tax return

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5 Steps to Get Ready for Tax Time

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time: At Peace With Money

Yep, it’s that time of year again! As a small business owner, or let’s face it, just as an individual, tax time can be stressful.  But there are ways to reduce that stress and be ready for tax time before you know it.  As a former tax preparer and practicing bookkeeper, here are my top suggestions;

#1 – Designate a folder or box for all the mail that arrives regarding taxes.  You don’t even have to open the envelopes just collect it all in your “spot”.  Super simple!

#2 – If you are doing your banking online, you are probably getting email notifications that your tax statements are available.  I like to flag these emails as they come in and then sit down when I have some time later in the week to go back through the emails, log in and download each statement from the bank.  Save all of these to a file folder you’ll call 2017 Tax Documents.

#3 – If you are running a small business (and a side hustle does count), please, please, please tell me you have been running that business out of a bank account separate from your personal spending.  If not, go open that separate account right now!  If so, you can easily determine your income and expenses for the year by reviewing your bank statements.  Better yet, if you are running your business on an accounting platform such as Quickbooks Online and you have updated and reconciled your accounts, those reports are right at your fingertips.  I do suggest that you start this step in January just to give yourself plenty of time.

#4 – You should have received all of your tax mailings by mid-February. If your tax preparer is going to want everything in electronic form (or you just want to stay super organized) scan all of your paper statements and add them to your 2017 Tax Documents folder.

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time#5 – Grab a copy of last year’s tax return and review the entries you had last year.  Or if you have a digital file from last year, compare the statements with the information you have for this year.  This can jog your memory so you know you haven’t missed anything.  The last thing you want is to have to file a corrected tax return because you left something out, so just take the time and make sure you’ve got all of your information.

You did it!  You are ready for tax time!  And if #3 is causing you to pull out your hair, maybe it’s time to talk to a professional to help you set up a system or to decide if you are ready for ongoing proactive bookkeeping.

Angela

Image Sources:   Anton Darius | @theSollers

Business Expenses Are Not Free

Business Expenses Aren't Free: At Peace With Money

There is a common misconception among business owners: thinking that “I will write that off as a business expense” means it’s free. Let’s bust this myth! Our business (and bottom lines) will be all the better for it. 

Why Do We Think This?

The root of this misconception probably stems from our experiences as employees of larger companies. As an employee, business expenses are often “free” in that you get reimbursed for them or your company is covering the expense. However, now that you own your business, the expense is included in your bottom line. Business expenses no longer disappear into the ether of corporate bureaucracy – owning a small business means every expense shows up. 

A New Way to Think About Business Expenses

It’s true that as a business owner, you do get a tax write-off for business expenses. But it is also true that an expense is still an expense; the money still leaves your accounts. It’s important that, as business owners, we rewire our brains to recognize this. Business expenses are not equal to receiving things for free. Free stuff is still the best option!

Business Expense Advice: At Peace With MoneyRecognizing this may mean we need to reexamine our approach with expenses in general. When making a purchase, it’s important to ask yourself, “Is this expense actually adding value to my business? Do I really need this?”. Often we are pressured into spending money on our businesses that we don’t really need to, especially when starting out. Evaluating our priorities and finding financial clarity in our businesses can be a helpful step in the right direction. 

As my final tip, I’d like to present a favorite Profit First strategy of mine. Ask yourself, “Can I wait just one more day to make this purchase?” This simple question can again help you in evaluating your financial priorities, and buy you more time to get your business finances in order. 

 


Angela

Images: rawpixel.com , Brooke Lark