Use a good bookkeeping software program throughout the year. We like Quickbooks or Quicken, depending upon the size of the business and the business needs.
Set up your bookkeeping software using the tax form you normally file as a reference. For example, if you file a schedule C, use it for reference when setting up your bookkeeping accounts in your software.
Download your bank transactions into your software directly if it's feasible, this makes everything faster and your bank balance will reconcile easier (especially good for small businesses). Don't wait long however, to do this, do it weekly at least, while things are fresh in your mind and the information is still available online for download. You cannot rely solely on the download for bookkeeping, editing of account categories, etc. will still need to be done.
Keep up with your filing. (See our organizing tips for an efficient filing system)
Use a portable file box or crate to remove all tax receipts from your file folders right at the beginning of the year so you won't mix things up with the new tax year's receipts.
Using a Neat Receipts scanner all year for cash and restaurant receipts will save you a lot of time and hassle. Most receipts fade over time and they are bulky to store for the next 7-10 years. Once you scan them into your computer, you can toss the original in the rubbish. Neat Receipts lets you edit the receipt info on your computer so you can keep track of the IRS required information, make notes, etc.
Meals and Entertainment receipts MUST have the name(s) of the person(s) you met with and the topic of business you discussed. This is an IRS requirement.
Keep a folder for incoming, end of year statements you'll need when preparing taxes (1099's, 1098's, etc.)
If you take your taxes to an accountant, print a report right from your bookkeeping program. You'll only need the summary report, the accountant or tax preparer only needs the category totals.
Who is preparing your return? If it's you, we recommend using TurboTax by Intuit (Same maker as Quicken and Quickbooks). If you're using an accountant, we recommend the following accountant for our local accounts. His office staff are knowledgeable, organized, professional and friendly and Jake is just brilliant with numbers:
Jacob Burkett, CPA
5960 Central Avenue, #H
St. Petersburg, FL 33707