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Tips For Staying One Step Ahead Of Tax Issues



Jon Neal, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, TaxConnections

The last thing you need as a small business owner is to have to spend time unraveling tax problems you could have avoided. There are many tax issues that can trip up small business owners — here are a few.

Mixing Business And Personal

Keeping your personal bank and credit card accounts separate from your business accounts isn’t always easy. But “commingling” business and personal accounts creates a record keeping nightmare. When it’s tax time, you may not be able to identify all the appropriate business expenses. As a result, it could be difficult to accurately determine your business income and you might lose deductions.

Not Keeping Track

Keeping track of business expenses can be a challenge. However, you’ll need proof of purchase for any expenses you plan to deduct. Proof can be a canceled check (or legible image of the check) or a credit card, debit card, or electronic funds transfer (EFT) statement showing the payee, the amount of the purchase or transfer, and the transaction date.

You’ll also need an invoice or a receipt identifying the purchase. If the business purpose for the purchase isn’t immediately obvious, attaching a note of explanation or writing directly on the invoice or receipt can save time later should questions arise. There are specific substantiation requirements for business travel and entertainment expenses. Check with us if you have questions.

Making The IRS Wait

The employment taxes you collect should always be remitted to the IRS in a timely manner — without exception. As an employer, you’re responsible for withholding federal income tax and FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes from your employees’ wages and remitting them, along with your company’s FICA contributions, to the IRS. Penalties for noncompliance can be harsh.

Misclassifying Workers

Misclassifying workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees can be a thorny issue because they are treated differently for income-tax withholding and employment-tax purposes.

Employees: You must withhold federal income tax and FICA taxes, pay your share of FICA taxes, and pay unemployment taxes.

Independent contractors: You’re not required to withhold income tax, and the worker is fully liable for his or her own self-employment taxes. FICA and unemployment taxes do not apply.

It’s important to get it right to avoid penalties. Generally, the more control you have, the more likely it is that the worker is an employee.

Have a question? Contact Jon Neal.

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