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As a business owner, you have an added burden when tax season arrives. Taxpayers with a business spend significantly more time on tax preparation than those without businesses. The process can be especially stressful if you aren't sure what tax reporting and payment requirements you are subjected to. DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to helping aspiring business owners, providing financial literacy resources to to schools that help to demystify the tax preparation and filing process.
Read on for a starter guide to a stress-free tax filing process.
Get your paperwork organized.
You will need to sift through a lot of paperwork to complete your business tax filing. Start getting organized now. Depending on your circumstances, you may need Federal Wage and Tax Statements (Form W-2), Employer Annual Federal Tax Return (Form 944), and Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements (Form W-3). You can find all of this paperwork on the Internal Revenue Service website. Figuring out and finding what you need now will save you stress when you're actually filing.
Make sure to clearly separate business and personal finances.
As you go through your paperwork, make sure to distinguish between personal and business-related documentation. This simplifies tax filing and will also make matters easier if you are audited by the IRS. If you don't already have one, consider opening a business bank account. There are various advantages, such as the ability to build business credit — improving your financing prospects, avoiding personal liability, and better revenue tracking.
Clarify what rebates and credits you are entitled to.
Tax credits and rebates can lower your final business tax bill. Take the time to check what you may be eligible for. Possibilities include earned income tax credit, child and dependent care credit, retirement plan startup cost tax credit, work opportunity tax credit, and more. For tailor-made advice, consult a tax professional.
Ensure you've properly differentiated employees versus contractors.
As a business owner, you will also have to submit tax paperwork to the IRS regarding your workers. What paperwork you submit depends on whether the worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Independent contractors require a 1099, for example, while employees need a W-2 and W-4. Legal Zoom explains how to properly differentiate between the two categories. For example, the courts may use the "right to control" test, determining how much authority you, the employer, have over whether the worker does their work or not.
Invest in tech tools to simplify record-keeping.
Tax preparation and filing will take time. Fortunately, there are tools available to help expedite the process. Take the 1099 forms for independent contractors, for example. An online payroll system allows you to file 1099 online, minimizing hassle and the confusion between 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC and when to use them. Online payroll systems also simplify payments, allowing you to pay contractors more quickly.
Change your business structure if needed.
As you prepare for tax season, you may discover that you would be better off with a different business structure. Diverse entities like limited liability companies, corporations, and sole proprietorships vary in terms of tax obligations and reporting requirements. While changing your business structure now won't make a huge difference when it comes to reporting for the last tax year, it can help you save money next tax year.
Don't let tax season overwhelm you. The above tips can help you get through it easily. If you find yourself struggling, don't hesitate to turn to a professional for help.
DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation, Inc. through FitKit programs for school gives youth the skills needed in to become successful small business owners. Visit the website to view the current course offerings.