Why you should digitize your tax and financial records

Computers have changed the world. They’ve made almost everything a little easier and more convenient. Because we all have important tax and financial documents to keep track of, there are several reasons why you should digitize these hard copies of records by scanning them and saving them on a computer.

Having digital copies of financial documents can make accessing them a whole lot easier. Instead of digging through a box of papers, all you have to do on a computer is click on a file to open it. Plus, with the influx of mobile technology, some apps for smartphones and tablets let you access files on your computer wherever you are. If you’re at the bank or an accountant’s office, you can quickly pull up any information that you don’t have with you without having to make another trip there. If you file your taxes electronically or use a service to assist you with your finances, it can be extremely beneficial to have electronic versions of relevant papers. In addition, when April 15th starts getting closer on your calendar, you’ll have easy access to everything you need to fulfill your tax-filing obligations.

There is always a chance something could happen to your important documents. Unfortunate circumstances are a reality that you may have to deal with, and the last thing you want to happen is to lose your records due to a fire, a flood, a theft, or another unanticipated occurrence. It’s wise to have multiple copies of certain papers, and you can do this by having a printed copy of a record and a digital copy of it saved on your hard drive or USB drive for portability. You can always print out the scans of these papers if you need them. Plus, since the IRS may charge you to obtain copies of your old tax records, digitizing them will help you stay organized so that you don’t lose anything.

One important thing to remember is that even though saving your documents electronically is smart, it comes with some risk as well. You should have a password on your computer and keep your machine updated with the latest antivirus software. Make sure that only you have access to these files. If they get into the hands of unscrupulous individuals, your chances of being the victim of identity theft or tax fraud will definitely increase.

Use 1800 Accountant for all of your financial and tax planning needs. Call 1-888-749-0117 or click over to www.1800accountant.com.

How to know when it’s time to apply for a trademark

Deborah Sweeney - MyCorporation

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation

By Deborah Sweeney, Guest Blogger

In the course of establishing your small business, you’ll start off with a series of first steps that are all necessary to put into place in order to get the business up and running. Preparing a business plan, incorporating or forming an LLC, and choosing a location for your company are just a few of these steps, but where does applying for a trademark come into play and how do you know when it’s time to establish a mark for your business?

Before making any moves forward, it’s important to first understand what a trademark is and how it works to benefit and protect your business. Trademarks can be names, designs, or logos that distinguish a company and emphasize how unique it is. The more unique the mark, the more necessary it becomes to file a trademark application to protect the identity of the business and brand to prevent anyone else from using that trademark for their own business.

Registering the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gives notice to the public about the registrant’s claim of ownership over the mark and that the owner has the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with goods or services set in registration.

Prior to filing a trademark application, the option of conducting a trademark search is also available to make sure that the trademark you want to register is available before you file. By utilizing a comprehensive trademark search, you’ll be able to search through currently registered and pending trademark applications and receive verification that your trademark is unique, which helps to save time and money.

If you have put a great deal of creativity and time into creating and establishing your small business, the time to trademark is now! The more unique your company is, the more it becomes important to distinguish the brand from competitors and protect the identity you have created. When in doubt, file a trademark application and start the process of keeping your unique mark safe today!


Author Bio:

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

 

Are tax preparation fees tax deductible?

Form 1040Several options exist in terms of how you can have your taxes prepared so that they are ready to be filed with the IRS. You can do your taxes yourself by using tax software. You can also use a tax prep service or an accounting firm to handle this process. Regardless of how you choose to do this, the expenses you incur for tax preparation may be tax deductible.

The cost of having your taxes done right can be expensive. However, since it’s easier to have someone else do the heavy lifting with your taxes so you can focus on your priorities, it’s often well worth the money to spend on this assistance. Even if you don’t use a service, using tax software can also simplify this process. The good news is that many of these tax preparation expenses can qualify as a write-off. The basic rule for this deduction is that you can deduct tax prep fees that you spent in one year when you file your taxes in the following year. For example, you can deduct tax prep costs you incurred in 2012 when you file your taxes in 2013.

If you choose to go with using software for your taxes, you can deduct the amount you spend on this computer program and any associated expenses that come up. These may include online processing fees since some programs automatically connect to the Internet and can submit certain forms to the IRS electronically.

If you decide to use a tax preparation service to handle your tax-filing needs, the costs of using this service can be claimed as a write-off in the following year. As with software, there are pros and cons to using a tax prep service. These services employ tax professionals who may be more skilled at analyzing your tax situation and looking for ways to save you money through deductions.

There is a big caveat to this deduction, though. In order to qualify as a deduction, tax prep fees must exceed a certain amount of money. In basic terms, this amount is how much you paid in miscellaneous expenses that exceeds 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. As such, tax prep costs fall under the miscellaneous expenses category.

Find out about more deductions you can claim to minimize your taxes by working with the accounting experts at 1800Accountant. Call 1-888-749-0117 today.

Tips on how you can separate your small business from others

At the end of the day, the primary goal for a small business is to make money. To do this, the business has to separate itself from those around it. Here are some tips from 1800Accountant on how those who own small businesses can elevate them from others:

– Focus on the people who represent your customers.
One big key to use to help separate your small business from the rest is to effectively target any potential clients or customers out there. You should focus on a specific group of individuals. Think about who exactly could benefit most from your business. Think of the age group that these people fall into. Also, consider where they reside, which income bracket they’re primarily in, and other relevant factors. By coming up with reasonable answers to these considerations, you will have a bit of an advantage over those around you.

– Find out who your competitors really are.
It’s really not all that hard to figure out who your competitors really are in your marketplace. Doing some simple research online or just going out and looking around in your area for businesses can provide you with this basic information. Discover where precisely these competing companies do business, the amount of time they’ve been in business, and what they actually offer. If you can, determine what they’re charging and how these prices stack up to what you charge. If a competitor operates a physical store, take note on the times it’s open. You can take all of this info and use it to your advantage.

– Be sure you have enough money to fund the company.
It may sound cliché, but you have to have the proper funding to have any chance of setting your business apart. In order to make money that’s enough to keep your company afloat, you should have some patience. This is exactly why you should have plenty of money available before and in the midst of the startup period and in the initial months and years of the company.

– Clearly express how your company is unique.
Most people know the importance of expressing what their businesses offer in an effective manner. It’s perhaps even more important, though, to express how what your business offers is unique from your competitors. These factors include the prices of your products or services and their overall quality. You may want to use this information in the way you advertise your company.

– Make sure customer service is high on your priority list.
When customers go to or call a small business, they get an initial impression of it. This impression will more than likely have an impact in the customer’s purchasing decisions. Give first-time clients a free trial or free sample. Doing so can demonstrate the customer that you truly want to serve this person. Be certain that your customers have a high level of satisfaction. If you want to be sure that your customer service is solid, the customers you’re serving will probably give you an indication of this, which is a great sign for staying in front of competing companies.

What is the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit

Saving up for your retirement is something to consider starting at a young age. If you begin to set aside small amounts of money for savings, you could end up with a comfortable nest egg to help support yourself and your family when the time comes to retire. The IRS also offers a tax incentive for those who put a certain amount of money into their retirement savings accounts per year.

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, sometimes referred to as the Saver’s Credit, is a tax credit that can save you money by planning for your financial future. Individuals can take advantage of a tax credit worth up to $1,000 for making eligible contributions to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or a plan offered by an employer. The credit amount increases to $2,000 for married couples who file a joint tax return. Individuals who claim this credit must be over age 18. They can’t be a full-time student, and they can’t be claimed as a dependent on the tax return of someone else.

Eligible contributions to a savings plan include contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA, elective deferrals to a 401(k) and some other plans, contributions to a §501(c)(18) plan, and voluntary after-tax employee contributions to certain qualified plans. Keep in mind that rollover contributions to these plans are not eligible for the Credit. In addition, your contributions may be reduced by the distributions you get from a retirement plan.

Like most tax credits, there are some income limitations on how much a taxpayer earns and whether or not they are eligible for the credit. The IRS has updated these amounts for tax year 2013.
Those who claim the credit must have an adjusted gross income that does not exceed $59,000 for joint filers, $44,250 if your filing status is head of household, and $29,500 if your status is married filing separately, qualifying widow, or single. These income limits are higher than they were in 2012. To claim this credit, complete and submit Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions to the IRS.

For a full-service accounting firm that can assist you with your tax-filing requirements, contact 1800 Accountant at 1-888-749-0117 or by clicking over to www.1800accountant.com.