The Blog Of TL Wall Accounting

Archive for October, 2012

Trip Expenses You Can Deduct For Your Business

One of the best things about being in business for yourself is that you get to write off a lot of expenses. This includes travel; not everything, but a lot of things. We will cover some of the things you get to write off and when.

Air Travel – if you have to fly anywhere you get to write off the cost of your flight and your bags if you have to pay for that. You even get to write it off if you get to the airport and upgrade to first class because the airline is offering a deal.

Car Rental – if you have to rent a car it’s covered, but you don’t get to write off any mileage if you go that route.

Mileage – if you don’t rent a car and drive instead, you get to write off all mileage associated with your trip. Here’s the other side. While you’re out of town, you get to write off all mileage, which includes weekends. Say you’re an hour away from a beach and you’re using your own car because it’s too far to drive home every weekend. It all counts as part of mileage.

Hotel – your hotel costs are covered for write offs. Any clothing you wear for business is covered if you need to have it cleaned and pressed. However, your personal clothing isn’t covered specifically, although you might be able to get a package that includes everything but that’s rare. Meals that you eat in the hotel are covered, but not personal convenience items or snack items you might buy in the hotel store.

Meals/Food – all of your meals are covered whether you eat in the hotel or not. If you stop for ice cream or a milkshake, that’s not considered a meal so that doesn’t count. If you’re staying in an extended stay hotel and you decide to buy food at the grocery store, you can write that off.

Clothing – if you need to buy new clothes to go to your client’s office those items are covered. But if you buy something like t-shirts, shorts or sunglasses, those items won’t be covered.

3 Most Important Things You Need In An Accountant

Suffice is to say, there are a lot of accountants in the world. Probably not as many as there are lawyers, but one is never really sure. Truth be told, most accountants are pretty good at what they do, otherwise they wouldn’t have any business. If someone tries to tell you they’re the best accountant in town, they’d better be talking about their search engine ranking or something other than how accurate they are.

If all accountants are pretty accurate, that means you have to have other criteria to look at so that you can judge who you want to hire. This is where intangibles come into play. What do you want in an accountant both short and long term? How do you want to be treated? What do you want to see? We can’t speak for everyone, but here’s 3 things we believe are important for any accountant that you want to work with.

1. Trustworthiness. This might seem like something that would be common among accountants until you think about it some more. Who remembers the name Arthur Andersen? That’s actually an easy one, as they were the accountants that “fixed” the numbers that, when caught, brought down both Enron and their own company, to the extent that they had to change their name just to survive.

A name that’s less known by many people who know what it’s related to is David Friehling, who was the accountant for Bernard Madoff, the man who pulled off the greatest Ponzi scheme in American history at billions of dollars over the course of 20 years.

Both of these accounting firms were very good but, as it turns out, weren’t very trustworthy. If you have an accountant that will do anything they can to hide assets or fix the books for any other reason, well, if they’ll do it for you they’ll do it to you as well.

2. Someone you can talk to. Let’s face it; a lot of people could probably do their own bookkeeping but the overwhelming number are probably better off letting someone else handle that, and other financial aspects of their business.

However, sometimes you sit down and start talking to the person handling your books and they’ll use terminology that you don’t understand. Or suddenly your mind goes off and starts watching last night’s game while your accountant is talking to you because they’re not interesting enough to listen to.

If someone is talking to you about your money you need to know what they’re talking about. And you need them to be engaging enough so that you’ll listen, and if need be ask questions. If your accountant is talking at you rather than talking to you, they’re the wrong person for you to be working with.

3. Sometimes tells you what you don’t want to hear. Sometimes things aren’t going great. Everyone knows who Elton John is, correct? Many years ago he sued his accountants because his money was low. It turned out that he was spending way too much, and his complaint was that they told him he was doing it but he thought it was their job to either stop him from spending it or helping him grow that money so that he could continue to spend as he pleased. He lost the case because the judge told said his accounting firm told him the truth, and it was his problem is he didn’t like what they were telling him; that’s paraphrasing the actual words.

Good accountants will make sure you know what’s going on, and won’t be afraid to let you know when things aren’t going well. They’ll help you by giving you advice, whether you take it or not. They won’t be afraid to do the right thing because they’re worried about losing your business, or worried that you might talk badly about them later on, possibly causing their business harm. If you can possibly with with your accountant to get things working properly, isn’t it better knowing the truth than pretending it’s not happening?