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Tax season is here, are you ready?

February 12, 2014

The first three and a half months of every year is known, by us in the accounting world, as “tax season.” Now most people see this as a time to file their individual tax returns, but when it comes to tax season there is so much more. You have quarterly and annual payroll taxes, w-2 forms, 1099s, corporate tax returns and of course individual tax returns. If you run a business and have payroll and service vendors it can be enough to push your sanity to the brink of extinction. It doesn’t have to come to this. There is no reason to add unwanted stress to your lives and to your business because you have to step aside and work a week or two to handle these issues. Here are some ways you can make it easier on you:

  1. Take care of business monthly instead of waiting to do it annually – You get bank statements every month. Reconciling your bank is vital to keeping up with your cash flow. So pick a day after the bank statements come in to designate as your “work day.” On that day, verify you have all your information in your accounting software or excel file, reconcile the bank and examine your reports. What could take you a couple of hours on one day a month can save you from 2 weeks of panic and heartache in January!
  2. Hire a good quality CPA – You think this is a shameless plug? Ask any business owner who has a good quality CPA and they will tell you the world of difference it makes. Yes they cost money (or at least that is what it seems) but you are not your companies bookkeeper. Your focus should be on growing your business and your customers. The value a quality CPA can bring to your business and the amount of time they can save you is much greater than the cost. Most CPAs are in the same price range as your local “seasonal tax services.” The only exception is, CPAs do not disappear after April 15th. Promises of quick refunds cost you more money and since most CPAs e-file your tax returns, if you have a refund you can get it back relatively quick. If you miss something on your return and find it in June, the seasonal tax services won’t be around to help you amend it.
  3. Have a good accounting software – Ok, you have been running your business out of excel for way too long. Excel is for those who have 50 or less annual transactions. If you are running a business invest in a good software. Most CPA firms can help you pick one that is good for you or have one that they set their clients up on. There are also many specialty softwares out there for assorted industries. A catch-all product that will work with most companies is QuickBooks and is an excellent choice for most small businesses. Having a good software can help you keep your stuff organized so when the year-end comes you aren’t scrambling to get the info into your spreadsheet.
  4. Don’t wait until the last minute to bring your stuff to your tax professional – There isn’t a CPA out there who wouldn’t “like” this on Facebook. You know you are not your CPA’s only client. Payroll taxes are due by the end of January, and since you don’t have payroll checks after December 31st you should be able to bring your payroll info to your CPA by the first week of January. W-2s have to be mailed to your employees by January 31st. That can be difficult to accomplish if you are waiting until January 29th to bring your payroll data. If you have to file a corporate return then that is due March 17th. If you show up in your CPA’s office on March 15th and expect them to finish, you may be fooling yourself. A good rule of thumb is to have everything ready by February 1st. There is always exceptions to the rules (like if you are waiting on 1099s) but you know your bank balances, loan balances, and all major purchases that you have made during the year. If all you are waiting on is 1099s then bring the info to your CPA. They have deadlines they have to meet, so give them the time they need to complete your work. Individual clients should have all their info in by February 20th (with the exception of corporate k-1s). Most brokerage statements should be in your hand by then but we all know that can vary from year to year. If you don’t have a brokerage statement and no K-1s, then get your information to your CPA.

These are just a few tips that you can use to help organize your business better for tax season. By being more prepared throughout the year you can make your tax season more bearable. If you are in need of a CPA, then we can help! We provide a variety of services for our clients from preparing individual and corporate tax returns to monthly accounting and beyond. With over 60 years of experience, Brammer, Begnaud, & Lattimore CPAs have the knowledge and understanding to help you handle all your tax questions and needs. For a consultation, give us a call at the office, (409) 983-1669, and give us the opportunity to serve you!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you – now and in the future!

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