Staying Organized For Tax Season
Oh no! … it’s that time again, the dreaded tax season. I learned very early on when I started my business that I didn’t want to get caught up in the madness of taxes. I knew if I developed a process or a routine that I could use throughout the year that I would save myself the headache of trying to gather and remember everything I did for an entire year.
So I set out to create small tricks that would help me get organized (and stay that way). Taxes, in general, are usually boring, a hard to understand topic. For some reason, I was able to understand it easily. I had my fair share of research and speaking with tax pros but I was able to absorb it and create practical daily, weekly, monthly tasks for myself and I want to share that with you.
Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional, just a fellow business owner providing advice based on my experience. Check with a CPA or tax professional to get your business’ and state’s requirements to ensure you stay organized the right way.
Here’s the guide I wish I had when starting my first business.
The dreaded receipts. Yes, they are a pain but the government requires we keep them to prove we actually purchased what we’re claiming to purchase. I know a lot of people just like to throw them away (my husband is infamous for throwing away receipts even if we need them) but they are so important to running a business that you have to change your midset when dealing with them. Here’s how I stay organized:
I keep ALLLLL of my receipts, personal and professional, in a separate compartment of my purse (men you can just add it to your wallet as you receive them). When its time to organize my purse (or wallet) which is usually once a month before it’s about to explode, I go through each one and sort them by personal and business expenses.
Some receipts might start out being personal when you originally purchased the item but then it changes to professional when you realize that you used it for your business.
Write on the back of the receipt what it was for. This will help you when entering the expense into your tracker of choice (more about that later).
Keep them in a folder or envelope by month or by category. Storing them this way allows you to stay organized and it only takes minutes to put those away so you can procrastinate on entering them into your system at a later time if you need to. Or you can hire someone to help you enter them since it's now just a data entry thing.
You can also scan them but this requires electronic storage and a few additional steps so while I think this is a great solution for me personally because I prefer everything electronically, I know it might not be the right solution for everyone.
Most Common Expenses
I’m shocked by how many times I’ve learned that business owners weren’t aware of the expenses they are allowed to claim for their taxes. Most expenses are tax-deductible meaning they lower your income taxes which means more money in your pocket. So it would behoove all business owners to know exactly what they can and cannot expense. This is definitely a conversation you should be having with a tax professional but I’ll give you some basics to be aware of.
Advertising (Facebook/Instagram boosts, paid website listings, fliers, business cards)
Office Supplies (paper, pens, post, etc.)
Technology (computer, email, domain, website hosting, internet, cell phone, etc.)
Bank Fees, interest charges for credit cards and loans
There are a lot more to be listed. You’ll also need to know the specific category to put these expenses in so they entered properly into your system.
So tracking your revenue can also be a headache but if done as you receive payments you shouldn’t have much to worry about. As a general business rule, you should always track the money you make on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Knowing how much you made will allow you to create goals for the year and it should also push you to make more money. Avoiding this and sweeping it under the rug definitely won’t change anything in your business. Here are some suggestions on staying organized with tracking income:
The good ole’ spreadsheet. Yes, some people hear that word and freak out but a super simple spreadsheet can keep all of your income in one place for you to reference as needed. If you use Google Drive and Google Sheets, they have a free template you can use that comes with the necessary documents. All you have to do is read their instructions and enter your information. Click this link for access to the free template.
The use of accounting software is very popular these days. The downside to them is that you need to have some computer experience because there’s a learning curve. Programs such as QuickBooks and Wave offer you the ability to add receipts, create invoices (which will then automatically track your sales), pay your staff with their payroll options, and produce reports your tax team will need in order to process sales tax and income tax.
Find a good CRM to invest in. A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management software that allows you to store your client leads, clients, invoices, etc. Investing in one that works for your business structure is important and sometimes that takes a little research. Most CRMs allow you to run a report of your invoices and this will help you calculate how much you made at any given time.
As you’re reading this you might be saying, “I’m too busy to be doing all of this” or “this isn’t my cup of tea” and that’s fine. You can hire a Bookkeeper, Accountant, or Virtual Assistant to assist you with this on a routine basis. Depending on how many expenses and how much income you generate will dictate the amount of work it will entail. Typically you can get away with one to two hours per month provided it’s organized properly. Let’s say you find a professional to assist you for $25 per hour. If you only need two hours per month that will equate to $50 (+ your sanity).