Tax Savings Strategies For Year EndNov 24, 2023
[Listen to the Podcast version here]
If you’re wondering what you can do to pay less taxes this year even though it’s already November, you’re in the right place!
Many tax strategies are industry specific or need time to implement, but there are some that most small business owners can use regardless of the type of business they own.
Let’s jump right in!
No. 1: Make sure your books are up to date so you can estimate how much you will owe in taxes.
It’s hard to figure out which strategies to lower your tax liability would have the biggest impact if you don’t have any idea how much you owe in the first place.
If you’re using a program like QuickBooks, this is pretty easy to do. Make sure all of your business accounts are connected, sync your data, and review your financials to make sure income and expenses are recorded in the right place.
Your CPA can prepare a tax estimate for you after your books are updated. This would be a great time to discuss any other tax credits or deductions you may qualify for.
No. 2: Did you make any large purchases this year? If you carry inventory, is your valuation accurate?
If you purchased things like property, vehicles and equipment or made improvements to assets you already owned or leased, these are treated differently for taxes than regular operating expenses. Talk to your CPA about what your depreciation and amortization expenses would be for these purchases, so you get the correct tax deductions.
If you carry inventory, make sure you do a physical count at the end of the year. Use this physical count to reconcile your inventory value in your books to capture all of your cost of goods sold.
No. 3: Did you pay for any business expenses with your personal money that aren’t recorded in your financials?
While business and personal funds should be kept separate, it’s a fact of life that sometimes you grab the wrong credit card or you’re just not thinking about what account to use. There could be other reasons as well, like not having enough business credit to make a large purchase.
Review your personal bank, credit card or other loan statements to make sure you aren’t missing any business expenses. Your CPA can assist in making sure these transactions are recorded correctly in your financials.
No. 4: Do you have a record of your business mileage?
If you travel for your business, you can deduct this as a business expense on your tax return. Mileage expense is not recorded in your financials. It is a separate deduction on your return. The mileage rate for 2023 is $0.655 per mile. You should have a log tracking your mileage – date, purpose, and beginning & ending mileage for backup. Give this information to your CPA at tax time.
If you have toll charges related to your business travel, these are deductible as well. Record your toll expense in your financials.
No. 5: Make your final estimated tax payment by January 15th to avoid penalties.
Regardless of how much tax you owe, it’s pointless to pay your taxes late.
Talk to your CPA about the IRS safe harbor rule. This rule has several calculations depending on your tax situation to determine how much you need to pay in taxes by January 15th to avoid underpayment penalties even if you end up owing more tax after finalizing your return.
The strategies we’ve talked about so far are simple strategies that can be done without much effort. Every business owner should go through this list annually to make sure basic expenses aren’t missed.
Now, let’s dive into some more advanced tax strategies.
You’ll need to know whether you file your tax return on a cash or accrual basis before choosing from these advanced strategies. Check your last tax return to confirm your accounting method. If you’re not sure, ask your CPA.
Cash method strategies
If you file cash method, then this process is really simple.
Revenue is earned when your customer’s payment is deposited in your bank and expenses are counted when you pay for them, regardless of when the services are rendered.
So, what does this mean?
One way to pay less tax is to have less gross revenue. If a customer’s invoice is due at the end of December and they send you a check for payment, don’t deposit it until January. It will count as revenue for the next year.
If you have expenses that you would normally pay in January (subscription renewals, insurance, etc.), you could pay them early in December to reduce net income. Consider your cash flow when deciding if this is a strategy you want to use.
Review your financials and see where you could make adjustments like these to reduce your tax liability.
Accrual method strategies
If you file using the accrual method, it doesn’t matter when you get paid or when you paid for something. It’s all about when the service was rendered.
So, what does this mean?
Let’s say you have some orders in the last week of December that you need to fulfill. If it won’t cause issues for your customers, you could ship them the first week of January instead, moving the revenue to the next tax year.
On the expense side, think about expenses that you haven’t received a bill for yet. Entering the bill is usually how you capture the expense, but for accrual, even if the bill hasn’t come in yet, you should be accruing the expense. A good example of this is freight bills. Freight companies are notorious for sending bills late, but the service still happened. Make a list of expenses for the year that you haven’t received bills for yet so you can record the expenses and accrue the payments due to the vendors.
Now, you have 5 basic tax strategies and some advanced tax strategies based on how you file your taxes.
What do you do next?
Open up your calendar, schedule a time in the next week to start reviewing your options. Then you can decide what strategies will work best for you.
Please consult your CPA for any specific tax questions you have, to make sure you are recording everything correctly and capturing the best benefit you can!
Reducing your tax liability is a key strategy in managing your cash flow.
As you’re heading into the new year, I’m sure you’re thinking about what else you can do to keep more money in your pocket and grow your business.
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