January 2012  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 9 Issue 1  www.offassist.com

Into the Fray

I'm writing this a couple of days before Christmas and I am looking forward to the holiday and taking a little time off to spend with friends and family. Since it's almost the end of the year, I'm also already dreading the exhaustion and hair-pulling that is January in a bookkeeping office. I'm savoring these last days of calm because I know that my busiest time of year is just around the corner. See that photo I'm using this month? That's how my entire family feels about the seemingly endless stream of paperwork that January brings -- 1099s and W2s and 940s and 941s -- oh my!

But I'm not all doom and gloom. Right now, in my little window of calm, is when I get to review the past year and think about where I am, both professionally and personally. This is also the time when I start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year. 2011 has been an amazing year for me in so many ways and I know that 2012 is going to be even better.

Happy New Year from the OffAssist team; here's hoping 2012 is the best year yet for all of us!

In this issue...

Seven Business Mentoring Tips - How to Survive Paying Taxes
By Linda A. Hunt

"Death and Taxes." Ben Franklin gave timeless small business advice when he proclaimed that they are the only two things in life that are certain. But you don't have to let your tax responsibilities drive you and your business to an early grave.

As a business coach, the one problem I see many entrepreneurs running into is failing to budget enough money to set aside for their taxes. Then when it comes time to file their taxes, they don't have the cash. Unfortunately, not filing taxes is NOT the solution to the problem!

The following business mentoring tips are among some of the best pieces of bookkeeping business advice that I have shared with busy entrepreneurs over the years. If you come up short on cash at tax time, here are some things you can do:

Business Mentoring Tip #1: Gather your records and file all your tax forms immediately, even if you can't pay a cent.

Business Mentoring Tip #2: Write a letter and attach it to your forms explaining your financial situation. The IRS will work with you to find a payment option with which you can live. One of those options could be setting up a plan so that taxes can be paid in installments.

Business Mentoring Tip #3: Have a solid business plan that makes accommodations for both federal and state taxes, and stick to it. The last thing a new business needs is to lose its profits by paying penalties to the IRS.

Business Mentoring Tip #4: Open a second bank account like a tax savings account, to be used exclusively for saving money for paying taxes. As a business coach, I've seen many clients successfully use this strategy.

Business Mentoring Tip #5: Each time your write yourself a check or make a cash withdrawal from the ATM, take 20% of that money and deposit it into your tax savings account. For example, for every $100, set $20 aside for taxes. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly your tax savings will add up!

Business Mentoring Tip #6: Each quarter, January 15th, April 15th, June 15th and September 15th make estimated tax payments to the Federal and State governments.

Business Mentoring Tip #7: Each October meet with your tax preparer for preliminary tax planning. You can evaluate where you are for the year and leave yourself ample time to reduce your tax liability or make additional payments.

By using this proven bookkeeping business advice and implementing these seven tips into your business's bookkeeping practices, you will be able to survive paying your taxes.

About The Author: Linda Hunt is the co-founder of The Bookkeeper's Referral Network Inc., the place where business meets great bookkeepers. To get your copy of a free special report, The 9 Disastrous Mistakes Most Freelance Bookkeepers Make in Business (and How You Can Avoid Them!), visit www.bkpr-network.com

Source: Free Articles from EzineArticles

QuickBooks Tip

Merging Information

Q: Is it possible to resort my check register so I can see which checks have been written but have not cleared the bank?

A: There are many view/sort options within your check register.  To change your view you’ll need to open your check register first.  At the bottom is a box “Sort by” with a pull-down menu.  The options are:  Date, Type, Number…, Amount (largest first), Amount (smallest first), Number/Ref, Order Entered, Date and Order Entered, Cleared Status.  QuickBooks defaults to the Date, Type, Number… sort when you first create an account.  You can sort by any of these options.  To see the uncleared checks at the bottom of your register choose “Cleared Status”.  You can re-sort at any time and as often as you like.

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


We Deliver

The owner of a small deli was being questioned by an IRS agent about his tax return. He had reported a net profit of $80,000 for the year.

"Why don't you people leave me alone?" the deli owner said. "I work like a dog, everyone in my family helps out, the place is only closed three days a year. And you want to know how I made $80,000?"

"It's not your income that bothers us," the agent said. "It's these deductions. You listed six trips to Bermuda for you and your wife."

"Oh, that," the owner said smiling. "I forgot to tell you - we also deliver."

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Tax Deadlines

January 17
- Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 4th Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
- Estates & Trusts 4th Estimated Tax Payment
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

January 31
- File Form 2290 - Heavy Highway Vehicles
- Furnish W-2s recipients
- Furnish 1099 MISC to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Interest to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Dividends to recipients
- 4th Quarter Payroll Reports
- File Employers Annual Payroll Reports
- File Annual Payroll for Agricultural employees
- 4th Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher

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

February 29
- File W-3, W-2's with Social Security Admin
- File US transmittal of US information Returns
- Mortgage Interest file Form 1098s with IRS

Bulletin --

In case you missed it, on December 9, 2011 the IRS announced that the new mileage rates implemented in July 2011 will, for the most part, stay the same for 2012.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

For more details, see the IRS announcement here.

Tech Talk With Tom...

One E-mail to Rule Them All

In The Lord of the Rings there were 19 Rings of Power. Three for the elves, seven for the dwarves, 9 for men. Oh, whoops! Sauron forgot to mention number 20, the “One Ring;" as in “one ring to rule them all”.

Just like all those rings of power, in the past, I’ve had tons of different e-mail addresses. I’d use one for work, a couple for play, some more just to receive junk mail. Nowadays, however, I am able to get by with just one. Gmail has provided me with “One E-mail to Rule Them All” with some nifty tricks to use one e-mail, yet easily be able to differentiate how it is used.

The All Powerful “.”

Let’s say my e-mail address was tomwriter@gmail.com. People could e-mail me there all day, no big deal. But what if I wanted one e-mail for computer writing and another for fiction writing?

By inserting a “.”, I can create a “new” e-mail address that still belongs to me. For example tom.writer@gmail.com can be the e-mail for my tech writing, and tomwriter@gmail.com can now be just for my fiction endeavours.

The Flexible “+”

Additionally you can use the “+” sign to insert descriptive text. Tomwriter+junkmail@gmail.com is an e-mail I could use when signing up for a website I think is going to send me spam. Tomwriter+school@gmail.com is what I might type into a website that offers online courses.

By using “.” And “+” you can easily sort and track incoming e-mails by their destination. If you created aliases for each website, you could even track which sites are selling your information based on incoming spam destinations.

I personally use it when I sign up my kids for online services. Some services will only allow one account per e-mail address. By using the aliases supplied by Gmail, I no longer have to worry about keeping track of separate e-mail accounts for my kids.

So there you have it. One e-mail to rule them all. Thanks to Gmail, you don’t have to trudge all the way across Middle Earth to bring all your e-mail addresses together.

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

Spotlight On...

Spotlight: Trucking Office

Allen Campbell started his career in trucking over fifteen years ago. Like many drivers, Allen went from driving someone else's truck to driving his own truck for someone else to becoming a fully independent operator and eventually building a fleet of his own.  That's when it started to get complicated.  As his business grew, the paperwork began to get overwhelming and Allen was spending more time trying to find data than running his business and cash flow suffered as a result.

The final straw came in 2006 when Allen was hospitalized and had to call his dad for help running the business.

Allen's dad is a programmer who quickly saw the problem -- too much data in too many places and too much of it was only in Allen's head.  Together, Allen and his dad put together Trucking Office -- a custom software package to help organize all their information and make it readily accessible if Allen wasn't on-hand. The software grew as Allen's business and his needs grew.

When Allen was audited for his Trucking Authority, the auditor mentioned how pleasant it was that all the information was in one easily accessed place and well-organized. He even said he wished more trucking offices were that put together.  That offhand comment made Allen realize that other small trucking companies might be able to use the software they'd built, and TruckingOffice.com was born.

TruckingOffice.com is a pay-as-you go SaaS that helps small to mid-size trucking offices keep track of everything from dispatches to vehicle maintenance to invoicing and office supply expenses.  Want to know more?  Visit them on the web at TruckingOffice.com.  For the social media inclined, you can find them on Twitter at @TruckingOffice or visit their facebook page.

Special Offer:  TruckingOffice.com offers a free, no credit card required, one month trial here.

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.