As the year is winding down if you have done so already it is time to review your tax strategy to make sure you have everything in order for your filings. This article should be able to help you make the process much easier.
Thanksgiving leftovers are dwindling, the holiday season is in full swing, and many people are looking ahead to the new year— a time traditionally saved for fresh starts. As a small business owner, it’s likely you’re balancing year-end activities with new year planning, making it the perfect time to identify areas of your business that could benefit from a resolution or two. Office organization, company culture, and spending habits always make their way to the resolution list, but what about your taxes?
Though there are certainly people who instinctively understand the finer nuances of taxes and as such plan year-round to make the process effortless and painless – if that’s possible. Still, come the new year, many will enter into March and April with utter dread, knowing the tax time can be arduous and costly
Though taxes, particularly those for the 2019 fiscal year, are merely a logistical glimmer resting in the back of your mind, bringing visions of W2s to the forefront right now can save you a world of hassle next year and all the years that follow. Starting the new year off right can help you make your 2019 taxes easier, and it may just help you check some resolutions – like to be more organized – off your list. Once the calendar resets, put some of these tips in play to make next tax season a breeze.
1. Determine how frequently you need to pay taxes.
If you’re a small business owner or are self-employed, and you don’t have taxes withheld, then there is a good possibility that you need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. Sadly, many small business owners, freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors fail to recognize this obligation, and even if they fully intend to pay all their taxes at the end of the year, they may still face a penalty.
The IRS has compiled a great resource for determining your obligations, and if you fall into one of the business categories above, you may want to verify your tax obligations. If you do have to pay quarterly, you’ll certainly want to factor that into your quarterly, if not monthly, expenses. Typically, quarterly estimated tax payments are due on the fifteenth of April, June, Sept, and January.
2. Keep things separate.
If you’ve been reading our blog frequently, then you are probably already well aware that when it comes to finances, it’s always best to separate personal from business. If you haven’t done that thus far, it’s important that you start the new year doing. This is particularly true when it comes to tax prep. You can separate finances by opening a business bank account and exclusively using it for your business needs. The same is true if you’re using a credit card for any transactions.
|Can’t get enough? We’ve got tons of business tools and resources right here.|
3. Keep diligent records.
Keeping accurate and up-to-date records is probably one of the most valuable practices you can get into, and that’s true for your tax obligations as well as your operational and financial obligations. However, importance doesn’t always trump practice, and some business owners fail to commit to a single system or practice regular bookkeeping duties.
In the new year, make it a point to set aside a chunk of your month and dedicate it to keeping your records and organizing your paperwork. It also helps to harness accounting and payroll software that can simplify the process. – Freshbooks, QuickBooks, Wave, Zoho Books, to name a few. If you are going to use software, now it the time to start reviewing and testing it out before committing for the year.
You can also use traditional record-keeping methods, be they digital, like Excel, or old fashion, like a paper ledger, but if that’s your preferred record keeping option, you’ll want to make sure you adhere to the next tip.
4. Back up your info.
I have vivid memories of sitting in my mom’s car and riding next to a pile of backup discs, something her boss made her take home nightly in the case of a fire, flood, or theft. And while we’ve come well past the days of backing up our computers on numerous discs stored in shoe boxes or file cabinets, the sentiment behind the practice should still be alive and well in your business.
Keeping diligent records is great but having a single copy on a single laptop or in a desk drawer can set you up for disaster. Thanks to cloud technology, storing your information externally is easy. As a bonus, you’ll be able to access your information from anywhere at any time.
Some software, like QuickBooks Online, is cloud-based, but if you’re not planning to implement accounting software, then you may want to consider using DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, or any of the other popular cloud storage platforms available.
5. Keep your receipts.
In reality, this should be part of your diligent record keeping, but because it’s different from your payroll and revenue, it’s worth mentioning separately. Meals, miles (if you aren’t taking a standard deduction), equipment purchases, supplies, etc. can be filed as deductions come tax time, but if you don’t keep your receipts, you may be out of luck. Capture every receipt, every time.
You can go the way of the backup disc and stick these in a shoebox, but your best bet is to use a receipt tracking app (e.g., Shoeboxed, Expensify) or accounting software that includes a similar feature (e.g., Wave).
6. Consult an accountant.
If you already have an in-house accountant, then you should be able to rely on them to get a lot of this in order, but if you don’t, then you may want to consider consulting one, even if it’s only a few times a year. A qualified accountant can help you plan for and adapt to changes in the tax code as well as inform you about tax credits specific to your industry or federal and state tax codes. In the end, meeting with an accountant can save you a lot of headaches and potentially a significant amount of money.
As you close out the year and look ahead to 2019, you may be tempted to keep taxes out of the picture until March or April, but if you really want to make your 2019 taxes easy, then the best time to start is now. Determine a feasible record-keeping practice, test-drive some accounting and receipt scanning software, and work with an accountant to solidify a path towards a no-hassle tax season and financial organization. You’ll quickly find that it’s a resolution worth keeping.
Thinking about doing your holiday shopping online this year? Well, you’re not by yourself. According to the popular site, Shopify.com, an estimated $123.4 billion dollars will be spent online for the 2018 holiday season! This means more than ever you must be careful about how you’re shopping online and make sure you are aware of online scams, as well as safety habits.
Here are some online safety tips to follow as you’re shopping online this holiday season:
Whether it’s to avoid the crush of Black Friday or just for the simple convenience, more and more consumers are turning to online shopping to meet their gift-giving needs. Here are some tips to stay safe while navigating the cyber shopping malls.
Shop from a secure computer and secure connection.
Be sure your operating system (OS), browsers, and antivirus/anti-malware suite are up to date with the most current patches. When accessing a store’s website, be sure to check whether it is HTTPS so that your transactions are encrypted.
If you’re on your mobile device, be sure you’re using a secure Wi-Fi connection. In short, don’t shop while sipping your latte at Starbucks.
Use trusted vendors and their apps, rather than a link.
Hackers have become very adept at spoofing vendor web pages. Always shop with trusted vendors and type in the web address whenever possible instead of following a link.
If you’re on your phone, download the vendor’s app from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, and use the app instead of a link out to a browser window.
Don’t fall for “too-good-to-be-true” deals.
Watch out especially for email and text messages promising fantastic savings during the holiday rush. For every legit ad, there are a plethora of fake ads laced with malware or other cyber crippling attacks. Avoid clicking on ad links. Go to the site directly.
Plan ahead and don’t be rushed.
Last-minute shopping often leads to absent-minded clicking. Take your time to make sure you are on the correct website, especially before entering any credit card or banking information. It only takes one wrong click to activate a malicious code on a webpage.
Review credit card and bank statement regularly during the shopping season.
Infected credit card readers, unscrupulous cashiers, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and Man-in-the-Middle attacks can gain access to your credit card information and sell it to the highest bidder. It’s a best practice to review your statements regularly. If you find a discrepancy, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
If you’re using your bank app on your mobile device, be sure it is up-to-date with necessary security patches and that you only access the app on a secure connection. DON’T use public Wi-Fi – transactions submitted on unsecured Wi-Fi pretty much travel across thin air with no encryption. Which means any script kiddie can pluck your data by eavesdropping on your public Wi-Fi connection.
Use unique passwords and login information for every site you visit.
Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Yes, in the long run. Because if your login credentials are stolen for one site, a cybercrook will more than likely try using it on other websites. If they’re all the same, that crook now has access to your Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Twitter accounts. If you have registered a credit card or one-click shopping with any of those accounts, the cybercrook can go to town maxing out your limits. Then, they can tweet about all their cool purchases bought using your account.
Passwords should never be reused, recycled, or words found in a dictionary… even the urban dictionary. It is best to use a “passphrase” of at least 9 to 11 characters long. The longer the better. It should also contain a mix of upper- and lowercase characters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols that do not spell out a particular word. If you have trouble handling them all, use a password manager. Most password managers also have a “generate password” function to help you come up with unique ones.
Remember you to keep yourself protected with your FES Protection Plan so that you don’t experience any of this during the holiday season.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 2018 Convention, please make sure that you mark your calendar for next February 2019! Keep checking the Momentum Society website for more updates. What an incredible time everyone had the stage looked fantastic.
The enthusiasm and excitement was contagious as we learned about new products and services, watched our team members get awards and we also learned about growing our businesses with seminars presented by Lakeisha Marion, Ashton Henry, Alfred Nickson and Jean Kimpson. They all did a great job in sharing the different aspects of hosting events, recruiting, social media and professional communications.
Have you ever met with a prospect and they showed interest, but you didn’t follow up? If your answer is “Yes”, you’re not alone – it has happened to many Network Marketers. Oftentimes, the lack of follow up is because the prospect didn’t say “Yes” right away and it was discouraging. However, not having a follow up system in place is one of the easiest ways to go nowhere fast!
Most Network Marketing experts agree that it can often take between 5 to 7 touches to properly sign up a prospect. Think about it for a moment, do you often sign up or purchase things when you’re first exposed to them? Most people would say no, so you can’t always expect your prospect to say yes on the first exposure.
One of the most important things you must understand when communicating with anyone about your business opportunity is that follow up is completely your responsibility and you must do it until a result is achieved.
Below are 5 principles of follow up that can help you to take your business to the top:
1) Connect & Qualify
Upon your first connection it will be very important to learn as much as you can about your prospect. Ask qualifying questions that will help you in closing your prospect. Your company should have a list of questions for you to use.
Make sure you first share your story in a passionate way. Tell your prospect how you got involved, the pain or need it fulfilled, income potential, edify your upline or share a story about one of your team members who has something in common with your prospect. Next, share the service or product information. Remember, you should stick with the recommended script or flow recommended by your upline.
Email a link of your company video, share testimonials or results your customers or team members are having, invite your prospect to a Private Business Reception or to a weekly meeting.
4) Follow Up
It will be important to not allow a lot of time to lapse between exposures. It can often do more harm than good to let weeks or months pass by. Too much time in between exposures means you could be doing the work and another person in your same business could meet the same prospect and easily sign them up and you don’t want that to happen – not after all of that hard work!
So, make sure you schedule the exposures close together. Again, remember to make use of 3-way calls with your upline, testimonials, email videos, email PDF handouts and most importantly, ask them the most important question which is: “What would it take for you to be part of my team?”
5) Follow Through
Follow through means to simply continue the exposure until you get a result. If your prospect says “No”, you must remember that it means “no, not right now”. This is why you should not stop communicating.
Consider creating a lifestyle email that you send out to your connections weekly. This email update can include short blurbs of your company information, new testimonials, links to videos or interesting articles and even recipes, time management information, budgeting etc. The most important thing is to stay connected.
Using the above principles can help you with structuring your follow up system and give you many ah-ha moments as you sign up new members to your team.
If you are a homeowner who is having trouble making your mortgage payments, you most likely want to do whatever you can to stay in your home and to avoid a foreclosure. The first thing you should keep in mind is to stay in close contact with your lender. If you are going to miss a mortgage payment, inform your lender, keep good records of all your correspondence and use registered mail to send documents and letters so you can verify that they were received. Most lenders will work with you, as foreclosing on homes carries heavy costs for them.
The following are options to keep you in your home, while you get back on your feet:
Reinstatement. One way to work things out with your lender, if you are delinquent on your payments, is to negotiate a reinstatement of your mortgage loan agreement. A reinstatement agreement requires you to stay current on all of your future payments and to commit to agreed on payment terms for all your missed mortgage payments. Missed payments may be required in a lump sum or it s possible you can pay the arrears in supplementary monthly payments to your regular mortgage payment over a period of 12 to 24 months. Reinstatement is really only an option if you were having serious financial problems but are over them, as it requires substantial monthly payments moving forward. If you can receive help from a family member or sell a valuable asset, reinstatement is a worthwhile option to pursue.
Forbearance. It may be impossible for you to stop making your payments, temporarily. Forbearance is an agreement between you and your lender, where your lender agrees to not pursue foreclosure and to accept no mortgage payments or a reduced mortgage payment for a defined period. If you have a temporary disability or can show that you expect money from an insurance pay-out or tax refund, you may qualify for forbearance. You need to have a positive payment history to be eligible. Forbearance is only granted if your lender is confident that you will be able to resume making your normal payments plus pay back the any arrears accumulated while in forbearance. In most cases the length of the forbearance plan will not exceed 18 months. Most forbearance plans stipulate that foreclosure will proceed, if the borrower defaults on the agreement.
Loan Modification. An important option for you to consider is a loan modification. A loan modification is a permanent change to one or more terms of your loan. Your lender can modify your loan by reducing your interest rate and the size of your monthly payment, by extending the repayment term of your loan, or by agreeing to reduce the principal balance of your loan. A principal balance reduction is negotiated when the value of the property has dropped. Balance reductions became relatively common starting in 2008, in reaction to the dramatic decline in home prices in many areas. As a borrower in distress, you must meet certain guidelines in order to qualify for a loan modification. The lender will examine the size of your loan compared to the fair market value of the property, your debt-to-income ratio, and your credit history.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. A last resort option that allows you to remain in your home is for you to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once you are under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, your lender cannot proceed with a foreclosure. The goal of filing bankruptcy, in these circumstances, is to allow you to retain possession of your residence while you participate in a structured repayment of your debts. Consult with an attorney who has experience in bankruptcy to discuss whether bankruptcy will allow you to keep your home.
In Conclusion, It makes sense to take every step possible to stay in your home. If you are having problems making your mortgage payments, it is crucial for you to know what steps you can take to avoid losing your home to foreclosure.