Tax time is looming and if you own a small business or are a single proprietor, you’re probably scrambling to get all your records straight. Are your W2s out and were they postmarked by January 31? What about 1099s to consultants to whom you paid more than $600 in 2013? They need to get a Copy C by January 31. Remember, the IRS needs to get a Copy A by February, along with the cover page, known as Form 1096. Don’t forget that consultants include LLCs, DBAs, and partnerships.
Avoid this mess for 2014 by using online tools and services that make tax time much less stressful.
If You Have a Payroll, Use an Online Payroll Service
There is no reason to handle something as time-consuming as payroll on your own. Automated online payroll services handle payroll processing, track changes in tax rules that occur throughout the year and ensure they are accurately reflected in paychecks. They also implement any employee changes to withholding. Doing this on your own takes time and increases the likelihood of mistakes.
Check out online payroll services like Intuit payroll, endorsed by Top 10 Reviews and PC World. Intuit guarantees error-free paychecks and payroll taxes, supports electronic filing, and even provides 1099s, I-9 forms, and new hire paperwork for each state. The service is cloud-based, meaning you don’t have to handle software updates or sacrifice your system’s memory. It can also access data on your desktop/laptop, tablet or smartphone from any Internet connection. When it’s time to file, Intuit will do the work for you, run it by you for your signature, and file it electronically.
Use Low-Cost or Free Expense Tracking Apps
If you or your employees are in the field, check into a few small business smartphone apps recommended by the Intuit blog to track mileage and dining expenses:
- Mint, an Intuit tool intended for household budgeting, can easily be used for small business expense tracking as well. It incorporates credit card and bank data, and will recognize the expense categories you input. (Free for Android and iOS.)
- Milebug tracks your mileage with real-time GPS, calculates the mileage allowance, and exports data to Excel or Numbers. ($2.99, Android, iOS, Windows.)
- Expensify has similar functions to Mint, but also lets you photograph cash receipts and manually enter mileage data. (Free for first employee, $5 – $10 for each additional employee. For Andriod, iOS, Blackberry, Windows.)
Take Advantage of Time Management Apps
Download an app to see where time flies when you’re on the road. The Intuit blog recommends these:
- TimeClock was designed for businesses and individuals who bill by the hour. It lets you specify different rates for different clients and calculates increments. Data can be exported to a spreadsheet. (Free or $5/month with invoicing service; for Android.)
- TimeCatcher tracks phone time with clients, an excellent way to identify who takes up more of your time. Data are exported to a file or email. (Free for Android.)
- ClockedIn2 tracks projects that spread over several days and adds tasks directly to your iPhone. It creates customer and project summaries for daily, weekly, and monthly tracking. ($4.99 for iOS.)
Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!