Your Tax Season Survival Guide

Your Tax Season Survival Guide

by Brendon Pack, February 2019

No one ever said tax season was for the faint of heart. For some, it may even be the darkest time of the year, but it doesn't have to be.

To help your business survive and thrive, here's a handy guide to keep you focused, stress-free, and on schedule.

Know Your Deadlines

Being aware of your tax filing deadline is the first step towards a smooth tax season. The good news is that you only need to keep two dates in mind. If your business is a sole proprietorship or a single-member limited liability company (LLC), you need to file taxes with your personal income tax returns by April 15, 2019. But if your business is a partnership, multiple-member LLC, or S corporation, your tax forms must be filed by March 15, 2019.

If you're planning on filing for an extension, that request must also be filed by these dates.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Well before your tax filing deadline, you will want to gather your paperwork for your business income and expenses. Assuming you have kept up-to-date records, tracking your income shouldn't be much of a problem.

Expenses can be more complicated. Make sure you have copies of all records and receipts for applicable expenses.

If you operate your business out of your home, you will need to gather data for allowable home office expenses, such as utilities, insurance, repairs, and the business portion of rent or mortgage interest. Be sure that you comply with IRS regulations concerning office use of your home.

Send W-2s and 1099s

If you have employees, you will need to provide W-2 statements to them by January 31 of each year. Under federal law, you must send employees W-2 statements no matter how little they earn. The statements can be sent in either electronic or paper form. You are also required to file a copy of your employees' W-2s with the IRS.

If you paid non-employee contractors during the preceding year, you must make sure that 1099-MISC statements are in their hands by January 31.

Contribute to Your Retirement

Don't forget about investing for your retirement. You generally have until April 15 to make contributions to your retirement account (401K, SEP-IRA, simple IRA), which are applicable to your prior year's taxes. Except for Roth IRAs, such contributions may lower your taxable income and reduce the amount of tax you owe.

Contact Your Accountant

Make an appointment with your tax accountant as early you can. The closer you get to your tax deadline, the busier your accountant will be. Since you are generally paying by the hour, it pays to bring organized files and information to your tax meeting. Come prepared with any questions you may have, too.

A knowledgeable tax accountant can make sure your tax forms are accurate and that you receive all the deductions you are qualified to take. An accountant can also keep you focused on your deadlines, not just at tax time, but throughout the year, as you pay estimated income taxes, payroll taxes, sales tax, business privilege tax, or any number of other taxes you may be required to pay.

Tax time doesn't have to be a traumatic experience. With a little organization and planning, you'll sail through the season.

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