Monthly Archives: July 2015

A Primer on QuickBooks

What exactly is QuickBooks? QuickBooks is an accounting program that is used primarily by small businesses. It is very user-friendly, which makes it ideal if you are not an accountant.

QuickBooks will enable you to take control of your business finances to help you to make better decisions. Business owners can keep track of receivables from customers and clients, bills that are due, and account balances such as checking accounts, inventory, and credit cards. You can even reconcile your accounts to your statements to make sure your records are accurate. Can you imagine not knowing how much your customers owe you?

Ideally, you will want to be able to generate financial reports such as profit and loss statements, as well as balance sheets. A profit and loss statement will tell you how much your sales, expenses, and profits were, while a balance sheet reflects assets (such as checking accounts), liabilities (such as loans), and equity (the difference between assets and liabilities, which is your ownership stake).

Successful small business owners know how their business is performing on an ongoing basis. This is where QuickBooks can help. Your decisions should be made based upon the financial results of your business.

Just remember not to do it alone. While QuickBooks is very user-friendly, many people do need assistance from an expert. It can be extremely advantageous to consult with us on an on-going basis. We can advise you on how to best set up QuickBooks, how to use it effectively, and how to interpret your business results to help you to save money, taxes, and increase profits.

I Received a Notice from the IRS – Now What?!

If you receive a letter in the mail from the IRS, the first thing you should do is open it! It might not be as bad as you think. The most common notice I see is that a client forgot to include interest, dividends, or wages from a W-2 on their income tax return and now they owe additional taxes, interest, and penalties.

Just because you receive a notice that you owe money doesn’t mean the notice is correct. You want to see why there is an increase, and compare the figures in the letter to your tax return. Then you want to see what the proposed changes are. I have seen notices that have actually showed incorrect W-2 wages.

Usually you have 30 days to respond to the notice before additional interest and penalties will be assessed. There are several options to take at this point.

The first option, if the notice is correct and the additional penalties and interest are very insignificant, should be to pay the amount due as soon as possible. If the notice is correct and you have a valid reason for not including a portion of income, you should then include payment of the taxes and interest on those taxes only. Additionally, you will need to respond to the notice to state why the penalties should be removed. The IRS will remove penalties if you have a justifiable reason. As a caveat, if the penalties are not removed then you will owe not only penalties, but possible interest on the penalties as well. The cost/benefit has to be weighed carefully. If the notice is completely wrong, then you should not send any payment, but include an explanation in your written response to the IRS, along with any supporting documents to show why you do not owe additional taxes, interest, and penalties.

As you can see there are several options when receiving a notice from the IRS or one of the state taxing authorities. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you receive a notice. We can clearly explain it to you and guide you through the next step to take.

Thinking of Starting a New Business?

Starting a new business can be an exciting endeavor. You get to be your own boss, create your own hours, and possibly achieve a greater sense of satisfaction. But what should you do to make sure your business is successful?

Proper planning goes a long way, and a business plan is an excellent starting point. A business plan should contain the following information (sample business plan can be seen at score.org):

General Company Description: What will your business do? What are your goals? What do you expect of the industry you will operate in? Will your business be structured as a sole-proprietor, partnership, corporation, or S-corporation?

Products and services offered: If you are a contractor, which type of construction will you perform – residential, commercial, or both? Will you be a general contractor or have a specialty such as plumbing? What are your competitive advantages and disadvantages?

Marketing: It is a good idea to perform some type of market research to make sure there is demand for your products or services. How will you obtain customers or clients? Will you serve a specific industry or niche?

Operations: What will the daily operations of your business look like? Generally, how will you run your business and manage employees.

Management and Advisors: Most likely you will be managing all aspects of your business during the beginning stages. You must realize though, that you cannot be an expert in everything. Advisors will help you to start off on the right track, save you time, money, and keep you out of trouble. A short list should include at a minimum: a CPA, attorney, insurance agent, banker, and a mentor. Never underestimate the value of a qualified professional advisor!

Start-up Expenses: You will need to estimate your expenses to start your business even before you begin operations. Some expenses can include legal fees, accounting fees, office equipment, software, machinery, vehicles, insurance, and marketing expenses. You need to know how you will pay for these expenses also. The funds may come from financing or personal funds used to capitalize the business.

Financial Plans & Projections: This should include a projected profit and loss statement for at least the first year, but it is also helpful to project the first 3 years, which is what I recommend. You want to make sure that when accounting for sales, the number is realistic and you can state how you will achieve this number. This also coincides with your marketing plan.

There is a lot to consider when starting a new business, but it is important to be thorough to insure its success. A little planning goes a long way to help your business start off on the right foot and avoid costly mistakes. Business planning is so important that it even makes sense for existing business to create a business plan to get back on track and take advantage of opportunities.