The Entrepreneur’s Paycheck

As business owners, we may be so busy making sure the bills get paid and the product gets out the door that we may not be quite as proactive about our own compensation.  To pay themselves, many new business owners take what’s left after employees and vendors have been paid, and that ends up being their paycheck.

I’d like to propose a whole new way:  entrepreneurs should be paid three times, once for what they do, second for the risk they take, and third for the going concern they’ve built.  If you’re not getting paid three times, here’s how it can work.

First: Your Services

Just like the employees and contractors we work with, we should get paid for the actual work we perform in our business.  Most of us wear many hats in our business, and we should get paid for all those hats!

As your business grows, the tasks you initially performed will be delegated to employees.  They would never go without a paycheck, and you shoudn’t either.

The amount you pay yourself should be similar to the market rate you would have to pay someone if you hired someone else to do the jobs you are doing.  As your company grows, you will be going up the management ladder and your salary should increase accordingly.

Here’s an aha for some new business owners just starting out:  If you have cash flow problems paying yourself or others, then you might have one of two problems:  The goods and services you sell may not be priced correctly, or the number of clients you have may need to increase so that you reach an acceptable volume in your business.

Second: Your Risk

After you’ve paid yourself for the jobs you are doing in your own company, there should be something left over: profit.  As a business owner, you have earned that profit; it’s your reward for taking the risks that go with business ownership.

If there’s no profit left over, then there could be a number of problems.  This is where accounting professionals can help you review the revenues and expenses in your business and see where things are not adding up.

So far, your paycheck and your profits get you paid twice as an entrepreneur, and that’s the way it should be.  But there’s also a third way.

Third: Your Going Concern

A third way to get paid is when you sell your business.  There are many things you can do throughout the years to boost your business valuation, and the more you can do that, the higher the proceeds will be from your business.

Financial Success

One of the factors that can increase all three forms of compensation is your financial skillset.   Building your financial skills by working with accounting professionals can help you price your goods and services accurately, improve your cash flow, hire employees at the right pay rates, and implement many more financial success factors in your business.

When you’re ready to review your entrepreneur’s paycheck, feel free to call on us for expert financial assistance.

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Is 2013 the Year You Finally Go Mobile With Financial Data?

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Figure 1: You can see this screen no 
matter where you and your smartphone
are they recently upgraded Android
 version is pictured here). 


Using QuickBooks Mobile, you’ll improve business relations, put out fires before they start and unchain yourself from your office computer.

There are only a few reasons why youwouldn’t be using QuickBooks Mobile on your smartphone. Maybe you don’t have a smartphone. Or when you’re out of the office, you don’t want to be available for accounting work. Or you might not think that it has enough features to make it worth using.

While the first two reasons are a matters of personal preference, the third just isn’t true. QuickBooks Mobile automatically — and almost instantly — synchronizes the data from your desktop or laptop computer copy for QuickBooks. While it’s only focused on sales, not payables or payroll, you can manage receivables quite nicely whether you’re in a customer’s office or at a trade show or community event — or sitting on the couch at home.

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Figure 2: You can record sales receipts and payments on your smartphones — even schedule appointments that move to your Google calendar.


Countless Scenarios

There are numerous situations where you might want to access, add or edit customers, estimates, invoices, sales receipts or payments when you’re not near the PC where QuickBooks is installed, like these:

    • You do a half day of onsite training and your client wants to pay you cash right then to qualify for a discount. You can record the payment and email a sales receipt.
    • You’re on the road and you want to see how well your bookkeeper is managing receivables. QuickBooks Mobile displays three views: recent activity, today and upcoming.
    • You’re with a client who would like to give you a check to get current, but he or she can’t find the invoice. Rather than calling your office and sitting on hold until someone has time to look, you can pull up the form on your smartphone to discuss it.  
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Figure 3: Missed your flight and afraid you’ll miss the current payroll run, too? Intuit Online Payroll gives you access from your Android or iPhone.


The Perils of Payroll

QuickBooks Mobile doesn’t support payroll, but Intuit Online Payroll does. Like QuickBooks Mobile, the app itself is free (of course, you have to pay for the service itself). You can view the most recent payroll run and employee information, as well as preparing, previewing and approving the current payroll.

Neither app is available yet for the iPad, though QuickBooks Online is.

Paper or Plastic?

If you’ve been in business for very long and still don’t accept credit cards, you have an idea of how many sales you’ve lost. And QuickBooks Mobile won’t let you do so, anyway. You’ll need to get a merchant account from Intuit Merchant Service for QuickBooks (fees apply). A merchant account allows you to accept plastic through QuickBooks itself, your web browser, your web storefront — and on your smartphone or iPad.

To do so, you’ll need to apply for a merchant account and download Intuit’s free GoPayment app. You can either swipe cards on the free mobile reader or type numbers in. Your customers sign their names on the surface of your mobile device, and you can print or email a receipt. 

It would be nice if those credit card payments were just instantly zapped into the right places in QuickBooks, but alas, it isn’t so. You’ll need to do some setup and processing both within QuickBooks and in the online Intuit Merchant Service Center. We can help you with setup and your initial transactions to make sure all of your payments get through and are deposited and/or credited correctly. 

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Figure 4: You’ll need to get acquainted  with the Intuit Merchant Service Center
 to work with credit card payments.

We think you’ll find that once you start using all of the mobile payments services that Intuit offers, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

If you have any questions, or need help getting set up, call us…

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Planning for an Awesome 2013

For businesses with fiscal years that coincide with the calendar year, the slate of revenues and expenses will be wiped clean on New Year’s Day.  Starting with a clean slate gives us a chance to reflect on our 2012 results before we enter 2013 and experience the hope that comes with a new year.

Hindsight is always valuable, and we can learn important lessons from our past mistakes that we can now more objectively look back on.  We can take those lessons and incorporate them into our plans for the new year so that we can continue to learn, grow, and prosper.

To create your plans for an awesome 2013, here is a list of questions and documents to consider in your business.

Revenue Plan

We can make budgeting more fun by looking at the revenue side first.

  • Are you happy with your 2012 revenue levels?
  • What new product or service lines can you roll out in 2013?
  • Are there any product or service lines you should close in 2013?
  • Should you raise prices?

A revenue plan is useful because it can feed into your annual budget as well as drive your marketing plans.

Staffing Plan

Business is more fun when you have the right team to support your vision.

  • Is your current team sufficient to support your business goals for 2013?
  • In what areas do you need more help?  Should you hire or outsource?
  • Are there any team members that are not pulling their weight?
  • Was there a turnover that you would have rather not had?  How can you retain your best talent?

Master Budget

Your revenue plan and staffing plan can feed into your master budget, which can be loaded into your accounting system.  Tracking actuals against plan and prior year numbers will help you determine how you’re staying on track throughout the year.

Special Projects Plan

What special projects should you consider for 2013?  This might include a move, new fixed assets, or replacing systems and processes that you are outgrowing.

Disaster Recovery Plan

Each year, we watch the news and see people and businesses that were affected by extreme weather events, fires, theft, or other disaster.  Are you protected?

  • Is all of your data backed up to a remote location that is away from your local area?
  • Do you have the necessary insurance coverage for all areas of your business?
  • Are you comfortable with the risks you are taking in business and are you prepared for the worst-case consequences of those risks?  If not, take action to reduce your risks.

Planning for Awesome

Planning helps you become more successful, and it reduces the risks of doing business.  There are many more types of plans, and it’s up to you to decide which ones will benefit your business.  If we can help out in any way, please reach out and give us a call.

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Five Hidden Talents of Your Accountant

When you think of an accountant’s duties, you might think about traditional tasks, such as tax preparation, bookkeeping, and financial statement preparation.   Here are five additional tasks that accountants can help with that you might not think of.

1. Evaluating Current Accounting Employees

How can you know if your accounting employee is a star that does everything right, is organized, and is fast or if you’ve accidentally hired someone who talks a good game but is doing everything wrong, takes way too long based on your size company, or is making unnecessary and costly mistakes?  Your external accountant can often help you objectively evaluate your current staff and point out their strengths and weaknesses so you can create the right training programs for them, communicate the right message at review time, or take the proper HR steps you need to.  Your accountant can also help to train your bookkeepers so that they are more efficient.

If your bookkeeper is not performing at the level of pay you are providing, it can be an inefficiency in your business.  Your accountant can help you make sure you are not over- or underpaying your current staff.

2. Hiring a Bookkeeper

For businesses that have full or part-time accounting staff, your accountant can help you test candidates for technical skills so that you can make a wise hire.

3. Selecting Better Tools

Most bookkeepers that do books for one company do not have the experience that lets them see there may be “a better way” to do what they are doing.  Your external accountant can help you find or develop systems, reports, and software to supplement your current accounting system that may save you time and money.

Since your accountant can be working on as many as ten different companies in one day, they have far more experience and expertise than bookkeepers who work at one company at a time.  Take advantage of that experience to streamline your workflow and learn lots of great money-saving shortcuts.

4. Identifying Process Inefficiencies and Irregularities

The fresh eyes that your external accountant can bring to your business can often uncover inefficiencies in accounting processes that can reduce your expenses and increase your profits.  One opportunity area is listening for the “we’ve always done it that way” answer.  When that explanation comes up, usually it means that the person saying it has lost or never knew the reason behind the process, which could now be obsolete.

External accountants have the benefit of seeing dozens if not hundreds of financial statements among their many clients.  We’ve often developed the eagle eye of scoping out expenses that are out of line based on other clients in your industry and company size.  If you are paying too much for telephone, utilities, and other common expenses, we can bring it to your attention that there may be an opportunity to re-negotiate a contract or look for some kind of error.

5. Strengthening Internal Control and Taking Measures to Reduce Risk of Fraud

Developing checks and balances in your accounting system is essential in businesses where employees handle money and have access to credit card numbers and bank account information.  Your external accountant can help you develop internal controls within your accounting system that will work for the level of risk you wish to take in your business.  They can also point out reports in QuickBooks or your accounting system that facilitate controls and that can help you review irregularities on a periodic basis.

Tapping into Talent

Next time you find yourself in one of the above situations, think of your external accountant first, and give us a call.

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Say Good-Bye to 2012 and Ready QuickBooks for 2013

We hope you’ll be ringing out a successful financial year at month’s end. In any case, here’s what you should know about preparing for 2013.

End of the year. QuickBooks has been hard at work for the past 11+ months, recording and tracking and storing all of that financial data that you’ve entered so faithfully.

But when you turn the calendar page and make a new start January 1, your accounting software could use some closure on the year that’s just passed. Here are some actions you can take to ring out the old and ring in the new. There’s more you can do (we can help you with the advanced activities) but we’ll just hit the highlights here.

  • Reconcile, reconcile, reconcile. Yes, we know it’s not one of your favorite chores, but we really like to see all bank and credit card accounts reconciled by the end of the year if at all possible. Void all checks necessary and enter missing transactions. 

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Figure 1: You can make yourself crazy looking for a nickel when you’re reconciling, but it’s a critical function.

 

  • Make accrual adjustments. This is complicated, and it only applies if you accrue payroll and liabilities or prepay expenses that are then carried as assets. We’ll need to create journal entries for you.
  • Close your books. This is totally optional. It depends on whether you want to lock 2012 data to everyone except those who have the password and permissions. If you don’t close them, you’ll have easier access to last year’s transaction details. Regardless of what you chose, QuickBooks will automatically make some year-end adjustments.
  • Do a physical inventory. Then compare this with what QuickBooks says. Reports | Inventory | Physical Inventory Worksheet.

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Figure 2: It’s good to match up your physical inventory count with QuickBooks occasionally, and the end of the year is as good a time as any.

 

  • Run income tax reports. As you know, QuickBooks lets you assign tax lines to tax-related transactions. Use the Income Tax Preparation Report and the Income Tax Summary Report. Let us know about any errors or omissions.
  • Check W-2 and 1099 data. You can’t create these forms, of course, until after your final 2012 payroll, but you can get a head start. Ask employees to verify their names, addresses and Social Security numbers for accuracy. Also, make sure that your EIN and SEIN are correct, as well as company address.
  • Clean up, back up. We can monitor the health of your QuickBooks data file anytime. But year-end is a good time to scrutinize your software’s performance. Has it slowed down, started crashing or returning error messages? We can troubleshoot to find the problem and clean it up. We’resure you’ve been backing up your file faithfully, but archive all of 2012 and store it in a very safe offsite location — or use Intuit Data Protect for online storage.
  • Double-check tax liabilities. If you’re handling your own payroll, look back to see whether all of your payments and filings have been completed.

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Figure 3: Frequent backups are critical, but you should be sure to have a copy of your entire 2012 data file stored somewhere safe.

 

Thanks for another year.

Again, these are suggestions. QuickBooks does not require you to do any of them. There’s more you can do, and you will need assistance with some of these. So let’s set up a December or early January meeting to get you started right in 2013.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you for letting us serve your company in 2012. We certainly appreciate your business, and we’re happy to do what we can to help your business prosper. 

P.S. It’s not too early to think about taxes so let us know if you want to get a jump on planning and preparation in January. 

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Seven Year-End Adjustments to Make to Your Books

Year-end is coming up for many businesses, and it’d be nice to know what your final revenue and profit numbers will be for the year.  Before we can calculate these key numbers, there are year-end adjustments that may need to be made to your books that will change the numbers. Here are seven common ones.

Bonuses

It’s great to give bonuses to employees at year-end, but it’s not so great to forget about the tax part of it. Bonus checks should always be run through payroll, but often are not, which requires an adjustment after the fact.

Retirement Plan Contributions

If cash is available at year-end, it’s a great idea to maximize the allowable deductions for the retirement plan you qualify for.  One example is a SEP IRA.  You can deduct up to 25% of your or your employee’s salary (up to $50,000 deduction maximum per employee for 2012, but please check with us or your tax professional for numerous exceptions and rules.

Withholding

If you are both the owner and an employee of your company and have not made enough tax payments throughout the year to account for all that money you’ve earned in 2012, you can adjust your last few paychecks to withhold the amount you need.  Sometimes, this also reduces or eliminates the penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes.   To find out more, please check with your tax professional.

Depreciation

If you have assets that will last longer than one year, such as factory equipment or a fleet of automobiles, an adjustment may need to be made to reduce the value of those assets.   This adjustment will reduce your profit and will also reduce your tax bill.

Amortization

If you have a loan of any type, the payment consists of both principal and interest.  Each time you make a payment, the principal and interest amounts can vary.  At the beginning of the loan, you pay more interest and less principal.  At the end of a loan, it’s reversed.  Each payment is different, and if they haven’t been recorded correctly each month, it’s time to make the adjustment so that the loan balance is correct.

New Acquisitions or Obligations

If you’ve made a significant acquisition, such as real estate, buildings, large equipment, or another company, and somehow the transaction did not get properly recorded on your books, then now is the time.   Similarly, if you’ve taken on new debt, the new liability needs to be put on the books.

Noncash Transactions

It’s easy to overlook transactions that do not require a cash outlay, but these need to be recorded as well.   For example, if you performed consulting services in exchange for a spa gift certificate, this transaction should be reflected in the proper revenue and expense accounts.

Year-End Profit

Once your books are adjusted for all of these changes, you’ll have all the information you need to find out how your business performed for 2012.  You can then use your 2012 revenue and profit numbers to set new goals for 2013.

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Five Things You Can Do to Make Tax Season Smoother

We know we’ll never make tax season your favorite time of year, but perhaps we can make it easier.  Here are five things you can do now to smooth out the time required to pull your records together for your tax preparer.

1. Contractor Clean-up 

In preparation for 1099s, take a look at your vendor list now and identify who should receive a 1099.  Perform a mini-audit and ask for any W-9s that are missing so you can plug in your tax IDs without scrambling at the last minute.

2. Check or PSE

Also in preparation for 1099s, you’ll need to break out payments made to vendors by check versus by credit card, third party or what the IRS calls PSE, payment settlement entity.  You’ll only need to issue 1099s to vendors you wrote checks to.

3. Calculated Moves

Is there anything you can calculate in advance of crunch-time?  If you had loans, you can secure the appropriate amortization schedules.  If you have depreciable assets, some of these schedules can be prepared ahead of time.  Did you sell any major assets?  A summary of the transaction can be prepared and ready to go.

4. Playing Catch-Up

If you are behind in your bookkeeping, filing, bank reconciliations, or other accounting chores, it’s a good time to get caught up so all the routine stuff is out of the way.

5. Getting Organized

When the year ends and the tax documents start arriving, place them in a special folder or stack so that all the papers are together.  Scan them in and place them in a specially labeled folder on your PC.  You’ll be more organized than ever.

When all of the mundane items are completed early, it leaves time for the more important conversations, such as discussing new ideas for tax reduction, ways to operate your business more efficiently, and planning for your future.

If we can help make your tax and accounting tasks easier during any time of the year, please reach out and give us a call.

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Are You Defining Items In QuickBooks Correctly?

Create item records in QuickBooks carefully, and QuickBooks will return the favor by running useful, accurate reports.  

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Figure 1: Clearly-defined items result in precise reports. 

Obviously, you’re using QuickBooks because you buy and/or sell products and/or services. You want to know at least weekly — if not daily — what’s selling and what’s not, so you can make informed plans about your company’s future.

You get that information from the reports that you so painstakingly customize and create. But their accuracy depends in large part on how carefully you define each item.  This can be a laborious process, but it’s a critical part of QuickBooks’ foundation.
 
QuickBooks Item Lineup
 
You may not be aware of all your options here. So let’s take a look at what you see when you go to Lists | Item List | Item | New:
 
Service. Simple enough. Do you or your employees do something for clients?  Training? Construction labor? Web design? This is usually tracked by the hour.

Inventory Part. If you want to maintain detailed records about inventory that contain up-to-date information about value, quantities on hand and cost of goods sold, you must define these items as inventory parts. Before you start creating individual records, make sure that QuickBooks is set up for this purpose. Go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory | Company Preferences and select the desired options there, like this:
 

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Figure 2: QuickBooks needs to know that you’re planning to track at least some items as inventory parts.   


Inventory Assembly. Just what it sounds like; it’s sometimes referred to as a Bill of Materials. Do you sell items that actually consist of multiple individual products, services and/or other charges (though you may also sell the parts separately)? If you’re planning to track the compilations as individual units, then you must define them as assemblies.  

 
Non-Inventory Parts. If you don’t track inventory, you can set up items as non-inventory parts. Even if you do track inventory, there may be times when you’ll want to use this designation. For instance, you might sell something to a customer that they asked you to obtain, but you don’t plan to stock it. In that case, QuickBooks only records the incoming and outgoing funds.  

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Figure 3: The New Item window looks a bit intimidating, but it’s critical that you complete it thoroughly and correctly. We can help you get started.
 

Other Charges. This is a catch-all category for items like delivery charges or setup fees. You can’t designate a unit or measure here; they’re just standard costs.    

Groups
. Unlike assemblies, these are not recorded as individual inventory units. Use this designation when you sell a combination of items together frequently but you don’t want them tracked as one entity.   


Discount
. This is a fixed amount or a percentage that you subtract from a subtotal or total. 


Payment
. Normally, you would use the Receive Payments window to record a payment made. But if your customer has made a partial or advance payment upfront, use this item to subtract it from the total when you create the invoice or statement. 

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Figure 4: Use the Payment item to record an upfront remittance. 


Sales Tax Item. One sales tax, one rate, one agency. 


Sales Tax Group. If a sale requires two or more sales tax items, QuickBooks calculates the total and displays it for the customer, but the items are tracked individually. 


Additional Actions  

The item menu provides other options for working with items. You can:

  • Edit or delete
  • Duplicate
  • Make inactive
  • Find in transactions and
  • Customize the list’s columns.

Let us know if you’re not confident about items you’ve already created or if you’re just getting started with this important QuickBooks feature. Some extra work and attention upfront can save you hours of back-tracking and frustration — and from reports that don’t tell the truth.

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Is Your Business Missing an Accounting Skillset?

In a small business, the owner ends up wearing many hats to get the product or service delivered, the customers served, and the accounts settled.  Within each functional area of a small business, there are even more hats.  Although the accounting function might be considered one big hat, there are actually a number of skills that make up “the accounting department” in a small business. Here’s a list to help you understand how it all works together.  As you read through it ask yourself how you are covering these functions in your workplace.

Data Entry Clerk

A data entry clerk typically knows how to do a few types of transactions that are routine.  Perhaps this is posting timesheets from source documents, inventory transactions, or keying in transactions from one report or system to another.  The data entry clerk usually has little or no knowledge of accounting or bookkeeping, and this person will need help when there are exceptions to the routine.

Bookkeeper

The main function of a bookkeeper is to post the transactions and reconcile the accounts of the business.  This can include a number of functions and areas:

  1. Invoicing and receipts in the accounts receivable area
  2. Checks and bills in the accounts payable area.
  3. Payroll.
  4. Inventory.
  5. Cash – bank reconciliations and necessary corrections and adjustments.
  6. Account analysis.
  7. Report preparation, but only to the extent that it rolls up the transactions.

Good bookkeepers will know how to work seamlessly with the CPA who is doing the taxes for the small business so that the books are in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Controller

A controller brings in advanced skills beyond bookkeeping, including financial statement preparation and analysis, budgeting and planning, cost control, risk assessment, internal control, segregation of duties, and industry knowledge.  A controller can bring valuable financial skills to a small business, and often do so by way of an outsourced part-time controller arrangement.

CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

The CFO is the highest level of accounting executive and is needed for complex strategies such as IPOs and financing for the larger company.  A small firm might need CFO-level skills in high growth situations to manage cash flow, debt ratios, and financing options.

Technical Accountant or CPA

Typically, an accountant will have a 4-year degree or a CPA or both.  In many states, the word “accountant” is reserved for CPAs.  Accountants have both education and experience in a wide variety of specialties, including taxes, auditing, cost accounting, bank financing, financial statement preparation, and more.

Tax Preparer, CPA, or EA (Enrolled Agent)

Typically a tax preparer offers tax planning, preparation, and filing in any or all of these areas:

  1. Federal and state corporate, partnership, nonprofit, or individual tax preparation, filing, and planning.
  2. Sales tax compliance and filing.
  3. Franchise tax.
  4. Payroll tax (although a good bookkeeper, controller, or accountant will know how to do this, too) and year-end requirements (W-2s and 1099s).

Management Advisory Consultant

One of the most overlooked roles an accountant can play in small business is in making process improvements in the way the staff and owner work in their business.  Often a management advisory consultant can review how a process is being performed, such as invoicing, and make suggestions on how to speed the process, bill more frequently, or other opportunity that significantly improves the cash condition.  The specialized skills of accounting, process knowledge, and software skills enable a management advisory consultant to save money for the business owner in many cases.

Accounting Software Consultant

An accounting software consultant has deep knowledge of one or more accounting software packages and can analyze the needs of the company to match them with the right accounting software.

Accounting Software Trainer

Just like any software package, and perhaps especially with accounting software, it’s not a good idea to guess how to use the software.  A software trainer will have in-depth knowledge of the tips and tricks inside the package that will save your bookkeeper (or you) time and money.

Adding Up the Value

The more of these roles you have covered in your business, the more your business will benefit.  If you have gaps, it’s likely you’re feeling the missing skillset and having issues around that area.

If we can help you fill any of these gaps, please let us know.  We’re at your service.

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Compliance Checklist: Seven Items You May Have Forgotten

Running a business is filled with regulations everywhere you turn.  These can drain precious time away from the core of your business, but if you ignore them, there could be huge financial consequences you may be risking without even realizing it.  The best way to handle them is to understand your exposure, consult with any experts you need to bring in, create a checklist, and make sure you’re in compliance.

Here’s a head start in creating that checklist.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.  These items apply to most businesses and are often overlooked.   Go through the list to make sure there aren’t any surprises for your business.  If there are, feel free to contact us, and we’ll help you find out where to get answers.

1. EIC notice to employees.

It’s now required annually to notify certain employees about the Earned Income Credit so that more people who need it can take advantage of it.   If you have employees, the next deadline for this compliance item is the first week of February 2013 and can be met if you get the right W-2 forms.  Details are in IRS Publication 15.

2. Corporate meeting minutes.

Just about the first thing the IRS will ask for in an audit is your corporate meeting minutes.  If you are incorporated as a C Corp or S Corp, you need properly formatted and executed documentation of the annual shareholders’ meeting, even if it is just you.  The risk in not having it includes a potential increase in tax liability from undocumented deductions.

3. PCI compliance. 

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, and if you take credit cards, you may have compliance requirements under this industry standard.  The standard is designed to provide the cardholder with a minimum acceptable level of security, and your requirement is to maintain certain processes and procedures to safeguard the stored credit card data.

4. Document retention.

While it’s a great thing to go paperless, you may get caught by surprise if you are not downloading and preserving the items you used to have on paper.  The IRS and other agencies still need proof of these items in order to approve the deduction.  This includes invoices that are coming via email in PDFs, bank statements you’ve gone green on, and direct deposit payroll stubs, to name a few.

Fax copies fade after a few years and can catch you by surprise when you go to look up an old record and can no longer read it.  It’s best to scan fax receipts in so they will stay readable for the length of the retention period.

You’ll also want to keep up-to-date on how many years it’s necessary to maintain these items in the case of an audit.

5. New hire reporting.

In small business, most of us are hiring so infrequently that it’s easy to forget this one.  Most state unemployment agencies require that you report new hires within about three weeks of their start date.  The purpose of this is to track fathers who have missed child support payments.

6. Changes in state tax compliance.

As geographic borders disappear and our business expands, we need to regularly re-evaluate state requirements on income, franchise, and sales tax obligations.  It can be too easy to “do things the way we’ve always done them” and forget that as our business expands into new territories, new obligations can arise.

If we’ve hired a virtual employee in another state, we may have new obligations.  If we’ve earned money during a speaking engagement in another state, we may have income to report in that state.    And, of course, if we open new offices in another state, we have new compliance items to deal with.

7. Payroll posters.

Surprisingly, the highest payback item in this list for those of you that have employees may be posting your payroll posters.  Compliance usually costs less than $100, and the fines avoided can be as much as $17,000, a pretty big dent, no matter how big your small business is.

Small Business Compliance

Did you get caught by any surprises?  If so, let us know how we can help to bring your business into compliance and help you avoid unnecessary costly risks.

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