West Points

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good Books and Tax Time...

by Heather Gurewitz

Mendocino Women's Business Center Director

I know that we talk a lot about book keeping and maintaining good finances a lot on this blog. Any guesses why? There are no words to describe the importance of numbers in a business. Tax time is quickly approaching, and with that, finances are on everyone's mind. I am already working with clients that are coming in with a number of interesting scenarios, which always lead me back to the same thing. If you don't understand your finances, you don't have control of your business.

Knowledge is key in this arena. If you are so fortunate that your business generates enough profit to hire a book keeper or CPA, that is fantastic, but this doesn't exempt you from managing these aspects of your business and at least knowing how they work. If you don't understand your books, how do you know the person you have entrusted them to, is doing them correctly? And let's be honest, we all have bad days and make mistakes, don't assume your book keeper or CPA is exempt from that.

On this point, the single most thing people seem to not understand is that: If you get audited and the IRS comes knocking at the door, no matter who else signed your tax return, you have the ultimate responsibility. It is yours, the buck stops here, etc. They won't take your book keeper's house, and they won't take your CPA's car. If you are not paying your taxes in the correct amounts and at the right times, YOU are the one responsible, and you are the one at risk to lose everything. And believe me, the IRS can seize a lot more than a bank or a collection agency. It is not the place you want to mess with.

So, it's your business, and (hopefully) your asset. That means that you had better be sure you know what your book keeper is doing, and you had better make sure that you have the information to keep yourself out of trouble. Speaking of which...

On February 8th from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm in both Ukiah and Fort Bragg, West Company will be hosting a semi-webinar, "TaxTalk" with Keith Hall, CPA and National Tax Advisor for the National Association for the Self Employed. Keith is a wonderful presenter that will be joining us for a live web presentation that will include: how to have an audit proof tax return, how to save money on your taxes, and changes to the tax code for 2010. I've seen Keith give this presentation in the past, and it is a must for anyone who is a sole proprietor or self-employed. He is not only very knowledgeable, but a great presenter. All participants get a free copy of "Schedule C from A to Z" co-written by Mr. Hall. The cost of the workshop is $25 and you can sign up online at www.westcompany.org. Don't wait space is limited and filling up fast!

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