Preparing for Business Taxes from Day One

Preparing for Business Taxes from Day One

Whether your business is big or small, you have 20 employees or none, you are required to pay the right taxes at the right time. Understanding your tax obligations are an important part of your business formation. How you are structured and whom you employ will impact your taxes, and any mistakes or omissions will not go unnoticed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR). A small business attorney can help you prevent liability issues, maximize your deductions, and represent you in the event of an audit or penalty. This post will cover five things every small business owner should know about business tax.

1. Your Business Structure Determines Your Tax Responsibility
“Small business” is not your only category. There are numerous structures your small business may fall under, and each has its own set of tax liabilities. Sole proprietorship, partnership, s corporation, and c corporation are just a few of these structures, and they all have their own advantages and limitations. The two most common state and local tax requirements for your small business are income taxes and employment taxes. Your business structure determines your state income tax responsibility.
Colorado has specific laws regarding employment taxes and insurance, including workers’ compensation, unemployment, and temporary disability. Visit the CDOR Taxation Division to learn more about state income and employment tax obligations. In addition to these, the IRS requires that you pay self-employment tax, estimated tax, and excise tax, also depending on your business structure. With each types of business tax comes its own set of rules, eligibility, and forms to file. Your small business attorney will keep you compliant with all state and federal tax laws.

2. You Can Choose Your Tax Year
You may assume a calendar year equals a tax year; however, you have the ability to choose a fiscal tax year instead if you need your annual accounting period to end in a month other than December. Or, if you are a new business, you can choose a short tax year since you were not in existence for the entire tax year. You also have the option of changing your tax period with permission from the IRS.

3. There are More Deductions Than You Think
Your goal is to maximize your profits, which can be challenging amid rent, utilities, employee salaries, materials, and many other operational costs. As a small business owner, you may be able to deduct many more expenses than you realize. Some common business deductions include supplies, furniture, and equipment. Some lesser known deductions include startup expenses (e.g. research, training, advertising), mileage, meals, software, subscriptions, insurance premiums, child labor, phone bill, retirement contributions, and more. Just be sure to have solid documentation and record keeping.

4. You Have to Make Estimated Payments
As a small business owner, you are responsible for making quarterly estimated tax payments throughout the year. Planning for the coming year by estimating what you owe and having the funds designated for payment will ensure you are ready for tax time every time. If you fail to submit the taxes you owe, you are subject to penalties. Even after conducting the necessary research and consulting a tax expert, new small business owners are prone to unintentional tax mistakes. A small business attorney will assist you if you find yourself in tax trouble.

5. You are Required to Pay Self-Employment Tax
As a small business owner, you are responsible for your portion of self-employment tax – social security and Medicare taxes – and the half that would otherwise be paid by an employer. You can lessen the blow at tax time by making advance deductions. Furthermore, half of your self-employment tax can be claimed as an income tax deduction.

Consulting the right business professionals will ensure that your tax return is accurate and your deductions are maximized. There are many resources for small businesses offered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, including its Revenue Online website. With an account, you have access to your tax records and a variety of services, including filing or amending a return, changing your address, filing a protest, and viewing account balances and payments.

If you need business tax advice, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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10 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Tax Time

10 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Tax Time

As a small business owner, tax time can be very stressful, especially if you wait until the last minute to try to organize a year’s worth of paperwork. In order to ease the stress and avoid potential trouble with the Colorado Department of Revenue or Internal Revenue Service (IRS), start thinking about tax time as all year round. There are steps you can take throughout the year to make a big difference in your total income and tax liability when it comes time to file. A small business attorney can give you tax advice on the right business structure and paying the right taxes on time as well as provide representation in the event of an audit or penalty. This post will cover 10 keys to getting organized and keeping accurate records to eliminate the anxiety of tax season.

Getting Your Taxes Organized

  1. Appoint time each month to reconcile your receipts, bank slips, statements, invoices, etc. By dedicating just a couple of hours every month to basic bookkeeping, you will avoid dealing with 12 months’ worth of accumulation all at once. You can make a list of steps to be prepared and add important deadlines, dates, and digital reminders to your calendar.
  2. Create a simple filing system for your paperwork. Keep everything in one place, and clearly label or name your folders. Both paper and electronic bookkeeping can be organized by month and type of record.
  3. Separate business and personal finances. Not only will separate bank and credit card accounts for your business make it easier to manage your books, it will enable you to produce legitimate business documents in the event of an audit.
  4. Review your business reports and records even if you have a bookkeeper or an accountant. It is your business and liability on the line, so it is vital to know what is going on. If you are looking to hire someone to do your taxes, the IRS suggests a list of questions to ask the prospective tax preparer.
  5. Prepare for next year as soon as you have filed for the current year. Make a list of steps and possible improvements for the following tax season while the success and/or struggle of the current one is still fresh on your mind.
  6. Keeping Accurate Tax Records

  7. Understand your business structure and how it impacts your taxes. As your business grows and changes, it is important to reevaluate whether your current structure still works for you.
  8. Know how to claim your home office on your taxes. Whether you rent or own, you can claim a space that is designated for your business. It can be a partial space, rather than the whole room, and it must not be used for any other purpose. Once you have measured the space, you may be able to deduct a portion of expenses, like your mortgage interest, insurance, and utilities. The IRS has a home office deduction page with instructions.
  9. Record your mileage and car expenses if you use your car for business. There are two methods for calculating this deduction – one is based on your standard mileage rate, and the other is based on actual car expenses, like gas, repairs, and insurance. Whichever formula you choose, you will need documentation, including dates, mileage, tolls, parking fees, and the reason for your trip.
  10. Remember to save receipts from meals, travel, entertainment, and gifts. While you can deduct 50% of business-related meals, the cost of travel is 100% deductible. Most client entertainment expenses fall under the 50% deduction limit, while a direct gift to a client or employee is 100% deductible (up to $25 per person per year).
  11. Deduct office supplies even if you do not take the home office deduction. Furniture and other equipment, software/subscriptions, and telephone charges are also tax-deductible.

There are endless tips on how to streamline your business tax process as well as how to avoid a business tax audit. From starting a retirement plan, donating, and deferring income to not hiring too many independent contractors and limiting your business loss claims, the possibilities are seemingly endless. A small business attorney will help you sift through the checklists and keep prepared for each new tax season.

If you need help with your business taxes, or just need to find ways to de-stress business tax time tasks for your small business, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Future Expectations and Your Small Business Structure

Future Expectations and Your Small Business Structure

You have had your brilliant idea for you new business – whether it’s software development or a boutique bakery – and now you need to know how to make it come to life. One of the most important things you will do for your new business will happen at the very beginning and concerns your future expectations and your small business structure.

Choosing your business structure has important implications for your future taxes, who owns your company, and who is responsible for any losses. Your business structure can mean the difference between paying employment taxes on everything you make and being able to take part of your business’s income as non-employment taxable dividends. Without the correct business structure and operations, you may fail to have limited liability and be personally liable for any damages caused by your business, you, or your workers. A Colorado attorney will help you choose the best business structure for your individual needs. Here is a brief summary of the most common small business types:

Sole Proprietorships

Sole Proprietorships are the most basic business type. If you are a freelancer, you probably are already a sole proprietor. There is little paperwork to be filed or forms to fill out, as it is the default status for running a business in the U.S. While simple, this business type comes with a lot of risk as there is no delineation between you as a person and you as a business. You are the only person responsible for the profits, and also for the loses. “This risk extends to any liabilities incurred because of employee actions” (SBA.gov).

Partnerships

If you are part of dynamic duo (or trio, or beyond), and you want that to continue into your business, a Partnership may appeal to you. The IRS sets the expectations of a Partnership as “Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.” There are different types of business structures housed under the umbrella of Partnership, each with different expectations for the length of the collaboration between parties, and the amount of liability and input for each party. The Small Business Administration has a helpful list of things you should discuss with your potential business partners before filling your paperwork. However, like a sole proprietor, partners typically have personal liability so careful consideration of this business structure should be had with an attorney before entering into it.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) is a business structure that does just that – limits your liability. It is a relatively new business structure – the first one was created in 1977. LLC laws are determined at the state level, so the state you form your LLC in matters. Due to the variation between states, LLCs can get a bit complicated, but Attorney Elizabeth Lewis is experienced in business formation and will help you navigate the formation of your LLC correctly. A few types of businesses generally cannot be LLCs, such as banks and insurance companies.

C-Corporations Taxes as C-Corporations

“From a legal standpoint, a corporation is a different person than the person or people who created it, and is therefore able to own property of its own, accrue its own profits, and be responsible for its own debts and civil liabilities.” (Upwork.com)
Most large businesses are Corporations, and a lot of legislation regarding Corporations has these large businesses in mind. A corporation taxed as a c-corporation may not be a good fit for your small business, as owning one tends to place a large burden on owners. Additionally, you may be taxed twice, since your corporation is a separate entity from yourself if you are a c-corp. It is a better a company type than the previously listed ones, however, if you plan on taking your company public.

Corporations and LLCs Taxed as S-Corporations

You can only have s-corporations if you have an LLC or corporation formed under state law. Many small businesses use them since they do not cause the double taxation problem. Not all companies can become S-Corporations however. From the IRS:

“To qualify for S corporation status, the corporation must meet the following requirements:

  • Have only allowable shareholders
  • May be individuals, certain trusts, and estates and
  • May not have owners that are partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders
  • Have no more than 100 shareholders
  • Have only one class of stock
  • Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e. certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations)”

The way you structure your business will have long lasting implications for your earnings, liability, and taxes. Improperly done filings can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and create stress year after year. It is best to consult an attorney before creating your business.

If you need help evaluating your future expectations or deciding on your small business structure, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Accessing Your Colorado Tax Record with Revenue Online

Accessing Your Colorado Tax Record with Revenue Online

Colorado small businesses benefit from a variety of initiatives aimed at making it easy to fuel the entrepreneurial fire, such as the easy to use website for the Colorado Secretary of State, where you can accomplish a huge variety of business startup tasks with just a few clicks of your mouse!

Another excellent resource for individuals operating small businesses in the state of Colorado is called Revenue Online – a website managed by the taxation division of the Colorado Department of Revenue. Since this year’s first quarter tax filings are in the rear view mirror, this is a good time to think about looking ahead and making access to our Colorado tax records easier. How? Once you have filed your first tax return in the State of Colorado, you should consider signing up for an account to gain easy access to your tax records and a broad variety of services.

Things You Can Do with a Colorado Revenue Online Account

This is just a partial list; visit the Revenue Online site to see all of the tasks and information you can access with an account:

For Individuals
Taxpayers who create a Login ID will have access to their Colorado tax accounts. Taxpayers will have the ability to view their return history, view previous correspondence sent by the Department, and make electronic payments. You can also:

  • Amend a Return
  • Change Your Address
  • File a Protest
  • View Account Balances
  • View Your Payments
  • View Your Letters
  • View and Print Your Returns

For Businesses
Businesses that create a Login ID will be able to file and pay a variety of taxes including Sales Tax, Withholding Tax and Corporate Income Tax. Plus

  • File or Amend a Return
  • Change Your Address
  • File a Protest
  • View Account Balances
  • View Your Payments
  • View Your Letters

Signing Up for a Colorado Revenue Online Account

For the most part, gaining access to your tax account via Revenue Online is a simple process, however, you need to be aware of an exception with regard to individual income tax accounts. For security reasons, you cannot obtain access to individual income tax accounts until you first acquire what is called a Letter ID number. The Letter ID number is exactly what it sounds like – an ID number associated with a letter from the Colorado Department of Revenue. If you have a recent letter from the Department, you can simply use the Letter ID number located in the upper right corner the letter – it doesn’t matter what the topic of the letter is.

If you do not have a recent letter, you may request a Letter ID number on the Revenue Online website under “Additional Services” and “Request a Letter ID” (see image below).

Revenue Online Services screenshot

A letter containing the “Letter ID” number will be sent by postal mail to the address on record with the Department (so make sure yours is current before you submit the request!).

It might take up to 10 business days to receive the “Letter ID” letter, but once you have it, you will be able to create a Revenue Online account for your individual income tax account, which is important if you are a single member Limited Liability Company because as such you will have filed your business taxes as part of your personal return.

When you are ready to go, visit Revenue Online in your computer Web browser at www.Colorado.gov/RevenueOnline. To sign up for you account, you will need:

  • Taxpayer or Business Name
  • Tax ID Number, such as Social Security Number or ITIN from the IRS; Federal Employer ID Number (FEIN) or a Colorado Account Number (CAN) assigned by the Department
  • Address associated with your tax account

Once you have completed the registration process, you will receive an email that tells you whether you were able to get access to the account. Make sure to check your Junk email folder if you do not see the email in your Inbox – the email Subject line will say: Colorado Department of Revenue – Revenue Online Account Access Complete and will contain an Authorization Code that you will use the first time you log in, after which you will create your own password for the account.

If you need help with your business taxes or business tax planning, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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