What Should I Charge My Client?

Fairly often, TaxAssurances meets with new business owners that aren’t sure what to charge their potential client and even more nervous about actually asking for it. After all, they’re new and they don’t want to overcharge and lose the potential client.

It’s always recommended that they research competitors in the industry for guidance. But more importantly, when they’re starting out, tell them to do what’s necessary to get the business and experience. The relationship can be a huge boost in terms of credibility and confidence. As well as in pay.

The best part about this experience has been when the new business owner has that horrible, “ah ha” moment. That moment when they realize they dramatically undervalued themselves and the client got away with murder.

TaxAssurances has its own horror stories. Ten seconds of advice saved a potential client millions in taxes and they never paid for the advice.

Those are breakthrough moments. It’s at that point the new business owner says, “oh, we’re not doing that again.”

So new business owners, just do what’s necessary to get as close as possible to what you should charge, but look to do the business. Over time, you’ll figure out what to charge and stand firm on it.

For more on TaxAssurances, check out our reviews, photos and links on Yelp.

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Mileage As a Deduction (Guest Blogger: Arlene Perry )

Hello to all my entrepreneurs who are happily making that time-consuming commitment to creating a business for themselves and a legacy for their loved ones.

You’re busy running around, from client to client or location or location while running up all those miles on your vehicle. Well I have some good news for you. Those miles can be tax deductible. And in turn, will help decrease your taxable income. Because who in their right mind wouldn’t want to have less income to report to our best friend, Uncle Sam?

Business owners, including the self-employed, are allowed to deduct the mileage used for business. To do so, they have to use either the current IRS rate of 54 cents per mile or the business portion of their actual auto expenses. Expenses like gas, car payments and insurance. Whatever method they decide to use, they must have good, accurate, written records maintained and produced if ever the IRS should audit them.

The IRS does consider mileage deduction an easy target for auditing because there are strict restrictions on the type of mileage that qualifies as a deduction.

Individuals may also deduct their mileage if they are an employee who uses his or her car for business. Keep in mind though that the mileage Can’t Include Commuting To And From Work And Can’t Be Reimbursed By Your Employer. Here’s what Mileage can be deducted:

 Travel between 2 different work locations
 Travel to temporary work location (less than 1 year) from your home
 Travel for business related work errands, (ex. Banking, Purchasing Supplies, Setting up work events)
 Travel for clients’ meetings, both self-employed and employees
 Travel for business meetings or clients’ entertainment
 Travel to airports if related to clients

*****SELF-EMPLOYED PERSONS WILL CLAIM THEIR MILEAGE AS AN EXPENSE ON SCHEDULE C RATHER THAN ITEMIZING ON SCHEDULE A LIKE EMPLOYEES WILL DO****

In addition to the above rules, there are a few other things that can be beneficial to the tax payer. Here they are:

 People who are unemployed and traveling looking for work may deduct mileage to find a new job in their current occupation. BUT NOT traveling seeking employment in a new industry. They can deduct expenses paid traveling by public transportation.

 Those working full-time 39 weeks in the last 12-month period and have relocated at least 50 miles for work are entitled to claim a smaller deduction of 23 cents a mile

 For those working from home, usually the self-employed, there is no commuting mileage. So you claim all mileage traveling to business locations such as a second office or the clients’ locations.

As stated earlier in this post, it’s vital for individuals to keep accurate records when deciding to claim mileage. Audits by the IRS are unpredictable and have absolutely nothing to do with tax preparers.

Taxpayers are responsible for the upkeep of their own records. Which is why I also highly recommend they meet with a Bookkeeping or Accounting professional at least once a year. Twice for optimum benefits.

Additionally, I suggest investing in a travel log that can be obtained from any stationary store. And if individuals are technologically savvy, there are plenty of Apps available like QuickBooks Self-Employed. These will allow them to keep the records needed for the IRS if need be . They will need to show the number of miles for each trip, the date and time for each trip, the location they went to and the purpose of the trip which would include a client’s name if appropriate.

Mileage is a deduction/expense the tax payer is entitled to, but many bypass it because of the work involved. I say take every deduction you can and put in the effort because it can be worth it.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT, REVIEW IRS PUBLICATION 463 at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf

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Arlene Perry, Bookkeeper, MBA
Arlene@ArlenesUnlimitedServices.Com

Arlene Perry, MBA is the owner of Arlene’s Unlimited Services; a full service tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll business. Having had the business since 1998,  she serves the Manhattan and Bronx areas of New York City.

Within this time, Ms. Perry has worked with a variety of small businesses in different industries. They include security and retail as well as the bookkeeping of non-profit organizations.

Arlene graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Masters degree in Business from Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York.

Prior to returning to college, Ms. Perry worked for the City of New York as a Police Officer. While serving, she prepared the tax returns for many of her co-workers and kept the financial records of a non-profit youth group that she was a part of.

Presently, Ms. Perry is working for a great non-profit organization focusing on keeping our youth out of the prison system. She’s also creating a side Baking Business. She’s a proud member of Real Sisters Rising, M & M Projects and Administrator of a Bookkeepers and Food Groups on FaceBook.

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You Need a Team to Grow Your Business

You can’t do it all alone. When you look at the success of any individual or business, you quickly realize that they didn’t get there alone. They had help.

That help came in the form of accounting, sales, IT or any other areas that are important in running a business.

Many times, solo entrepreneurs start off on their own and keep it that way. And that strategy can work well for awhile. However, eventually they’ll hit a ceiling.

How does this occur? There are but so many hours in the day and but so many things they can be doing at one time. That’s where the team comes in. And with that team, comes a much better chance at success.

For more on TaxAssurances, check out our reviews, photos and links on Yelp.

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Our 5 Year Anniversary!

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I never just dreamed about success. I’m working for it. This is my start up story.

I remember when TaxAssurances was just a thought. I was supposed to start a franchise with H&R Block but it didn’t work out. Later that day I talked to a friend who told me that I could do it myself, and that’s where my dream began. December 1, 2011 TaxAssurances opened, and by January 2012 my dream was alive.

-Kolonji Murray

IRS Advice On How to Pay Yourself When You Have a Business

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People go into business to make money. Figuring out how to account for the money they make can be a challenge. Thankfully, the IRS has provided guidance on how to handle accounting for the money business owners make.

Here is the guidance:

The procedures for compensating yourself for your efforts in carrying on a trade or business will depend on the type of business structure you elect. Below are topics that frequently arise when new business owners ask the Internal Revenue Service questions about paying themselves.


Corporate officers

An officer of a corporation is generally an employee, but an officer who performs no services or only minor services, and who neither receives nor is entitled to receive any pay, is not considered an employee. Refer to “Who Are Employees?” in Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF).

Partners

Partners are not employees and should not be issued a Form W-2 in lieu of Form 1065, Schedule K-1, for distributions or guaranteed payments from the partnership. Refer to partnerships for more information.

Dividend distributions

Any distribution to shareholders from earnings and profits is generally a dividend. However, a distribution is not a taxable dividend if it is a return of capital to the shareholder. Most distributions are in money, but they may also be in stock or other property. For information on shareholder reporting of dividends and other distributions, refer to Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.

Form 1099-MISC or Form W-2

You cannot designate a worker, including yourself, as an employee or independent contractor solely by the issuance of Form W-2 or Form 1099-MISC. It does not matter whether the person works full time or part time. You use Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income (PDF) to report payments to others who are not your employees. You use Form W-2 to report wages, car allowance, and other compensation for employees.

Treating employees as nonemployees

You will be liable for social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax if you do not deduct and withhold them because you treat an employee as a nonemployee, including yourself if you are a corporate officer, and you may be liable for a  trust fund recovery penalty. Refer toPublication 15, Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide for details about the trust fund recovery penalty orIndependent Contractor for more information on employee classification.

Shareholder loan or officer’s compensation?

A loan by a corporation to a corporate officer should include the characteristics of a loan made at arm’s length. That is, there should be a contract with a stated interest rate, a specified length of time for repayment, and a consequence for failure to repay the loan. Collateral would also be an indication of a loan. A below-market loan is a loan which provides for no interest or interest at a rate below the federal rate that applies. If a corporation issues you, as a shareholder or an employee, a below-market loan, the lender’s payment to the borrower is treated as a gift, dividend, contribution to capital, payment of wages, or other payment, depending on the substance of the transaction.

See “Below-market interest rate loans” under Employees’ Pay / Kinds of Pay / Loans or Advances in Publication 535, Business Expenses for more information.

Reasonable compensation

Because an officer of a corporation is generally an employee with wages subject to withholding, corporate officers may question what is considered reasonable compensation for the efforts they contribute to conducting their trade or business. Wages paid to you as an officer of a corporation should generally be commensurate with your duties. Refer to “Employee’s Pay, Tests for Deducting Pay” in Publication 535, Business Expenses for more information. Public libraries may have reference sources that provide averages of compensation paid for various types of services. The Internal Revenue Service may determine that adjustments must be made to the income and expenses of tax returns for both the corporation and an individual shareholder if the officer is substantially underpaid for services provided.

Draw account

If you are a sole proprietor  or partner in a partnership, the money or other forms of payment you take from your business should be accounted for in a draw account. This helps you know what amount of benefits you have taken from the business during the year. You cannot deduct the sole proprietor s own salary or any personal withdrawals made from the business.

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You Cannot Deduct Your Commuting Expenses

SONY DSCEvery so often during tax season I get a client that wants to deduct the expense of going back and forth to work on their taxes. They cannot do it. Here is what the IRS says about it:

“You cannot deduct the costs of taking a bus, trolley, subway, or taxi, or of driving a car between your home and your main or regular place of work. These costs are personal commuting expenses. You cannot deduct commuting expenses no matter how far your home is from your regular place of work. You cannot deduct commuting expenses even if you work during the commuting trip.

Example. You sometimes use your cell phone to make business calls while commuting to and from work. Sometimes business associates ride with you to and from work, and you have a business discussion in the car. These activities do not change the trip from personal to business. You cannot deduct your commuting expenses.”

 

For more on TaxAssurances, check out our reviews, photos and links on Yelp.

The Partner That Ruined the Business

timthumbIf you have a business with a partner or partners you need a fully funded buy sell agreement. It should be set up before any partners pass away, become disabled or find out they have cancer, diabetes, or other ailments that can limit workable solutions. Doing so is not only cost effective but it provides peace of mind.

Why? Do you want your current partner’s spouse and children as your new business partners? Nice enough people, but are they qualified and willing at the drop of a hat to run the business?

Moreover, what will happen to the value of the business if something happens to a partner? A business valued at $5 million can quickly drop to $2 million without proper planning.

Then what happens when a partner passes away, the estate is valued incorrectly and the IRS comes looking for more then what was paid in estate taxes by the heirs? I’ll tell you. Litigation with the heirs.

And of course, divorce never happens to business owners. In all of these scenarios, doing nothing ahead of time is a bad business decision. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve made to owners who don’t have fully funded agreements. They’ll say, “I’m all taken care of.” But when you look at what happens to many businesses after a life event, you realize they were just blowing me off.

The real blow off was on them. They blew off serious business planning they never even thought about because they were busy running the business. Fair enough. But they can’t do that or bury their heads in the sand because they still need to address the complex issues that arise when life events happen. Otherwise, like it or not, a business may be forced to close.
The main reason owners want to have the agreement fully funded is because for most businesses, using cash on hand, a sinking fund or financing through a bank loan may be undesirable or unavailable as a solution. Therefore work with the right team to provide the best funding solution.

Now after you set this up, get back to marketing and selling!

 

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