes are able to deduct 100% of their mortgage interest and property taxes from their income tax returns. But how do you get the maximum tax refund for homeowners? If you don't own a home yet, there may be good reasons, but the advantages of owning a home far outweigh renting. There are really only two reasons not to own a home-you may live rent free with your parents or friends or perhaps you are planning on moving in 3 years or less. Even if you are single, but plan on staying in the area for more than 3 years, consider buying a home.
The major tax incentive to owning a home is that it allows you to deduct the interest you pay for your mortgage. This is usually the biggest tax break for most people, because a significant amount of your house payment goes toward interest during the early years of a mortgage. The major advantages of being a homeowner when tax season comes around?
Deductible mortgage interest including "points" when you buy your home.
Deductible property taxes on your return.
Deductions for improvements made to your home when you sell.
Up to $500,000 in tax free capital gains profit when you sell your home.
To get the maximum tax refund for homeowners you will have to use Form 1040 and itemize your deductions. If you're in a 28% tax bracket, the government effectively subsidizes about a third of your borrowing costs, making your home more affordable. Also, your closing costs and points are tax deductible, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of any capital gains profit that you realize when you sell your home are exempt from income taxes.
At tax time, it's critical to know what you're entitled to, so you can claim it. So, here are five essential tax tips to get the maximum tax refund for homeowners.
1. Fill out the long form at least once and learn to itemize your deductions.
Nearly 40% of homeowners lose out on the number one tax advantages every year when they fail to itemize their income taxes. If you own a home and otherwise have a fairly simple return, it might be tempting just to take the standard deduction or file Form 1040A. In some cases where your mortgage, property taxes and income are low enough, the standard deduction may be a larger deduction than your itemized deductions. But you'll never know unless you fill out both forms at least once.
So before you start filling in Form 1040A or 1040EZ, get your paperwork together and answer the questions on tax software like TurboTax, which will automatically do the math on whether itemizing or taking the standard deduction will result in the lowest tax bill.
Why do the extra work? You can only pay less tax, never more by filling out the longer Form 1040.
2. Home office deduction.
The average home office deduction is over $3,000. Of course there are special IRS rules on what you can claim as a home office. The space you claim as your home office cannot be exempted from capital gains tax when you sell your home. Visit the website for complete details.
3. Tax relief for loan modifications, foreclosures and short sales.
The Making Home Affordable ® Program (MHA) ® is an important part of the Obama Administration's comprehensive plan to stabilize the U.S. housing market by helping homeowners get mortgage relief and avoid foreclosure. To meet the various needs of homeowners across the country, Making Home Affordable ® programs offer a range of solutions that may be able to help you take action before it's too late. You may be able to refinance and take advantage of today's low mortgage interest rates and reduce your monthly mortgage payments.
While the long-term housing outlook began improving in 2011, loan modifications are projected to be the peaking this year. Distressed homeowners who are on the brink of a short sale, loan modification or foreclosure should be aware that normally, any mortgage balance that is wiped out by one of these outcomes is taxed as what the IRS calls Cancellation of Debt Income, or CODI.
Under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007, the IRS is currently not charging income taxes on CODI incurred through a loan modification, short sale or foreclosure on most residences through 2012. But banks are taking many months, or even years, to work out new mortgages. If you see any of this happening in your future, don't put things off. Get free advice from a housing expert atMakingHomeAffordable.Gov. or call 888-995-HOPE (4673) to speak with an expert.
4. The tax consequences of a refinance or property tax appeal.
Homeowners everywhere are working on applying for a lower property tax bill on the basis of the last few years' decline in their home's value. Those who have equity have tried to refinance their existing home loans into the 4% to 5% rates of the last few years. These strategies offer some of the biggest savings today. But here's a small warning for homeowners who are able to cut these costs. Property taxes and mortgage interest, the very costs you're minimizing, are also the basis for the major tax benefits of being a homeowner. So plan ahead for your tax deductions to go down along with your taxes and interest.
5. Don't forget the closing costs.
If you bought or refinanced your home, you may be focused on your mortgage interest and property tax deductions that you forget all about your closing costs. Remember that any origination fees or discount points that were paid to your mortgage lender at closing are tax deductible on your return. When you finance a home, you may pay what are called "points." Points lower the interest rate on your mortgage by effectively prepaying a portion of the interest at closing. Points are paid by the borrower to the lender as part of the loan deal, and they are a percentage of the loan. Points may also be called loan origination fees, maximum loan charges, loan discount or discount points. If you can't figure out exactly what you paid, look for your HUD-1 settlement statement. It is full of line item credits and debits that you should have received from your escrow provider or title attorney at closing.
Helpful Hint:There are two things you can count on when you become a homeowner: You get more tax breaks, and your taxes get more complicated. Whether you've purchased a single-family home, townhouse or condominium, tax breaks are available to you. It's time to get familiar with tax forms because that's where you will have to provide all the details about your new tax-deductible expenses.
Don't forget PMI premiums on your tax return. PMI is private mortgage insurance premiums on certain mortgages. If you make a down payment of less than 20%, you are generally required to carry private mortgage insurance. This type of insurance is paid for by the buyer but protects the lender in case the borrower stops paying on the loan. PMI premiums can be deducted if the mortgage was issued after 2006. This deduction may be changed in 2012 so check the IRS website for current information.
Final Thought: There are also huge tax savings on the gain when you sell. If you are going to live in your home for at least 5 years considering buying a home just for this reason. When you sell your home, the amount of your gain from the sale is tax-free if you meet the criteria. If you are married, you can have up to $500,000 profit on the sale, and you won't have to pay tax on the earnings. If you are single, you can earn up to $250,000 profit without paying any federal tax. There's only one catch: You have to own and occupy your home for at least two of the past five years. Visit for more information.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

End of 2013 Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

There are only a few weeks left of the tax year. It's time to start planning for next year- and for tax season! Below are a few ways a small business owner can save money on taxes.
Track your mileage
The IRS mileage rate this year 56.5 cents/mile, meaning you get a deduction for.565 x the number of miles you travel for business. This is a good deal and is better than taking car expenses such as insurance and repairs, given the high cost of gas. Take advantage of this deduction, especially if you travel a lot for business! As with anything else keep a log of your miles so you have a record. You can use a day planner or notebook, or if you have a smart phone check out the app "Mile Bug". It's free and you don't have to deal with pen and paper when you're on the road.
Meals & Entertainment expenses
As long as you discuss business before, during, or after a meal with a prospect or client, you get a deduction for half of the bill. There must be a business purpose for the expense. Networking events are a good example because your goal is to build your network and ultimately, make a sale. Also if you have employees, and you buy them lunch, you can deduct 50%. These expenses tend to be scrutinized by the IRS, so substantiate everything in case you get audited. You could use a "Neat" scanner if you don't like to have paper clutter your desk- it scans your receipts and organizes them for you. Also, check out the free smart phone apps iSpending or Pocket Expense as another option.
Capital expenses
If you're thinking of buying a new computer or other business equipment, may want to do so before 12/31/13. This is a good way to lower your taxable income while also updating your business equipment- as long as you were going to do it anyway! We never advocate spending money for the sake of spending money, or to avoid taxes. There should always be a valid business purpose for the expenditure. That being said, if you are in the market for some new equipment, you get to take a 179 deduction. As long as your earnings are greater than the cost of the asset you get to take full deduction for business equipment!
Travel Expenses
If you go out of state to attend business conferences you are allowed to deduct 100% of your airfare, car rental, gas, meals, and other travel expenses that you incur. This includes conference dues also. Remember that all professional dues are deductible on your tax return.
Home Office
If you work at home you can take a deduction for your home office as long as you use the room only for an office and not as a guest room. The IRS is very strict in its guidelines for taking this deduction so read the rules on before taking this one. If you can take it, it means you also get to take the proportion of your home mortgage interest, home insurance, utilities, etc. also. For example, say the square footage of your home office is 15% of your house- you get to deduct 15% of your home expenses on your schedule c! Talk with your tax professional about your particular situation.
Independent Contractors
Throughout the course of the year you may have hired outside work for consulting or other services. Keep track of who you pay and how much. If you paid someone over $600 then you have to issue them a 1099. This requires you to get the forms (Staples has them) and print them out and mail them, and there is a deadline to do it in the beginning of the year. If you use QuickBooks it's very easy to pull a report of all 1099 eligible vendors. You should ask contractors to send a completed W-9 form with their tax id so you can enter this in your accounting system. Then print out the forms and send a copy to the contractor and one to the state, and the federal government. For more information and deadlines, check out
Now is the time to talk with your tax advisor about what you can expect to pay on 4/15/14. Especially if you own a small business, don't wait and wonder. You don't want to receive a nasty surprise come tax day, and not have the cash to cover the bill! 

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Certified Public Accountants Take Notice of Changes for the 2013 Tax Year

The end of 2013 is approaching quickly and it is time to start thinking about taxes once again. Experienced tax preparers and Certified Public Accountants are gearing up for the upcoming tax season.
*For those of you tax payers who fall into the higher-income bracket, there is a new federal income tax rate of 39.6% on taxable income levels greater than $400,000, married filing jointly $450,000 and separately $225,000. In addition to the added tax rate, these taxpayers are subject to a new 20% maximum (up 5% from last year) on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends.
*Personal and dependency exemptions may be phased out and itemized deductions limited for those taxpayers with a gross income of more than $250,000, $300,000 for married folks filing jointly and $150,000 filing separately).
Now is the time to make an appointment with your tax preparer and evaluate the 2013 tax year. Will your income see two new Medicare tax increases this year? Have you taken full advantage of retirement savings plans? Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s provide the opportunity to contribute funds pretax to reduce your 2013 income. Funds contributed to Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are contributions which are made tax free. If you haven't already maxed out your contributions, you will want to devise a plan to get as much as possible in before the end of the year. Retirement savings plans which include employer contributions will close at the end of the year while others will generally remain open until your tax return is due. Your CPA will help you work out a payment plan in order to take full advantage of these programs before their deadlines.
There are some key provisions which are due to expire to end this year. Plan accordingly with your Certified Public Accountant.
*The increased Internal Revenue Code Section 179 expense limits and provisions for 'bonus' depreciation will end this year.
*The 100% exclusion of capital gains earned from the sale or exchange of qualified small business stock will not apply to small business stock issued or acquired after the end of the 2013 tax year. Check with your CPA to make sure certain requirements qualify and are met.
*This is the last year to make qualified charitable distributions for up to $100,000 from an IRA directly to a charity if you are older than 70 1/2.
*Beginning in 2014, the above-the-line deductions for qualified higher education expenses will no longer be available. This includes the $250 out-of-pocket classroom expenses which were typically paid by education professionals.
* The 2013 tax year is also the last year that taxpayers can elect to deduct state and local sales in itemized deductions.
Take up your 2013 tax-year considerations with your Certified Public Accountant in order to maximize any return and minimize liabilities. Since some of these will take careful planning, the sooner you set up a meeting the better. Address any other concerns at this time as well.
It will be an interesting tax year with Healthcare a big concern for many. If you haven't found a program for yourself or your family, check with your CPA to find out how the tax penalty may affect your situation. Give your CPA a call today and set up an appointment to start your 2013 tax season off in the right direction.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Entrepreneur's Relief - Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Before the rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was raised from 5% or 10% to 18% or 28%, small businesses were promised some sort of concession would be announced. We were expecting a form of retirement relief to be announced, but a brand new"Entrepreneur's Relief" was introduced instead.
Entrepreneur's relief is available to most, including individuals, trustees (in some circumstances), but not to limited companies.
You can claim Entrepreneur's Relief when you sell all of your business, or even shares in your own company after 5th April 2008. The capital gain, when entrepreneur's relief is applied, is taxed at an effective rate of 10%, instead of 18% or even 28%.
There are, however, some stiff limitations to entrepreneur's relief:
1. You must be selling all, or a material part, of your business, including: 
  • Selling shares in a qualifying company. The shareholder MUST own at least 5% of the ordinary voting shares, as well as having been an officer or employee of said company
  • Selling the whole of your business
  • Selling partnership interest
If you sell the assets, without selling the actual business, or ceasing to trade, then this will not qualify for the relief. For example, if an accountant sold part of their practice, entrepreneur's relief would not apply.
2. You need to have owned the assets/shares for at least a year prior to the sale.
3. The business must be defined as a trading business, which means that, for example, a property letting business would not qualify. A furnished holiday letting company, however, would.
4. Entrepreneur's relief only applies to capital gains made after 6th April 2008. Taxpayers are restricted under certain conditions to claiming this relief on lifetime gains up to £10 million worth of gains (£5 million prior to 6th April 2011, £2 million prior to 23rd June 2010, and £1 million prior to 6th April 2010.) For capital gains realised before 6th April 2010, and exceeding £1 million, no additional relief is given.
It may also be possible to claim relief where gains are deferred as a result of either the Enterprise Investment Scheme, or Venture Capital Trust investments.
When a material disposal relates to the sale of shares, or a partnership share, the person who is disposing is also able to claim relief against any gains made in the disposal of an asset that is used in the business. This later disposal can happen as long as 3 years after the original disposal. However, the relief is restricted if rent is charged on the property.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Standard Or Itemized?

Find out how to decide whether you should take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions. For even more information, go to

Monday, October 28, 2013

Earned Income Tax Credit May Increase Your Refund

Earned Income Tax Credit, more commonly referred to as EITC or EIC, increases your income tax refund. If you file as single taxpayer or are head of a household, with one or more dependents, and earn a low to moderate amount of gross income during a tax year, you are eligible for this tax credit. Unlike income adjustments or deductions that change the amount of your gross income, a refundable tax credit increases your tax refund literally dollar for dollar. EITC, created through Congressional legislation in 1975, has grown into a significant reporting function in our US income tax system. Taxpayer information supporting an EITC claim has grown more complex and onerous over the years. This tax credit even has its own Internet web page at EITC Central. This resource, separate from the IRS website, provides eligible taxpayers and those who prepare tax returns important help following the rules and regulations (collectively called due diligence) in reporting eligibility information associated with this single tax credit. The requirements are documented in IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. If you are eligible for EITC, you need to understand the growing set of rules imposed by tax authorities and follow them carefully to insure receiving your full tax entitlement.
Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility factors
EITC is based on income you earn. According to the Internal Revenue Service, earned income comes from a person, company, or agency you work for or from a business activity you operate or own. Wages, salary, or compensation, are all considered taxable income and are combined in order to determine the amount of the earned income tax credit. This government credit is a generous incentive to low to moderate income earners. Maximum gross income limits pertaining to eligibility are however imposed. Taxpayers require a valid Social Security number and must be either a US citizen, resident alien or a nonresident alien filing jointly with a US citizen. You cannot have any source of foreign income nor can you have unearned sources of income like savings account interest or stock dividends that exceed specific dollar limits. These limits can change from year to year. It is best to review current EITC income limits, maximum EITC amounts, and related tax credits like child tax credit (especially if you file Head of Household) on the official IRS website,
Earned income and unearned sources of income cannot exceed specific EITC eligibility dollar limits.
Income tax filing status is also a factor. If you are legally married as of December 31 of a tax year and claim the earned income tax credit, you cannot file an income tax return as Married Filing Separate (MFS). In addition, you can not be considered or file with someone considered a qualified child (QC) of some other person. If you file as Head of Household and claim one or more dependents, there are eligibility "tests" regarding age, relationship, and residency of these dependents during the tax year. These eligibility factors are an important part of your EITC claim in the 2011 tax year. Another valuable resource is IRS Pub 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, which has the most current source of IRS rules that relate to filing status and dependency for the current tax year.
An Earned Income Credit checklist
You must provide sufficient documentation to answer EITC eligibility questions. This tax credit is calculated on how much earned income you report on your individual income tax return, your filing status for the tax year, and the number of dependents you support. Both you, as an eligible tax payer, and your tax preparer, are responsible for fulfilling all the information requirements when completing your individual income tax return. In fact, you can find IRS Form 8867, Paid Preparer's Earned Income Credit Checklist, on the official IRS website. It includes specific questions that must be answered when completing your eligibility information. Failure to meet any of these requirements will result in significant financial and/or tax-related consequences to both you and the person preparing your income tax return.
Tax incentives like the Earned Income Tax Credit are ways government agencies offer incentives to those who work but, despite their best efforts, earn low to moderate amounts of money. The EITC helps, for example, hardworking single parents responsible for others who depend on them for support. This tax-free money added directly to your income tax refund boosts not only your personal standard of living but, in fact, the entire economy. The significant size of this government-funded entitlement however has brought about a complex set of rules and regulations. Seek professional tax advice especially when filing an income tax return. An EITC checklist covering specific eligibility factors will help you, and the person who prepares your income tax return, remain in compliance with changing tax definitions and specific rules of due diligence documenting your eligibility for this valuable earned income tax credit. For annotated citations, please visit one of my tax-related blogs.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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, October 19, 2013

Do I Have To File a Tax Return?

Learn about the requirements for filing a tax return, including income limits and age, and why you may want to file even if you don't have to file.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Owe Taxes But Can't Pay?

If you owe money but can't pay by this year's tax filing deadline, you'll want to check out this video.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Letting You Know How Outsourcing Bookkeeping Could Boost Your Small Enterprise

Bookkeeping work is difficult, lengthy and sensitive. It entails accurate and constant record-keeping of all financial transactions that take place during business hours. It must also include any other transaction that could occur outside the business premises or during the weekends. Every transaction should be recorded as it appears on the source document. Have you come across the term outsource bookkeeping services yet?
If not, you could be missing a great solution for your small enterprise. Those who outsource bookkeeping services have peace of mind and are happy about their business performance. Outsourcing allows you to delegate difficult tasks to an outsider. This outsider could be a freelancer or a bookkeeping firm. Many people, including me, would advice you to stick to bookkeeping firms. These are duly registered according to USA business laws and have a tangible license to proof their legitimacy.
As you seek to outsource bookkeeping services, remember to scrutinize your business properly. Perhaps there is more work than you think that needs to be done quickly. Besides, you must have some goals that you wish to achieve through a great independent bookkeeper. There must be benefits to outsourcing that you desire to obtain. For instance, farming out excess work could help unlock your time and freedom. Instead of sitting in the office all day supervising a few employees, you could dismiss those whose skills will be rendered redundant by outsourcing. After they are gone, your managerial burden will become more manageable.
Because your time will also be freed, you can attend more business seminars, workshops, conferences and meetings. In other words, you can now focus on the core areas of your small enterprise. To outsource bookkeeping services will also change your normal office overheads. Independent bookkeepers have their offices and they take care of their bills, salaries and other costs. They do not need your office furniture, computers, software, electricity or any other facility. What they will ask for is their service fee. At the end of the month, you will have saved money that is normally consumed by the bookkeeping office.
The money you normally spend because of that office can be used for marketing. If the business is marketed more, then it will receive more customers, more transactions and more money. If your business grows abruptly, because of effective marketing, you can outsource bookkeeping services to third parties. They normally have a big team of professionals. They are experienced with different industries and will be glad to assist you. Like those who outsource bookkeeping services, you need value for your money.
As much as farming out work is thought to reduce your operational costs, it could not go as planned if you are not careful. Some bookkeepers could be too expensive in the long-run even if their prices may seem fair to you. Cheap is always expensive in the end. Instead of choosing to outsource bookkeeping services on the basis of price, consider quality. What is the use of paying little money for a task that would later on be repeated in your office?

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Advantage And Disadvantage Of Taxes When You Own Your Business

Owing your own business is a lot of fun, it brings many freedoms. You can control your own income and you also have the ability to choose your own working hours. But still it does not exempt you from paying taxes. You still have to pay taxes for yourself and even perhaps for your employees as well. It is important to mention, that you manage your taxes very different than an employee because you are a business owner.
There are lots of advantages and disadvantages when you own your own business. Some of the things which you should consider before opening your business are:
Responsible for own taxes - employees don't have to ever worry about their taxes, deductions etc. They know that their employer will be working on this vertical for them. They don't have to save money for the year end etc. Having said that a business owner has to understand this and needs to follow the precautions from day one of his business.
Owing a business requires a lot of patience as well as discipline towards tax and their deadlines. The amount which you own to the IRS depends upon how much profit you are making on per year basis. If you do not do these calculations on the regular basis, you may end up paying tax as well as the penalties with that.
Medical Deductions - while it looks very daunting to pay your own taxes and also to save for them till the year end, people who own business have the privilege of enjoying a variety of deductions to help undo some of their tax liability. Employers have to pay a percentage of their employees' healthcare costs. However, if you are self-employed you are responsible for your own premium payments. IRS allows the business owners to deduct 100 percent of their healthcare premiums and some other medical costs to facilitate the rebate to business owners in tax liability.
Home and business Deductions - running your own business is not an easy job, it can incur other related costs as well. Operating your business from home can cause for high electricity as well as telephone bill. Even if you are not operating your business from home, there are other costs as well which you need to consider if you running your own business. These costs include office supplies, computer equipment, travel expenses, computer costs etc.
IRS understands this and to help reduce your tax cost, you can show all these expenditure under business expenses. Save all your purchase receipts which later you can use for your tax advantages.
Other Deductions - you can reduce your tax liability by writing off your mortgage interest every year. As per the law you can't write off your mortgage payment if you are running a business out of home however, you can still deduct whatever you spend on mortgage interest.
At the end, it is very important to decide whether you want to do business or you want to be a salaried employees. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Chose well after considering all your options.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Small Business Tax Filing Options

Different Tax Return Filing Options
Every wage earning citizen of the United States of America is required to pay their income taxes; for that matter, also Medicare and Social Security taxes too. Further, almost every citizen pays taxes in some fashion or other regardless of wag earnings in the forms of sales tax, property taxes or even vehicle registration. However, when it comes to corporations however, there are distinct differences in preparing taxes for big corporations and businesses. Small business tax returns are often complicated and complex. The following tips may prove to be useful in filing a business' tax return.
Though many business owners prefer to personally file their tax returns, it is possibly to the best interest of an organization to have professional tax preparers to be in charge of the tax organization. There are instances where a small business' taxes are very complex because of the numerous billable services, and inexperienced business owners with no accounting background are confused to no end. A professional tax preparer will be able to adequately prepare each small business tax return with accuracy. Yet several small business owners prefer to deal with the expertise of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). A CPA can keep a business' financial ventures in order, clearly underlining the problem areas and discrepancies. What's more, CPAs with expertise in small business taxes are in perfect position to suggest tax credits and deductions which can lessen a business' annual tax. By hiring professionals, a small business' tax return can be prepared in a short period of time, giving allowances to make adjustments if there are inconsistencies with the record.
Yet there are business owners who are uncomfortable to having other people conduct their monetary business for them, and prefer to prepare the taxes on their own. At such, it is a wise move for business owners to enlist themselves to basic tax courses. These lessons are available at local colleges and tax preparation businesses. Once business owners are equipped with the technical knowhow of the most common tax regulations and laws, and how to properly file their reports, then they can take advantage of the tax preparation course for a lifetime.
Another option for business owners would be to obtain tax software programs, which enable them to prepare their taxes with ease and speed. Tax software's are user friendly and offer step-by-step procedures for easy and hassle-free tax preparation. The softwares are usually free and offer pertinent forms, but small business owners may have to purchase the software since the small business forms are only available in paid versions. Software programs also enable small business taxes to be transmitted through the internet to be sent to its proper taxing agency.
Overall, business owners can prepare their own tax returns or ask for the help of CPAs and other professional tax preparers. They can also enroll in tax preparing courses and invest in tax software programs. Whatever the case, business owners should never forget that they are eligible for several tax deductions and credits. If properly credited, a business can have thousands of dollars in savings. These deductions come in the form of allowances, health care benefits, loans, charity donations, and the likes. The IRS offers these deductions to give businesses the opportunity to keep more of their income for more financial ventures and growth in the future.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Breaking News: The IRS Is Currently Closed.

IRS Operations during the lapse in Appropriations.

Due to the current lapse in appropriations, IRS operations are limited. However, the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments, but will be unable to issue refunds during this time. Taxpayers are urges to file electronically, because most of these returns will be processed automatically.

No live telephone customer service assistance will be available, however most automated toll-free telephone applications will remain operational. IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers will be closed.
While the government is closed, people with appointments related to examinations (audit), collection, Appeals or Taxpayer Advocate cases should assume their meetings are cancelled. IRS personnel will reschedule those meetings at a later date.
Automated IRS notices will continue to be mailed. The IRS will not be mailed. The IRS will not be working any paper correspondence during this period. Here are some basic steps for taxpayers to follow during this period.
How does this affect me?
1. You should continue to file and pay taxes as normal. Individuals who requested an extension of time should file their returns by Oct. 15, 2013.
2. All other tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers. The payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well.
3. You can file your tax return electronically or on paper - although the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them.
4. Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
5. Tax software companies, tax practitioners and Free File will remain available to assist with taxes.
What IRS services will be available?
1. For taxpayers seeking assistance, only the automated applications on the regular 800-829-1040 telephone line will remain open.
2. The IRS website,, will remain available, although some interactive features may not be available.
3. The IRS Free File partners will continue to accept and file tax returns.
4. Tax software companies will continue to accept and file tax returns.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Credit Card Tax Deductions for Small Businesses

One of the major problems that we usually meet when we decide to establish our own business is the financial support. Getting a business credit card is one of the ways in order to fund our own business. This is a less hassle way of getting funds compared to applying for a loan from banks. You also get to have many benefits like points, and many more that can help you develop your business. Having a business would mean that you are obliged to pay tax. This is where your credit card will be of big help. There are ways on how to determine your tax deductions.
Travel expenses and business meetings
When you go on a trip related to your business, you can always use your business credit card in paying your airline tickets as well as your hotel accommodation. Likewise, when you have business meetings with clients in restaurants, take advantage of your business credit card by paying your bills using it. With this, you can also earn rewards.
Business purchases
For sure, you will be spending so much for the materials that you will need for your business. This will be a good way to earn benefits aside from increasing your credit rating. In addition, any credit card purchase will be tax deductible. So make sure that you use your business credit card when purchasing even the smallest items that are related to your business.
Consumption costs
In line with having business, you also spend not just for materials but also for your consumptions such as electricity and internet connection. It is better to use your business credit card in paying these bills. In this way, you put more expenses that are tax-deductible on your credit card.
Employee benefits
When you have started to hire employees, their benefits, such as health insurance, are tax-deductible as well. This means that the more employees you have, the more tax-deductible expenses you get. You can even include employee's pension plan and retirement accounts.
Marketing and promotion
When you are selling products, you also need to do some marketing and promotion in order for the people to know about them. Of course, advertisements are a part of becoming successful with your business. All the materials needed for advertisements will also be tax deductible.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Oct 15 Tax Deadline

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Small employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees may qualify for a special tax credit.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Importance of Tax Service When Running Your Business

In running small business, it is very important to be able to take control of all the possible scenarios. You wouldn't want to get surprised by all the issues and problems lying around. One of the things you should worry about early on is looking into your books. It is very important for you to make sure that your bookkeeping and accounting is accurately and efficiently done.
A lot of preparation is needed to prevent errors and glitches from happening. One of the things you must do is to hire tax service, especially if you are not at all knowledgeable about finance. To keep these transactions in order, you should hire accountants for your business to run smoothly.
There are things you can't do by yourself. So instead of screwing everything up, it would be helpful if you just file all the documents needed and let the tax service providers do the work for you. This is definitely a cheaper alternative. Also, you wouldn't be subjecting yourself in tons of stress and headache when you know that these accounts can do this job easily. They are the masters of their field and they would be able to accommodate all your concerns, particularly if you have tax service issues.
While your accountant's at it, you can do other important things for other aspects of your business. This can save you a lot of time. At least, you will be able to deal with things you can get your hand on. This says a lot about your efficiency and your capability as a business head. Accounting involves a lot of tasks. Planning, returns, auditing, payroll and other fundamental services needs to be thorough procedures and business consultants can aid in easing the load off your shoulders.
Once you hire these consultants, it would lessen the risk of errors in your financial documenting and reporting. You would also reduce your exposure to these concerns. Finding the right accountant or accounting firm might be hard but it surely is an endeavor worth taking. The key is to give your trust when it comes to tax service, even if it is business or personal. Once you found someone you could entrust your finances with, just continue working with them. They can also introduce you to systems you can employ on your company.
There are also accounting software they might suggest to centralize each transaction. Keeping up with your bookkeeping needs might get messy for some time but as time goes by and your business expands, it would be more complex than before. Having tax service help would help you set everything up. By that time, you can also avoid having to bring your accounting work at home just to get everything done.

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