4 Helpful Small Business Tax Preparation Tips

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Taxes are complex. Tax laws are constantly changing. Keeping on top of these rules can seem like an uphill struggle. Small business owners face numerous challenges while preparing and filing taxes. They have limited resources and have to juggle multiple tasks.

Many last-minute tax filers scramble to make the deadline. They make mistakes and end up earning the wrath of the IRS.

They say preparation is half the battle. Tax preparation does not have to be time confusing or complex. Start preparing your taxes early to avoid last-minute confusion and ensuing chaos. Break down large tasks into bite-sized tasks. Carry out a task every day.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your taxes effectively.

1. Get Organized

Open a savings account specifically for taxes. You can use account funds to meet your tax obligations as a business owner. Start making estimated quarterly tax payments, or you may be subject to penalties. Keep your business and personal accounts separate.

Effectively track business expenses. Get sufficient documentation for them (for example, travel expense vouchers for travels that occurred during the financial year). Keep personal, and business expenses separate. To reduce paperwork, digitize receipts.

2. Hire a Professional

Preparing taxes can feel like an insurmountable task. You need to check transactions appearing in your books and verify and validate them. This is a time-consuming task. As a business owner, you have better things to do than maintaining your financial records.

If you have too much on your plate, consider hiring a professional such as a CPA or tax attorney. These professionals keep on top of tax rules and regulations. Your CPA will prepare your taxes, help you identify ways to minimize your tax liability, and ensure tax compliance.

3. Leverage Technology

If you rely on traditional paper-based methods, you will end up getting bogged down by paperwork. Paper-based methods are inefficient, and you need physical space to store your files and documents. Paper documents can be easily misplaced, stolen, or damaged.

Automate your document management processes. Using electronic statements is a great way to eliminate paper for good.

Use accounting software. Accounting software will allow you to access accounting data anytime, anywhere, foster collaboration, improve accounting security, and improve bookkeeping and accounting accuracy.

4. Stay Informed

Stay up-to-date on industry developments. Follow eminent people in the financial world and affinity groups that publish articles, information, and opinions.

Do not give attention to preposterous rumors. It is best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth (in this case, the IRS) so you are sure it is true. Visit the IRS website to watch videos and participate in webinars.

Need tax help? Have you got tax problem? Look no further than FinishLine Tax Solutions. We will create a tax strategy customized to your specific needs.

Why Hire a Tax Professional?

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Filing taxes can be both tedious and confusing, especially for non-professional who don’t customarily stay up-to-date with tax code changes. There are many tax laws, and all must be accounted for each time you file to avoid hefty fines or interest on unpaid tax. However, taxes are as inevitable as death, and unfortunately, ignorance is no defense where they are involved.

This is why some people choose to enlist the services of tax professionals or tax preparers during filing season. Apart from that, a helpful tip is to stay prepared for filing by ensuring you keep your bills and receipts for deductible expenses, especially if you run a small business.

If you’re wondering what the value of a qualified tax professional, below is a list of benefits you can enjoy from their services.

Saves Time

According to the IRS, the average consumer spends 13 hours to file their tax returns, although some estimates quote as high as 24 hours. If you’ve tried to do your own taxes, you have probably taken longer than one day to do it, especially if you have a small business or rental income to report.

Assuming your time was worth $20 per hour, you are easily spending $260 and above to file. Because you aren’t conversant with this process, you spend double or triple the amount of time a tax professional would take. The tax preparer works efficiently and does the correct thing on the first try, saving a ton of time and effort.

Cost is Tax-Deductible

If you itemize your expenses, the cost of hiring a tax professional is a deductible expense on Form 1040. Therefore, you end up paying less tax because of this deduction.

Reduces Complexity

As mentioned, filing taxes is a difficult and complicated process. For the average consumer, there are hundreds of details to consider, and it’s very easy to make a costly mistake. What’s more, the Tax Code is updated annually, and you may not be aware of how such changes affect your next tax returns. This gets even more complex if you did any of the following:

  • Lost or made money in investments
  • Started or sold a small business
  • Sold or bought a capital asset
  • Bought or sold real estate
  • Changed your marital status
  • Changed your residence so that your income and residence are now different

A tax professional handles tax matters on a daily basis. They stay abreast of all tax codes and how they affect various consumers. Therefore, they are best placed to advise you on the impact of these changes and how you should file your next returns. Should you choose to do it yourself, always check how such changes affect your next returns.

Finds Relevant Deductibles and Credits

There are tax-deductible expenses and tax credits that most taxpayers qualify for, but the system and common tax software may not be updated on them. Therefore, you lose precious money and end up overpaying your taxes when you don’t claim all your relevant deductibles and credits.

A tax professional is aware of the latest credits and deductibles and how they affect various individuals and businesses. Therefore, he/she can ensure that you take advantage of them to reduce your payable taxes. If you have overpaid in the past, he/she can also help you to file amendments and request for refunds.

Assistance with Audits

Finally, should you ever be audited, a tax professional can work with you and your business to get the relevant bills, receipts and documents to support your returns. He/she can represent you when dealing with the IRS to ensure that you are protected. While only 1 percent of taxpayers are audited, it is best to have a tax professional if you ever land in these murky waters.

Conclusion

Tax accountants and tax professionals are real people, which means you can defer to them with any questions or concerns you have. Before filing your taxes this year, talk to a tax professional and find out how they can help you wade the murky waters of taxation reporting.

IRS Fresh Start Program

People are usually fearful of the IRS. A letter from the IRS is enough to fill them with fear, especially if they have an unpaid tax bill. They might end up in debt to the IRS and think that there is no way out of this. Thankfully, the IRS Fresh Start Program to help the taxpayers with tax resolution. Even if you have owed a debt for years, this program can help you get the tax relief.

The IRS Fresh Start Program is a tax resolution option from the IRS. The program makes it easy for taxpayers to pay their tax debt without having a levy on their assets. This is not a new initiative. It has been in place for several years. The program started in 2008 to help the taxpayers during the recession. In 2012, thanks to the changes introduced by the IRS, it became easier for the taxpayers with financial hardship to get their tax debt reduced.

Recently, the program was expanded to help people who are struggling with their tax debt. The IRS had made changes to their tax code for alleviating tax bills and helping out the taxpayers. The aim of this program is to provide tax resolution options to taxpayers. It allows them to pay back their debt without any excess fees of liens. The IRS might even forgive a certain amount of past debts or eliminate penalties for late fees.

Eligibility criteria for the IRS Fresh Start Program

  • Owe $50,000 or less money in tax debt.
  • Self-employed individuals who had a 25% or more drop in their gross income.
  • Married couples who are filing joint-returns must have income less than $200,000 in a year. In this case, the amount earned by an individual taxpayer should be less than $100,000. 

Repayment options offered through the IRS Fresh Start Program

Extended Installment Agreement

This tax resolution option reduces the fees and penalties imposed on the taxpayers. However, this need not be confused with the regular payment option.

The regular payment option is for taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax debt before the deadline, but the extended installment agreement is for taxpayers who are unable to pay penalties and other fees associated with debt before the deadline. 

There are two forms of installment plans. 

The first one is the short-term plan that is available without any fee for late payment. Also, there won’t be any fee for setting up this installment plan. These are for a period of 120 days and have penalties associated until the complete debt is paid off.

The second form is the long-term installment plan that will include some setup fees. It will depend on whether the payment is made by the taxpayers or if it is deducted automatically for the bank account.

The Fresh Start Program offers different tax resolution payment arrangements like stair-step, partial-pay, debt installment, or streamlined installment agreement. Now even though there are arrangements available, all taxpayers have to negotiate directly with the IRS for determining whether they are eligible for this or not. Depending on this, they might have to pay a certain amount over time through monthly payments. Regardless of the plan approved by the IRS, you have to ensure that every installment is paid in full and on time. Failure to do so will nullify the arrangement. 

It is important to know that these payments are accompanied by a fee. In cases of debt of $50,000 or more, it requires taxpayers to submit Form 9465 and Form 433-F via mail or in-person.

Offer in Compromise

If you are unable to pay off your debt in full, there is an Offer in Compromise option offered by the IRS. For this, you will need the help of tax experts.  Getting the IRS to agree to let you pay a reduced amount is a tricky process and requires the help of tax experts. There are several tax resolution services that can help you negotiate with the IRS.

To get your request for an Offer in Compromise accepted, you’ll have to prove to the IRS that paying their taxes will result in financial hardship. 

To determine whether you are qualified for this tax resolution option, the IRS will be checking your current and future income and expenses. Also, the IRS will first determine if the reduced amount from the offer in compromise is more or at least equal to the amount they expect to receive from the taxpayer through the collection actions. 

Here are the three criteria that can determine your eligibility:

  1. Credibility

If the IRS thinks that they won’t be able to get any money from you through collection actions, they might accept your ‘offer in compromise’ request. If they think that you have assets that might get them a higher amount of money, they won’t accept your OIC. Please note that a levy on a lien can impact your credit score, affecting your ability to buy any assets or apply for a loan.

2. Liability and accuracy

This includes proving that you don’t owe the money the IRS is claiming. If you think that there was an error during tax preparation, IRS might agree to let go of the initial owed amount and take your offer. For this, you need to take the help of tax resolution services.

3. Effective tax administration

When the IRS believes that paying the complete amount will lead to severe financial hardship for you, they might accept your offer in compromise.

IRS very rarely accepts the Offer in Compromise. To make sure that you even have a slight chance at this tax resolution option, you need the help of tax experts. Once your offer is accepted, all the payments should be made in time. Failure to do so will nullify your OIC, and you will have to pay the complete amount.

Tax resolution is a way to make the process of paying taxes easier for people undergoing hardships. However, if you earn well and have assets, the IRS won’t be accepting your request. If you are going through a financial hardship, you need the help of tax resolution services to help you get back on your feet.