Does tax season overwhelm the heck out of you as a business owner? We’re here to help! In this blog post, we’ll walk you through a tax preparation checklist so you know *exactly* what you need to do to make tax season an absolute breeze.
Getting your finances organized for taxes doesn’t have to be a big, scary beast of a project. But it does require intentional planning, the proper systems, and consistency.
Read on to make sure you’re cool as cucumber come tax season rather than frantic and scrambling.
1. Consult An Accountant
The first step in our tax preparation checklist is to develop a relationship with an accountant.
Many entrepreneurs assume they don’t have the funds to work with an accountant, but this option might not be as pricey as you initially think. You don’t necessarily need to have your accountant on payroll or work with them every single month.
Establishing a relationship with an accountant could be as simple as setting up an initial tax planning session at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey.
Meet with them at least once a year to discuss tax preparation so that you have a clear plan and so you’re not just left in the dark or winging it as the year goes on. Trust us, even a yearly tax meeting can make a huge difference in how prepared you feel come tax season!
In your session with your accountant, be sure to discuss:
- Important tax deadlines (don’t forget to mark them in your calendar!)
- An approximate percentage of your income to set aside for tax purposes throughout the year.
- Anything else to make sure you’re prepared come tax time!
Number two is HUGE because the last thing you want is to get hit with a huge tax bill you weren’t expecting or didn’t budget for.
You want to make sure you’re giving yourself lots of time to prepare and not having to scramble at the last second.
2. Maintain Financial Separation
We talk about this a lot on the Coaches & Co. blog, but we need to drill it down because it’s just that important.
We’re talking about financial separation.
Committing to financial separation means personal revenue/expenses and business revenue/expenses are kept 100% separate.
Just say no ordering Uber eats from your business Paypal account or accidentally swiping your business CC card for that latest Target haul 🙅🏽♀️
(Unless it’s for cute office accessories, of course! 😉)
And similarly, don’t accidentally pay a business contractor or buy that new desk chair with the money in your personal account!
It’s important you keep financial separation and commit to NO commingling for two big reasons.
- This is required for legal reasons.
By keeping everything separate, you’re treating your business and personal assets as two separate entities. This is key to protecting your personal assets from your business!
- This will make things SO much easier when it comes to tax time.
Having everything mixed up between personal and business accounts is a nightmare for tax prep. Not only for you but for your accountant! Make both of your lives easier and get on their good side by keeping things separate all year long.
It will be 1000% easier to sort through your statements when everything is neatly organized into the right account!
3. Get clear on what’s considered a business expense
This next tip in our tax preparation checklist can save you some major moolah on your tax bill! 🤑
You want to take note of what’s considered a business expense. This is key for tracking expenses each month and knowing what’s deductible.
Here are a few common business expenses that are tax-deductible:
- Team members/contractor expenses
- Business software
- Home office expenses
- Food/drink consumed at client meetings
- Courses and training materials
- Business templates and resources (P.S. did ya know our Coaches and Co. contract templates & legal resources are 100% tax-deductible? 😉)
Remember, if you’re not quite sure whether or not, an accountant will be able to help!
Looking for qualified accountants specialized in online business? Visit our Crème de la Crème verified business directory to find a pre-vetted pro to help you out!
4. Be Diligent in Tracking Expenses
Once you know *exactly* what’s considered a business expense and what isn’t, you need to develop a system for tracking it all!
Whether you’re a spreadsheet lover, use Quickbooks, or you save all your receipts and save them in a folder, it doesn’t really matter! All that matters is that you actually stick to your system.
Many apps like Quickbooks will actually allow you to take a picture of your receipt and upload it, so that might work well for you! You could also save all of your digital receipts in a folder within Gmail, and forward them to a bookkeeper on a regular basis for them to sort through.
If you struggle with how to manage your business finances, investing in a professional bookkeeper could be life-changing for you. 😍 They often only cost a few hundred dollars a month and can often bring you 1000s in savings per year!
5. Understand Your Team’s Status
If you have a team, you’ve gotta be super clear on their status, either contractors or employees. This has a huge impact on your tax prep!
- If your team includes independent contractors, they are responsible for filing their own taxes, and you must provide them each with a 1099 form.
- If your team includes employees, you will need to file the necessary paperwork with your state and provide them with a W-2 form stating their yearly earnings.
Make sure you ask for the appropriate forms from your contractors EARLY and give yourself lots of time before deadlines so you’re not having to chase anyone up!
Discussing your business activities and team members with your accountant is also a good idea, as they can provide you with guidance. They might even be able to give you a tax preparation checklist for the documents you need to collect and deadlines for collecting them!
6. Don’t let it go, stay consistent
Here’s the thing about taxes as an entrepreneur.
They can either be a NIGHTMARE or they can be a breeze. It all depends on how diligent you were in keeping up with things throughout the year.
If you leave everything until the last second, have expenses and revenue mixed throughout personal and professional accounts, and have a year’s worth of receipts piled up to sort through…
Come tax time you’ll be stressin’.
Do not bury your head in the sand.
By committing to a system for your taxes and finances, and keeping up with it each month, you’ll feel empowered when it comes to your finances – and CALM come tax season. No matter how far away that feels right now, it *is* possible.
You’ve got this! 💪🏽
Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates! So you can upgrade your client contract while staying Profitable & Protected™✨
Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Handbook to get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mambo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight & to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now.
*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.