Ready or not, tax season is here! And, now is the time to gather all the critical financial data you’ve kept such scrupulous track of all year long and turn it into a coherent 2013 small business tax return. While this may seem easier said than done, the good news is that there’s plenty of help available.
The method you choose for filing your business taxes will depend on a variety of factors, some of which are discussed below. You can also employ a number of helpful resources to make filing your small business tax return easier, regardless of which filing method you use. Basically, you have two options: hiring an accountant or doing your taxes yourself.
Option 1: You can hire an accountant or bookkeeper to do the job for you. This is a route that many small business owners take, and it can often be a wise one. While it will generally cost you more than doing it yourself, the expense is deductible (on the following year’s tax return). Your tax preparer may also be able to point out deductions you aren’t aware of or clue you in on tax code changes that could affect your business, making the additional expense well worth it. Every business owner must decide whether to go the DIY route or pay an expert to handle the job. If you do decide to hire a CPA, make sure you do your homework so you’ll select an accountant who has prior experience with your business type and tax situation.
Option 2: You can do it yourself — or have your in-house bookkeeper do it. A little free guidance from the IRS or the SBA — or paid advice from a consulting CPA — can help. Add to that a little practical guidance from one of the many tax filing websites that are designed to walk you through the process step-by-step, and when you’re through, you should end up with a fully filled-in tax return, complete with all the forms and schedules your business situation warrants.
The following list of websites offers a wide variety of tax-filing solutions, each featuring its own selection of filing options, ranging from free basic filing of your federal return to variously priced business-tax filing upgrades, each with its own set of features:
Business Accounting Solutions
No matter how you choose to file your taxes, you can still use one of the many accounting programs that are currently available to make life easier and less-tedious. Most accounting programs automate much of the recordkeeping process throughout the year and automatically transfer your data into the appropriate tax forms at tax time. (To use this method for the 2014 tax-filing season, however, you would have had to start using one of these programs in 2013. If you didn’t, you’ll still be able to get help via the filing methods mentioned above. Then, it may be a good idea to plan ahead and begin using an accounting program to simplify this year’s recordkeeping. That way, when the 2015 tax season rolls around, you’ll have all your 2014 data ready to go.)
Accounting & Reporting Software
The following software can help make small business tax filing easier and more accurate:
- Deductr (free tax-deduction tracking program)
- TaxJar (e-commerce sales tax reporting)
- GoDaddy Bookkeeping
- FreshBooks Cloud Accounting
- H&R Block Premium & Business
- TurboTax Home & Business
Comparative Software Reviews
For accounting software reviews and comparative information that can help you determine which accounting program might work best for you, visit one of the following webpages:
- Best Accounting Software of 2014, from TopTenReviews
- The Best Tax Software for 2014, from PC Magazine
- Top 10 Most Recommended Accounting Systems, from Software Advice
Additional Tax-Filing Resources
The following tax-filing informational resources will offer still further help to busy entrepreneurs as they contemplate filing their business taxes this year:
- Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop, on the IRS website, can provide helpful tax guidance to small business owners.
- Information for Small Businesses, an IRS video portal, presents informational videos on small business related tax topics.
- Tax Law Snapshots for Small Businesses: 2014 Filing Season is an online brochure that covers all the latest changes in the tax code and how they affect small businesses.
- The Entrepreneur Small Business Tax Center offers a collection of helpful tax-related articles for small business owners.
- What Will Affect Your Next Tax Return (and Beyond) is a presentation that includes a comprehensive pre-recorded webinar called “Top Tax Issues for Small Businesses.”
Tax season can be a stressful time for many business owners and individuals. But, the variety of resources listed above can save you time, energy, and money, while significantly easing your tax-time headaches.
By Jeanne Dininni