Legal Fees Could Kill Your Business

In the summer of 2009, the Valley Swim Club of Philadelphia created a major controversy when it suddenly kicked out a group of black children from its facility, returning monies that had been paid to them, and sent them packing. The dispute was blamed on a miscommunication on who was coming and when they’d be coming.

Of course, no one bought that, and the swim club faced all sorts of bad publicity and protests. Finally it has faced a major lawsuit brought by the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, stating that “it had found probable cause to conclude that the campers were asked not to return because of the “racial animus” expressed by one member and “racially coded comments” by other members.”

The Valley Swim Club ended up deciding to file for bankruptcy, with the intention of closing the club and selling off all its properties to pay its bills, including any settlements or court decisions as a result of these lawsuits. An email sent out by the club president, John Duesler, stated that though the lawsuits hurt, the club had been barely staying out of the red for the past decade and already owed more than $100,000 in other expenses.

Lawsuits can cost a lot of money. Filing a lawsuit costs money; how much depends on the type of lawsuit being filed and where it’s being filed, as every state has different filing rates. If you have to hire a lawyer, that’s expensive, as most lawyers start at least at $200 an hour. If you’re a small business, you not only have to now deal with finding a way to pay a lawyer, but you’re going to miss time from work, which means you’re not making any new money to replace the money you’re spending.

There’s also the bad publicity part if you’re hoping to stay in business once things have been settled. Even if you win, your reputation could take a major hit. Something that major companies are starting to realize more often is just how bad it looks when they have 10 lawyers sitting at the table when someone who’s suing them only has one lawyer, who has yet to be paid because his pay is dependent upon the outcome of their lawsuit. Juries are like everyone else; they hate the impression of someone being bullied.

In our previous post we talked about financial planning for the future, and thinking about legal representation for things you might have to deal with is definitely a large financial consideration. You may not always be able to talk your way out of a situation, and for some businesses, liability insurance isn’t easy to find. Legal fees takes away from everything and everybody; at the very least one would hope your company is incorporated, which removes personal liability from any decision. This is something someone like us can talk to you about when we work with you through our accounting services.

If you’re looking to keep your business out of expensive lawsuits, cleaning up your business practices and training your personnel on good customer service practices might be a good place to start. If you can’t take care of that, you might be the next business that’s closing its doors and filing bankruptcy.

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.

The Basics Of Budgeting

Whether you’re in business or you’re worried about your home finances, budgeting can help bring peace of mind to you and help you know where your money is going. It gives you the opportunity to pay bills, save money, and even figure out if you need more money or to control expenses so you can sustain yourself.

Budgeting sounds really hard and boring to most people, which is probably why they don’t do it. If you have a lot of debt you probably don’t want to know about it, but you can’t address your issues without knowledge; that goes for everything in life. Budgeting isn’t hard, although there are aspects of it that can be complicated. We’re going to give you the easiest way to go about it, which is a great start.

The first thing to do is determine how much money you bring home a month. If you get paid weekly take 4 pay stubs, add them together, and that’s how much you bring home. If you get paid every 2 weeks take 2 stubs and add those together and you’ll get your answer. If you’re a business you might want to use a 3-month calculation if your revenue is pretty close on a yearly basis.

Something for you to think about if we’re talking personal income, and this should make you happy. If you base your estimated bring home income on every 2 weeks then you actually get paid 2 times more than what we’re budgeting for; weekly, 4 times. For now we’ll consider this extra money and not part of the budget; we can always bring that back into play if needed.

Next you need to calculate all of your expenses. If you’ve already paid bills and thrown your stubs away, you can use your checking account to see what you’ve already paid. Log every minimum payment you make every month onto a sheet of paper. If the amount changes, such as your monthly utility bill, take an estimate of what your average is and write that down. You’ll also have to estimate how much gas you put in your car and how much you spend monthly on food.

Total up all of your expenses for one month, and then compare it to your bring home income. Hopefully what you’re bringing home is higher than what your monthly bills are. If not, you now know you’re in some serious financial trouble and need to determine if there are things you can reduce to bring yourself back in line. Maybe cut out a service you get through cable, or determine to set a food budget and stick to it, skipping paying for lunch every day at work. Don’t panic yet; there’s always something that can be done to help bring you back into alignment.

If you’re bringing home more than your bills, congratulate yourself and then start planning how you’re going to use the extra money you have. Financial experts will say that you should put away 10% of your money for a rainy day, which always sounds good but may not always be practical. Instead, think about taking maybe 5% and putting it away somewhere, maybe a cash jar or a savings account. The idea is to start building up emergency money in case you need something in particular, such as new tires or a new refrigerator. Things break when we least expect them to and often aren’t financially ready for.

If you’re in trouble and you can’t figure things out, that’s when you might need to go to someone for help. If you have problems because of credit cards someone like Consumer Credit Counseling might help. If it’s other problems someone like us can help, since helping people budget their money is one of the things we do. There will be some hard choices to make, some things you might have to live with for awhile that you won’t like, but bringing down debt without getting into trouble that harms your credit report and credit score should be worth it.

Why We Teach Quickbooks

T. L. Wall Accounting helps businesses and individuals learn how to budget and track their money. We offer services where we can do it for them, but often they want to do it for themselves. When people go looking for a solution that will help them track these things on their own, we recommend and teach Quickbooks.

Quickbooks is business accounting software that can also be used for home budgeting. There is a learning curve to it, but most people can learn how to use it in a day or so. It allows you to track income and expenses, categorize them so you know what they are when you run reports, and you can even use it to create checks so you don’t have to go out and buy them from anyone. If you run a large office you can network it so that everyone has access or you can run the program as a standalone.

This is very powerful software. You can generally categorize in 3 categories, depending on whether you want to track bills, revenue or employees. It interacts with Microsoft Excel and Word. You can also print information out in a pdf format, in case you want something that can’t be altered. You can use it to send out invoices. You can use it as a contact management system, as it will interact with Microsoft Outlook as well.

In other words, if you want total control of all the financial aspects of your business or personal life, Quickbooks will get it done. Of course, it all still takes time, but if you want to know what’s going on at a moment’s notice, this program is great to have. And yes, there are tutorials, but if you need help, that’s why we’re here. We provide both group and individual training, customized for your needs.

Greetings From Terri Wall

Hello, and welcome to the T. L. Wall Accounting Blog. Our purpose with this blog will not only be to present services to you that we can provide, but also to provide you with financial information we feel will be pertinent to all of our clients and to anyone else that’s looking for financial information. We expect to gear more of our information to businesses, but we will also talk about issues as they might pertain to individuals as well, such as budgeting and taxes.

Our office is located in North Syracuse on Route 11 but we handle the finances of small businesses through the Syracuse and Onondaga County area and the surrounding counties as well such as Oswego, Oneida and Madison counties. We even have some long distance clients, those who have moved yet love our services so much that they’ll mail us what we need to take care of them.

Come along with us on this journey and, if you ever need to talk to someone about accounting, bookkeeping, or tax services, as well as a host of other services we can provide, please feel free to contact us at 315-314-7253 of by email at Let the fun begin!

Accounting & Financial Advice from the Syracuse NY area