Intuit Study Shows Impact Of The Cloud On Small Businesses

Anyone interested in IRS publication 17 and small businesses will be interested in the Intuit study that demonstrates how the cloud will change small businesses. Many more businesses are moving to cloud computing in some way, for efficiency and success in the long term. Cloud technology offers numerous opportunities for small and large businesses alike.

Specialized services present one opportunity for small businesses, particularly in their seamless integration into back-office functions. Cloud services represent an efficient, tailored solution for small businesses, allowing them to concentrate their efforts on their specialties. They need not spend time and resources on tasks that are not critical to their area of expertise. Personnel who understand the scope of IRS publication 17 are not otherwise required to understand all sections or be completely versed in the finer details of taxes and finance.

English: Cloud Computing Image
English: Cloud Computing Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Virtual office configurations, sometimes called hives, offer further opportunities for small businesses. Smaller organizations can recruit talent from anywhere, and these employees can collaborate effectively using cloud technology. Highly flexible staffing creates broad opportunities for small companies.

The opportunities inherent in cloud technology allow smaller outfits to compete in a real way with much larger organizations. When small businesses need not be concerned with staffing an entire accounting department, for example, they are free to focus on what they do best. This allows them to put their best foot forward in areas in which it counts when competing for business.

In a similar way, freelancers may come together using cloud technology to accomplish things as a collective, each bringing their specific skills and ideals to the group. Cloud infrastructure and its myriad possibilities and services allow entrepreneurs to put away IRS publication 17 and focus on their business interests. Payroll services delivered via the cloud, for instance, can take an unnecessary burden from professionals, allowing them to concentrate on their industry goals.

Tax Amnesty Gives Kettering Ohio Six Figures

Thanks to a new tax amnesty program, Kettering Ohio has brought in more than $163,000 in the first five weeks since the program was kicked off. This program has allowed eighty-nine people to pay their income taxes and interest without having to pay tax penalties that would normally apply. This program will continue running until December 14.

By using this program, the tax payers did not have to pay $53,000 in penalties. These penalties have been waived by the city. This program was started before a mandatory tax filing of 2012 returns, which must be filed by April 15, 2013.

High Street in Kettering in Northamptonshire, UK.
High Street in Kettering in Northamptonshire, UK. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although many residents will not owe any money, anyone 18 or older must file their taxes this coming tax season.

Officials think that a lot of people will still come in and take advantage of this program. Even those people that owe money from as far back as six years ago will be eligible along with businesses that need to pay their taxes. This program also works with businesses that are not withholding employees’ taxes.

The finance director of Kettering, Nancy Gregory, stated that everyone was happy with the way this program was working out. The majority of the people that have worked with this program have been very grateful for the opportunity to avoid the tax penalties.

Kettering is working hard to help people make these tax payments and be completely up-to-date when mandatory filing begins.

Gregory explained that while many people know what they were supposed to be paying taxes, there were still many people that did not understand all the regulations. A few people did not owe money before 2007 when Kettering increased the tax rate for income taxes from two to 2.25 percent. These people just need to pay the difference.

In different instances, people would come to pay their tax obligations and they found out that they did not owe anything after they completed their returns.

Gregory said that as of right now no businesses have come forward, but that there were some that should. After this program is over, everyone in violation will need to pay penalties. Gregory warned that there would be a huge push for enforcement after the 2012 deadline.

There have been two new auditors hired for the tax division as there could be a doubling of accounts when the mandatory filing begins in 2013. Gregory thinks that it will not mean double the money coming in, but there will be many more documents coming in.

Although no one really loves paying taxes, Kettering tries to make the process of filing taxes better. Many people are glad to do it and do not feel bad about that. Gregory wants people to bring in their documents and the city will complete individuals returns for free. What could be better?

5 Investment Strategies For Beginners

An investment strategy can be defined as a stratagem or approach that will help an investor select an investment opportunity (read stock) that has a good return on investment, or one that has proven to be a good investment opportunity. While most of the investment strategies for beginners will focus on tried and tested methods that have worked for others, by the end of the day, it always boils down to what the beginner investor can be able to work with to diversify their investment portfolio.

It is therefore correct to say that the many different investment strategies would cater to different investment needs. Some of the most notable investment strategies for beginners include:-

Define your Short term and long term Investment Goals

You cannot just wake up one day and decide that you want to start and grow an investment portfolio. You will need to sit down and do a critical investment goal analysis. This will help you determine the most ideal investment vehicle to board before you get started. With clearly defined short-term and long-term investment goals, you can then proceed to the next critical step and strategy for a beginner investor.

Choose an Investment Vehicle

Again, this is where you will need to sit down, armed with a list of your investment goals, and find an investment vehicle that will help you meet both your short-term and long-term investment goals. The best way to go about this point is to first decide on the type of investment that you want to do. You can decide to open a brokerage account, stocks and bonds, a college savings fund, 401Ks plans, IRAs, all these are investment vehicles that can help you achieve your investment goals. It is advisable that you only invest in something that you clearly know and understand. Thanks to the internet, you can be able to research and get useful information on a particular investment vehicle before you commit yourself.

Create your investment budget

Just like when doing your basic shopping at home, the only way you can get the most out of your investment is to create and set a budget for investment. How much money are you willing to invest in the stock market? This can help you determine the amount of money that you can afford to lose should the investment vehicle you choose fail you, as it sometimes will. Remember that an investment of any form is a risky venture, so you need to take your time to determine the amount of money that you can afford to lose without throwing you off balance.

Open a Separate Investment Account

After you have everything set and ready, it is time to open a separate investment account so as to keep good track of your investment portfolio. Besides, some investment vehicles, such as a 401K plan, or an IRA plan, is mandatory to have an account. Opening such an account is often a simple process that involves providing your personal information, signing an application form and transferring your allotted budget.

Learn about Investments

In order to diversity your investment portfolio and become a force to reckon with, you will need to take your time to learn as much information as you possibly can in regards to investments, especially on the investment vehicle that you have chosen.

This article has been written by Denis who is a contributor for where you can get some useful resources on ppi claims companies.

Learn to do Your Own Accounting From Day One

The thought of doing your own bookkeeping is pretty daunting right? That’s the general consensus. Having your own business involves enough work as it is. Why not just leave the accounting bit to the professionals. Fair enough. If you never want to deal with tax offices and worry about learning financials so be it. But you would be surprised how easy it can be.

These days there are superb accounting package and courses. You can sort out your tax online. Even the small things like recording invoice amounts into an excel sheet can save you precious time and money with your accountant.

The first thing you should do is set up a system where everything is filed in the right place every month. All money coming in and out should be recorded on computer, like in an excel sheet. Make sure all your files have dividers for each month. Then get your office organised with the following:

Cash Books

Keep bank statements in a file and print electronic bank statements and file them (these help to cross reference what you have recorded). At the end of the month input this onto your computer in the excel table, or similar.

Invoices

You will need 2 separate files for these. One for your company sales invoices and one for invoices which have been made out to your company. Separate each file into paid and unpaid. As the amount gets paid, mark the invoice paid with the date it was paid and move it into the paid section of your file. Again, at the end of the month input this onto your computer sheet.

Expenses

Make sure your staff and you keep all expense slips. From petrol to stationary anything spent on the company from your own pocket needs to be claimed back at the end of the month. Your driver must have a log book where mileage is recorded with the date and client visited. All petrol slips must be handed in with this log book at the end of the month.

If an employee needs cash in advance for expenses then a petty cash box must be topped up at the beginning of every month. Every time money is taken out the box, a note must be made and put in the box. The employee should sign this and they should also bring the invoice afterwards.

Again this must be recorded each month on a computer spread sheet.

Following these guidelines will prepare you for the end of the financial year calculations.

Donna Van Wyk writes on behalf of Oxbridge Academy, a provider of long distance accounting courses, among other study programs.

Travel v Entertainment Expenses for the Small Business Owner

Tax time is a very stressful time for a great majority of people. Small business owners can be especially nervous. “What form do I use? Is this the right attachment? What is a business expense, and what isn’t? What type of expense is this one? Can I prove if necessary? Is this fully deductible as a legitimate business expense, or can I claim only a portion of it?” Boil all those common questions down to the core issue that will prove or disprove legitimacy and type, and the battle is almost won. The most common mistakes small business owners make, though, is correct categorization of travel and entertainment expenses and how to properly document those receipts.

Entertainment v Travel Food Expenses

This is one of the most commonly misdirected-expense categories for businesses. The difference in deduction categories centers around purpose, timing and environment.

If you attend a seminar that causes you to travel away from your home city, for example, your transportation mode is a travel expense. If you drive a vehicle, that means your car rental and insurance costs are business travel expenses. Your fuel is also a deduction, but it may not at 100 percent; check with the IRS for current deduction percentages. Include mileage in your annotations.

Your hotel room rental amounts are travel expenses, but your food and drink bills may not be, and this is where people make costly mistakes.

If you pick up the tab for lunch during that seminar, and the intent and agenda during that meal was to discuss business, that’s a business lunch deductible under travel expenses. However, if you are “schmoozing” clients or colleagues, that is not a travel expense but an entertainment expense even if it’s during the same time frame or location as the seminar. Categorize it as such.

Receipt Documentation

No longer is the IRS accepting just names, location and dates as proof of business deductions on taxes. You must also note a brief outline of what was discussed. No confidential or proprietary information has be recorded permanently on that receipt, but you must outline the gist of the content.

For example, as you drive from Denver, Colorado, to Lincoln, Nebraska, you stop for lunch in a diner. On that meal receipt, you ensure the date and the restaurant name is on the receipt. If the name of the server is noted, all the better. On the back, you note, “Meal during drive to…” and note the organization and reason you’re headed there. That is a travel expense.

If you travel with a client or colleague when you stop, and if you discussed the conference you will attending, that’s a travel expense. If you talk about families, hobbies or non-business topics, that bill is an entertainment cost.

Home v Away

Many small business owners do not know that you don’t have to be traveling away from your home city to incur travel-related or entertainment-related, tax-deductible expenses. You just won’t have a plane ticket to declare.

Mileage you drive a private vehicle can accumulate quickly. So can the amount of fuel that you use and its accompanying cost. Keeping accurate mileage and fuel consumption records can be tedious, boring and dreaded. It’s entirely necessary, however.

Whether you keep at-moment records or you use the voice memo option in your mobile phone to note starting-trip mileage, stop mileage, the cost of fuel at the time and your purpose in traveling – a very, very crucial element, your written records and your receipts for any money spent during that trip from start to finish, are exceptionally crucial. “Guestimates” are not acceptable to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has increased its investigation into deduction verification, and if you cannot present acceptable documentation, toss your deduction into the “due with interest and penalty” pile.

Summary

Be thorough. Be complete. Be conscientious, and be accurate. If you are, you can be assured that your tax filing will be less intimidating and fraught-filled than it used to be. Remember: It is far better to have a documented receipt that you don’t need than it is to discover too late that you really should have kept better expense records.

by Jaye Ryan, who loves writing about responsible financial management and taxes for Octopus Loans.