Small Business Tax Planning

Tax Planning Strategies: What You Need To Know

Not only is it essential to have tax planning strategies in place, but it’s vital to have a trusted advisor to turn to for questions, accurate reporting, and detailed information on tax laws. This will be different for every person based on their business and goals, so make sure to have a good idea of what yours are.

Part of planning out your strategy should include knowing what your tax deductions, what taxes are due quarterly, and mistakes to avoid.

The most common tax deductions include vehicle expenses, insurance, and rent. If you are a new company, you may also qualify for a startup cost deduction. Depending on the accounting system your company has in place, you may also be eligible for inventory or business loan interest deductions. Arm yourself with information so you can capitalize on any deductions possible.

Knowing what strategies are to avoid is just as, if not more, knowledgeable that knowing what to execute. Below are some tax planning mistakes to steer clear from:

Failing to have enough cash

One of the most common mistakes we see businesses make is not having enough cash in the bank to cover their taxes when they are due. The company may then be assessed penalties, resulting in owing more than your business initially planned for and tapping further into your well.

Failing to report trackable income

Companies that employ or operate as independent contractors must report trackable income. If you have done more than $600 in business for a client, they are obligated to send you a 1099. And since this number also gets sent to the IRS, you are obligated to report it when filing your taxes. Don’t try to fudge numbers on how much you’ve made – the IRS takes this seriously.

Missing deductions

There is a fine line between maximizing your deductions and going overboard. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, fringe benefits like team outgoings, travel, and work-related entertainment are 100 percent non-deductible. The last thing you want is to owe the IRS more money or pay the penalty for any mistakes.

While claiming too many expenses can signal a red flag to the IRS, you don’t want to miss deductions that you are entitled to claiming. Here are some common examples of deductions that you don’t want to miss out on:

  • Startup costs: You can claim up to $5,000 for expenses related to getting the business up and running.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit: This allows you to deduct up to $2,000 a year based on 20% off the first
  • Education: $10,000 spent on education after high school. You don’t have to be working on a degree to claim a deduction – it can be for classes related to your business.
  • Business services: Anything that helps your business run, from PayPal to your Wi-Fi plan can be deducted.
  • Inventory: Owners can claim deductions for unpaid goods. This does not apply to services, unfortunately.
  • Loans and credit cards: If you rack up interest for business purposes, it can be deducted.


Things to Remember When Preparing Your Taxes

Tax season officially kicks off in January and if you haven’t started preparing your taxes yet, remember that it’s always a good idea to start sooner than later. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to meet the filing deadline, after all. There are oftentimes questions and unknowns, so getting an early start can allow you enough lead time to ensure a timely filing.

There are a few key things you’ll want to remember when you are preparing your tax filing. Here are six things that can help you optimize your filing strategy and possibly even increase the size of your tax refund.

  1. Weigh Standard Deductions Against Itemizing

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced higher standard deduction limits for tax filers. At the same time, it eliminated personal exemptions and reduced or eliminated several key deductions. For some tax filers, the standard deduction may result in a lower tax bill this year but it’s still worth it to consider itemizing. Review your tax filing to determine all the possible deductions you can legitimately claim. Then, compare your estimated tax liability with what you might owe (or get back as a refund) if you opt for the standard deduction instead.

  1. Provide Dependents’ Social Security Numbers

Whether you have children or file as ‘head of household’ with dependents, you’re going to need their Social Security numbers to claim any applicable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Credit or the Child and Dependent Care Credit. If you’re divorced and claiming a child, make sure that your ex-spouse isn’t also claiming the same dependent or your return could be delayed. If you’re planning to claim the child care credit, remember to review the IRS guidelines to make sure those expenses and your dependents are eligible.

  1. Organize Your Records and Documents

Being disorganized could cause you to lose out on significant deductions if you’re scrambling to find receipts and proof of expenses while filing your taxes. One way to avoid that type of headache is by using an expense tracking app to store digital copies of all your receipts. It’s a simple strategy, but incredibly effective. And, if your return is selected for an audit by the IRS you’ll have all the documentation you need to verify your deductible expenses.

  1. Contribute to Your Retirement Accounts

You may be filing for taxes incurred in 2019, but that doesn’t mean you’ve hit the deadline for contributing to your retirement accounts. You have until July 15 of this year to open and fund a traditional or Roth IRA account. Remember, with a traditional IRA your contributions may be 100% tax-deductible. An additional deduction can reduce your taxable income for the year. A Roth IRA wouldn’t offer such a deduction but you get the benefit of tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Additionally, you may be able to qualify for the Retirement Saver’s Credit when you contribute to an IRA.


Keep Your Estimated Tax Liability On Reserve

The tax due date is marked in red because it’s a business expense—all expenses are red and all revenues are green. Every business needs to keep the reserve for the estimated business tax liabilities after proper tax planning. Businesses can use qualified plans such as profit sharing and defined benefit plans to reduce their additional tax liabilities.

Examine Your Chart Of Accounts

As businesses grow, there are often new categories of expenses and income. It’s important to review your chart of accounts with your CPA at the end of each year and make sure you have categorized everything correctly so that you can take advantage of any deductions that are available to you.

Plan Ahead To Avoid Tax Liens

Before tax season, have your financials in order, but more importantly, thoroughly understand your tax liabilities to avoid surprises. If you can’t foot the bill because you put capital toward growth, you’ll have more time to obtain financing. Failing to pay could result in a tax lien, which adds a significant speed bump to getting either business or personal financing (though it’s still possible).


Get organized

Beyond saving receipts for expenses that could be tax-deductible (i.e., charitable contributions, business expenses) and keeping them organized throughout the year, there are other steps that lend themselves to better tax planning. In the survey, the top three ways identified by respondents to stay organized were:

  • Use separate bank accounts for personal and business funds (83 percent).
  • Keep your receipts in case your return is examined (81 percent).
  • Use a mileage log or smartphone app to record business miles driven (75 percent).

That could have tax implications. For instance, Gentner said, some taxpayers don’t realize that renting out their vacation home could result in tax deductions. Others might think income from a side gig is not taxable.

You also can ask your tax preparer in advance of the meeting for a list of exactly what documents and information you should bring so that your tax return can be prepared without a hitch.



While taxes might not be in the forefront of your mind when you’re not facing a filing deadline, it’s important to keep your tax advisor in the loop in certain situations. When you have a major life change — i.e., divorce, job change, birth of a child, house purchase — it’s worth sharing the information.

For instance, if the event would affect your tax burden (for better or worse), your preparer might have suggestions for changes to make to your W-4, which dictates how much tax gets withheld from your paycheck.

It’s also important to let your tax advisor know if you hear from the IRS about your tax return. And the sooner the better — the longer you ignore the issue, the more it could cost you in penalties and fees if you owe additional tax.

Yet don’t act so quickly that you pay the stated amount due without making sure it’s accurate.

An Online Business Merchant Accountant Solution

How can I improve my accountability skills?

Sometimes managers will let employees avoid accountability at work because they dislike confrontation. But a lack of individual accountability is bad all around.

It’s bad for the employees who likely know they aren’t performing well. For instance, a salesperson will probably know he is the only one who didn’t meet his sales goal. Without the encouragement and push to improve, he may feel ignored, discouraged and devalued, which may lead him to quit.

A lack of accountability at work sends a message to the rest of your staff that lower standards are OK. The team may begin to resent the low-performing employee and his or her manager because they have to shoulder more work to make up for their teammate’s deficiencies.

And if you don’t address the problem employee, the team may perceive it as favoritism or weakness, which can be demotivating for everyone.

But you can turn this trend around. Here’s how you can make sure everyone on your team is pulling their weight equally.

Have the difficult conversation

While holding employees accountable may sound confrontational, it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to focus on the performance, not the person. Assume that most people genuinely want to do a good job and aren’t being difficult on purpose.

Employees may not understand how their behavior affects other team members. Other common reasons for inadequate performance:

  • The manager didn’t give clear instructions
  • Extra training is needed
  • There’s a technical issue
  • A personal issue is seeping into work
  • Conflicting priorities

Address the poor performance as soon as possible

Deal with the individual one-on-one and as quickly as possible. After all, nothing is likely to change unless you confront the problem. You also don’t want your frustration to build to the breaking point or for an employee’s non-performance to become a big issue. You need to figure out the why behind the poor performance. This is where you’ll need to find a way to make your leadership style match the situation.

Consider your employees’ feelings

Start with the assumption that people sometimes don’t understand the impact of their behavior. It’s your job as supervisor to be kind, find the root cause of the problem and establish a mutual way forward. Throughout your conversation, concentrate on maintaining the employee’s self-esteem by showing concern for the individual as well as for the company’s needs.

Set smart goals

When things are busy it may seem like a pain to stop and write down procedures, goals and policies. However, employees need to know what is expected of them in order to perform well and stay motivated.

If you find a consistent lack of accountability at work, it’s likely you need to create some written SMART goals. SMART stands for:

S – Specific

M –Measurable

A –Attainable

R –Relevant

T –Timely

Developing SMART goals are a whole topic in itself, so there’s much more to learn than what is mentioned here. Just know that this tactic leaves little to the imagination and provides clear communication between employee and supervisor.

Follow through and follow up

After every conversation, write down what was said. You don’t have to report every issue to HR, but it helps to send an email to yourself and the employee to outline the problem that was addressed, the solutions you both agreed upon and the expectations for future behavior. This helps clarify the conversation for everyone involved, and gives you a paper trail should additional action be necessary.


Create a Personal Mission Statement

I think that we get so caught up in the mundane details of daily life that we often lose track of why we’re here, what we want and, most importantly, what we value. Manage yourself by finding a way to integrate your values into what you do. Write your own personal mission statement.

My personal mission statement, at the moment, is this: “To live simply and give selflessly, and to work diligently towards financial independence and the opportunities such independence will afford me.”

Your personal mission statement doesn’t have to be profound or poetic – it just needs to convey your core values and define why you do what you do each day. (Hint: If you can’t find a mission statement that fits your current career or life, maybe it is time for a change!)

Set Micro-Goals

There are countless benefits to writing down goals of all sizes. Annual, five-, and ten-year goals can help you expand on your mission statement because you know you are working towards a tangible result. But long term goals are useless unless you have a strategy to achieve them. Manage yourself by setting micro-goals.

What is a micro-goal? I like to think of it as a single action that, when accomplished, serves as a building block to a much larger goal.


Provide the necessary resources

Similar to the first point, it is important to know from the beginning that you are setting your employees up for success. suggests asking yourself “If the person does not have what’s necessary, can they acquire what’s missing? If so, what’s the plan? If not, you’ll need to delegate to someone else. Otherwise you’re setting them up for failure.” Additionally, if they can’t acquire what is missing, can you help them acquire it?

If employees do not feel that they are set up for success, they are more likely to place blame on outside sources to explain why they were not successful rather than holding themselves accountable.

Foster connection

To help your team members feel accountable, connect them to the work they’re doing. Different types of connection motivate different types of employees:

  • Connect their work to the goals of the broader company so they understand how they’re contributing to organization-wide priorities.
  • Connect their work to their personal and professional goals. How will being successful in their current pursuit help them achieve their long-term aspirations?
  • Connect them to the problem and to the solution. Challenge your employees to come up with their own solutions — it will help them feel more responsible for the outcome.
  • Connect them with their team members. Promote collaboration, and make sure your employees feel seen and heard by others on the team. This will make them feel like others are invested in their success, help them understand how their work affects others, and increase their sense of accountability to the team.


Communication is key

Another of the unique difficulties facing, say, student employees-as opposed to full-time employees-is that sporadic scheduling can make it difficult for them to keep track of when they are actually supposed to be at work.

SubItUp can go a long way in rectifying this issue. Shift reminders notify your employees 45 minutes in advance of their shift; instant updates notify them of scheduling updates; group messaging allows you to promptly get in touch with an individual member of your team, or with a group of members. Give the members of your team a smorgasbord of channels through which to communicate, and you create a layer of social accountability, too.

In a similar vein, make it clear that even for seasonal or temporary employees who’ll leave after a short stint, you’re just an email or phone call away. The prospect of a glowing recommendation can do wonders for accountability. If you choose to offer something of this ilk, be sure that you remain accountable, too; for each employee, keep notes on performance to refer back to in the event you’re called upon to advocate on someone’s behalf.


How to Improve Accountability

  • Define Roles & Responsibilities for Team Members: You can’t be accountable for what you don’t know you’re supposed to be accountable for. Therefore, clearly communicate who does what, and get feedback and concurrence from the team. Take questions, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Clarify Reporting Structure: Accountability needs a structure. There must be a system in place to explain who reports to who, who can authorize and approve, so that there’s a clear channel to disseminate and report on people’s work and their accountability with it. Again, field questions from the team to make sure the reporting process is understood by all.
  • Provide Specific Deadlines: If tasks are open-ended, then there can be no accountability for missing deadlines that don’t exist. So, be clear as to when a task or deliverable is due, and maybe set up notifications to remind team members when deadlines are looming. As always, get feedback and answer any questions the team has about this process.
  • Document Everything: Well, maybe not everything, but documentation is the paper trail that ensures the person who is accountable knows that. Be sure to ask the team if they have any questions about the documentation process.
  • Send Alerts, Triggers and Notifications: There are project management software that can automate reminders of looming deadlines, but also when a task is late, and any number of other notifications. You can decide what you want to communicate to your team through this system, which avoids you giving the impression that you’re constantly looking over their shoulders. But before you program these alerts, be sure you discuss it with the team and get their feedback.

Trick To Make A Bookkeeping For Your Company

Hiring a Bookkeeper vs. Doing it Yourself

Managing the accounts and doing the bookkeeping are good practices, especially if you have a good knowledge of the accounts. The decision of handling accounts on your own is good and favorable for the new business owners when the complications are not that high. However, varying out the responsibilities further can be a risk as to the engagements of the business owners’ increase quite significantly.

Pros of Handling Bookkeeping Yourself:

  • The first and foremost advantage of doing your bookkeeping is that you save on the expenses for your company. If you are a small business, it makes sense to save here since bookkeeping not too complex to handle at this stage.
  • While you do things yourself, you are aware of the latest condition of your company and its financial status. It keeps you ready to handle any situation that becomes mandatory for you to manage things well.
  • Keeping the information in the viewpoint, you can plan well for a better outcome for your business. You can even cut down some unnecessary expenses to get a better hold on the finances. Your decisions and strategies can help you to get a better return on your business.
  • While doing the bookkeeping yourself, you can create a secondary plan to meet a crisis. This can be an effective measure to overcome a situation that is likely to harm you in the long run.


Cons of Doing the Bookkeeping:

Time-Consuming Process

Doing your own accounting or bookkeeping can be a time-consuming process. It demands a lot of your valuable time. Furthermore. if you fail to provide enough time to accounting, your balance sheets will look out of order, and several mistakes and confusing entries may occur.

Distraction From Work

When you are a business owner, your primary focus should be running and growing your business efficiently. However, if you take up accounting in your own hands, your attention will be divided, and you will also have to focus on managing your books of account. This way, accounting on your own is a big distraction.

Lack of Knowledge

There are chances that you may not be aware of all the codes, laws, terms, processes, and method of accounts. If you do not have accounting knowledge, you can make a serious mess of your business accounts.


Should you hire a pro?

Hiring a pro is a good idea you need the knowledge, accounting tools, and experience a professional accountant brings to the table.

Navigating through all the complex tax rules and regulations requires knowledge and skill most people just do not possess. A good accountant will ask you the correct questions and dig into all your finances to get and a good overall picture of how your finances.

Additionally, an accountant should be able to give you good advice on the state of your finances and might even help you better it. For some people using an accountant to save time and avoid a headache. But one thing to keep in mind is that not every accountant is a good one, and accidents have a chance of happening if you don’t pick someone with a good track record.

Be sure to keep asking your accountant questions on what he is doing to avoid any errors that he might make with your info. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for what is reported on your tax returns.


Pros of Hiring a Bookkeeper

Professional Help

When you outsource parts of your business, you’re accessing a pool of knowledge and expertise that you don’t have. Hire a bookkeeper and you’ll receive expert help from someone that knows what they’re doing.

They’ll have worked with other businesses like yours, providing support and advice to ensure they take the best course of action. Plus, they can translate any complicated jargon into simple English so that you’re always in the know.

Keep in mind that there are no qualifications needed to carry out bookkeeping. This means that anyone can do it, so nothing is stopping you from completing your own bookkeeping tasks.

Focus on Other Areas of Your Business

When project deadlines are approaching and the phone doesn’t stop ringing, the last thing you want to worry about is balancing your company’s books. It’s an unwanted distraction that takes your focus away from things that will actually make you money.

Hire a bookkeeper and it’s one less thing to worry about. You can concentrate on tasks and projects that will drive business growth, safe in the knowledge that your bookkeeping is being taken care of by an expert.

But, it’s worth keeping in mind that bookkeepers will have many different clients, so they may not always be working on your business or they might prioritise someone else over you.

A Fresh Outlook on Your Business

Sometimes, it’s difficult to make hard choices or see when something’s not right when it’s your own business. When we’re the owner, we look through rose-tinted glasses at company finances and we’re willing to overlook potential red flags.

Work with a bookkeeper and they offer a new perspective on your business. They’re less likely to be sentimental and base decisions on cold, hard figures. However, this can be a little jarring and can lead to some awkward conversations between you and your new bookkeeper.


Cons of hiring a bookkeeper

  • Hiring an outside bookkeeper means a higher risk of exposing your data. Your bookkeeper has access to sensitive bank data such as account numbers and online banking passcodes. If not properly monitored, this might cause data breach which can affect your business.
  • A bookkeeper would mean you would lose sole control over your books. Since you hire a bookkeeper, you entrust the control of your books to them. This may also result in a loss of information when not monitored.
  • Their mistakes become your company’s mistakes. Any errors your bookkeeper makes will still be accountable to your business. This goes the same with any missed payments and noncompliance that might occur in the future.
  • There are hidden costs to hiring a bookkeeper. Aside from their hourly rate, your bookkeeper might charge additional costs for their services. However, you won’t be sure about the quality of service they will give you.