Here’s a hard truth from the US Small Business Administration: half of all new small businesses fail within the first five years, and the number one cause of failure is financial mismanagement. Tough to hear, but as a new business owner or solopreneur, you need to be aware of the critical role bookkeeping plays in successful businesses. That's why when we hear someone ask, "Does my small business need bookkeeping?", the answer is an emphatic "YES!" Here are a few reasons bookkeeping matters...
The earlier the better. Many owners will try to sort out the information themselves and then have a bumpy ride when it comes time to transition. A good compromise is to consult with an accounting professional when the business is started and then perhaps touch base periodically, such as once a quarter. Ask for a quote or pricing, and fit in some sort of periodic meeting into your budget. Errors tend to continue until caught at year end or the next time a professional sees the books. Books that are set up correctly in the beginning can be a strong tool for measurement and growth. Books measure the pulse of a business, and good bookkeeping expands past basic cash expenses.
Additionally, most accountants and bookkeepers are happy to answer a few questions, and they enjoy being able to see a business grow and for clients to be successful. After all, the basement startup today could be their biggest client tomorrow.
Option 1: Learn QuickBooks and input items yourself. I know this strikes fear in some of your hearts. In fact, this may be why your books currently aren’t getting done. But you still may want to hold off delegating any part of the process until you put in a few hours a week to learn the basics, like inputting figures. At the bare minimum, you need to be able to view and print reports and check the accuracy of the work.
Option 2: Hire a family member to keep up the books. This is a great way to have the teenagers or young adults you're supporting financially earn their keep and teach them about entrepreneurship in the process. They'll learn about the heart and soul of small business by doing the books. Adding them to the payroll is also a great tax write-off.
Option 3: Engage a local bookkeeper. This could be a local college student wanting internship/externship hours or a seasoned bookkeeper with affordable rates. It can free up your time so you can do what you know best: Make money for the business. This is also a natural step in the growth of a business before choosing the next option. Remember, this person will probably not prepare your taxes or do significant planning for you; they'll simply maintain your books affordably so you can focus on more pressing tasks.
Option 4: Hire someone “in house.” You'd be amazed how quickly you can find a local college student or bookkeeper wanting to pick up some part- or full-time work for an hourly wage. This person could come in daily or a few days each week to input data and print reports. You might need to provide some supervision, or you could have your outside CPA train and supervise your in-house bookkeeper. It can be extremely convenient to have an employee available to keep things in order. You can also hire someone who can wear different hats and help with other tasks, like answering phones, scanning, doing collections, shipping, or running errands.
Option 5: Use your CPA or tax professional throughout the year. Many business owners like the comfort and security of knowing they not only have highly skilled accountants doing their books daily but the benefit of one-stop shopping for tax planning and quarterly and annual reports as well. It may seem more expensive, but the value of better long-term planning and a higher quality of books can far exceed the cost. More mature and seasoned business owners may naturally “graduate” to a more experienced bookkeeper when the time is right. At most firms, you can get an accounting support package tailored to your budget and needs.
You can only deduct charitable contributions if you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions.
To be deductible, you must make charitable contributions to qualified organizations. Contributions to individuals are never deductible. To determine if the organization that you contributed to qualifies as a charitable organization for income tax deduction purposes, refer to our Exempt Organizations Select Check tool. For more information, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?
If you receive a benefit from the contribution such as merchandise, goods or services, including admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance, or sporting event, you can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.
For contributions of cash, check or other monetary gift (regardless of amount), you must maintain a record of the contribution:
You must fill out Form 8283 (PDF), Noncash Charitable Contributions, and attach it to your return, if your deduction for a noncash contribution is more than $500. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth $5,000 or less, you must fill out Form 8283, Section A. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $5,000, you'll need a qualified appraisal of the noncash property and must fill out Form 8283, Section B. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $500,000, you'll also need to attach the qualified appraisal to your return.
Special rules apply to donations of certain types of property such as automobiles, inventory and investments that have appreciated in value. For more information, refer to Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information on determining the value of your noncash contributions, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.
What you need to check the status of your refund:Where's My Refund? is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight.
*The IRS has begun to release taxpayer refunds for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. However, these refunds likely won’t start to arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27.When to check status of your refund:
You should only call if it has been:
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.
These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51. Notice 2016-01 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.
What You Need to Know
What You Need to Know
The IRS has begun to release EITC/ACTC refunds. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or debit cards until the week of February 27 -- if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.
Where's My Refund? On IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated Feb. 18 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 18, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that the IRS is processing their return. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund. Where’s My Refund? is only updated once daily, usually overnight, so checking it more often will not produce new or different results.
Why is my refund being held? Beginning in 2017, if you claim the EITC or ACTC on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until Feb. 15. This new law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Like previous years, some tax refunds may be held if there are questions about the tax return or the IRS needs more information.
Will I get my refund on Feb. 15?While the IRS will begin to issue EITC/ACTC refunds starting Feb. 15, you should not count on actually seeing your refund until the week of Feb. 27 -- if you chose direct deposit or a debit card and there are no processing issues with your tax return.
Why does it take so long for the funds to show up in my account? It takes additional time for refunds to be processed after leaving the IRS, and for financial institutions to accept and deposit them to bank accounts and products like debit cards. Also many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day affects their refund timing.
How do I check the status of my refund? Where's My Refund On IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app remains the best way to check the status of a refund. Where’s My Refund will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so taxpayers should not contact or call them about refunds before the end of February.