6 Tax Tips for Home Office Business Owners

6 Tax Tips for Home Office Business Owners

If you’re a small business owner with a home office, taxes can be a little more challenging than when you relied on your employer to take care of your W-2s. Taking advantage of ways to trim your tax liability is an important part of ensuring that your new business venture is the success you want it to be. WIth that in mind, we’ve compiled some basic home office tax tips to help you stay ahead of the tax game.

  1. Know What’s Deductible.

If you’re home office is currently your dining room table, you can’t use it as a deduction. In order to qualify as your home office tax deduction, it has to be a place that is used exclusively for your business, even if it’s a small area of a room. So if there is a way to turn a corner of the exercise or laundry room into your private office, than do it. Your home office is one of the most important tax deductions to include. In the past, a complicated percentage deduction was typically used, but now, the formula is $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet total. So get working on that converting that spare bedroom now!

  1. Home Utilities.

Once you’ve qualified the space in your home as being a legitimate, tax-deductible home office, it’s time to look at those home utilities that are used to power that home office. Your heating and electricity bills can definitely be proportionately used as a factor of your deduction, as well as your wi-fi services and any dedicated phone lines you have for that home office.

  1. Don’t Forget the Office Supplies and Travel!

All that paper, toner, tape, paper clips and other office staples from Staples can all be included in your deductions, so make sure you’re saving all your receipts over the year for anything you buy that you’re using for your business. Traveling for business or driving to appointments? Save those airline ticket and hotel room receipts, and keeping a mileage log and pen in your glove compartment so you can quickly jot down miles driven to meet up with clients is a great way to ensure you get your proper deduction for mileage. Keeping your gas and lunch meal receipts all together with your mileage log will it much easier for your accountant when tax season rolls around, too, Since 50% of your meals can qualify as a deduction. And making a quick notation of clients met with and projects discussed on receipts when the meeting happens is a great habit to get into right from the start.

  1. Time for An Upgrade?

Looking to add some zing to your presentations with a color printer upgrade or make sitting at your home office desk a more comforting experience with a better office chair? Go for it, and make sure to give those receipts to your accountant at tax time, too. Keep in mind that when it comes to large home office purchases (like a printer or a new laptop), the deduction can be claimed in two ways: all at once, or as a Depreciation Deduction, which means the deduction is applied gradually over the life of the item; discuss with your accountant which deduction method would be best for you.

  1. Insurance.

If you’re self-employed and running your own business, it’s possible you can deduct the cost of the policy for you and your family. The best way to ensure you’re participating in a deductible health care plan is to discuss the policy with your accountant or business advisor first. If you decide that the costs of a health care plan is too expensive, know that participating in a spouse’s health care plan is NOT considered a deductible expense.

  1. Retirement Plan.

When you’re just starting out in your own business, you’re thoughts are focused on the present, and getting your business off the ground. However, it is always important to keep your future goals in mind, and putting savings into a tax-deferred retirement plan is one of the most solid ways to keep your taxes low. Getting your plan set up and contributing even the bare minimum will help your out when it comes tax time, and even the smallest contributions can add up quicker than you may think. Talk to your business advisor to find out what contribution you can afford, and which is the best plan for you and your tax liability.

5 Reasons Why You MUST Have an Accountant for Your Business

5 Reasons Why You MUST Have an Accountant for Your Business

It can come as a shock to many people trying to start a business that as many as 80% of new businesses fail within the first year and a half. The primary reason for this daunting statistic? Bad financial management. What DOESN’T come as a shock is that most of these failed businesses tried to handle the financial aspects on their own. This is why having a knowledgeable financial advisor on hand as partner and consultant is a key component to starting any business venture, especially for small businesses just getting off the ground. Professional accountants do a lot more than just helping you file your business taxes. Through a comprehensive analysis of your financial situation, cash flow and expenses, an accountant can ensure that you have an accurate forecast for your business so that you can stay prosperous and in the black for the year. Here are five reasons it’s vital to have an experienced, knowledgeable accountant helping you with the success of your business.

  1. Deductions.

Ensuring you are keeping track of any potential deductions is a vital part of filing your business taxes. Many new entrepreneurs leave money on the table by forgetting to account for mileage, out-of-pocket expenses or home office expenditures. A professional accountant will help keep track of those types of potential money-saving deductions throughout the year so that come tax time, you can rest assured that you are doing everything possible to save your business money.

  1. Real-Time Decisions.

Many small business owners who don’t work with a professional accountant or business advisor find that when it comes to making big financial decisions, – like buying a large piece of equipment or hiring an employee – they are often doing so in a financial vacuum, without full knowledge of what the implications of the expenditure might mean for them down the road. Having a professional advising you on your cash flow and budget can make those decisions much easier, and you’ll be able to make in real-time with full knowledge and confidence.

  1. Audits.

Yes, the word that strikes fear in the hearts of any entrepreneur: the dreaded audit. One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is to only seek the advice of an accountant once they are already in an adverse situation, when they could have potentially avoided the situation by having worked with an accountant throughout the year. There are many reasons why the IRS decided to audit a business, from something as simple as too many mistakes on a tax form to something as complex as too many write-offs. An experienced accountant can protect you from these types of issues, and using their expertise to focus on the finances will free you up to focus on the important things, like running your business!

  1. Saving Time and Energy.

A common mistake among small business owners is that their razor-thin budget means they can’t afford an accountant. However, if you weigh the amount of time and energy you spend worrying about and dealing with the financial state of your business, you’ll quickly see that the benefits of hiring someone to do that for you far outweigh the cost. A business owner needs to focus on the day-to-day marketing and management of the business itself, and engaging a professional to deal with the finances will allow you to do just that.

  1. Planning for the Future:

One of the most important benefits of hiring a financial advisor for your business is the ability to plan knowledgeably for the future. A professional can help you look at past performance indicators that can help you plan for the possible seasonality of your business, which in turn can assist you with inventory control, budgeting for when to buy big-ticket items, and figure out the best plan to ensure the longevity of your business.

The life of a new business owner can be exceptionally stressful, but deciding to hire a professional financial consultant to collaborate with you on your venture can take a lot of that stress off your back, and allow to actually enjoy your new entrepreneurial status, and look forward to a future with confidence. <strong>Executive Public Accountants</strong> specializes in partnering with small business owners to ensure the financial health of their business is secure. <strong>Call us today</strong> to see how we can help you and your business breathe a financial sigh of relief!

8 Tax Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs

8 Tax Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Congratulations! Whether you finally decided to stop procrastinating and open that small business you’ve been talking about forever or you’ve been running your own side hustle for a few years, you deserve hearty kudos for taking a risk and living a dream many of us have but few ever do. Being a small business owner has significant rewards, but it also comes with some drawbacks and pitfalls you must be aware of if you’re going to succeed. One of those areas is how to ensure you are maximizing your tax savings with some basic yet important strategy. A recent study published in Forbes Magazine indicated that as much as 93% of small business owners overpaid their taxes annually. (Forbes, April, 2018). Here are some tips we’ve put together for to help you take advantage of tax savings for the small business entrepreneur.

  1. Mileage.

If you own a small business, chances are that you are doing a great deal of the necessary travel yourself. All those rides to the airport or to drop off a package add up. Make sure you are keeping track of any mileage you incur for your business by using mileage tracker, and then remember to provide those to your tax accountant. Even if you’re using your personal vehicle, those miles add up, and could be a hefty deduction when the time comes.

  1. Home Office.

If you are running your business out of your home in an area of the house that is used only for your business (a dedicated home office), you are eligible for a home office deduction. This cut gives you a $5 deduction per square foot up to 300 feet.

  1. Going Green.

If you’re implementing sustainability initiatives in your business, you should keep track of what you’re doing and do a little homework on what type of tax credits are available to reward your efforts. For example, if you’re using a hybrid vehicle for your business, you might qualify for the IRS Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit. Do a little homework on this topic and as your tax accountant for more info.

  1. Insurance.

If you have set up an insurance plan for yourself or your employees, the premiums you pay for this insurance might be tax deductible, as well as other insurance premiums you pay to protect your business. Make sure you factor these in when tax times comes.

  1. Keep Careful Records & Receipts.

Keeping any receipts related to business – like travel, meals, entertainment, supplies, etc. – is especially important. The IRS allows for 100% of business related travel to be deducted and 50% of meals and entertainment, but due to abuses of this deduction in the past, it’s important to make sure you err on the side of OVER documenting. Your receipts should include all the obvious information (date, time, amount and place of expense) but also note on the receipt who/what the meal was for and the purpose of the expense. For travel expense, make sure you ask the hotel for an itemized bill at checkout. Having all this information ready to go when you meet with your accountant at tax time will make things much easier and faster.

  1. Save Your Cash.

Many entrepreneurs look at business profits and assume they need to spend their cash to avoid a big tax bill. Don’t fall into the trap of spending a dollar to save fifty cents. If you really NEED a new printer, computer, etc. than buy it, but don’t spend money just because you think it will help you avoid the bill from Uncle Sam. Don’t forget that taxes are the cost of doing business, and if you’re paying them, that means you’re making money, which is why you started out in the first place.

  1. Save for Retirement.

It may seem like something you can put off, but starting picking the right retirement plan and starting to develop it is something that smart entrepreneurs do. Ask your tax advisor about which plan is right for you. These days, many entrepreneurs are looking at opening an SEP-IRA, thanks to it being cheap to open, and its’ high contribution limit (which is all tax deductible). Ask your advisor about which plan is the right fit for you.

  1. Invest in Professional Software.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but investing in today’s business software is a terrific way for small business entrepreneurs to avoid headaches and make sure they are on the right track when it comes to tax time. QuickBooks is the leader in this race for a reason. It’s user friendly interface and organizational metaframe are unmatched. If you need some help getting off the ground with it, contact your tax advisor and see if they have a Certified QuickBooks Pro on the team. We do here at EPA!

101: Tax Tips

5 Tax Tips to Take Advantage of Now

Think it’s too late to do anything to minimize the impact of taxes on 2018?  Think again. You still have time to take advantage of some strategies that can make the upcoming tax season less of the stressful nightmare you’re used to and one that will make you feel you’re putting your best financial foot forward for 2019.

  1. Contribute NOW to Retirement Accounts

If you haven’t already maxed out on funding your retirement accounts, you still have time to do it.  The deadline for making contributions to traditional IRA’s and Roth IRA’s is April 15, 2019. If you have a Keogh or SEP and file for an extension (until October 15th) than you can wait until then to make your contributions.  However, don’t treat the extra time as an excuse to dawdle. You want to start compounding that tax-free interest as soon as possible, so sooner rather than later is the name of the game here.

Another great perk to maximizing your retirement contributions?  Lowering your 2018 tax bill by reducing your taxable income. It’s a great financial move all around.  Remember that for 2018, the maximum IRA contribution is $5,500 (adjust that to $6,500 if you were 50 or older at the end of 2018) and the max contribution to your SEP or Keogh is $55,000.

  1. Make a Final Estimated Tax Payment

If you weren’t “paying the piper” enough out of your regular paycheck throughout the year, Uncle Sam might have his hand out for his share come April 15th, and it could be a staggering sum to come up with all at once.  According to the IRS, you must pay 100% of last year’s tax liability or 90% of this year’s tax to avoid having to pay an underpayment tax. A quick band-aid solution? Make a last minute tax payment. You have until January 15th, 2019 to do so, and even a relatively small amount can help offset the proverbial hammer from landing on you come April.  One word of caution though: make sure you don’t OVERPAY. It’s always better to owe the government a little something rather than expect a refund, particularly when you remember that overpaying taxes is essentially providing an interest-free loan to the government.

  1. Get Your Records Organized NOW.

While being organized at tax time may not cut your tax bill, it will keep you from that d dreaded “under the gun”  feeling that comes from procrastinating until April rolls around.  Taking small amounts of time to get on top of your records now will minimize your tax prep time investment, and will also help avoid the need to file an extension or the possibility of entering into a tax payment plan with the IRS (which will include a financing charge you don’t need).  Start a folder now with 2017’s tax returns included, and start putting all the information that comes in the mail (such as W-2’s, 1099’s and mortgage interest payments) into the folder as well.  Gather your receipts and get the information from your broker for any stocks or funds you sold now too.  In doing so now, you’ll be surprised how relaxed you feel come spring, and the value of that feeling can’t be measured.

  1. Start Itemizing Your Deductions

WIth the new deduction limits set forth in The Tax Cuts and Job Act, you might make the assumption that it’s easier to take the standard deduction, and you might be right, but if you start itemizing now, you may find that you have more deductions than you think.  2018 raised the standard deduction level from $6,500 to $12,000 for individuals and from $13,000 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. While this dramatic increase means many people will end up taking the standard deduction, it’s important to make sure you’ve considered every possible deduction available to you.  If you’re self-employed or live in a high-tax area, those deductions can add up, and don’t forget deductions like medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI. Also, make sure to gather all your records of charitable donations, including all those trips to Goodwill after you cleaned out your attic, and all those times you put cash into a collection can at the gas station.  

  1. File and Pay ON Time and File Electronically

Filing and paying ontime not only means that you can wash your hands of this year’s taxes, but it also means that you avoid the possibility of the IRS hitting you with a late filing penalty, which can add up quickly (4.5% per month of the taxes owed AND a late penalty of .5% per month of taxes due.)  If there is no way you can file and/or pay on time, make sure to file an extension (Form 4868) by April 15, 2019. Doing so keeps you from having to pay these costly penalties, and keeps you in good standing with the IRS, something that’s ALWAYS a good idea.

Filing electronically also has numerous benefits.  The IRS not only processes electronic returns much faster than paper ones, it also checks your returns to make sure they are complete, which greatly increases ensuring you’ve filed an accurate return and won’t have to deal with the delays involved in having an incomplete filing.  Another “peace of mind” benefit to filing electronically is that the IRS sends an acknowledgement that they have received your return. And finally the best benefit to filing electronically is that you can anticipate receiving any return as much as 6 weeks earlier than those filing their returns via paper copy.

Taking advantage of these tips now can help to reduce your tax season stress and help you start out 2019 right.  Have some questions/ We’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a personal consultation with one of our tax experts.

How Will The New Tax Plan Affect You?

As a tax-paying American, you’re likely well aware of the recent Tax Cuts and Job Act President Trump and the Congress unveiled in late 2017.  The new bill called for some extensive changes in tax law, especially in the areas of tax bracket categories and limits on itemized deductions.  The new tax law is hundreds of pages long and extremely complex, but we’re here to distill the information down for you so you can know just how the new rules will affect your day to day live for your 2018 tax return and beyond.

There are four main areas in which the this new tax code will have an impact on your overall bottom line:

  1. A Major Increase in the Standard Deduction Cap and Exemption Elimination Means Significant Changes.

The new tax law has some huge changes when it comes to the standard deduction and exemptions.  While exemptions were eliminated, the amount of standard deductions have nearly doubled. Consider the deduction table below:

 

Filing Status201720182019
Single$6,350$12,000$12,200
Married Filing Jointly$12,700$24,000$24,400
Married Filing Separately$6,350$12,000$12,200
Head of Household$9,350$18,000$18,350

What do the higher deduction caps mean for you?  For most Americans, it means that you will NOT end up exceeding the cap, therefore you will be taking the standard tax deduction and end up having a HIGHER taxable income.  

  1.   Income Tax Rates and Brackets Have Changed

Both tax rates and brackets changed greatly in 2018, and will change again for 2019.  In general, the new tax rates will mean an overall decrease in taxes paid for most people.  The idea behind this change was to provide greater relief for middle-class Americans.For example, everyone who lands in the 24% tax bracket will see a change for the better, but those who found themselves in the next bracket group might find they are paying a bit more in yearly income tax.  

  1.   What Will the New Child Tax Credit Mean to Me?

If you’re a parent, there’s some good news in the new tax reform.  In 2017, the tax credit per child was only $1,000, but was bumped up to $2000 per child in 2018, and will stay at that rate for 2019.  Additionally, the income limit for claiming the child care tax credit will increase to $200k for single filers and $400k for married couples filing jointly.  This larger credit helps offset the loss of personal exemptions and is great news for parents.

  1. Sweeping Changes to Itemized Deductions

The huge bump in the standard deduction amount means that only taxpayers who have deductions exceeding those amounts will be able to itemize deductions.  This is why it is more important than ever to ensure that you are making sure you are accounting for any and all possible deductions in your finances. Medical and dental costs, for example, are now deductible at 7.5 percent of your AGI as opposed to the 10 percent of previous years.  State and Local Taxes (SALT) and property taxes can still be deductible, but now have a cap on them of a total of $10,000. These changes and others mean that it is very important you educate yourself on exactly what can be itemized and for how much, or work with an experienced tax professional.

The new tax laws can be daunting to anyone.  We are here to help! Call us today to make an appointment with someone who can help you maximize the new rules in your favor.