quickbooks-online-essentials-and-quickbooks-online-plus

Move to the Cloud? QBO vs. QB Desktop

So, you’re thinking about QuickBooks. A lot can be said about having a computerized bookkeeping system. It provides so much capability for reliability, business management, and financial organization. Many of our clients are small businesses, with no particular passion for accounting, who need the financial drudgery out of the way of their creative or entrepreneurial process, and they use a QuickBooks product.

But which QuickBooks product is the best?

While Sweeten CPA has many, many combined years of QuickBooks Desktop expertise, we are embracing the shift to QuickBooks Online. Continue reading “Move to the Cloud? QBO vs. QB Desktop”

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Sales Tax Tips for QBO Users

We’ve talked previously about using the Texas Comptroller’s website to file your sales tax, which you can find here, but where do those numbers come from? How do you keep track of taxable sales? Where do you find your total sales for the quarter or the month?

For QuickBooks Online users, don’t miss this video, which will answer these questions by walking you through where to find the important numbers that enable you to file your sales tax.

Still have questions about your sales tax? Call in and schedule an appointment with a professional.

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Paying Sales Tax Online

There are a lot of taxes out there. If you don’t pay the right taxes, by the right deadline, you’ll pay fees in addition to the taxes. No one wants to pay more.  Sales tax is one tax that seems to consistently sneak up on people. Everyone knows income tax is due April 15th–that one’s easy! But how about sales tax? Do you pay quarterly, weekly, annually, or other? Is there an easier way?


Let’s make paying sales tax a little easier by paying online! Here is a video from the TX Comptroller to walk you through the steps of filing your sales tax.

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The Time After The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

It’s that time again, folks: time to prepare for tax season! Before too many days of 2016 pass you by, follow the steps below to have the best, most stress-free, and punctual tax season yet!

Set Aside:

As you get documents in the mail over the next few weeks, you should create a place for them to collect before you send them in to your CPA. Make it a place that is easy to access but out of the way, so the documents won’t be bothered. Remember to scan these or hand them in to us before February 15th for corporate returns and March 15th for personal returns. Here are some things you should keep an eye out for.

  • W-2s
  • 1099s
  • End of year loan statements
  • 1098s
  • W-3s
  • End of year statements from bank, especially with amount of money earned on savings accounts for the year
  • Health insurance statements: don’t forget that legislation is changing all the time on this. Tax returns and bookkeeping are taking up more time to compensate for the new policies. You’re trying to figure this out and we’re here to help. We need to know how you received insurance, how much, by whom, which family members, and what dates, at least. Send us your insurance premiums, whether paid out of pocket, reported on your W-2, or paid from your company– the more information we have, the better.
  • And more! If it looks important, it’s better to send it to us than not!

 

Write Down:

Before you forget, write down or gather together this important information that Sweeten CPA will need to complete your return:

  • Total mileage for 2015!maxresdefault.jpg
  • Business mileage
  • Business expenditures from personal accounts
  • And more! If you have any questions, shoot us an email

 

Happy Tax Season and we’ll see you soon!

 

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Hot off the Press: Texas Franchise Taxes Reduced!!

In a push to create new jobs and business incentives, Governor Greg Abbott just signed House Bill 32, a proposal lifting tax burdens on businesses. Born in March, the bill was approved by the House April 29th, approved in the Senate a month later on May 24th, and finally signed by the governor this week on June 15th. The bill was signed at Advanced Micro Designs, one of the top ten franchise tax payers in Austin, TX, as a sign that Texas rewards businesses for simply being Texan.

The bill includes a 25-percent, across-the-board cut in business-franchise tax rates. It also increases the revenue threshold for businesses who choose to be E-Z filers to $20 million, from $10 million. The E-Z filers’ tax rate declines to 0.331 percent of receipts, from 0.575 percent. The bill is expected to cost the state $2.56 billion over the next two years.

Another tax break introduced in the bill is the elimination of licensing fees for approximately 600,000 professionals. Even the average taxpayer will be impacted by this bill, as homeowners are expected to save about $125 per year just in property taxes. Big businesses are encouraged to put down roots in Texas with this bill– Abbott’s people are talking to GE’s people– but Abbott clearly had small businesses in mind too: “Overregulation is costly at any level, especially to small businesses.”

Here at Sweeten CPA, Michele was firmly in favor of the franchise tax cut.  “That rate reduction will affect about 20% of my clients, who are currently subject to the franchise tax.  Many of my small business clients are already beneath the threshold for the tax, and file a No Tax Due Return annually.  But for those successful and growing firms who are over the $1,000,000 threshold for paying the Texas Franchise Tax, the 25% savings will be truly felt!”

[Find more about his speech summed up by the Texas Tribune here.]

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How do I get a mileage deduction?

Mileage deductions can be difficult to understand when you’re recording your business expenses, but we can make it simple for you.

Actual Vs. Standard Mileage

In order to take any kind of deduction, the taxpayer is required to keep a written log of all miles driven and record how many were driven for business use and how many were driven for personal use. There are two options: actual auto expenses or the standard mileage deduction.

Since the standard mileage deduction is based on an average, in a large percentage of cases, using the mileage deduction produces a larger auto expense deduction than actual expenses. In order to use standard mileage, it must be used the first year the vehicle is placed in service.  After the first year, taxpayers can decide to use whichever method (actual or standard mileage) that has the highest amount of expense.

(Note: If the vehicle is leased, you must choose either standard or actual for the entire life of the lease.)

To get the actual auto expense deduction, the taxpayer must keep track of all maintenance, repairs, fuel, tires, insurance, registration fees, licenses, etc. and determine how much of that is attributable to the portion of the total miles driven that are business miles.

IRS 2014 Mileage Rates:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

IRS 2015 Mileage Rates:

  • 57.6 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

To take advantage of this deduction; a taxpayer must keep track of:

  • All business miles driven for the year (in written form)
  • Total miles driven for the year (in written form)

When can you NOT use the standard mileage rate?

  • For commuting miles, which are the miles going from home to work and vice versa
  • If your car is for hire, for instance a taxi cab
  • If you use five or more cars at the same time for business, for instance a fleet operation
  • If you have already counted the depreciation of the vehicle as a deduction or allowance

Note: Parking fees and tolls for the business are separately deductible, regardless of which deduction method is used.

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Tax Break Extensions for 2014 Returns

At the end of 2014, the Senate approved HR 5771, or The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which passed by a landslide in the House early last month on December 3rd. This bill extended expiring tax provisions from the end of 2013 and 2014 for individuals and businesses whom Sweeten CPA service, so we wanted to keep our clients informed about what this means, specifically about which provisions are being extended:

  • The threshold under Section 179 has been increased to its previous threshold of $500,000, from its diminished threshold of $25,000, allowing for the expensing of qualified asset purchases rather than the spreading out of those expenses over time through regular depreciation.
  • Energy efficient renovations to your home, like more effective doors and windows for your home, are back under the previous rules with a 10% credit of the cost of the improvements, with a lifetime limit of $500.
  • Energy efficient renovations to commercial property, like replacing existing energy systems with high efficiency systems, are back under the previous rules with a possible deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot.
  • Other improvements, made to leased buildings, restaurant property, and retail establishments, are also back under the previous depreciation rule involving a 15 year straight-line depreciation method.
  • For seniors, seventy and a half years or older, 2014 distributions from your IRA to charity are tax-free.
  • Teachers can again claim above-the-line deductions of up to $250 for books and materials used in the classroom purchased out-of-pocket.
  • Tuition-payers can again claim above-the-line deductions of up to $4,000 for higher education expenses.
  •  Cost of new property purchased or used in 2014 can be expensed by 50%, using the Special Depreciation rule.

Enjoy these extensions and if you’re confused, don’t worry: Sweeten CPA can manage these changes in your tax return this year!

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Should I do my company’s payroll?

Payroll Time!Congratulations! Your new business venture is doing well and it’s time to start paying yourself a salary and possibly even hire an employee. You ask yourself, “I wonder if I can just do the payroll myself?”

Or let’s say times require belt-tightening in your company’s budget. To save money, you consider ditching your payroll service in favor of tackling it yourself “for free.”

What is our recommendation?

Unless you were previously a payroll accountant and have extra time on your hands, then we would urge small business owners not to take on payroll themselves. We have the utmost confidence in the competence of good small business owners, but if payroll is not your core business, the cost/benefit ratio will almost always be in favor of hiring out this pesky task to professionals. Continue reading “Should I do my company’s payroll?”

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"How do I read my company's financial reports?" Presenting The Dashboard!

Still as true as it was when presented to us in formative days by SchoolHouse Rock: “Knowledge is power!”

But what if you can’t understand those scary, long reports full of numbers called financial statements? Income Statements, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Operations (hint: they’re all the same thing) reports? And don’t even get us started on the Balance Sheet! Ugh! Numbers are not your thing, right? That is what your accountant is for. However, even with an accountant or software generating perfectly accurate financial reports, they are just a lot of stale numbers if you don’t know how to dig in to them!

We at Sweeten CPA have developed a system to bridge the chasm between financial reports and key conclusions they can provide. We call it “The Dashboard.” (Think of all the key indicators on the dashboard of your vehicle that help you drive correctly.) When we provide your company with its own personalized Dashboard, one of our CPAs will sit and consult with you as as your honorary CFO. The CPA will point out and explain the measurements and ratios that mean the most for your business and industry, and exactly what they mean for your company.  Some of these metrics will come from the data available in your accounting software or financial reports; some of it may come from outside sources.

Want proof that The Dashboard can benefit your company? Continue reading “"How do I read my company's financial reports?" Presenting The Dashboard!”