How did your tax season go this year? If you’re like most small business owners, simply reading that sentence caused you to shudder in fear and disgust. It’s okay – you’re not alone. Tax time can be a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean you have to relive the same nightmare every single year. There are ways – good ways – to plan ahead and prepare for next year’s taxes. If you do, you’ll cruise through tax season with a smile on your face that will unnerve even your most self-assured competitors. How? By following these three simple tips.
- Get Organized. This one seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t mean you’ve done it yet. In fact, you probably put it off every year and spent the weeks leading up to tax time hunting down missing files, frantically searching for receipts and hassling employees for missing forms. When all of your necessary documents are in a state of total disarray, it’s no wonder that filing your taxes takes forever.
This year, learn from your mistakes. Keep all your necessary files on a single computer, and back them up to a single hard drive (or two, just to be safe). Create a list of the forms and files you need and check them off as they’re acquired. That way, you won’t be running around at the last minute searching through every computer in the office for missing files and forms. Don’t forget to
- Train a Tax Team. Wondering why every tax task you delegate seems to take your employees over two months to complete? The answer is simple – your employees are just as swamped as you are. Handing off simple tasks to employees may seem like a smart move, but when you have 20 different people getting their wires crossed in terms of even their daily duties, adding tax prep to that already heavy workload causes your time-saving idea to backfire, big-time.
So this year, reward the employees who put in an extra effort during tax time by lightening their schedules. Make sure they know what to do and that they have the time and space to do it. You can even offer them a small bonus for helping you get prepared. They’ll feel more appreciated, and you’ll see better, faster results.
- Streamline and Simplify. Do you have several expense accounts? Three wallets full of credit cards that you use to buy conference tickets and for wining and dining your important clients? If you want to simplify your taxes next year, that’s going to have to change.
Strip away everything that complicates your taxes and retain only the financial tools that are absolutely necessary. Use one or two of your best small business credit cards and put the others on ice. Use a single mobile app to track your deductions and expenses instead of switching back and forth between several. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon every time a colleague mentions a new tax program or app, because come tax season, that bandwagon is headed straight over a cliff.
Despite popular opinion, it is possible to make it through tax season without consulting a blood-pressure specialist. But like all things that are worth doing, it’s going to take work. So start putting these three tips to work today. It may feel like a chore now, but if you want to make it through next year’s tax season without sprouting a a full head of gray hair, it’s what you need to do.
Alayna Frankenberry is a freelance writer who views tax season with a level of fear that’s usually reserved for enormous spiders and circus clowns. She’s working on that.