End of the Year Tax Preparation Tips
Yes, the end of the year is here and January 15th starts the long dreaded tax season. (Yes it is even dreadful for most accountants! We don’t really like telling you
how much money you have to pay to the government!). However, I am hoping this check list will make your life a little bit easier.
Here are some tax preparation tips from my years as an accountant
1. Open up a free document storage account, so that you can get all your tax documents in one place. Preferably one that has sharing capabilities; all the easier to share with your accountant and bookkeepers. My recommendation: DocLanding, it is free to start (you only need to pay once you exceed certain storage requirements) and you can set up file cabinets and file folders, and the sharing permissions are very detailed. You can share whole cabinets, folders only or documents-only.
2. Scan a copy of last year’s Federal and State Tax Return and upload it into your document storage. This would be 2008’s tax returns. If you have NOT filed 2008, you have bigger problems than organizing 2009 but you can use these steps to prep a 2008 folder too!
3. As your 1098’s, 1099’s, and W-2’s come in, scan copies and upload them to your document storage unit.
4. Begin to gather all your donation details: Date donated, amount donated, name and address of donation recipient. Upload that into your document storage unit.
5. Outline the following information into a document: Your Full Name (as it appears on your social security card) your social security number, date of birth, profession, home address, phone number, name, social and date of birth of spouse and any dependents. Upload that into your document storage unit.
6. Outline any past due taxes and/or payments that you have made into a document and upload that.
7. If you are self employed or have a small business that gets put on your personal return (typically a sole proprietorship or one owner LLC), prepare the information you will need for your Schedule C. Hopefully you have your bookkeeping up to date. This can be done by making sure all accounts are reconciled and making a PDF copy of your profit and loss, and balance sheet for the year and uploading that into your Document storage center. However, if you don’t have a bookkeeping system, it gets kind of dirty. Your options are to:
2) Manually tally up the numbers. This would mean going through your bank statements and totaling up business expenses into their appropriate tax categories.
Schedule C & Common Expense Categories:
- Automobile Expenses
- Commissions & Fees
- Employee Benefits
- Insurance (other than health insurance; that goes in Employee Benefits)
- Interest Expense (not Mortgages)
- Mortgage Interest
- Legal & Professional Feels (Lawyers, Accountants etc.)
- Office Expenses
- Rents or Leases (this includes vehicles, equipment, office, itemize these out)
- Repairs & Maintenance
- Office Supplies Taxes & Licenses (not income tax)
- Meals that were company event related
- All other Meals
- Telephone & Internet Expenses
- Salaries & Wages
- Independent Contractors
- Bank Service Charges
- Dues & Subscriptions
Income: You do not need to itemize income into details, but you do need to make sure not to overstate income if you receive a 1099. So, make sure when reporting your income, you state which income is reported on 1099’s and whatnot. Or only report the non 1099 income.
Get this data together and upload to storage.
8. If you have an S-Corporation or are a partner in an LLC, you will be getting a K-1 (kind of like a W-2 for a business owner). You will need to receive these prior to filing your return. Make sure you scan these in and put them into your document storage unit.
9. If you work from home, you need to claim your home office deduction. The things you will need documented: Total Square Feet of House, Total Square Feet of Office, Total Rent Paid (if you pay mortgage then don’t worry as this is shown on your mortgage interest statements), Total Utilities paid, Total Repairs & Maintenance on house, Total Taxes and/or Insurance on the house. Add to your document storage.
10. If you have children and paid for child care you will need the name and address of the person or entity you paid, as well as their phone number, social security number or tax id number and total amount paid for the year. Add to your document storage.
11. Make sure to file 1099’s for any Independent Contractors that you have paid. Have them fill out the W-9 and make sure you have their total amount paid for the year, and you can file their 1099’s at www.efileforbusiness.com. Add to your document storage.
12. List of tax payments made and date for estimated tax payments throughout the year. Add to your document storage. These items will vary by person and entity, not everything is applicable to every person, however. If you follow this checklist you will be in good shape to share that online storage with your accountant and have everything prepared for you in a snap.
Important Deadlines to Remember:
1/15: Due Date for Last Estimated Tax Payment.
1/31: All Contractors must receive their 1099’s and all employees must receive their W-2’s.
3/15: Corporation deadline for filing tax return.
4/15: Personal deadline for filing tax return.
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