It's tax-time already? Funny thing about the government: It expects you to pay up annually (quarterly for some taxes), year after year after year. So while your 2012 books may be closed, there’s still plenty left to do to satisfy Uncle Sam.
We’ve collected a range of small business resources designed to make tackling the tax chore easier for this filing season. And since this is guaranteed to come around again next year, we asked industry experts to offer their advice on how to make next time less, well, taxing.
Oh, and one first tip on us: The filing deadline for "S" and "C" Corporations is March 15, so if you haven’t already, file Form 7004 for a six-month extension.
Small Business Tax Resources
The government doesn’t make many things easy, but when it comes to taking your money it can be most accommodating. Thus, it’s no accident that one of the best tax resources is the gaping maw itself: the IRS. The surprisingly inviting home page offers quick links to sections on credits and deductions, topics of interest and much more.
Figure 1: The IRS website is one of the best small business tax resources going.
Small business owners will want to jump directly to the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center area of the site. This portal serves taxpayers who file Form 1040, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106, as well as small businesses with assets of less than $10 million. Here you’ll find links to the forms and publications such businesses need, a video portal with webinars and audio presentations tailored to small business owners, a section on employment taxes and an A-to-Z index for jumping directly to a specific topic.
You’ll also want to check out the range of online tools and educational products offered, including a handy Tax Calendar desktop tool that alerts you as various deadlines approach.
Tax Time? Think Intuit
Thanks to its TurboTax line of products, Intuit has become inexorably linked with tax time. The company offers a range of tax calculators, tips and guides on its site, including a section devoted to small business taxes. It’s an excellent place to brush up on what you know -- and to learn what you don’t (like, what is IRS Form 720 and can you deduct your cell phone bill as a business expense).
The site also offers instructional videos on topics such as payroll taxes, when to issue a 1099-MISC tax form to a vendor, and IRS rules for reasonable business expenses (based on the presumption that the IRS is reasonable, but we digress). Also check out the summary of business tax law changes for 2010 through 2017, which offers a snapshot of major changes coming down the pike.
If you would rather skip the free do-it-yourself advice and jump right to paying a CPA to do your business taxes for you, check out Intuit’s TurboTax CPA Select service. This online service matches small business owners with CPAs ready, willing, and able to tackle the tax-filing burden.
You can see their credentials and read user reviews to select the CPU you’re most comfortable with. And don’t worry about bundling up your paper receipts and documents and shipping them off; you can share them with your chosen accountant by uploading them, faxing them or even snapping a picture of them with your smartphone camera.
Interact with the CPA on the phone or via email and, when all is said and done, the tax pro will e-file your taxes. Intuit guarantees your satisfaction, and claims that the fee (starting at $349.95 for typical small business filing) will be lower than the national average charged by independent CPAs for the same service.
Small Business Taxes & Management
Also on the resource front, the Small Business Taxes & Management site is a clearinghouse for all things tax related. Updated every business day, the site offers daily news and tips and a range of special reports.
We especially like the S Corporation tax prep checklist for 2012, a (very) exhaustive list of items -- most of which also apply to LLCs and in some cases sole proprietorships -- that might apply to your tax situation and you should have at the ready when preparing your taxes or working with your accountant. Also handy: the Federal and State tax calendars, which show important due dates.