April 2011  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 8 Issue 4  www.offassist.com

It's already the start of the 2nd Qtr?!

Didn't we just celebrate January 1st? I am amazed that we are already entering into the second quarter of 2011. Of course, being bookkeepers, the first few months of any given year go by quickly for us here at OffAssist. With all the many things that need to be done for each of our clients, we're super busy til mid-April. Don't get me wrong, this is a good problem to have, but it really makes me look forward to May, when things are quieter and most of my staff heads to an annual industry conference. After all those tax forms we deserve some relaxation and fun plus the chance to meet new people and learn new things.

If you're not a bookkeeper, this month, take some time out to regroup. Nearly everyone is super busy in the early part of the year -- taxes, new budgets, new plans to implement. It will probably be later in the month (after April 18th!), but I'll be taking some time out, too, to assess what we've done over the past few months and what we need to do moving forward to make the rest of this year rock!

Happy Tax Season is almost over! Time to get out and enjoy the Spring!

In this issue...


Helpful Tax Hints for Self-Employed Individuals
By Ron Finkelstein


Thanks to the new technology and the ease that the Internet and teleconferencing brings, this has brought about more and more people from all walks of life like coaches, contractors, professional consultants, and freelance workers to become self employed. As of late, being self employed does not mean a way of generating additional income to add to the current job, but as a primary income generator. Of these, there are many a full-time workers who are now making extraordinary incomes while setting their own hours of work. Nevertheless, self-employed people have very definite tax concerns. Peruse these 10 helpful tax tips to minimize the tax impact on your income.

1. It is important to have detailed record-keeping. This is a critical tax tip as without the resources of a large company to do this for you, it remains your personal responsibility to maintain the detailed records and receipts in the event that you have to document your tax deduction.

2. Deduct your professional space: If you use a separate office space or designate a portion of a spare room in your home or your basement, you are allowed to deduct the percentage of the part of your home you use exclusively for professional purposes. Claim a tax deduction for this percentage from your rent or mortgage payments, utilities, etc. If you keep a cell phone or land line exclusively for business purposes, deduct the amount from any bills.

3. Be sure not to overlook business expenses: Maintain thorough records and keep all receipts for professional travel and other business expenses, which may include supplies for the office, postal and shipping fees, dues for professional memberships, magazine or newspaper subscriptions, and other business items, including software for your computer or technical upgrades.

4. Subtract day care costs: The IRS allows deductions for all types of childcare that may be provided during your business hours. These kinds of tax tips are often overlooked but they can save you a lot of money, so be sure to take advantage of the allowed deductions.

5. Create a retirement plan: Consider creating a self-employed retirement plan (that is, a SEP IRA) for tax purposes, as well as for the sake of building money to fund your retirement. You can start with as little as $100, but should you have $2,000 or more, consider a Keogh plan option, which will allow you to keep more money for your retirement in savings that are tax-deferred.

6. Hire members of your family: If this is done legitimately, you may subtract medical expenses for the whole family.

7. Defer income, if you need to: You are your own boss, so if you find yourself in an elevated tax bracket, billing can be slightly altered in order to defer income.

8. Get your FICA refunded: The self-employed in effect are making both the employers and employee's contribution to the FICA taxes every time they write their own payroll check. The tax code recognizes this so you are permitted to deduct 50% of the payments on the 1040 form.

9. If it is helpful, increase expenses. If you wish to augment some of your tax deductions before 31st December, you may make more business purchases at the end of the year. It will help you to defer your income if you have a high income that may push you to the next year tax bracket.

10. Try to find the right help: While taking help on tax matters go for someone who is an expert on self-employment issues since your requirements may be different from a company's needs.

Ron Finkelstein is NOT a Tax Attorney or an accountant. He is merely a small business owner who has paid a lot of money over the years to learn these Self Employment Tax Tips. Check out these other 5 Small Business Tax Deductions You Don't Want To Miss and more Consulting Resources

Article Source: Free Reprint Articles

QuickBooks Tip

Checking on Income from Previous Year

Q: Is there an easy way to see how much my clients paid me last year?

A: There are a few different ways to look up your income from a particular client. The easiest is to pull a Sales by Customer Report. To view this go to Reports: Sales: Sales by Customer Summary. You will need to change the dates of the report and you’ll also want to change the report basis to “Cash” (go to Modify Report, display tab). This report will give you a simple list of what your customers paid you during the report period. If you keep the report basis as accrual, it will show you what you billed your clients during the report period, not necessarily what they paid you.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!

Humor

An accountant was visiting the Museum of Natural History. Wanting to appear smart, he leaned toward the the person standing next to him and said, "That dinosaur is two billion years and ten months old."

Surprised, the man asked, "How did you get such exact information?"

"I was here ten months ago and the guide said the dinosaur was two billion years old."

 
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Tax Deadlines

April 18

- Last Day to set up and fund IRAs and Roth IRAs for previous year
- Individual Personal Returns due
- Personal Returns due - Nonresident, US income, etc.
- Personal Returns due - Easy Form Return
- Personal Returns due - Not Itemizing Return Form
- Personal Return - Extensions due
- US Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return
- US Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return Extension Due
- Partnership Returns due
- Issue K-1's with Partnership Returns
- Electing Large Partnership Returns due
- Estate & Trusts Returns are due; Bankruptcy fillings use the same form
- Partnership, Estate & Trusts Returns - Extensions due
- Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 1st Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
- Corporations - 1st Quarter Estimate Tax payment Due
- Estates & Trusts 1st Estimated Tax Payment
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

May 2

- Deposit FUTA tax if more than $500 was paid through March 31st
- 1st Quarter Payroll Tax Returns Due
- 1st Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher - Form 720

May 16

- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

Tech Talk With Tom...

Renaming Your Drives

I recently got a wireless printer. “Cool!” I thought. Easy to install and away we go! Then I was told by a network admin that it was neither cool or easy.

“It will bring down our entire wireless network!”

Umm, okay That got me a bit scared. Apparently there is quite a bit of nonsense circulating that wireless printers are Doomsday Devices, created by the powers that be to wreak havoc on unsuspecting network admins.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The quick and easy installation of my wireless network printer went flawlessly. The same can be said for nearly all of the articles I found online. Follow these steps, along with any installation instructions that came with your particular printer, and your install will go flawlessly, too.

  1. If you want to use a wireless printer, you need a wireless network. I thought this went without saying, but a large percentage of the issues come from this very step. If you don’t have a wireless network, most (but not all) wireless printers also have an Ethernet port--verify before you buy.
  2. Make sure your wireless router is on and working, then turn on the printer.
  3. Connect to your router. Follow the instructions either on the printer's screen or in your manual to connect to your router. You will need to input the security key for your network. You DO have a security key protecting your network, right?
  4. Turn on your computer(s) and add the new device through the “add printer” dialog. This is where you install drivers. You will be prompted if you need them.
  5. The printer should now be available in the Printer dialog and you can print to your heart's content.

I have yet to have my wireless network mysteriously lose connection. I have not found any weird security hole that lets the printer attack my network. Oh, and the sun still rises every morning. Sounds like it is running pretty smoothly to me.

There you have it--five quick and easy steps to get your wireless printer up and running! If you need a network printer, don’t let the WiFi® symbol scare you away. For me, It's really nice to have an extra printer that doesn’t require me to sacrifice any of my valuable desk space.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.

Spotlight On...

Spotlight: AdminiSmith

Janica Smith spent years providing executive level support in a corporate environment before deciding to strike out on her own in 2007. AdminiSmith is a full-service VA firm that specializes in author and speaker support and covers services from initial research to marketing to travel arranging.

Janica built AdminiSmith into one of the foremost VA and author support businesses in the U.S. In addition to supporting authors and speakers, she is a requested public speaker herself, discussing the business side of publishing at publishing and VA conferences around the country.

Janica is passionate about what she does and about helping others fulfill their dreams. She's also one of the smartest and funniest people we know. If you want to learn more about Janica and what they do at AdminiSmith, check out their website at www.adminismith.com.

Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Patty@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Fine print: We do reserve the right not to feature anyone and a request is not a guarantee that you will make it into the newsletter. Also, if your news, announcement, etc. is time sensitive or tied to a specific date, please let Patty know in your email.


Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of Time Is Of The Es-Cents.