There’s nothing worse than realizing you could have saved money on your taxes after you’ve already filed them. It’s easy to overlook some of the lesser-known deductions that exist, but doing so could cost you a pretty penny. Sometimes business owners wait until the last minute to do their taxes, and that rush prevents them from researching money saving options at their disposal. If you don’t have a tax planner by your side, you’re left guessing about your best options. Start keeping records of your tax write offs now, and your 2017 tax day will go much smoother.
Your home office probably doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. So long as you have a dedicated computer for work and a space to get business tasks done, you can probably make a home office deduction on your taxes. That square footage isn’t the only thing that counts as business expenses – your mortgage, electricity and insurance costs count as well. Some people worry that a home office deduction is a red flag that invites an IRS audit, but if you are actually using it for business you have nothing to worry about.
Buying office furniture may seem like a big investment initially, but it can save you money come tax day. Your office chairs, tables, filing cabinets and desks are all deductible if you’ve purchased them since your last tax filing. There are several types of furniture deductions you can take utilize. You can either deduct the total cost of the furniture at once, or you can reduce your tax burden incrementally over seven years. Base your choice on when you anticipate benefiting from that money most.
Hitting the open road doesn’t have to hit your pocket book hard. If you keep careful records of your driving miles, the government is more than willing to give you a break on your taxes. Some things you’ll want to keep on record are dates, miles driven, parking expenses and explanations for your trips. Make sure to keep your receipts on hand if you don’t have a receipt-scanning app on your phone. When you have that information at hand, you can easily save some money that would otherwise be gone forever. Gas mileage deductions vary by year, and for 2016 they are at 54 cents per mile driven.
If you’re a frequent business traveller, you stand to save a significant amount of money with your expenses. You can deduct the total cost of your hotel stays from your taxes, so it’s worth springing for a few extra stars if you have the opportunity. Planes, trains and car expenses don’t have to set you back either. Exactly 100% of those costs can go directly towards deductions. That includes related expenses, such as tipping your flight attendant or visiting a laundromat while on the road. You can even write off your meal costs while travelling, albeit at a reduced deduction rate of 50%.
If you want to be a master of your trade, you need to have the smarts to compete. Luckily, if you have education costs, you can write them off of your taxes if they relate to your current job. The IRS is strict about this write off though; you can’t own a bakery and go to school for your Masters of Architecture free of charge. If you want to improve your skills for your current position, this tax break gives you the chance to expand your career in a way that’s financially sensible. If you believe the best business owners are always learning, this incentive might be for you.
When it comes to taxes, every business owner wants to minimize their expenses. Tax deductions give you the chance to save money on the things you’d probably buy anyways, so it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of them. Of course, the examples above are just a few of the tax write offs you should be aware of. Our experts can help you reduce your tax burden, and ensure you won’t miss any deductions for the upcoming tax season. When we provide tax services, we work with businesses through the entire year, so no tax saving opportunity slips through the cracks. Learn more about our tax preparation services, and call today!
It’s one thing to plan on improving organization around the office, but another to actually go through with it. Getting organized does more than make the office look tidy – a more structured workplace can actually help you grow and earn money. It’s easier to be productive when you don’t have stacks of papers, lost receipts and file cabinets filled to the brim. It’s not just physical clutter that gets in the way – digital files, profiles and accounts can quickly become disorganized and that creates an avalanche of problems.
We’ve provided our bookkeeping and accounting services to many Chicagoland businesses through the years and our past client experiences have made us understand that being organized at work and with your finances will aid productivity. Here are a few tips we’ve suggested to our clients that you can use to help you stay more organized.
No, it’s not spring quite yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little cleaning around the office to free up some space. A cluttered office environment can make people feel stressed, and removing unnecessary items will create a more welcoming space. It’s common to want to hold onto knick-knacks, old office papers and other items because we often overestimate their importance. Problem is, once these items are no longer necessary, they just get in the way when you’re looking for something you really need. The next time you come across a form or document that’s over a year old, ask yourself whether it’s causing more problems than it’s worth. If you haven’t missed it, you probably won’t in the future.
Put Away Paper Receipts
If there’s one thing nobody ever feels like doing, it’s organizing a fistful of receipts after a long day. Chances are, you’ll toss those papers into the trash just to get them out of the way. That, or you’ll add to the ever-growing Mount Crumpled Paper – before long it’s sure to reach the ceiling. It’s impossible to completely avoid paper receipts, so it’s worth doing the next best thing: get a scanning app that turns that ink into digital receipts. It only takes a few seconds, and it will make your business tax write offs a whole lot easier to manage. Shoeboxed, Expensify and Wave are three great mobile apps that automatically scan and extract receipt information. If you need to know more about how you can use a scanning app for your receipts with our bookkeeping service, contact us and we’ll be more than happy to discuss with you.
Clean Up Your Inbox
Computer screens aren’t always immune to clutter. If your number of unread emails is in the hundreds or thousands, it’s probably time to do a little organization. You don’t necessarily need to delete old emails, because you might need to look back at a conversation thread with a coworker or client, but you should create folders to store them away. Most email services allow you to archive old emails that you don’t use on a daily basis, while keeping a separate folder for more current messages. You can go a step further and create categories in your inbox for the types of emails you commonly receive. Most email services already have a spam folder, but you should unsubscribe to any pesky promotional emails that escape the filter.
Stop Battling Your Books
Chances are, you already have a bookkeeping service like Motl Accounting in Dundee, IL, or you leave it all to an accountant. Whatever your situation, it’s worth reevaluating the processes you have in place to see if you can manage your records more efficiently. Processing payments, recording expenses and tracking projects is essential if you want your business to grow. At the very least, look over your income statement and balance sheet every month to ensure that your records are accurate and every expense is accounted for. Look into smartphone apps like Mint or Freshbooks that allow you to record your transactions on the go, and ensure that any computer software you’re using is up-to-date. You can make your life easier by taking advantage of the bookkeeping services provided by Motl Accounting– we’ll ensure your records are managed correctly whenever we step in to assist with your bookkeeping needs.
A client of ours who owns restaurants in Batavia and Naperville lost his general manager and other restaurant staff within a short period of time. He had to take on some of the accounting work for the business and this obviously hindered him from focusing on his usual responsibilities as the owner. Motl Accounting offered to assist and we stepped in to handle his accounting needs until another general manager was hired and trained by us to get up to speed with the restaurants’ operation. Our client was positioned to be successful even through a transition and trying time by working with us and he was extremely grateful for our assistance.
This is the kind of passion and commitment our team of Motl accountants aim to provide. We strive to guide all our clients down the right financial track.
It only takes a few weeks for a mess to get out of hand. When the office is orderly, your whole team can perform at its best and productivity increases. It’s impossible to know how much time you waste digging through emails, searching for documents or wondering how much you spent on equipment, but it adds up. Make your life a little less hectic with accounting services at Motl that help you stay organized. We can integrate with your existing bank accounts and Quickbooks software, so the transition is simple. Let the Motl Accounting professional’s help you get on top of the day-to-day and start focusing on year over year growth. You’ll wonder why you didn’t sooner.
Nobody knows the value of a dollar quite like a small business owner. Whether you’re just getting started or have been building your business for years, you want to make every penny count, so you can grow as quickly as possible. One of the best ways to save money is to develop new habits that add some frugality to your daily routine. Part of our duties at Motl Accounting is to provide the best advice to our Chicagoland clients in order to help them be more profitable and successful. It takes a little motivation to change how your business operates – but as an entrepreneur, we’re sure you’re up for the challenge. Here are some small things you can do to make the most of every dollar:
Pick Up Deliveries
It might be a little less convenient, but the amount of money you can save by picking up nearby equipment and products really add up over time. Skip the middleman and you could avoid a few hundred dollars in delivery costs per year. You can set your own guidelines, but anything within a half hour that fits in your car or truck is usually worth picking up yourself. Your time is valuable, so don’t overdo it and become a one-person delivery service, but there are plenty of situations where the extra effort is worth the cost savings. (more…)
Tax season is behind us, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop thinking about business expense documentation. In fact, now is the ideal time to get organized and create record-keeping habits that make sense for your company. Nobody wants to waste time digging through receipts and records just before tax day. Document your expenses now and you’ll save yourself and your accountant a headache later on.
Working with the Motl Accounting bookkeepers affords you the opportunity to not deal with all the effort and time it takes to stay organized with your expenses. We assist many businesses with bookkeeping services in Dundee, IL and the Chicagoland area. Below we share some of the things we recommend to our clients to keep their finances organized throughout the year.
Set up a Business Bank Account
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a small business is not creating a bank account dedicated to business funds. If you’re using the same account for personal and business spending, it’s easy to mix these expenses up and harder to locate specific purchases. Any business-related income should be pooled into a dedicated account. Only use business checking or credit cards when making purchases. Losing track of purchases will become a thing of the past. (more…)
The Panama Papers leak has made waves across the globe and for good reason – celebrities, CEOs and even political leaders face accusations of widespread tax avoidance. An anonymous source leaked the implicating documents, and an international coalition of hundreds of journalists has sifted through each and every piece of evidence. The parties involved in the cover-up went to great lengths to avoid the law, and there have been calls for increased financial transparency among the super wealthy. The purpose of accounting is not to bend the rules, but to provide a wealth of knowledge for sensible financial decision-making. The Panama Papers leak shows us that accountability is the most important part of accounting and being an Accounting firm servicing many businesses in a metropolis like Chicagoland that has many businesses with global connections made us want to shed some light on what happened.
Just over a year ago, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung received 11.2 million documents from an anonymous tipster. These papers, sourced from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, included the hidden financial transactions of everyone from public officials to sports stars. These people used offshore shell companies within Panama to hide their money from their own national governments, and avoid paying taxes. Those accused of funneling money were able to stay anonymous for years because of a complex network of offshore accounts run by Mossack Fonseca.
If you’ve ever attempted a quick Google search for CPAs in your area, you’ve probably learned there’s no such thing as a quick search for an accountant. Accounting is all about the details, and when you’re trying to find someone to handle your finances, it pays to be thorough. Your money is at stake, and you should only choose someone who has your best interests in mind. A small amount of accountants have questionable (to say the least) practices, and knowing the warning signs makes a big difference:
Outdated CPA Certificate
There’s a reason many people prefer to work with a CPA rather than a general financial planner: the title requires a higher level of expertise. In addition to years of schooling, CPAs complete exams to ensure a high-level understanding of auditing, business concepts, financial rules and reporting. It’s worth checking out the Illinois CPA Society database to ensure your accountant has retained their license. (more…)