Small Business Tax Deadlines and Tips: November & December

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As October comes to a close this week, it’s time to take a look ahead at the tax deadlines for the remainder of 2013.

November 12

  • Employers: File IRS Form 941 for the third quarter of 2013 if all required payments were deposited on time.

November 15

  • Employers: Deposit payroll tax for October if the monthly deposit rule applies.
  • Tax-exempt Organizations: File calendar year 2012 Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, 990-PF or 990-T and pay any tax due for organizations with extensions filed on time.

December 16

  • Corporations: Deposit the fourth installment of your 2013 estimated tax. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.
  • Employers: Deposit payroll tax for November if the monthly deposit rule applies.

As you’re handling these routine tax tasks for your small business, it’s also a good idea to take a look at your overall tax picture to see what actions you may be able to take to save money when it’s time to file  your 2013 tax returns next year. It’s always a good idea to do that during the fourth quarter, but it may be more important than usual this year since 2013 ushered in more tax changes than business taxpayers have seen in a decade.

Why do it now during the hectic holiday season? Because with three-quarters of the year behind you, chances are you have a good idea of how your profit (or loss) may look at the end of the year. Small business owners who invest a little time to review their tax liability during the 4th quarter still have time to take actions to maximize deductions and save money.

The tax experts at 1-800Accountant, the leading accounting and tax services provider for small businesses, have prepared a new white paper that includes practical tips on fourth quarter tax strategies that may help your small business keep more of the money it has earned.  The free white paper is available for download now by clicking here.

Avoiding the Do-It-Yourself Trap

Tax forms pen glasses phone coddeeThe fourth quarter is also a good time to take a look at your business records, bookkeeping and financial planning to see if you’re falling into the do-it-yourself trap. Many entrepreneurs try to handle all of their bookkeeping, accounting, and tax preparation tasks themselves. They see it as a way to keep costs low at first.  But it’s seldom the smartest way to ensure that you get all of the tax breaks you’re entitled to, or meet all of the record-keeping and filing requirements that go along with a growing business.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses says that all entrepreneurs need help from a lawyer and an accountant during their first few years of operation.  But just because you need legal and accounting help doesn’t mean you have to sign up for services that cost $300 per hour (or more).  1-800Accountant offers affordable, flat-rate services that include tax consulting and preparation, bookkeeping, and the financial documents required to help you manage your cash flow. But even if you decide to do most things in house, or with the help of a local bookkeeper, there are a few crucial facts you need to know.

  • Keeping accurate records (receipts, spreadsheets, timesheets, payroll records, expense reports, etc.) is critical to minimizing the amount of money you owe when your taxes are due.
  • Small business owners are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments on all taxes they owe, including (but not limited to) income taxes, franchise taxes, sales taxes, the employer portion of social security and unemployment insurance taxes, and property taxes.
  • Your bookkeeping system may be the single most important part of your new business when it comes to managing cash flow, taxes, and complying with state and federal regulations – so if you aren’t an accountant or experienced business bookkeeper yourself, then hiring one may be a priority.
  • Managing your payroll, and ensuring that you have all of the required documentation that goes along with payroll, is the next critical step as your business expands from being a one-man band into a growing business with employees.  This is true even if your only employee is your spouse, child, or other relative, or if you only hire part-time independent contractors.
  • Tax planning – that is taking pro-active steps to minimize the amount of taxes you have to pay, and making sure you have all the documents required to satisfy the taxing authorities in a timely fashion – is the last item on the list, but it is the one that can make the difference between a profitable year when you end up with extra money in your pocket and a year when you achieved your sales goals, but have little to show for it.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, even thinking about the minute details of bookkeeping and accounting can bring on a migraine. After all, you started your business to focus on doing what you loved – and most small business owners don’t love accounting.

That’s why a good accountant, with experience in helping small business owners and independent contractors organize their financial records from the beginning makes things so much easier when  tax season rolls around – and it rolls around much sooner than many people think.

But don’t wait until you have a tax filing deadline looming to start the search for an accountant or bookkeeper. The first quarter of the year is the busiest season for them, and many of them can’t take on new clients who wait until the last minute to seek help.

In fact, most accountants or bookkeepers say that if they don’t have all the documents and information they need for a company’s annual tax returns by February 28, they can’t handle taxes for a new client without filing for an extension. So if you don’t already have a relationship with a tax advisor, accountant, or bookkeeper, the fourth quarter may be your last chance to find one before taxes are due in March or April of 2014.

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