Tax season can be a grueling period for any small-business owner, sapping time and resources that you could otherwise be spending on leading your team or providing value to your customers.
Luckily, there are simple steps you can take at the end of the year to position yourself for an easier filing season — and potentially for a more tolerable tax burden, as well.
Here are several ways to be proactive about next year’s returns.
1) Consider deferring income.
Trade service professionals usually prefer to invoice and get paid as promptly as possible. In some situations, though, it might be advantageous to save some of your invoicing for the end of the year, booting some of your taxable income to the following year. This can be especially smart if you think you’ll be in the same tax bracket or lower next year.
2) Purchase equipment.
The equipment you buy for your company often counts as a tax write-off. As such, buying that new computer or service truck before the year’s end can actually help you lower your tax burden. Buy now if you want to claim the deduction come April.
3) Contribute to your retirement account.
Many small business owners have 401(k)s or IRAs set up, allowing them to stockpile some money for retirement. Remember that you can make pre-tax contributions, up to a certain amount, before the end of the year, minimizing your taxable income.
4) Give back.
Small-business owners often make charitable contributions, a way of giving back to their local community. The holiday season is a great time to make these contributions, not just to get into the spirit of the season but also to claim some additional deductions come tax time.
5) Start thinking about W-2s.
If you have employees, then you’ll need to send out W-2 forms. The deadline for doing so is Jan. 31. You can start organizing your records for W-2s now, which will make your life that much easier once we get into the new year.
6) Plan for estimated taxes.
Most small-business owners have a good sense of whether or not they’ll owe anything to the IRS. You can start setting aside money now to ensure you have enough on hand to make a one-time payment to the IRS, or else you can start the process of paying estimated taxes on a quarterly basis.
7) Schedule a tax planning session.
Ultimately, you’ll probably want to sit down with your accountant to discuss different tax strategies for the coming year. Your accountant can probably fill you in on some deductions you might otherwise overlook. Since tax season is tight, it may be wise to schedule that meeting sooner rather than later.