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February 7, 2014

Tax Deadlines – Don’t let it tax your peace of mind

Hands up if you’ve got your tax act together! What? No hands up? Well then, grab a seat and listen up!

The State and Federal governments have set up certain due dates for filing or e-filing your taxes. To some, understanding taxes and meeting tax deadlines is the first among many horrifying aspects of filing tax returns. But once you understand when and what needs to be filed, it will be the first big step you’ve taken towards de-horrifying the process of tax filing and returns.

April 15th is a big date to remember. Not only must you file your taxes by this day but you also need to pay an estimate of any taxes due. 11.59 pm on that day is the deadline. Miss that and you’ll need to request an extension from the IRS. And even if you do request an extension, remember you still need to pay the taxes you owe.

In addition to that big date, there are several due dates to keep in mind depending on your status – whether you’re individual tax payer, a business (S corporation, C Corporation or LLC) or a charity. The infographic below will help you keep a track of those dates. Remember, if a filing date falls on a weekend or a national holiday, the date will be moved forward to the next working day. It’s important not to miss these dates because if there’s one thing you don’t want, is the IRS on your back, right?

tax deadlines

What happens if you don’t meet the deadline?

Brace yourself! This is the next horrifying part of filing taxes. A lot. A lot of bad things can happen if you don’t meet that deadline. For one thing, the fee for not filing is a lot harsher than it is for late filing. In addition, there are penalties which you can check out on the IRS website.

What Not to Forget

You’d be surprised at the common mistakes people make when filing their taxes. Before you send those papers to the IRS double check whether you’ve:

• Put a stamp on the envelope
• Signed the documents (Don’t laugh. It happens more often than you’d think)
• Included the social security numbers of their children and adult dependents
• Annual limits and tax tables can change from year to year. Make sure you’re using the right.

If you run a small business, there’s a never-ending string of dates that you have to keep in mind. Make entries in your PDAs, your laptop and any other devices you use to keep your appointments to help you stay on top of things.

What to Remember

Remember to take advantage of tax deductions. These may change from year to year as well and I sometimes suspect it is in the IRS’s best interests to confuse us folks! It may help to hire professional accounting firms whose job it is to prepare and file your returns while maximizing your earnings. Firms, like 1800accountant, designate a personal accountant to your case and offer 24/7 access the whole year round. It’s worth looking into such services and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got your taxes taken care of and managed to make some tax savings. Now that’s what I’m talking about. 🙂

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November 25, 2013

Tax advice for a small limited company

Tax advice to helpMany sole traders make the move to limited company status because they believe it will make them more desirable to new clients, or perhaps because they think they can save on tax in the long run. For a small limited company however, understanding how tax works is vital – and tax matters can be extremely confusing! All limited companies, both large and small, need to be up-to-date on current tax matters, as the consequences can – and often are – costly.

Limited companies don’t use the same self assessment tax return system as other businesses and self-employed individuals. All limited companies, both large and small, are subject to annual corporation tax.

This means the company does its own corporation tax self assessment – i.e. it calculates the amount of tax it must pay itself using a company tax return. The methods and deadlines are different to those used elsewhere.

The most common tax issues faced by a small limited company

It’s important to remember that once a company has applied for and been given limited company status, it is now a separate legal entity from its owner, irrespective of how many staff it employs or who is a shareholder. Everyone, even the sole director/shareholder, is an employee and the company the employer. What this means in terms of tax is that all the money the company earns belongs to the company and not its owner: from now on, any money taken out of earnings must be noted (and justified) as salary or expenses, and comes under scrutiny from HMRC.

Many small limited companies end up having to pay excess tax because the owner simply takes money out of the company without understanding the tax implications. The company can pay its director in three ways: as salary, to pay back money borrowed or spent on company costs (expenses), or as dividends on the shares the director holds in the company. Getting the mixture of salary and dividends right can reduce a company’s tax bill; get it wrong and it can go the other way.

All limited companies must pay corporation tax by the 1st of January of the year after the trading year, i.e. on 1/1/2014 for trading between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013. It must also file a corporation tax return (CT600) each year to HMRC, 12 months after the year end at the latest. Limited companies who fail to file their CT600s or send it too late are subject to hefty fines.

A small piece of legislation known as IR35 has also caused many small limited companies problems since coming into effect. This is when a company takes on a project for a client and takes on the status (however short-term) of an employee. Rather than pay the ’employer’s’ National Insurance on the full cost of what they paid out, the small limited company makes a ‘deemed payment’ to HMRC. This is the opposite of how it works for sole traders.

Where to get advice

Calculating taxes as a limited company is complex and can be both challenging and time-consuming. There are companies that specialise in tax management that small limited companies can turn to for advice in this field, whether a company needs help filling out its corporation tax return or with IR35 forms for employees. An umbrella company can help a small limited company with all aspects of tax and payroll and as qualified experts in all tax matters, can save time and money in the long run.

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June 25, 2013

What Kind of Tax Rebate Are You Entitled To?

Income tax rebateWe pay many different types of tax during our lives. What this means is that there is the potential to claim back tax in many different ways. Your tax rebate will be dependent upon what types of tax you have overpaid on, and this will inform the process (or processes) you need to take in order to claim it back.

Healthcare Professionals

If you work as a healthcare professional you can claim tax back for your uniform, including the costs of washing or for purchasing shoes and tights. You can also claim tax back if you require specialist equipment for your job. The only proviso is that the clothes and equipment you claim for must be for work use only, and must not already be being offset by your employer.

Mileage and Travel Expenses

Another form of tax which can be claimed back is for mileage and travel expenses. If you require a vehicle for your job you can claim tax relief which will help to offset the cost of running your vehicle. As a legitimate business expense, this is something which everyone is entitled to, and a tax rebate of this nature can be very helpful for anyone who regularly travels for work related purposes. For more information about claiming back your travel expenses as a tax rebate, visit www.taxrebateservices.co.uk.

Tax Relief for Teachers

Teachers can claim tax back for a number of different reasons. If, for example, you have been required to pay fees to a professional body such as the NUT, you can claim part of these fees back as tax relief.

Teachers can also claim tax back in the same way that healthcare professionals can, if they require the use of specialist clothing or equipment for their jobs. Tax relief can also be claimed if this clothing requires laundering which is outside of the remit of normal clothes washing procedures. But this can only be claimed if the clothing in question bears your employer’s logo.

Other Types of Professional Tax Rebate Claims

There are many different types of professionals who can claim tax back according to the requirements of their job. These include:

  • Mechanics
  • Construction Workers
  • Non Resident Landlords

For more information about whether or not you can claim back tax according to your profession, it’s always important to get the advice of a regulatory body, or from a professional tax rebate service provider.

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March 20, 2012

Three Things to Look for in an Accountant & Bookkeeper

Whether you’re a self-employed individual or the CEO of a corporation, it’s important to have reliable bookkeeping and accounting services. After all, there are myriad aspects of business that require accurate and detail-oriented bookkeeping. From taxes to general expense reports, a good accountant can make sure that your books are in order and that your bottom line is crystal clear. If you are seeking services for Southern California bookkeeping, San Diego is a great place to start, as several firms are likely to have the kind of expertise you require. Read on to learn three things to look for before hiring an accountant.

1) Complete Tax Filing & More

One of the things you want to be sure you have a handle on in business is your tax liability. The best bookkeeping firms should be able to make sure that everything is in order and ready to go when it comes time to file your taxes.

Tax services should include:

• payroll services

• sales and tax reporting

• expense reimbursements

• job costing

• inventory setup and management

• merchant account reconciliation

• Quickbooks setup and usage for streamlined tax preparation

• completion of your 1099s

Your accountant should be able to file your taxes via an electronic federal tax payment system. This can take the burden off your shoulders and free you up to focus on other pressing business issues.

Although taxes are important, your accountant should be able to help you with other financial matters, too. Expense reports, credit card reconciliation, budgeting and forecasting, as well as commission reporting, are just some of the many other business concerns that a bookkeeper should be able to tackle.

2) Experience

When choosing San Diego bookkeeping services, you want to be sure your business is in good hands. The best way to get accurate, thorough financial services is by choosing an accounting firm that has experience, like Allen Barron.

When it comes to accounting, every dollar is important. Accountants who have been in business for five to 10 years have been filing taxes and offering other services and advice for many kinds of companies and individuals, and thus have a wealth of experience. These kinds of individuals and firms would not stay in business if they didn’t consistently provide superb accounting and bookkeeping services. Thus, choosing experienced bookkeepers over startups can be your best bet when you can’t afford to take the gamble.

3) Convenience & Availability

Availability and convenience are also important when picking an accountant. You want to be able to reach your bookkeeping company whenever you have a question, comment or financial amendment to make. Companies that provide toll-free numbers, email addresses and physical addresses ensure that you can get in touch whenever necessary.

Go online today to find an experienced, accessible firm that can assist you with a full spectrum of financial considerations.

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March 6, 2012

6 Do’s and Don’ts When Doing your Tax Return

Filing taxes is one of the most stressful financial transactions that most people do in a typical year. Small mistakes on this document could potentially cost a taxpayer thousands of dollars, making it imperative to complete it correctly and accurately. Follow these tips around tax time to make sure that you and your money are protected.

DO consider a Professional Tax Service or Software Program

The federal tax code is longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica, making it extremely difficult for one person to completely master. Professional tax preparers do nothing but study tax code, and many have teams of professionals that can work together to prepare more complicated returns.

At the very least, a tax preparing software program will reduce the tax code down into a series of easier to answer questions. These programs are usually developed by hundreds of professionals who are each an expert in their own area of tax law. Preparing a return with one of these programs is a lot easier than doing it on your own.

DON’T Forget to Include Your Children’s Social Security Numbers

Believe it or not, this is one of the most common errors that taxpayers make. Each child that you claim as a dependent must have a Social Security number in order to be considered eligible for credits and deductions. This is to reduce fraud by taxpayers claiming non-existent children as dependents in order to get more deductions.

DO Make a Copy of Your Return and all of the Accompanying Documentation

Obviously, tax returns get lost in the mail or lost at the IRS office, but the most important reason to keep copies isn’t to replace something that gets lost. A variety of government and civilian applications require a person to submit copies of their tax returns. Everything from student aid applications to mortgage applications require an applicant to submit copies of their tax return.

DON’T Wait Until the Last Minute to File Your Taxes

The IRS will start issuing refund checks as soon it starts to receive tax returns. As the returns start to pile up, however, there will be delays in refund checks. If you’re expecting a refund, get your tax return in early.

Even if you have to pay more taxes, waiting until the deadline can get you in trouble. Many people assume that just because they file later they are delaying their payment, but you can file early and send in a payment later. In fact, there are programs to pay off your tax bill past the deadline, but you have to apply early in order to be accepted into the best ones.

DO Look For Deductions and Credits

While this may seem obvious, nearly twenty percent of taxpayers just fill out the 1040EZ form. It is estimated that about half of these taxpayers would receive a higher refund by filling out the so-called “long form” or 1040 A. By using a tax professional or computer software program, it will be a lot easier to look for these deductions.

Be prepared by gathering paperwork for the most common deductions. Have receipts for any mortgage interest that has been paid, child care expenses, and charitable contributions. Also save receipts from activities such as purchasing a home, attending college, and making major purchases.

DON’T lie or fudge numbers. Nearly a quarter of Americans admit to cheating on their taxes at some point in their lives, but few people realize the consequences if they get caught. People who are caught cheating on their taxes will pay high penalty fees, interest, and in extreme cases they can even face jail time.

If you are unable to pay the taxes you owe, look at the programs the IRS has set up for distressed taxpayers. These programs allow people to make payments on their tax debt over several months or years instead of making a lump sum payment all at once.

Filing your taxes can be stressful, but there are many different options available to make this as easy as possible. As you get your return together for 2011, make a list of items that are difficult to find or figure out so that you will be better prepared for next year.

Kathleen Ison is a freelance writer and a mother of two teenagers. They have been wanting to buy a car for a while but they know very little about the taxes and additional costs associated with purchasing a car.

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