It’s not often during tax season that I feel like I get a chance to breathe, but I have had that chance over the past week. The political landscape has calmed (granted, only partially and only in some areas) and the lack of a shutdown threat has let the tax season progress in a more regular fashion. This means I have got to see some of my business tax clients, and it is always heartening to see people who have grabbed their own dreams and are pursuing them toward their own ends.
Throughout the year, I hear from people who are looking to jump into this world of starting their own business. This isn’t (only) to toot my own horn, but I find that those I speak to before they fully begin the endeavor fare better than those who are already mired in the world (and often looking for a rope to help pull them out). This is mostly because those who are the most successful are the ones who are the most prepared for what they are taking on.
You should start any business with passion, fervor, and vigor, but those are not enough to guarantee success. The Small Business Administration, though, has provided some more keys and recently put out a 10-step guide to starting a business. If this is something you are interested in, please take a look, for it gives a nice overview of things you might not know you should think about. And for those you are really interested, it allows you to drill down into the topics and learn more about them.
This list features big ideas (what will be your type of business structure?), fun ideas (what will be your business name?) and the mundane stuff you have to do (get federal and state tax IDs). It’s a great primer.
Please allow me to take a little extra time here to highlight the final entry of getting a business bank account. For it is tax time, and those businesses that operate in a way that involves having to determine between personal and business transactions in the same account, well, they’re not having fun right now. A separate account is a simple action that can save so many headaches.
I also want to add another entry to the ideas, though. I understand that it’s usually not one of the first considerations when beginning a new venture, but also make sure you do a little bit of research when hiring your first employee. It’s not that difficult to start off paying a couple contractors to help you start, and it doesn’t need to be that difficult to bring on an employee once you grow, but it’s something you want to do in the right way to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for any potential penalties.
Please use this information to brainstorm and look into things a little deeper if you have been thinking about starting your own business. Just know that you are bound to develop more questions, and when you do, we remain here to help you move further down the path.
Connect to Us ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
Now we can really get down to business.
The shadow of looming government shutdowns seems to be over. This hopefully means that things will remain largely status quo until the tax deadline, and maybe the IRS will actually be caught up from that original shutdown by then.
In recent weeks, I have urged being a little more active in your tax prep while things were a little uncertain, and I will not stop that now. For while some things are in order, there remain other things that aren’t.
For now, there are an ever growing number of stories about people who were expecting tax refunds – because they always got one in the past – but are paying a tax bill this year. It could be much better to find out about that surprise bill on March 1st than April 15th. That way if you need to make some moves to pay the amount, you will have more time to do so and can lessen the stress of doing it.
Those are going to be the stories that get the most play because of the fear they can cause. But sure, there will also be people who fill find more money than expected coming back to them under the new rules. The timing of filing a return may not be as crucial if you find yourself in that camp, but why not get the money sooner? No matter what you are going to do with it, you can’t do it by letting the government keep it in its no-interest holding cell.
Now that we can expect these refunds to come on a regular schedule, too, I wanted to mention a way to find out when you will get that money.
Let me start by just saying that there are no secret tricks to get your money faster. The IRS has a pretty standard schedule, and if there are no issues with your return, getting your refund will follow that schedule. Filing electronically puts you on the fastest schedule, but once you’re there, that’s all you can do. We do not have any clandestine means to move up the line. If we did, I promise we would tell you about them.
We also do not have any more information than what the IRS gives you with its Where’s My Refund tool, available at www.irs.gov/refunds. Through that site you can put in some basic information and find the status of your return and when you can expect a refund.
Beyond that, there’s no secret tricks to taxes at all if you put together a legitimate and legal tax return. The best legitimate and legal return, though, comes with enough time to not rush through it, so make sure to book your appointment as soon as you can.
Connect to Us ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
It’s not the first time we’ve heard it, but talk is coming again about Donald Trump’s tax returns. With the Democrats holding power in the House of Representatives, the chance that those returns will be seen may be difficult to gauge with precision, but they are certainly greater than they were six months ago.
I wonder how this is going to play as we get deeper into the tax season. More people are going to be finding out just how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects them, and you can be sure that the loudest voices are going to be the ones most drastically affected. So with more people talking about taxes, and possibly loudly talking about them, the president and his taxes will surely remain a talking point.
But just what would we find out if his returns are released?
First, the return would give only a rough look at how much Trump is actually worth. He claims it is billions of dollars at times, while detractors believe it to be a much smaller number. My bet would be that the truth lies – like it does with almost everything – somewhere in the middle. A tax return, though, deals in taxable income, not overall worth.
The returns do actually show some things, and a big one is just how much someone pays in taxes. At a time now when there are going to be people out there talking about how much more they are paying under the TCJA, I imagine that many are going to hope that Trump was paying his fair share.
Rhetoric in some areas is sure to amp up that Trump’s tax plan was made to benefit the wealthy, and that the wealthy are given advantages that allow them to pay less tax than they should. This could become tricky for the president who in the past told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible,” back when his returns were an election issue.
It is important to note that this does not mean that Trump has done anything illegal, shady or underhanded. If the fact that he could pay next to nothing bothers someone, then the correct place to put the blame is on the system, not on someone working within that system. Even if it turns out that the system he helped implement further solidified his ability to pay little, one can say it’s wrong, but not illegal.
A tax return would also show how much money Trump gives to charity, which could also be a polarizing issue. Trump has claimed he is charitable, while others say the money he claims to donate is done through other organizations, where even if he is involved, it is not actually his money going to the charity.
So gear up for taxes to be news over the next few months for many reasons. And let this be a reminder that you need to handle your return, because even if the public doesn’t see it, the IRS wants to. And it just so happens that many slots are available now to make your appointment to do so before everything amps up.
Connect to Us ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
You know, last week I got to write the government shutdown had ended, and I thought that I might not have to really speak of it again …
You know, last week I was wrong.
So first, when the agency reopened, it warned of phone delays. Phone delays are always a part of dealing with the IRS, so if it found them worth nothing, then that is a promise of some serious delay.
Second, there is word that when the IRS fully opened up for business again, there were five million pieces of unopened mail to deal with. How that matches up with the claim that there would be no delay in getting refunds, I cannot quite comprehend. Heck, I cannot quite comprehend five million pieces of mail in the first place.
Then there is the IRS’s rather large list of FAQs for taxpayers following the shutdown. There was too much there for me to even go into in this space. But if you have any questions, click here to visit the agency’s website and see what they posted (under numerous headings, so further click through to the area that addresses your interest). If you need any further guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
At least this is all happening early in the tax season where we have time to navigate it before the time crunch gets heavier. At the same time, though, I urge you to use it as a reminder to not procrastinate starting your prep work, even this early.
I do want to move away from the IRS now, though, and write about what we can do beyond taxes. Consider this an urging to not only get ready for tax season, but get ready for what you want to do after tax season.
This is the time of year when almost everyone is paying more attention to their finances. These early months see us recovering from the holiday season, possibly making some resolutions for how we will handle our money, then looking at some year-end numbers when it comes to taxes.
But come May, it is so easy to let all of that fade into the background.
So if you are reading this and thinking about what you need to gather for when we meet to discuss your tax return, why not also bring something that we can talk about for beyond tax season. We will already be discussing your financial picture, so why not look toward its future?
We may not have the skills to help you with every question that comes up in this realm, but we are confident that we can at least connect you with people who can help. It is likely, though, that we do have the skills to help you with those issues and get you where you need to be. And at that point, we are already breaking down some numbers, so it could be that the work has already started.
So what is there to lose? Bring us something extra about your future, and we will endeavor to add some comfort to that future.
Connect to Us ~ Facebook ~ Twitter