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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!”

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Stay-at-home parent? You need retirement savings, too!

stay-at-home-momThere are over 5 million stay-at-home parents in the United States.  We give these individuals snaps for forgoing earnings (at least for a time) to make sacrifices that are important to them! However, these people are not exempt from aging, and therefore need to be concerned about a retirement nest egg.

Are you a stay at home parent? Have you thought about saving the money you will need for your retirement? Be careful not to assume your partner has it all taken care of–he/she may not! Here are some practical ways to save, suited specifically for your unique situation. Continue reading “Stay-at-home parent? You need retirement savings, too!”

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"I'm self employed. How do I get health insurance with the new health care laws?"

(insurance_help_deskTake a second to laugh heartily at the picture and then let’s get to business.)

The health insurance world has been turned on its head courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, and reality has yet to settle in. But in the mean time I have felt anxious for all our self-employed friends, and I dedicate this blog post to you. May it be of help to you in your quest to find health insurance, now a legal requirement. Continue reading “"I'm self employed. How do I get health insurance with the new health care laws?"”

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Techflex: Easy ways technology can save your small business time and money now

What POS system?The Golden Age of Technology (as I like to coin it) has been amazing to experience!  It has also been overwhelming at times given the super-sonic speed at which new technology arrives on the scene.  It can be tempting to bury your head and hope it will all be over soon.  But resist! If you are a small business owner there are many fabulous, easy to use, affordable and practical technologies out there just waiting to save you time and money.  (And don’t worry, we won’t try to fill a bucket with a fire hose.) Continue reading “Techflex: Easy ways technology can save your small business time and money now”

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Bookkeeping (Don't go it alone: let us help!)

Death by bookkeeping

You own a small business. The best strategy is to stay involved with everything to ensure all goes perfectly, right? Wrong! The side details, while very important to your business’s success, can cause you to feel or become bogged down, depriving your business of its strategic leader’s honed (and sane) efforts.  Continue reading “Bookkeeping (Don't go it alone: let us help!)”

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Making your small business an LLC; when is it the right time?

Small BusinessYou have, own, or are a small business. Everyone tells you to become an LLC. So should you? We cannot go into all the complexities here without putting everyone to sleep, but we will try our best to give an overview that will make sense to an ordinary, non-accountant, small business person. Continue reading “Making your small business an LLC; when is it the right time?”

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"So you're an expat? What's that?" Tax implications of living and working abroad

An expatriate–or expat for short– is just fancy lingo for someone who is living in a different country than their upbringing. And while the idea of being an expat is thrilling for some (What? Living and working in Paris, London or Tokyo?  Yes, please!) it will almost always mark the beginning of needing a legit CPA to help with your taxes. Why? Because United States citizens pay taxes on worldwide earned income. What does that mean? It means that Uncle Sam gets his share even if you live, work, earn money, and pay taxes on that money in a different country. The waters of expat taxes can get murky with complexity, so for now let’s just get our toes wet (a.k.a., seek further competent help if you are going to take the plunge). Continue reading “"So you're an expat? What's that?" Tax implications of living and working abroad”

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Business Travel: What can I deduct?

The general rule: whatever expense is necessary and ordinary in making money for your business is a legitimate business expense.  Especially in today’s global economy, this involves traveling.  Many of our fabulous clients ask us which expenses come under the tax-deductible business travel umbrella and how to claim them.  First, if you are a business owner, these expenses for you and your employees will be an expense to your business on your company’s books.  However if you are an employee and your employer does not reimburse you for your business travel (most will), hang on to the receipts and hand them over to your accountant as they can be itemized deductions on your personal taxes.  In either case, and as with anything, the key to maximizing this deduction is to keep great records. Continue reading “Business Travel: What can I deduct?”

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Claim your home office as a business expense: The home office deduction

  Tax season is upon us. That nervous sense of dread is pitting in your stomach; Lady Liberty is waving signs that say “Tax Special” on street corners; Turbo Tax is stocked, it seems, in every store.  And if you are like most business owners, you are scrambling for any missed tax deductions. There is one very helpful deduction that we at Sweeten CPA are always sure our clients who can take it do take it! It’s the home office deduction. (Another deduction we always recommend our clients to take when possible is the business mileage deduction. Read more about that by clicking here.)

So let’s get right to it.

Continue reading “Claim your home office as a business expense: The home office deduction”