Tips to make your business tax filing easier and pain-free
If you have a business, you already know tax season can be a stressful time. Pulling together the documents, sending them to your tax professional, hoping that they get everything in the right bucket and you owe as little as possible – It’s a hassle!
However, with a little planning and some effective communication, you can make the process a lot smoother and less overwhelming. We’ve gathered a few valuable tips to ensure you have a much better experience with your taxes in the new year!
Early Preparation is Key:
One of the most crucial aspects of stress-free tax filing is starting early. With the corporate filing deadlines at least March or April, there is a temptation to put off getting everything to your tax professional until closer to the due date. Here are a few reasons we think it’s better to deal with the taxes now:
1. Since you’re spending time reviewing your 2023 financial results anyway, everything is fresh in your mind. You or your finance department are already running reports and getting information together to review (and hopefully preparing a budget/cash flow forecast for the new year too)…. Why not just complete the process of closing out 2023 by sending the required reports to your tax preparer too?
2. Your tax preparer has more time now than later! The closer to the deadline, the more businesses and individuals will be submitting their information for processing. By submitting early, you’re allowing your preparer to look at your business with fresh eyes and have the time to review and ensure the best outcome. When you submit during the rush, your numbers may not get the same level of service as submitting early.
3. Waiting until the last minute can result in errors, overlooked deductions, and added stress. By beginning the process well in advance, you’ll give yourself and your preparer ample time to review and organize your financial information thoroughly.
To be clear, our recommendation is to prepare your taxes early and understand your liability – NOT to pay any taxes early! Knowing the implications of your tax return (and whether you will pay or receive a refund) helps to plan, but keeping your operating cash in the bank as long as possible is the goal of proper cash management. Your preparer can have the returns ready to file at the deadline and payment can be made when it is due.
Separate Expenses in General Ledger Accounts:
Maintaining a well-organized general ledger is essential for accurate tax filing. Make sure to categorize your expenses correctly and keep them in separate general ledger accounts to help your preparer identify them. This not only simplifies the process for your preparer, but also ensures that you can easily identify and defend each expense in case of an audit. Some examples of this are Owner Health Insurance (separate from employee health insurance policies), disallowable Club Memberships/Dues (separate from deductible dues and subscriptions), and separate accounts for state and local tax payments (separate from sales taxes or fees).
Review Home-Based Expenses:
For entrepreneurs working from home, it's vital to review and document all home-based expenses. This includes rent or mortgage, utilities, and other related costs. The IRS provides guidelines for deducting home office expenses, so be sure to discuss these with your provider to maximize your eligible deductions. Make sure your expenses will pass audit by asking to have an Accountable Plan made and maintain the documentation required.
Detailed Documentation is Crucial:
Accurate record-keeping is the backbone of smooth tax filing. Your accountant probably doesn’t need to see (or want to go through) every receipt, invoice, purchase order, bank statement, or other relevant document. But the IRS might need to see any or all of them if there is an audit. Make your job MUCH easier by attaching the document within your accounting system at the time you record them. Most systems (like Quickbooks Online) have a feature to attach a document to the transaction at the time of recording. If you use this feature all year, you can rest assured that you won’t misplace the document in the “filing cabinet”, where it is more likely to get lost.
Run Through Your Return with your preparer:
Before filing your taxes (but after you’ve given them time to go through internal processes/reviews), schedule a comprehensive meeting with your preparer to review the return. Make sure they understand all of the deductible categories and credits applicable to your business. Discuss any changes in tax laws or regulations that may impact your filing, and ensure that you are taking advantage of all available deductions. This proactive approach can result in significant tax savings for your small business.
Know Your Tax Obligation (or refund) for Planning Purposes:
Understanding your tax obligation is not just about meeting deadlines; it's a strategic advantage for your business. Knowing your tax liability for the previous year allows you to plan for payments, preventing financial strain. Additionally, discussing estimated payments for the new year with your preparer helps you budget effectively and avoid unexpected tax burdens.
A Fractional CFO can make taxes easier:
If you are a client of PPS Solutions, or if you already have a Fractional CFO on your team, you know the value we can provide as an intermediary between the business and the tax preparer. As a strategic financial partner, a fractional CFO brings a solid understanding of the company's financial landscape, enabling them to orchestrate the organization's fiscal activities in alignment with tax regulations. They play a crucial part in categorizing and organizing financial transactions, ensuring that expenses are correctly allocated, and relevant deductions are identified. Additionally, the fractional CFO provides valuable insights into optimizing the company's financial structure to maximize tax benefits. Through their expertise, they contribute to effective tax planning, helping the business make informed decisions on deductions, credits, and compliance matters. This collaborative effort between the fractional CFO and the accountant not only streamlines the tax preparation process but also positions the business for financial success by proactively managing its tax obligations and identifying opportunities for financial optimization.
Take Advantage of Tax Planning Opportunities:
While the other tips mostly deal with the ways to make THIS tax season better, a comprehensive tax plan will pay dividends over the lifespan of your business. This comprehensive service offered by PPS Solutions along with our executive CFO package, includes exploring all areas of tax to minimize tax liabilities, ensure compliance with tax regulations, and optimize financial decisions to facilitate the short and long-term financial goals of the company and its stakeholders. Proactive tax planning can lead to substantial savings and improved financial stability.
Tax time can be stressful and expensive. But, if you follow these simple tips, it can be less of both. By creating an effective communication with your preparer, preparing your documents early, separating expenses according to your preparer’s instructions, reviewing home-based costs, and thoroughly discussing deductible categories with your accountant, you not only streamline the tax filing process but also ensure compliance with tax regulations. Additionally, understanding your tax obligation and taking advantage of planning opportunities contribute to the overall financial health and success of your small business.
If you don’t have a Fractional CFO or a comprehensive Tax Plan, PPS Solutions would love to help you with both. If you don’t have a tax preparer, we are happy to recommend one of our awesome partner organizations. Either way, we hope you will drop us a note or schedule a meeting with us today!