If the phrases ‘tax deadline’ and ‘tax season’ send shudders down your spine, you’re definitely not alone. The comic-strip stereotype of the worn out business person sat at their desk, peering over a mountain of dusty paperwork becomes a painful reality for most of us when the deadline approaches. However, there are a few simple changes that you can implement when doing your taxes to make the whole operation run that bit smoother.
Are you completely hopeless when it comes to organising your finances and getting your business accounts in order? Do you let out an audible groan every time you pass the pile of paperwork and receipts that are strewn across your desk, mocking you as the tax season looms? You aren’t the only one, we promise – you’re in the same boat as a majority of business owners.
In fact, you would probably need a ten-tier cruise liner to house the army of entrepreneurs who feel like they’re up the creek without a paddle when it’s comes to the dreaded tax deadline period. But it honestly doesn’t have to be such an arduous ordeal. Follow our top five list of expert tips to make doing your taxes a far less complex and stressful task.
- Learn from your mistakes – You can read tips and tricks shared by others until you’re blue in the face but you can bet your bottom dollar they’ve obtained these pearls of wisdom by tripping over a whole host of hurdles along the way. The best way to improve your process is to identify, acknowledge and rectify your own errors. Establish where you went wrong and put new techniques in place to avoid the same mistakes next time, then rinse and repeat every new season.
- Get ahead of yourself – One of the main factors that you should evaluate is your time management, as this is a vital skill to develop when working with strict deadlines. The earlier you start your taxes, the more stress-free the whole process will be so starting sooner is a great way to streamline your workload. Even just giving yourself a week’s worth of extra time can go a long way towards allowing you that little extra wiggle room that you’ll thank yourself for further down the line.
As well as starting a bit earlier, you can also enhance your time management process by establishing a thorough schedule and most importantly, sticking to it. Doing some preliminary legwork and putting a schedule in place before the tax season starts means you can work towards a plan of action and ensure you’re not forgetting anything in the inevitable deadline melee. Commit your POA to paper so you have a concise checklist to refer to before submitting your tax return.
As we all know, time waits for no man and this rings particularly true when it comes to taxes but filing as you go along is another great way to ensure time is on your side. A good mantra to stick by in life is, if it takes less than ten minutes do it straight away. This negates the consequences of laziness and procrastination and helps you make sure nothing is forgotten. For example, receipt-less expenses and non-invoiced incomes are amongst those items that can easily slip under the radar if you don’t account for the straight away, but are vital pieces of information that the tax man will require.
- Invest in purpose-built storage – Whether you’re doing your filing by hand or electronically, we suggest investing in some purpose-built storage boxes to keep everything in one place. However, filing accounts and records by hand can be an extremely time-consuming and risky way of doing things.
Little scraps of paper and months’ worth of paperwork can be extremely hard to control but getting to grips with an online software can ensure your taxes are both accurate and efficient. Our cloud-based bookkeeping service (Pandle) will give you full visibility across your accounts and ensure your records are stored securely on a central server, which can be accessed from anywhere that provides an internet connection.
- Pay attention to detail – It’s often the smallest things that have the biggest impact and paying attention to the fine details when doing your taxes can help simplify what could otherwise become a highly complex and stressful process.
For example, when collecting receipts, filing invoices and documenting expenses, take the time to highlight the date on each record so they are easier to organise at a later date. Small receipts are easily lost or damaged so photocopying them is also advisable. This way you can file a uniform collection of A4 documents that are less likely to fade or be misplaced and will be easily accessible when you come to need them.
In the same way you would with any important document, double and triple check all spelling, grammar, names, numbers and figures to ensure you aren’t making any unnecessary mistakes. Don’t forget to sign your tax return either because minor mistakes like this can drastically slow down the entire process but are so easily avoided to begin with.
- Recruit an accountant – Last but by no means least, we also advise working with a good quality accountant who can help you make sure your accounts are tax efficient throughout the year. Recruiting the help of a qualified professional will also guarantee that your records and accounts are compliant with updated policies and regulations.
You may think we’re a bit biased but The Accountancy Partnership does offer a first class, online service for competitively low monthly fees. Read more about it here!