The Blog Of TL Wall Accounting

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Archive for April, 2012

5 Things Your Accountant Needs From You For Your Business Taxes

Even though it’s late for those of you who aren’t filing for a tax extension, the fact of the matter is that when it’s time for your accountant to do your taxes, there are things you’re going to want to have ready to give him or her so they can do their job properly. Listed below are the 5 most critical things they’re going to need, though not necessarily in this order.

Mileage – Even if you use your vehicle for personal reasons as well, keeping track of your business mileage is very important because it will offer legitimate deductions that will help bring your tax bill down. If there are places you go all the time you should have an estimated mileage count for that, and then you just have to totally track your mileage for anything outside of that. You only get to count what you don’t get paid back for expenses. And if you used a rental car, you don’t get to claim mileage.

Receipts – Anything that’s somewhat business related, you need to make sure you keep your receipts for it. This includes business meals, stamps, any supplies you might use for business, buying a new smartphone, etc. If you need to you can write little notes on them; for instance, I write little notes on all my receipts for business meals in case anyone wanted to track who I was meeting for business purposes.

Bank Statements – Hopefully you have a bank account that’s specific for your business, which is easy to use. For my purposes, I also give my accountant my personal account statements, just in case they see something that pops out that they can use. Your bank statements will show any payments you got for the year, as well as some of your business expenses. You’ll probably need to go through your payments and expenses and highlight where some of the money came from if you earned it in different ways so they can categorize it for you.

Any statements showing estimated tax payments – I bring this one up because if you’re like me, you don’t always pay your estimated taxes from your bank account. I paid some of mine with a credit card, and thus I had to go back and retrieve those statements online to give to my accountant for my records.

Any pertinent W-2′s or 1099′s – Truthfully, your accountants can do your taxes if you don’t have these statements by using your business bank account information, but any of these you have makes it easier for them. The times I didn’t use them was when they either came late or were incorrect.

5 Rights You Have With Collection Agencies

Every once in awhile we get contacted for budgeting services because a potential or current client has started getting calls from collection agencies. This can seem scary and irritating, and can cause some distress, but there are 5 rights you need to know that you have with collection agencies that might help.

1. They can only call during certain times. Those times are from 8AM until 9PM your time, which is pretty much your entire day, but at least knowing that you can decide if you want to answer the phone during the day.

2. You have the right to ask them to prove you owe what they say you owe. This can be used either as a short stalling tactic or, if you don’t believe you owe anything, makes them have to go back and investigate whether you really do owe something or not. Sometimes the debt has been paid and it wasn’t recorded properly; this happens often. When you put in this request, they can’t call you again until 10 days after they’ve sent what you’ve requested, which is usually at least 30 days.

3. Often you don’t have to pay what they say you owe. If it’s a debt that’s accrued finance charges since your last payment you’re really only responsible for the actual balance. That should be the starting point for any negotiations.

4. Yes, you get to negotiate the amount you’re going to pay on. Collection agencies don’t want you to know this but they usually buy debt from the folks you might owe money to at rates between 8 and 20 cents on the dollar, usually closer to the lower amount. Your original creditor has already been paid by insurance so they’re not getting any more money, which means it’s the agency trying to maximize how much they can get from you. A good starting point is to see if you can get it to half of what they say you owe. They might want certain concessions and deals from you to get there but it can save you a lot of money.

5. When you receive a notice or phone call, don’t immediately pay something just to get things going. That amount can be considered a binding contract agreement saying you know that you owe the amount and will pay that amount on at least a monthly basis. Always talk to the people on the other side of the line and work out the best deal. Remember, this is the United States; they’re not coming to your house and hauling you to jail, although if it’s for your car it could get repossessed. True, these people want money, but they’ll usually go for the best deal they can make that you’ll agree to pay.