January 10, 2017
Small business owners often find themselves with headaches and indigestion at tax time. Nobody likes to see their money go to the IRS, but small business owners can make the process of filing taxes a little easier on themselves if they handle their taxes properly all year long. We share a few tips for small business owners looking to make the tax filing process a bit more manageable for this coming tax season.
Be consistent with your records
Small business owners cannot afford to be lax in their bookkeeping or record keeping, especially when it comes to tax documents. One of the best ways to save money on your taxes is to take legitimate deductions, but you may find yourself in a bind if you don’t have records to support your expenses and deductions.
You should have a system in place for keeping your records and tracking your income and expenses, and you must be consistent in your approach to it all year long. Waiting until tax season to get your records in order will cause undue stress and increase your risk of making a mistake or failing to meet a tax filing deadline.
File systems are one way to gather together and store your receipts, invoices, and other expense records. You should have separate files for mileage, meal costs, capital expenditures, office supplies, etc., all within your expense file. You also should have a consistent system for gathering these records in the first place, so if you have employees, you should set an expectation that they will log their mileage using a log book or app and then have a consistent process for them to follow to turn in their expenses to you.
Tracking your income and expenses becomes much easier when you have a computer program to help you handle these records properly. It is also a good idea to get W-2 software and/or 1099 software to help you handle such forms. These forms are among the most commonly used for small business owners, and having a program that enables you to input data and print and email reports can save you a great deal of time when tax season arrives.
Know how to lower your tax bill
Tax evasion is certainly not something any small business owner should consider pursuing. But, as we mentioned, taking legal deductions certainly is something that small business owners need to do to keep more money in their accounts and their wallets. One of the first deductions small business owners should consider taking is for a home office. It is nearly impossible to find a small business owner who does not have a home office, but it is easy to find several who do not take advantage of this money-saving tax method.
Home office deductions are not a red flag to the IRS as some people believe. The key is to use the home office for the sole purpose of doing business so that the IRS recognizes it as a legitimate home office space.
With a few simple measurements and calculations, you can use a portion of your home-related expenses such as mortgage payments, insurance bills, electricity bills, and more for your home office deduction. There is also a simpler home office deduction that requires fewer calculations that some people opt to use. It’s best to calculate both methods and then see which will save you more money in the long run.
Home offices are not the only deductions small business owners can pursue to lower their tax bills. All office supplies count as expenses, so hang on to your receipts for everything from printer ink to paper clips in order to offset taxable business income. Office furniture also counts as an expense, and small business owners have the option of deducting the total cost in the year of purchase or deducting a portion of the expense over seven years as depreciation.
With a little forethought for file organization, reporting processes, and legal deductions, small business owners can make the tax filing process a little smoother and save a little more money.