Category Archives: Small Business Accounting

Financial Advisor: Small Business Tax Planning for Fall 2019

Fall is only weeks away. Summer is basically done

So, what does that mean for you, the small business owner? Well, you can begin making moves that will positively affect your 2019 IRS tax bill. The IRS has made many changes recently that many small business owners may not be aware of or use.  

Here are some ways you can start your small business tax planning that most financial advisors would endorse as we move into the fall season:

  1. Start your 401 (k) now: In 2019, small business owners can deduct up to $51,000 with matching. In other words, you can use $18,000 as a deferral before matching and $5,500 for employees 50 years and older. (Check with your payroll officer or business accountant before taking this measure.)
  2. Buy a business vehicle: Small businesses can purchase a truck or any vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds or more. This year, businesses can deduct up to $25,000 depending on the business use percentage and cost of the vehicle. 
  3. Convert your IRA to a Roth IRA: Your traditional IRA is not giving you all the benefits. Instead, convert your IRA to Roth. You will pay taxes at a lower rate and avoid paying takes on future withdrawals. Check with your accountant or financial advisor before changing over. You must do it by December 31, 2019. 
  4. Add your children and spouse to the payroll: A forgotten-sometimes abused-way of saving money is by bringing your spouse and children onto the payroll for doing real work for the business. Pay them through a sole-proprietorship or single-member LLC. If children are under 18 years old, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. Additionally, the child can use a standard deduction of $6,300 against any income you pay, as its earned income and so no income taxes! However, if it’s an S-/C-corporation, the IRS requires that you withhold FICA from all employees on the payroll. (Again, check with your small business accountant for details and guidelines.) Office cleaning, filing, shredding, driving to errands, etc., are jobs both children and spouse can do for you. 
  5. Set your payroll amount: By December 31, all S-Corporation owners or newly elected LLC S-Corps must complete their payroll. The fourth quarter is coming and it may draw an IRS audit but you may want to lower it or increase it based on the net business income. 
  6. Close on the rental property: Your rental property may be costing you write-offs now as laws have changed. Check with your accountant to see if the real estate professional classification has changed. 
  7. Make your LLC an S-election: Done in December, if you’ve paid a high amount of self-employment tax and had an LLC, you can elect to be taxed as an S-corporation, retroactively, to January 1, 2019. The application is easy and does not cost a lot. Be sure to do the payroll and take some payroll for yourself. 

There are a number of other tax strategy steps you can take. Please consult an experienced small business tax accountant before you do. 

A.K. Burton, PC, has experienced small business financial advisors who can assist you and represent you before the IRS and even do your payroll. Call us at (301) 365-1974 or email info@cpa-maryland.com. A.K. Burton, PC serves the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County areas.

Ask a Financial Advisor: Should You Do Your Startup Business Now?

We have all seen the headlines: “Best economy in fifty years!” 

We’ve also seen the story about the person who lost their job and said they weren’t going to work for “the man” anymore. So, they started their own business and now are multi-millionaires! 

Great economy. 

Wealthy entrepreneur. 

There are plenty of success stories. There are also plenty of failures. Starting a business is a risky venture which can make or break an individual and their investors. It should be done carefully and with research. 

Before you hand in your two-week notice, pack your office and take out a loan to start your new business, it is important, from a financial advisor’s view, to consider these factors:

  1. Starting a new business by yourself is almost impossible: You will not be able to do it all on your own. You may need a business coach to help you prepare. You may need the advice of a financial advisor to set up a budget. You may need an accountant to do your bookkeeping. You may need an admin assistant to take phone calls and do your records. You may also need to create a team of subcontractors. In other words: You will need a support system. 
  2. Start-up is a way to not make money for a while (i.e. years): If you had planned to replace your income during your startup time period, you will be disappointed. Many new entrepreneurs go without paying themselves for years, sometimes five years or more until the business begins to pay. Most income goes into paying for rent, utilities, equipment, Wifi, fees, and payroll. You may need to keep your present job just to pay the bills or depend on your spouse, family or investors to pay your personal expenses. It may pay off eventually but, in the meantime, you may live a Spartan lifestyle. 
  3. Take care of your mental and physical health: We’ve heard the horror stories of doing 20-hour workdays and working seven days a week. That cannot last long. The body and mind will shut down. A new startup will require long hours but doing a ridiculous schedule will only burn the new entrepreneur out. Share your difficult times with your spouse, family, church/temple or networking group. Get 6-8 hours of regular sleep, eat three meals a day, exercise fifteen minutes a day, reduce alcohol consumption and dependence on drugs to keep you going. Finally, practice humility. You cannot work all day, every day. You won’t survive. Put your mental and physical health first. 
  4. Be comfortable with change: Life is all about adapting to change and leading a startup can be quite chaotic. Be ready to accept changes, some big (moving the business to a new storefront) and some small (changing copiers). Change may also signify success. Embrace it and roll with it. Most changes are not negative, even if they take a while to adapt. 
  5. No job is too low or too dirty: Running your own business, at first, may mean cleaning your bathroom, emptying your trash, mopping the floor, dusting the desk and doing the inventory. You are part of a team and that means not being afraid to get your hands dirty. 
  6. Keep a tight watch on your finances: As a financial advisor, I have seen startups that have been disciplined in their spending and others that have become debt-ridden as expenses got out of control. Either hire an experienced bookkeeper to watch every expense or have someone on the company keep tabs on expenses. Most business failures come from out of control spending that is not paid for by income. Debt is part of doing a startup but it can send businesses crashing to the ground, too, never to return. Bottom line: watch every penny and be disciplined in spending.   

After reading the above, you may still be asking: Should I start my own business? You have to make that decision on your own after getting seasoned and smart advice. If you can handle all that we talked about, you may be ready to start your own business. 

A.K. Burton, PC, works with small businesses and entrepreneurs every day. Our experienced legal and financial advisors can help you with planning, budgeting, and payroll.  Contact our friendly and experienced staff at (301) 365-1974 or email info@cpa-maryland.com. A.K. Burton, PC serves the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County areas. 

How QuickBooks Can Change Your Small Business Accounting

Online accounting has been around awhile. In fact, most accounting is done online now in a cryptic, password-protected program.  

 One of the most popular programs is Quickbooks. It is used by millions of subscribers for business, small and big. Quickbooks accounting programs have led the way in innovative bookkeeping and easy functionality. 

 If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to organize your books, consider using Quickbooks. Here are some ways Quickbooks can change your small business accounting:

1.    Invoicing: You can create and send your own invoices. You can now increase your cash flow and decrease your accounts receivable.

2.    Cash flow control: By keeping your Quickbooks file updated, you can use it then to manage your cash flow. You have to enter your financial transactions regularly and do daily reconciliations. It is done by sorting the Quickbooks bank accounts by sing cleared status.

3.    Manage employee time: On the home screen, employee time can be entered (either a single time event or a weekly timesheet). This tracking system measures employee productivity. 

4.     Memorized Transactions: Regular transactions can be automatically entered on a regular basis. Quickbooks memorized transactions may include invoices, bills, journal entries, and payments.  Thus, your accounting should be much more efficient. 

5.    Accept Online Payments – The “Intuit payment network services” allows customers to pay your invoices online. It costs only $0.50 per transaction with no percentage of the invoice being charged as a fee.  

6.    Payroll Management – Payroll can be processed directly in QuickBooks. Your outsourced payroll can be recorded directly in Quickbooks. All payroll companies can import your outsourced payroll data into QuickBooks.  

7.    Financial Reporting: Small business financial reporting is a critical part of your small business bookkeeping.  

8.    Email Invoices and Statements – All of your small business invoices and statements can be emailed directly from Quickbooks. It reduces the time it takes for your customers to pay you. 

9.    Accounting questions listed: There may be some transactions that you may not know how to handle and could keep you from reconciling and closing out your financials.  The “Quickbooks Ask My Accountant” code on your chart of accounts lets you enter the transaction in question then reconcile all of them while keeping your questions organized in one spot.  

Quickbooks can become an essential part of your small business accounting and bookkeeping. The software can help organize your business and centralize multiple business functions. However, just understanding where to begin with Quickbooks can seem impossible. At A.K. Burton, PC we use QuickBooks as a tool to help our small business clients manage their businesses. If you don’t know where to begin with your small business accounting, we are here to help. We specialize in small business accounting services. 

A.K. Burton, PC, has Quickbooks accountants experts on staff who can help you set up and use this exciting accounting program for your business. Contact our friendly and experienced staff at (301) 365-1974 or email info@cpa-maryland.com. A.K. Burton, PC serves the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County areas.

Planning for the Fall: Small Business Accounting Practices to Keep You Ahead of the Game

Summer is half over. The days are getting shorter.

Parents are preparing to send their children back to school next month.

This season, as we know it, is coming to a close. Pretty soon, we are all back from vacation, kids have returned to school, Labor Day is over and the next holiday is Thanksgiving, months from now.

The end of summer can be a drag. two men sitting across from one another working on laptops

However, as a business owner, you can do some things now during these low-key summer days, that will benefit you, your employees, your clients and other stakeholders (i.e. The IRS). So, take some time now and do these small business accounting practices that will keep you ahead of the game before the cooler days of fall hit:

  1. Business and Personal bank accounts need to be separated: Much of the confusion and stress business owners have in accounting has to do with bank accounts. If you are using your business account also as your personal bank account, you will run into some serious tax issues that could take many hours and days to untangle when tax time comes around. So, create separate bank accounts for each and save yourself lots of confusion and billable hours with your accountant (or worse, an IRS auditor).
  2. Record bank deposits accurately: Make sure all loans, sales, refunds and other receipts are recorded accurately. You may have to set up a meeting with the small business account specialist at your bank to make sure you are doing it correctly. They can go through each monthly statement with you. Your accountant can also advise you on the best accounting program to use.
  3. Record all business expenses: During a typical business year, your company could be spending thousands (or more) in expenses. From inventory to travel to fuel to rent, there are many business expenses that need to be recorded accurately and backed up with receipts. Make sure you and your administrator(s) are tracking all expenses. Many business expenses are tax-deductible, so failing to record them could be costly.
  4. Bring in an outside accounting expert: Accounting and bookkeeping can be agonizing and time-consuming. So, perhaps, once a month or once a quarter, hire an accountant to take a few hours and review the books. They can make recommendations and corrections, keeping your company on track.
  5. Set aside time for accounting: It all will pile up very quickly and become a monster if you don’t watch out. So, set a day and time each week or month to record and file receipts or visit the bank.
  6. Labor expense tracking: This is the largest expense for most companies. Keep track of hours paid, overtime, bonuses and other expenses to make sure you are paying your employees accurately.
  7. Inventory control: You may have a warehouse full of inventory. If so, take  time to record all of the items in your inventory, including items that are being returned to the manufacturer/supplier.
  8. Meet with your administrator monthly: If your company has a staff member dedicated to accounting, meet with them monthly or regularly to review statements. It may be quite boring to do, but it keeps you and your admin on top of the bottom line: expenses and income. After all, that is why you are in business!

Poor accounting practices have damaged or sunk many businesses. Just doing even a few of these tasks will keep you and your business on track and successful.

A.K. Burton, PC, which serves the Washington,D.C. and Bethesda, Md area, has experienced and licensed individual financial advisers who can help you sort through your bookkeeping. Contact us at (301) 365-1974 for more information or email us at info@cpa-maryland.com.

        

Wake up and smell the coffee!: Small business accounting services that your accountant has-and you should be using

“Shoot, if I had only known!”

How many times have you said that to yourself. If you had only known that your favorite restaurant had a free dessert Wednesday night or that suit you wanted was half price, yesterday, or that the radio station was giving away tickets to your favorite singer’s concert.

Oh, if only…

It’s a familiar lament but, sometimes, there are second chances to great opportunities. Those opportunities missed are aggravating because you realize that you’ve lost out on something beneficial to your life. However, there is a much more important opportunity that exceeds any dessert, suit or concert ticket. We are speaking of small business accounting, of course.

Your business pays the bills and may even be the main source of income for your employees. It is crucial to your life. Don’t take the accounting and bookkeeping services your accountant has to offer for granted.

As any accountant will tell you, you may understand a lot about bookkeeping, but no one knows everything. Leave that to the professionals.   

So, here is a list of small business accounting services your accountant has and you should be using:

  1. Quickbooks Advice: Quickbooks is always updating, changing and upping its game. It is still the premiere business accounting program. Sometimes, keeping up with those changes can be a chore, if not impossible, during your long work weeks. Your accountant must keep up with the updates as they are probably using it themselves! Utilize their knowledge and expertise on this program and all you have to do is call.
  2. Setting up an Accounting System and Structure: Starting a business is a huge challenge and getting the correct accounting system for your business can be agonizing. There are many choices and many different fees. Do you know which accounting system is best? Most business owners and managers are not accountants plus they have too much on their plate, already. So, contact your accountant. They will analyze your business according to volume of business, number of employees and other factors to help you figure out which accounting system is best for your business. Then, your accountant can help you install it and set it up.
  3. Startup/New Business Consultation: You’ve got a great idea for a new business. You’ve done the research and even chosen a storefront. But, how do you get the financing? Hire employees? Set up payroll? Purchase inventory? Those and many important questions need to be answered. Your accountant can help you make all of these crucial, business startup decisions and get the launch of your dream off right.
  4. Record-keeping techniques: It is imperative that your business keep accurate accounting records. You have to deal with suppliers, employees, vendors, landlords, travel agents, garages, the IRS. That’s no small list of people and agencies who depend on your company to pay them. So, use the best accounting record-keeping methods you can find. Your accountant can advise you on what you can use that will be efficient, affordable and can be used by everyone in your company.
  5. Assistance with registering your company with all the appropriate tax authorities: What is an LLC and should your company be one? Which tax authorities do I register with in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia? Or, should I register with all three? Do I need any licenses and permits to run my business? All good questions and they need to be answered. Your accountant can help you register, apply for the correct permits and licenses.

Did you know that these are just some of the services that your local accountant can provide for you and your company, no matter what its size or if it hasn’t even opened its doors, yet?! Like most business owners, you probably didn’t know it.

Running a business is hard work. Don’t make it even harder. Contact your accountant and have them be a partner in your success.      

A.K. Burton, PC, which serves the Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, MD area, provides all these services and more. Contact us at (301) 365-1974 for more information or email us at info@cpa-maryland.com.

 

How to Prepare for a Small Business Audit

Audits are one of the many reasons we, as accountants, exist. They are extremely stressful for our clients and can make for an extremely difficult situation, even for the most ethical and detail-oriented small business.

Before we go on, let’s start with what an “audit” actually means: accounting-audit AK Burton PCAccording to www.businessdictionary.com it is a “Systematic examination and verification of a firm’s books of account, transaction records, other relevant documents, and physical inspection of inventory by qualified accountants (called auditors). Quality control: Periodic (usually every six months) onsite-verification (by a certification authority) to ascertain whether or not a documented quality system is being effectively implemented.

In other words, it’s a detailed examination by auditors of a small business’s ledgers, statements and any other accounting records that the business uses. It may take days or months to complete, depending on the depth and volume of records.

So, now that you have an idea of what an audit means, let’s talk about Five Ways your Small Business Can Prepare for an Audit:

  1. Communicate with the accounting firm directly: The accounting firm doing the audit is not your enemy. They are only there to do the audit and submit a report. They are an objective reporter, not out to “get” your business. So, setting the tone with the firm and asking them for an itemized list of all records and documents needed will benefit you and them. Have them send a checklist which your company can use as an inventory list. Lastly, assign someone from your company as dedicated point of contact. Your staff person should have access to all the documents needed and be a friendly and helpful resource for the auditors.
  2. Provide a General Ledger: This is usually your Quickbooks account. You can export it to Excel and then send it to the auditor. This ledger will clarify for your auditor what documents they need to audit.
  3. Provide a Trial Balance: This can also be found in your Quickbooks account. Most auditors depend a lot on this information as all the numbers in your balance are traced back to the trial balance. It should also be on an Excel document.
  4. Copies of Loans, Contracts and Leases (if any): This one is truly a matter of accuracy. Your auditors need to see long- and short-term contracts with vendors to see if they contract match up with statements (Includes buy-sell agreements, too.) Loans mean any bank-related or other types of loans which were used by your business. Leases, if any, are important as they require the minimum monthly lease payments.
  5. Board Minutes: This one is often-forgotten but may be a crucial element in the accuracy of the audit report. These board meeting notes contain details on hiring, terminations, acquisitions, sales, statements and other pertinent information from that auditing year up to the present date. All notes including budget and administrative reports need to be included. These documents is one of the easiest to collect, too.

There are more steps to take but this is a good start. We will publish a sequel blog to this one with more details on what to do in the near future.

If you’d like more details on how our company can do your small business audit or assist you with it, contact us at A. K. Burton, PC. We can provide all of your private and business accounting needs. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for more information.

 

Four Quickbooks Tips and Tricks for 2017

When you hear the word “Quickbooks” does it send a shiver down your spine? Do you reflexively spill your mocha on your laptop keyboard? Kick the sides of your accounting files cabinet in disgust?

Well, we can understand your frustration with Quickbooks, we have all felt it at some time or other. However, this is not your grandfather’s accounting program anymore.quickbooks-intuit A K Burtong PC

In fact, Quickbooks continues to improve its user experience and make it a positive experience for accounting veterans and small business owners (who do it all), alike. Quickbooks is actually easier now, we think.

And, since 2017 is just around the corner and Tax Season (our favorite time of year) begins January 1, utilizing Quickbooks’ many features is essential for us and both our small business and personal business clients. Now is the time to master this stuff.

So, here are Four Helpful Quickbooks Tips for 2017 that will prove extremely helpful:

  1. Schedule with it: The scheduling feature plans employees’ work schedules and can keep track of meetings, dates and now can schedule the mortgage payment. Deadlines can be automated and bills paid through it, too. It is amazing how much can be loaded into this feature so you have more free time to meet with present clients and solicit new clients.
  2. Utilize the “Undeposited Funds” account: This Quickbooks feature scared a lot of users because we just didn’t understand it, frankly. It’s quite simple though as this is used to track moneys deposited until the deposit is entered in Quickbooks. This is actually not that intimidating anymore and very helpful. Your monthly reconciliation is simpler now as the amount entered in Quickbooks will match (or should, anyway) the deposit amount on the bank statement. Forget doing it manually from here on out. This is truly not worth having nightmares anymore. It works like a charm.
  3. Changing Transactions: Once the absolute bane of accountants everywhere because it was too easy for company personnel to make (unwarranted or incorrect) changes, this feature is much improved now. You can change the settings and password protect the “Date Warnings” so you can restrict changes to a select few. This is a vast improvement and will reduce some major stress as you manage accounts.
  4. Merge all finances into one program: You should track all your bank statements and transactions and then reconcile Quickbooks with your other statements. Your accounting numbers will be up-to-date, then. You can do your income, credit lines, billing and bank statements here. All your data runs through one central location.

There are many more aspects of Quickbooks (and their many programs) that we can explore in future blogs. The New Year is coming and certainly there will be updates and improvements. We will definitely keep you informed.

In the meantime, utilize Quickbooks! It’s not as intimidating or aggravating as it once was. So, drink your mocha and repair the dents in your filing cabinet. Life for us Quickbooks users is better now and, dare we say, simpler.

If your business needs accounting & tax services of any nature, our team at A. K. Burton, PC, can meet all your private and business accounting & tax service needs. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for more information.