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Preparing for tax audit

Reduce Your Chance for a Tax Audit

Everyone fears the dreaded tax audit – and with good reason. It means that the algorithm scoring formula used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has found what it deems to be an irregularity on your tax return. Few audits turn out well for the individual or small business being questioned and the following are just a few of the ways that people can help mitigate the chance of being audited.

Hire a Professional

Nothing can compare to the personalized service and expertise available with a tax professional. It’s tempting to use online tax software. It’s easy and convenient, but the software may not be able to account for special circumstances and you may be leaving money on the table that could go in your pocket. Hire a professional if your tax return is complicated or complex in any way.

File on Time

Seeking an extension or filing an amended return can activate you for review by IRS systems, particularly for high-end earners. The same is true for those that file paper returns. It’s always best to e-file and makes sure they’re filed before the deadline.

Documentation

When dealing with the IRS, documentation is everything. If there’s a chance that the IRS may not understand expenses you’ve claimed or deductions, the onus will be on you to provide documentation to prove your right to make the claims. A professional tax preparer will know what documentation you’ll need.

Deductions

Another instance that will red-flag your tax return is the deduction-to-income-ratio. Deduction amounts that are unusually high compared to stated income may be a symptom of claiming the same deductions twice in the eyes of the IRS. Stay away from dubious deductions.

Exemptions

A high number of exemptions and dependents will bring unwarranted attention from the IRS. There are specific rules about what dependents are eligible for you to claim. For example, in some instances, a dependent may be required to file their own return, which means you can’t claim them.

Compliance

Remaining in compliance with your responsibilities in regard to withholding taxes, filing status, deductions, and exemptions will significantly reduce the potential for a tax audit. If you do get audited, having a professional file your tax return will ensure you have knowledgeable backup should you need it.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Great Ways to Keep Track of your Finances

In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to monitor and manage your financial health. Keeping track of your finances involves more than simply knowing how much is in your account or making sure you pay the rent or mortgage on time. There are a number of ways that anyone can utilize to better manage their money that includes the following, in no particular order.

Accurate Budgeting

A budget doesn’t mean you can’t spend for fun. It does mean that you need to account for the must-pay expenses first, such as rent, car payments, utilities, groceries, and insurance premiums. The remainder will provide information on major expenditures ad areas where you might save.

The Little Things

Small expenses are the bane of a budget. They nibble away at money that you could be saving and they account for a significant amount of money each day. Some of those small expenses include eating lunch out, whether it’s by yourself or with co-workers, or designer coffees and juices. Start saving receipts from each purchase and total them up at the end of the month or use a debit card for each purchase so you can go back and identify each one on your bank statement.

Savings

Everyone should have a savings goal whether it’s for a major purchase or for retirement purposes. If your budget doesn’t have a category for savings, create one. It can be any amount you want, but financial advisers recommend a set percentage of your income. Don’t be tempted to draw upon your savings. If you have extra money at the end of the month, shift it to your savings.

Software

There are dozens of software programs that will help you budget your money, track expenditures, and even send you alerts via mobile device so it’s easy to manage your money on the go with today’s busy lifestyles.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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How an Accounting Firm can Help Your Small Business

Small business owners have more than their share of tax-related items to consider and an accounting firm can help in a number of ways. It can provide bookkeeping services, tax consulting and return preparation, payroll processing, cash flow estimations, and even litigation support if needed.

As a business owner, you may need to make difficult decisions based on your own unique circumstances and the industry you’re in, along with current and future economic trends. You never know when an emergency will occur or what type – as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. An accounting firm that’s adaptable and can act quickly in your best interests is worth its weight in gold.

Accounting firms can help you achieve greater success and business health through insights and experience gained over many years, combined with an in-depth knowledge of financial matters. An accounting firm has the ability to provide precise and highly-detailed reports about all areas of your financial health. It can also identify opportunities for growth of which you may not be aware.

Hiring an accounting firm provides the means to maintain financial stability. You’ll know at every juncture what your cash flow is for consistent and reliable growth. You’ll know the number of staff to hire, when not to take on new challenges, and be able to serve your clients in the best way possible.

An accounting firm also provides you with the means to market your business more efficiently and effectively for the acquisition of new clients. Knowing the financial health of the business will enable you to launch marketing campaigns at the most opportune time.

Greater efficiency is another way that an accounting firm can help your small business prosper. They provide you with highly accurate financial information so you’ll know the best time to expand or make other investments that can make the enterprise more efficient and profitable. An accounting firm helps you get all aspects of your business finances under control and in order.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Common Practices to Reduce Your Tax Liability

At tax time, everyone is looking for ways to reduce their tax liability and keep more of their hard-earned income. It’s possible to reduce your liability without having your return red-flagged by the IRS. The following are just some of the common ways to do so.

Business Expenses

If you own a small business, always hire a professional to do your taxes. There are a variety of deductions you may be eligible to take, but may not take advantage of for fear of triggering an audit. A professional tax preparer will be cognizant of the types of expenses that you can claim and the documentation you’ll need.

Charity

Charitable donations can be written off if they exceed your standard deduction and you itemize your taxes. You’ll need receipts to prove the contribution and they should be realistic.

College

You can contribute to a 529 account for yourself or grandchildren, nieces and nephews. You can’t deduct a 529 on federal taxes, but it can provide savings on state tax returns, depending upon the state in which you live. You can also deduct $2,000 in educational expenses through the Lifetime Learning Credit, even if you aren’t working toward a degree and your income isn’t too high.

Health Insurance

The federal government will no longer penalize you financially for not having insurance, but many states have initiated their own fines in the form of a tax for not having a qualifying healthcare plan. The rules vary on what a qualifying health plan means, so it’s best to consult with a professional and get covered.

Retirement Funds

Contribute as much as you can to an IRA or 401k account. You can contribute $6,000 to an IRA or $19,000 to a 401k. Additional amounts can be contributed if you’re over 50.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Automobile Tax Expenses

The powers that be have historically written sections into the tax code promoting business activities. One of the traditional write-offs has always been the expenses associated with using a vehicle for business purposes.

 

The simplest automobile tax expense situation is one in which a vehicle is used entirely for business. For example, if you have a van used for a delivery service and nothing personal, all expenses associated with the van can be written off. This is known as the exclusive use situation. For many small businesses, however, a vehicle will be used for both personal and business reasons.

 

Where you use a vehicle for both personal and business reasons, you can only deduct the automobile expenses associated with the business use. Keep in mind that driving to and from work is not considered business mileage while driving from an office to meet a client is considered business mileage.

 

There are two methods for determining deductible automobile tax expenses. The first is a simple calculation known as the standard mileage deduction. The second is the actual expenses method. You can choose whichever deduction provides you with the biggest deduction unless you lease the car. With a lease, you must use the standard mileage deduction.

 

The standard mileage rate deduction is a calculation wherein you multiply your total business mileage for the year by a figure provided by the IRS. For the first eight months of 2005, the figure provided by the IRS is 40.5 cents per mile. For the last four months of 2005, the figure has been bumped up to 48.5 cents to reflect high gas prices.

 

The actual cost expense option is exactly what it sounds like. It is the actual cost associated with using the vehicle for tax purposes for a particular tax year. Automobile tax expenses will include gas, tires, repairs, oil changes, registration costs, licensing, insurance and so on. In many cases, the actual expense deduction will end up being larger than the standard mileage deduction.

 

Regardless of the method you choose, you must document the automobile tax expenses. This means keeping a mileage book and receipts of anything you intend to deduct.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is the business or an individual who has decided not to carry his business as a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company. This kind of business is not a separate entity. Any time a person regularly provides services for a fee, sells things at a flea market or engage in any business activity whose primary purpose is to make a profit, that person is a sole proprietor. If they carry on business activity to make profit or income, the IRS requires that you file a separate Schedule C “Profit or Loss From a Business” with your annual individual income tax return. Schedule C summarizes your income and expenses from your sole proprietorship business.

 

As the sold proprietor of a business, you have unlimited liability, meaning that if your business can’t pay all its liabilities, the creditors to whom your business owes money can come after your personal assets. Many part-time entrepreneurs may not know this, but it’s an enormous financial risk. If they are sued or can’t pay their bills, they are personally liable for the business’s liabilities.

 

A sole proprietorship has no other owners to prepare financial statements for, but the proprietor should still prepare these statements to know how his business is doing. Banks usually require financial statements from sole proprietors who apply for loans. A partnership needs to maintain a separate capital or ownership account for each partner. The total profit of the firm is allocated into these capital accounts, as spelled out in the partnership agreement. Although sole proprietors don’t have separate invested capital from retained earnings like corporations do, they still need to keep these two separate accounts for owners’ equity – not only to track the business, but for the benefit of any future buyers of the business.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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What are Auditors?

Accountants and auditors help to ensure that the Nation’s firms are run efficiently, its public records kept accurately, and its taxes paid properly and on time. They perform these vital functions by offering an increasingly wide array of business and accounting services, including public, management, and government accounting, as well as internal auditing, to their clients. Beyond carrying out the fundamental tasks of the occupation-preparing, analyzing, and verifying financial documents in order to provide information to clients-many accountants now are required to possess a wide range of knowledge and skills. Accountants and auditors are broadening the services they offer to include budget analysis, financial and investment planning, information technology consulting, and limited legal services.

Specific job duties vary widely among the four major fields of accounting: public, management, and government accounting and internal auditing.

Internal auditors verify the accuracy of their organization’s internal records and check for mismanagement, waste, or fraud. Internal auditing is an increasingly important area of accounting and auditing. Internal auditors examine and evaluate their firms’ financial and information systems, management procedures, and internal controls to ensure that records are accurate and controls are adequate to protect against fraud and waste. They also review company operations, evaluating their efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with corporate policies and procedures, laws, and government regulations. There are many types of highly specialized auditors, such as electronic data-processing, environmental, engineering, legal, insurance premium, bank, and health care auditors. As computer systems make information timelier, internal auditors help managers to base their decisions on actual data, rather than personal observation. Internal auditors also may recommend controls for their organization’s computer system, to ensure the reliability of the system and the integrity of the data.

 

Government accountants and auditors work in the public sector, maintaining and examining the records of government agencies and auditing private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation. Accountants employed by Federal, State, and local governments guarantee that revenues are received and expenditures are made in accordance with laws and regulations. Those employed by the Federal Government may work as Internal Revenue Service agents or in financial management, financial institution examination, or budget analysis and administration.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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How to Analyze a Financial Statement

Its obvious financial statements have a lot of numbers in them and at first glance, it can seem unwieldy to read and understand. One way to interpret a financial report is to compute ratios, which means, divide a particular number in the financial report by another. Financial statement ratios are also useful because they enable the reader to compare a business’s current performance with its past performance or with another business’s performance, regardless of whether sales revenue or net income was bigger or smaller for the other years or the other business. In order words, using ratios can cancel out differences in company sizes.

 

There aren’t many ratios in financial reports. Publicly owned businesses are required to report just one ratio (earnings per share, or EPS) and privately-owned businesses generally don’t report any ratios. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) don’t require that any ratios be reported, except EPS for publicly owned companies.

 

Ratios don’t provide definitive answers, however. They’re useful indicators but aren’t the only factor in gauging the profitability and effectiveness of a company.

 

One ratio that’s a useful indicator of a company’s profitability is the gross margin ratio. This is the gross margin divided by the sales revenue. Businesses don’t disclose margin information in their external financial reports. This information is considered to be proprietary in nature and is kept confidential to shield it from competitors.

 

The profit ratio is very important in analyzing the bottom-line of a company. It indicates how much net income was earned on each $100 of sales revenue. A profit ratio of 5 to 10 percent is common in most industries, although some highly price-competitive industries, such as retailers or grocery stores will show profit ratios of only 1 to 2 percent.

 

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Should I Itimize my Deductions?

When you finally decide it is time to prepare your taxes, the first question is whether you should itemize your deductions or take the standard deduction provided by the IRS.

Tax deductions are a very simple part of a theoretically simple tax reporting system. If you’ve ever prepared your own taxes, you know this simply isn’t true. Complicated tax forms can be a nightmare to fill out. Ever helpful, the IRS gives you an option of just taking a standard deduction instead of itemizing your deductions. So, what should you do?

The standard deduction is the easiest method because it requires no calculations or supporting documentation of any sort. You figure out your adjusted gross income and simply submit the amount for your classification. The amount differs based on whether you are filing as single, married, older than 65 or have kids.

Many people scoff at the mere idea of taking the standard deduction. As with all tax issues, deciding whether to take the standard deduction isn’t so easy. If you have a fairly simple financial life and don’t have many deductions, the standard deduction is almost always the best choice. For instance, if you make $45,000 as an employee of a company, rent a residence and don’t have any major medical bills or losses, the standard deduction is probably going to save you more money than itemizing. Unfortunately, you can never be sure until you take a stab at itemizing your deductions in a rough draft of a tax return.

Itemizing your deductions is exactly what it sounds like. You literally go through your records and categorize every possible deduction. These deductions are then subtracted from your adjusted gross income to get a final figure from which tax is determined using the tax tables. Itemizing is the way to go if you have significant tax deductions or tax credits in your financial life. For instance, you almost always want to itemize if you own a home as mortgage interest can be deducted. Generally, you want to itemize if you own a home, have significant medical bills, can claim a tax credit or suffered some type of major loss. Obviously, there are other situations where itemizing makes sense, but this gives you an idea of the situation.

If you have a simple financial situation, claiming the standard deduction may be the answer. If life is a bit more complicated, itemizing is probably going to save you more on your tax bill.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Tax Tips for Mortgage Holders

It’s that time of year again when numbers such as 1040, W-2 and INT-1099 become all too familiar to millions of people.  One of the benefits of holding a mortgage on your house is the ability to claim certain deductions that can assist you in offsetting some of your tax burden.  As you prepare to file your yearly taxes let’s look at a few areas where you can take advantage of tax deductions and keep a little more green in your pocket this tax season.

The most obvious deduction that many tax filers take advantage of is the interest paid on the mortgage for their primary residence.  For those of us with a mortgage balance of less than $1 million dollars (and hopefully that is the majority of us!) you can fill out Schedule A, also known as “itemized deductions”, and claim all the interest paid in the previous year on your mortgage.  Keep in mind this is for your primary residence (where you live) only and does not include other properties and houses you may own for rental purposes, etc.  If you paid off your mortgage this year and were slapped with a pre-payment penalty you can also use Schedule A to take a deduction on those fees as well.

Taxes paid to local governments, known as real estate or property taxes, are also tax deductible.  If your mortgage company pays your taxes for you through an escrow account you can find the deductible amount listed there – else check your assessment notice sent to you by your local taxing authority.

If you decided to spruce up your home and took out a home equity loan you may also be eligible to take a deduction for the interest of the home equity loan.  One thing to keep in mind though is if the home equity loan plus your mortgage amount puts you over the real value of your home in total amount owed there are limits to what you may deduct.

Points of all types are usually tax deductible as well.  If you refinanced in the past year any points you paid to buy down the mortgage rate can be written off proportionately over the life of the loan.  This means that if you have a 20 year mortgage, you get to deduct 1/20th of the points each year.  An added bonus comes if you refinanced in a prior year and then refinanced against in the past year and ended up paying off the first refinance.  Any points you had not deducted from that first loan now become eligible for write off in their entirety.

If you took out your mortgage in the past year, any points that you paid on the purchase are fully deductible if the mortgage was for your primary residence and you paid an amount down at least equal to the points you were charged.  This one can be tricky, so be sure to consult your tax prepared for more information.

This tax season make sure you are taking advantage of every deduction you can; part of owning a home and having a mortgage means that you get to reap some of the benefits of that ownership through the tax system.  Don’t let the IRS keep the money that you can use to help pay off that mortgage faster!

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

Contact Us Today

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