If you are in business, then guess what – you are either an accountant by default or you need to hire one. Why? People ask that question while letting the year roll by until taxes come due. Oh no! Why do I have penalties?
Simple, you are not an accountant and you should have hired on. So the first rule of business accounting is to hire one if you are not one. Second rule of business accounting is to hire an accountant to review your accounting before filing taxes.
Most individuals starting a business are unaware that the filing deadlines for corporations and small businesses are different from personal filings. While personal income tax returns are due in April. Corporate and business tax returns are due in March. His often leads to many late fees and so forth associated with late filing penalties.
Keeping good records is another concern for most new business owners starting out. Many new business owners do not understand the tax code and do not understand what can be written off as an expense and what cannot be written off as an expense. These small errors will also lead to penalties and additional fees associated with your filings.
Make sure to keep all receipts or online order forms for later reference and keep them organized. There is nothing worse than the end of the year sorting festival. Receipts get lost and records can be incomplete if not taken seriously. Do under estimate the power of organization and the process of organizing your records. Keep them tight!
Giving to charity must also be carefully monitored and accounted for by both parties. The philanthropist and the charity should both get a receipt and have good records. If you give time then keep good logs of your time and have the charity you donate to accept and sign for your log. You need a receipt!
Warning! Take great care not to fabricate or provide false deduction information. If you claim a deduction make sure your records are in order and you are prepared to be questioned if such questions arise. The practice of over filing expenses with the federal government and fabrication of records is a federal offense and can carry legal ramifications beyond penalties and fines.
In fact you can be imprisoned for fabrication of any information regarding your taxes. Going to prison for bad record keeping? Now that is a bad way to end a fiscal year.
Keeping track of money coming in is as much of an issue as keeping track of money going out. Simple bank statement preservation can go a long way to keeping things on track for your new business. Keep them in a “safe” place preferably a fire proof safe if possible. Remember all the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders no on else’s. The federal government does not care if your building burns to the ground before the tax year is over. You are still responsible for your taxes and the ramifications for not filing can be expensive ones.
Good accounting software should be your first stop if you plan to keep you own accounting records. There are several packages out there some are expensive and some a cheap. Pick one that meets your needs best not the biggest just because it appears to be the most expensive or the one with the most features. Remember, you have to learn how it works in order to keep good records. So keep in mind your own personal limitations when purchasing accounting software.
Finally, if you accept cash then document the transaction with a receipt. Never take cash without a receipt and always claim your cash receipts at the end of the year. After all, the greatest Mafia bosses and organized criminals of our time were not prosecuted for murder or the other hideous crimes they were in charge of. They were imprisoned for not filing taxes on cash receipts.
A good accountant can help you to avoid penalties and over taxation. Hire one they are worth every penny in the long run.