Five Keys to Success For A Small Business

Statistics indicate 80% of small business make it through their first year, but only 55 percent make it to five.   So how can you increase your chances of being among the 50 percent of businesses that make it for at least five years? With this in mind, you can improve your odds with careful planning, knowing the best method of running your business successfully and a detailed strategy.

Here are the five keys to a small business success:


1. Budget the Costs
Launching and running a small business requires a thorough accounting of costs, both financial and personal. Not creating a budget, is one of the top reasons for business failure.  Therefore, make sure you have a detailed budget that includes not only startup costs but the living expenses you’ll have to take on before your business can start paying you.  In addition to anticipate major equipment purchases and real estate investments so you have a realistic estimate of your needs and costs for the upcoming year.

Numbers don’t lie, they’re not emotional and they don’t make excuses.  It’s best to assume it will cost more and take longer than you initially think it will.  If the numbers show you are in a steep decline, take action and make changes before you crash.  It’s better to overestimate the costs and be pleasantly surprised than to project an overly rosy scenario and end up bankrupt.

2. Consider Your Profit Goals
To allow your business to run successfully and earn a profit, it helps to calculate your expenses and consider your customers, goals and amount of profits you ultimately want to bring in.  From there you can determine roughly what range your profit margins should be in so that you can support all of your operations and still grow your business.

3. Outsource Your Accounting
Growing a small business is physically demanding work.  Nobody wants to end their day prepping books, especially when it some to payroll and tax preparation.  Having a monthly accounting service on your team allows you to concentrate on your business and the daily activities of managing employees, increasing your customer base, and maximizing your profits. Smart business owner knows how to lead and when to delegate.  Defining and sticking to your role provides stability for your small business.  Don’t try to be the owner and the accountant.  Expert monthly accounting services go beyond the numbers.

Experienced accountants can be used as a resource for strategic decisions and also provide proactive business advice for any stage of your business. In addition to providing accounting and payroll, an outsourced accountant will work with business owners to set clear goals for increasing profits.  In addition, as your small business grow it can present operational challenges with the need to keep expenses in check.  Accountants can identify any expense areas that are tracking above or below industry average, enabling you as the owner to make adjustments, to keep costs contained or to spend additional money in areas that could boost sales.



4. Use an Integrated Accounting System
A small business benefits from using a business-specific and integrated accounting system into its daily business practices.  A good small business accounting system provides many options including appointment control, work-in-progress, point of sale accounting, daily sales reports, invoicing, customer data and history, and report capabilities that include uploading to other software systems such as QuickBooks. This king of integrated accounting software saves money, time avoids duplicate data entry and ultimately prevents those nasty tax-based headaches that occur during tax season.

5. Stay on Top of Your Taxes
Staying on top of your taxes is a full-time job and your income tax obligation needs to be on your mind year-round.  Whether you’re a small business or an individual taxpayer, year-round tax planning is more than just a way to make tax preparation an easier, faster process.  By keeping taxes in mind as you go through every 12-month period, you’ll be able to see where you might take specific actions early that will have impact on what you end up owing.  Your budget can be a tremendous tool as you plan for the current tax year. I f you’ve never created one, an outsourced accountant can help you with this.  In addition to staying ahead of the process by outsourcing your tax planning, preparation and tax filing.



Are You Protecting Yourself From Tax Identity Theft?

The IRS has thwarted some identity theft attempts, but thieves are still stealing billions of dollars every year from taxpayers.

Another annual income tax deadline has come and gone. Maybe you had to pay in, but perhaps you were owed a refund. If the latter is true, did you receive it?

A lot of taxpayers didn’t because hackers swooped in and stole their sensitive tax-related information. Tax identity theft is a serious problem, despite the IRS’s efforts to stop it.

But there are steps you can take to keep from being a victim, some of which are simply a matter of common sense. For example, consider the security of any wireless network you use when you’re working on your taxes. Don’t ever do so on a public network, and make sure your home or office wireless is password protected.



Offline Risks

You don’t have to be online to be at risk for tax identity theft. Hackers can grab your personal information in other ways. For example, do you ever carry your tax-related papers back and forth to work or some other location? Know where they are at all times; don’t ever leave them laying around where someone can copy your Social Security number and other details.

Always be aware of your surroundings. If there are other people around when you’re working on your taxes—if you’re in a coffee shop or library, for example—make sure no one is reading over your shoulder.

Phone calls can be risky. A good rule of thumb is never provide someone who calls you with any sensitive personal data – unless you can verify it was a call you were expecting, like one from your bank or a medical office. When you place a call to a legitimate number, it’s generally okay.

Other Traps

You’d think that a call from the IRS would be safe. In reality, the IRS doesn’t ask for personal information over the phone. They send letters through the U.S. Mail. If you ever get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the agency and is demanding some sort of payment immediately, hang up. This is a popular phone scam. You can always contact the IRS directly to see if there is some sort of issue.

Don’t make a practice of carrying your Social Security card with you. Keep it in a safe place unless you absolutely need it away from home for some reason. Also:

  • File your return early to keep a hacker from getting in line for your refund in front of you.
  • Reduce your refund by adjusting your withholdings at work. It’s nice to get that big payment after you file, but couldn’t you use that money throughout the year?
  • Request direct deposit of your refund. That way, no one can steal your check out of your mailbox or somehow re-route a paper payment.



Online Thieves

Be especially careful if you’re preparing your taxes on a website. Before you even begin, investigate the publisher’s security protocols to ensure that your very sensitive tax-related data will be treated with great care. Also, update any applications that will be involved, including your browser and antivirus/anti-malware tools.

The IRS will never send you an email out of the blue asking you to click a link or download an attachment or fill in fields to update personal information. In fact, it’s a good idea to avoid taking those actions anytime unless you’re expecting an email and can verify the sender’s address.

Finally, use a very strong, unique password, one you don’t use anywhere else. You’re probably tired of hearing that piece of advice, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re working with a tax preparation application.

Take Action Quickly

It’s possible to get stung by a tax identity thief even if you’re being careful. If it happens to you, you’ll need to complete and submit IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and watch for responses from the agency. Contact your credit bureaus and financial institutions to apprise them of the situation. Tax identity thieves sometimes try to open new credit cards, for example. You should also file a report with the FTC.

Recovering from tax identity theft isn’t a quick process nor an easy one. If you have questions about it or simply want to talk to us about your year-round tax planning and preparation process, be sure to contact us.



Preparing Your Own Taxes vs. Hiring a Tax Professional

As you prepare to file your taxes, you may be deciding to prepare your taxes on your own choosing between using a tax preparation program or app. There are a number of positive and negative aspects to consider before you decide whether to do it yourself or hire a tax professional.

The Advantages of Filing Taxes on Your Own Using Tax Prep Software or Apps.

Tax prep software and apps have the ability to quickly file your returns for you. You can submit your return to the IRS with a few strokes of a button. Some of the apps and software cost less than $50 to buy and can file your federal and state return for free. The programs are user friendly and walk you through filing step-by-step and help you avoid costly mistakes.



Tax experts agree that you can safely use them if you are (1) Single, (2) No taxable assets other than your income (3) Do not itemize (4) Are not self-employed or own a business.

The Cons of Filing Taxes on You Own Using Tax Prep Software or Apps

By filing taxes on your own, you will need to commit a significantly larger amount of time than if you hire an accountant or a professional tax preparer. The US code can be complex and difficult to understand. Even when using tax preparation software or app, individuals can get confused as to whether to take a deduction or miss out on additional savings. If you do not take the deduction and it turns out be incorrect, it could cost you penalties and interest charges. Additionally, it may flag an audit.

When to Hire a Tax Professional

If your tax situation is a bit more complicated, you may find it best to hire a tax professional. Your goal is to take as many deductions and credits that you qualify for to reduce your tax bill. This is where a tax professional come in handy.

Tax professional are available to help you and answer tax questions year-round. You get real-life and reliable counsel while filing your taxes, and they use more thorough tax filing software than what you can buy in stores or online.

It is recommended that you rely on a professional tax preparer to help you file your returns. A tax professional can provide advice for how to best file your taxes as well as assist you in submitting your original or amended returns. You may also avoid complications like being audited, fined, or owing more money in taxes.

Save Time With Our Virtual Tax Prep



This year, don’t sit in a tax office for hours.  Instead, schedule a virtual appointment with a licensed and experienced tax professional at           T. Williams & Associates.
We can prepare your taxes over the phone when you upload your tax documents via your cell, fax or through our secure and encrypted client portal. Use our virtual tax prep services link to learn more.
Virtual Tax Prep
We understand that getting organized can be daunting. Email us at admin@twa-accountingservice.com for a complimentary Tax Checklist. It’s an easy way to make sure you have all the necessary documents and figures before you get started. When you’re ready, you can schedule an in-person or virtual appointment.
By the way, we love referrals. Everyone benefits! For each client you refer to us that files their taxes by April 18th, you get $25.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and start preparing your taxes now. T. Williams & Associates has worked with individuals, small businesses, home health care providers and State and Federal entities for over 17 years. Let us take care of your taxes and bookkeeping so you can focus on your 2018 goals.
We look forward to working with you.

Are there Tax Breaks for Military Families?

There are some special tax breaks for members of the military and their families. If you’re in this group, here are some tips:

 Moving expenses. Service members who are on active duty and move because of a permanent change of station can deduct the reasonable unreimbursed expenses of moving.

 Combat pay. Enlisted persons and warrant officers who serve in a combat zone for any part of a month can exclude all military pay for that month from their income. Officers also can exclude a limited amount of pay.



 Joint returns. Spouses who are not available to sign a joint income-tax return due to military duty may use a power of attorney or IRS Form 2848 to file the return.

During the transition to civilian life, you may be able to deduct certain job search and/or moving expenses. You should also remember to meet with your financial professional to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.

For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

Tax Time: Plan Ahead for 2018 to Avoid Refund Delays

Take steps now to ensure smooth processing of your 2017 tax return and avoid a delay in getting your refund next year.

Gather Documents
Making sure you have all your documents before your file your return, including your 2016 tax return. This includes Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Forms 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return later. Confirm that each employer, bank or other payer has a current mailing address.

Typically, these forms start arriving by mail in January. Check them over carefully, and if any of the information shown is inaccurate, contact the payer right away for a correction.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of their 2016 tax return and all supporting documents for a minimum of three years. Doing so will make it easier to fill out a 2017 return next year. In addition, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their 2016 return to properly e-file their 2017 return.



Renew Expiring ITINs
Some people with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) may need to renew it before the end of the year. Doing so promptly will avoid a refund delay and possible loss of key tax benefits.

Any ITIN not used on a tax return in the past three years will expire on Dec. 31, 2017. Similarly, any ITIN with middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80 will also expire at the end of the year. Anyone with an expiring ITIN who plans to file a return in 2018 will need to renew it using Form W-7.

Taxpayers who fail to renew an ITIN before filing a tax return next year could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits. For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.

Expect Some Refunds to Be Held
As always, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to rely on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Though the IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns require further review.

For a Faster Refund, Choose e-file
Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file. Nearly 90 percent of all returns are electronically filed. There are several e-file options:
• IRS Free File,
• Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs,
• Commercial tax preparation software, or
• Tax professional.

Use Direct Deposit.
Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly into a taxpayer’s bank account. There’s no reason to worry about a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund check. Direct deposit saves taxpayer dollars.