Even if you have an accountant help you with your tax return, or use software like TurboTax, it pays to be armed with knowledge.
That way you can bring up deductions to discuss with your accountant (hey, accountants are not clairvoyant — you have to tell them stuff). You can plan big purchases and retirement plan contributions in advance — and keep your tax bill low. And so on.
Bottom line: don’t expect a software program or even the best accountant to do everything for you. The more you know, the more proactive you can be, and the more of your hard-earned money that can stay in your business and in your pocket and not go to the taxman. This article proves it.
With April 15 (the tax deadline here in the United States) barreling at us, let’s take a look at where to find tax information for the non-accountants among us:
- Get information and forms online — Did you know that the IRS has an excellent website for small businesses and the self-employed? There you can search for and download tax forms and instructions. You can even take online courses for free, too. Daniel Kehrer gives you a guided tour of the many resources provided by the IRS in: Guide to IRS Forms and Publications for Small Business.
- File electronically — Today you can handle many tax functions 100% online. The Guide to Filing Your Business Taxes Electronically explains what you can do online and the advantages. It even identifies third party providers approved by the IRS that you can outsource electronic functions to.
- Evaluate the home office deduction — If you run a business in your home or have an office at home, the home office deduction could be valuable. But then again, get out your tape measure. You may find that home office deduction is not worth as much as you’d hoped. The Guide to Home Office Tax Deduction explains why.
- Plan for the upcoming year’s estimated tax payments — Most self-employed entrepreneurs should be making estimated tax payments throughout the year to avoid paying expensive penalties. Yahoo has an excellent FAQ about estimated taxes for small business owners. It outlines the basic “who, what, when and where” of estimated tax payments. Kay Bell offers advanced tips, including filing estimated tax payments electronically, in her Guide to Estimated Tax Payments.
Work.com has many other detailed guides on filing your taxes — check them out. Do you know of other tax information sources you’d recommend? Share them in the comments.