There are a million little nuances when it comes to business tax law. Each one of these can make a big difference in if you owe, and if so, how much. Startup businesses especially are prone to miss deductions or to misinterpret regulations. This is true when it comes to calculations as well. To help navigate these muddy waters, Chandler & Knowles CPAs created this list of common tax mistakes start-up businesses make.
While it may seem cut and dry, it is often a sticky situation. It is essential to address all of your income venues before reporting them to the IRS. Being a brand-new business, make certain you keep track of every penny to avoid over or underreporting.
If your streams of revenue are from multiple sources, expect to receive a 1099 from each one. Be aware, though, that some small businesses are lax or exclude certain types of income. If you do not get a 1099 form from a particular organization, you should ask for one. Conversely, cash payments, trade items, or other means of payment need to be reported too. Keep in mind that, for a client who pays you through such virtual platforms as Venmo or PayPal, it is the responsibility of the payment site to provide you with the 1099. However, sometimes the revenue reported is missed as business income so do your research on this.
Over-reporting is less common but does occur. Keeping records of income that you receive is vital but make sure you do not include income twice, such as when it is reported to you via a 1099 form and when it is entered in your system. Additionally, tax forms allow for the cost of the goods used to make your sales. These expenses are separate from other expenses and come directly off the top of your income.
Personal Versus Business
Many small businesses use the same checking account for business and personal finances. This is not a smart idea. It is confusing and results in missed deductions or income reported incorrectly. It is also a problem if you get audited, as the IRS concludes that any income that is unaccounted for is business income.
It used to be much more cumbersome to keep track of mileage. A handwritten mileage log had to include beginning and ending mileage for each day as well as a column for personal or non-business-related mileage. Today travel is tracked easily via mileage trackers and all the business owner must do is indicate within the app if the mileage is business or personal. This makes mileage tracking easy as pie!
Even before you open, there are expenses incurred. Domain names, rent deposits, website, and business card design, promoting, office and/or store set-up, inventory, and more are part of the cost of start up. The IRS permits up to $5,000 in first-year startup costs. If you spend more than $5,000, you can spread out the costs over the next 180 months. A certified CPA from Chandler & Knowles can assist with the proper way to claim and amortize your start up costs according to IRS regulations.
A home office deduction is perceived as a red flag. The fact is that it is a legitimate claim that helps to defer the cost of doing business when you work from home. Just be sure you follow the IRS rules for a home office, and you are perfectly safe to use this as an expense.
Filing the Wrong Form
A frequent mistake is the use of the wrong form. The IRS is generally fair about removing fees or penalties for filing the wrong form if you resolve the problem quickly. But do not wait, they frown on taxpayers who drag their feet or neglect to correct a wrong form issue. Also, be cautious of using forms to assume it is buying you time to pay — you are still expected to pay and if you don't, you will incur fees and penalties. Additionally, fees and penalties compound quickly, and it is difficult to get them removed once they are recorded by the IRS.
Meals and Entertainment
Part of working with clients is meals and entertainment. This deduction is known for its extreme abuse and was eliminated altogether in the recent Trump tax plan. Prior to the changes, only 50% of the expenses were allowed. Savvy businesses need to stay informed about changes in this deduction and not count on its use.
Contact Our Team For Assistance
This is just a few of the common mistakes of startup companies. Chandler & Knowles CPAs offers over 25 years of experience to your startup business tax situation. Let us help you do all the right things so that your life is less taxing! Contact us today to get started.