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Keep Your Books Tidy With These Year-End Accounting and Tax Tips

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‘Tis the season to start thinking about that season. There’s a lot to do to prep your business for the holidays — things like solidifying your marketing strategy, ordering end-of-year inventory, and staffing up for your busiest days. But perhaps the most important of these year-end tasks is buttoning up your accounting and taxes to close out 2015 neatly. If this sounds overwhelming, fear not. We have the experts at Intuit QuickBooks on tap to walk you through ten top tips to get your accounting and taxes in order for the end of the year. To make accounting even more of a breeze, connect your Square account to Intuit QuickBooks Online in Square App Marketplace.

It’s almost Halloween, and 2015 will be over before you know it. Here’s a checklist of the top ten things you can do right now to streamline your accounting and tax deductions for 2015.

Reduce time spent entering data.

QuickBooks Online users can connect the Sync with Square app to their QuickBooks account. Square transaction data will automatically import into QuickBooks on a daily basis. This app can save hours of data entry time, especially during the busiest season of the year.

Clean up your books.

Make sure all your year-to-date expenses and revenues are entered before the holiday onslaught. Additionally, be sure your bank accounts are reconciled. This ensures you have caught all revenue and expense items that flowed through the bank, including any bank fees and service charges. Once updated, you can run accurate profit and loss reports letting you know exactly where you are in the holiday season, reducing on-the-fly guesswork.

Make sure inventory information is accurate.

Updated inventory will ensure that customers don’t buy sold-out items. It will also let you know if you need to run a sale on specific items before the end of the year to clear inventory or meet year-end revenue goals.

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Bring it all together.

Meet with your tax professional.

Now’s the time to estimate your 2015 income tax liability and review options for minimizing your 2015 taxes. Once your books are up to date, your tax professional can help you estimate what you’ll owe, so you can put it aside. You can also review options for untaken deductions. Note: If your accounting is complicated, it can also pay to have a qualified bookkeeper or accountant take a look before you submit it to your tax pro.

Make sure you’re maximizing your retirement account contributions.

Small business owners often think of their customers first and themselves last. These contributions can be tax deductible and will help you prepare for your future. If you don’t have a retirement account now, set one up as soon as possible.

Make purchases.

If it’s been a good year from a revenue perspective, now may be the time to make purchases that enhance your business. These can be tax deductible. Make a list: upgrading equipment and computers, stocking up on office supplies or inventory, etc. Then decide what the priorities are.

Reach out to your biggest customers or all your customers.

The holidays are a great time to say thank you, and it’s an easy way to remind your customers of you and your business. Depending on what type of business you run, small gifts for your biggest clients may be appropriate. Check in with your tax professional about deductibility. Know if your clients can accept gifts, and always make them heartfelt and classy. Even a handwritten card can be appreciated — you don’t have to break the bank to show you’re grateful for their business.

Defer income.

Small businesses usually record income when they receive the cash. Deferring income can reduce your tax burden for 2015. You’ll still have to pay taxes on it in 2016, so check with your tax professional to see if this makes sense for your business. Additionally, your accountant or bookkeeper can help you determine the best method for accomplishing this.

Support your local charity.

It’s a great way to give back to the community that has supported your business and to generate goodwill. Many of these gifts are tax deductible. Ideas include local children’s sports teams and leagues, youth groups, animal shelters, etc. Strong ties to your community mean a stronger business.

Start an action plan to make next year’s accounting and tax process easier.

If you kept your accounting perfectly up to date all year and ran biweekly profit and loss reports to gauge where you were, you can skip this step. Otherwise, start making plans on how you can manage better in 2016. Staying on top of inventory and accounting can save you hours and hours in the coming year. It also helps you make better business decisions overall.

Alison Ball manages Global Influencer Programs for Intuit’s Accountant Segment. An avid supporter of accountants and bookkeepers since joining Intuit in 2004, she can often be found at events and on social media sites conversing with and helping accounting professionals. In honor of her work with influential accountants across the world, CPA Practice Advisor named Alison one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting in November 2014. Based out of Mountain View, California, Alison is best reached on Twitter at @alisonatintuit.