The Five Most Important Pieces of Advice from Your Accountant

Follow These Five Accounting Tips That Could Save Your Business Time, Money, and Aggravation

Financial advice persists everywhere we turn: On the Internet, the radio, TV, and in your email and snail mail boxes. But what is often overlooked is some basic accounting advice that not only could save you or your company from difficulties associated with being audited but also save you time, money, and aggravation in the long run. Whether your business already has an accountant or you’re looking to hire one, follow these five important pieces of accounting advice.


  1. Be (or Get) Organized

The simplest and perhaps most important advice an accountant can give you is to stay organized. You’ve heard that there are “pilers and filers” when it comes to being organized. That may be true, but whatever your method, know where your documents are when you need them or if they are called for by the IRS. The better organized your papers and electronic files are, the less likely you’ll have trouble in your financial matters whether they be tax-oriented or not.


The simplest and perhaps most important advice an accountant can give you is to stay organized.
The simplest and perhaps most important advice an accountant can give you is to stay organized.


  1. Keep Business Expenses Separate

An important part of being organized is to properly categorize your expenses as business or personal. Be sure to keep business expenses separate – don’t tell yourself it’s OK to blur the line or to “fudge” it. If or when you have an audit – internal or external – questions will assuredly arise about any questionable business expenses that may in fact be personal. Keeping business and personal expenses separate, too, will ensure that you don’t accidentally pay for a business expense out of your personal funds without reimbursement. Some accountants like to say, “If you want to reduce your business expenses, reduce your personal expenses.” That’s an indirect way of saying keep them separate.


An important part of being organized is to properly categorize your expenses as business or personal.
An important part of being organized is to properly categorize your expenses as business or personal.


  1. Document Business Expenses

While you’re keeping your business expenses separate from those that are personal, be sure to create – and maintain – a paper trail on your business expenses. Of course, many of those expense records may also be in electronic form, but you get the idea. The more documentation you keep on your business expenses, the better. Simply stated, for each expense, document and be able to answer these questions:

  • Who incurred the expense?
  • What was purchased?
  • Where was the purchase made?
  • When did the transaction take place?
  • Why was the item or service needed? and
  • How much did it cost?


  1. Do an Internal Audit

When your documents are in order, you’ve successfully separated your personal and business expenses, and you have your expenses documented, you’ll have little to worry about when you’re audited. And the best way to get ready for an IRS audit is to perform an internal audit. When your accountant conducts an internal audit, you may feel like your business is being turned inside out. It is, and that’s OK. Better to turn your business inside out and make corrections to your financial records on an internal audit than to have to answer to Uncle Sam in the form of a penalty.


  1. File and Pay Taxes

Above all, perhaps the best piece of advice a wise accountant will give you is to file and pay your taxes on time. Just at the federal level, there are at least five forms of tax that apply to businesses. They are: Income tax, estimated tax, self-employment tax, employment taxes (Social Security, Medicare, federal income tax withholding, and federal unemployment tax), and excise tax. These are in addition to any state and local taxes, which vary according to the location of your business. Financial penalties for failure to file, failure to pay, failure to pay estimated tax, and dishonored check/payment (“bounce”) have the potential to cause a significant financial setback to your business or even cause it to close. Having an excellent accountant on staff – or contracting with an accounting firm – to meet your tax filing and payment deadlines is even better than doing it yourself.


Above all, perhaps the best piece of advice a wise accountant will give you is to file and pay your taxes on time.
Above all, perhaps the best piece of advice a wise accountant will give you is to file and pay your taxes on time.


Donohoo Accounting Services is a professional accounting services provider, dedicated to helping our clients overcome the challenges and burdens that small businesses face. To learn more about how Donohoo Accounting can help your business prosper, call us today at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

What To Bring To Your Accountant When You File Taxes

Although it’s technically possible to file your own tax return by using software, this can leave you exposed to a wide range of issues. If you want to ensure that everything with your tax return is handled by an experienced professional, working with a reputable accountant is an investment that should always pay off by unlocking extra savings and helping you avoid mistakes.

If you’re planning on enlisting an accountant’s help this year and are wondering what to expect during your appointment, here are some helpful tips on what to bring to your accountant when you file taxes:

Social Security Cards

The accountant you work with will want to verify your identity prior to submitting your filing. And if you are claiming any dependents, it’s a good idea to bring their card along as well. Although social security numbers seem like an easy enough thing to manage, SSN mistakes result in 100,000s of tax returns being sent back by the IRS every year. Since that’s guaranteed to increase how long it takes to get your refund, bring along your cards so your accountant will be able to double check the accuracy of these numbers.

Last Year’s Tax Return

Even if your financial situation has changed quite a bit over the last year, it’s still helpful for an accountant to have your previous year’s return as a reference point. This will allow the professional you work with to identify which deductions and credits you previously claimed, then quickly see if you’re eligible for them again.

W-2 and Any Other Income Forms

If you work as a traditional employee at a company, your employer should have already provided you with a W-2 form this year. This document has a lot of important information your accountant will need, so be sure to bring it along. For freelancers, the most common form to receive is a 1099-Misc. And if you have any investments or other activities that produced income, you’ll want to bring all of those forms along for the accountant to review.

Expense Documentation

Did you make some charitable donations over the course of last year? Maybe you do some selling online and drove around a lot to source inventory. Regardless of the specific donation or expense, an accountant is going to want to see documentation before claiming it for you. While it may take some time for you to get organized prior to your appointment, it will be well worth the effort.

If you’re ready to file your tax return and want to work with a great Cincinnati accountant, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help. Call us today at (513) 528-3982 to schedule an appointment.

The 5 Smartest Options for Using Your Tax Refund

Many people treat their tax refund like a bonus they weren’t expecting. Others act as if they randomly hit a small lottery jackpot. These attitudes result in people spending their refunds almost as quickly as they get them. Although it may not seem like that big of a deal, a tax refund of any size can be a great opportunity to make real progress with different financial goals.


If you want to use your tax refund in a way that will continue benefiting you instead of quickly fading away, here are the five best options:


  1. Knock Out High-Interest Debt


Debt like credit cards, payday loans or other high interest loans makes it nearly impossible to get ahead financially. Using your refund to reduce or eliminate these types of debts can take a major strain off your finances. If you’re free of those forms of debt, you can also look at putting some of your refund towards paying down student, car or home improvement loans, as well as a second mortgage if you have one.


  1. Start or Build Up an Emergency Fund


Although personal finance experts may differ on some topics, one issue that’s pretty universal is the importance of having an emergency fund. This fund can keep you on track even if something comes up out of the blue. One thing to keep in mind is you want your emergency funds to be accessible, so don’t worry if the interest you earn on this specific amount is minimal.


  1. Pay Down Your Mortgage


When you look at average families across the US, what they pay in mortgage interest is often their second biggest lifelong expense. It’s not uncommon for interest to add up to 3/4 of the principal amount of a mortgage. Given that huge expense, paying down your mortgage sooner is very smart. Using a lump sum like your tax refund will definitely make a big difference over the long-term.


  1. Get a Jump on Reducing the Taxes You’ll Owe


Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve taken care of the first three options prior to receiving your refund. Since you’re in a position to be a little more strategic, really good options include taking steps like increasing IRA or 401k contributions to minimize your tax burden next year.


  1. Improve the Value of Your Home


Just like what we discussed above, being financially healthy provides a lot of freedom in regards to making good use of your tax refund. A great area to consider is using what you get to make improvements that will add value to your home.


If you want professional help doing your taxes this year, call us today at 513-528-3982

Should You Fund Your IRA or Roth IRA First?

If you’re trying to decide whether it makes the most sense to fund your IRA or Roth IRA first, you’re not alone. This is a question many people face and often struggle to answer. Since we’ve talked to plenty of clients about this issue, we want to share exactly what you need to know to make the best decision for your personal situation:

The Basic Differences

Before we look at where you should contribute, it’s worth doing a quick refresher of what sets these individual retirement accounts apart. Both were created by the federal government to encourage people to save. With a traditional IRA, the amount you contribute immediately reduces your income tax for the year. Then after you retire and begin withdrawing the money, you’ll pay taxes on that income. With a Roth IRA, you pay the income tax when you contribute but are then able to withdraw from it tax-free after retirement.

Deciding Based on Your Stage of Life

Although these savings vehicles are similar, there is a very big difference in how they affect an individual’s taxes. That’s why the answer of which account you should contribute to first will depend on where you’re at in life. If you’re under the age of thirty, it’s probably going to be in your best interest to put some after-tax money into a Roth IRA. The reason is you’re likely paying a relatively low tax rate, which means a tax break won’t help you as much.

If you’re between the age of thirty and fifty, chances are you have things like a home mortgage deduction, a child tax credit or two and the benefits of filing as one half of a married couple. This may make it seem like traditional IRA contributions should be your primary focus. However, many people in this bracket still pay a relatively low tax rate, which means that Roth IRA contributions can still work best. An additional selling point of Roth IRA contributions is if you ever need to withdraw money you put into it, you can do so without facing any penalties or additional taxes.

For those over the age of fifty, first maxing out your annual traditional IRA contributions are the best course of action. The one exception is anyone who’s at least 71 and still working. For individuals in this situation, Roth IRA contributions can create an appealing stockpile for down the line.

As you may have realized from what we covered above, the optimal account for contributions can actually change from one year to the next. Needing to take a dynamic approach to planning for your financial future is just one example of why it’s so beneficial to have a knowledgeable financial professional on your side. If you want to learn more about how Donohoo Accounting can help, be sure to take a look at our tax services page.