Step 1: Get your bookkeeping in order
Without updated books, you can’t file your taxes. Here’s what you need to do before tax season hits to get your books in shape.
Make sure all of your business transactions are recorded properly
Screwing up your taxes because of a missing or erroneous transaction can be stressful—but also easily avoidable.
Make sure you’re recording all of your business transactions in your general ledger, and that you’re categorizing each transaction as accurately and consistently as you can. If you’re paying a developer to build an app for your Cat Cafe, for example, don’t record it as an “investment” one month and a “marketing expense” the other. Be consistent.
Make sure your books are balanced
If you use double-entry accounting, make sure that your books are balanced—that is, that the sum of all the credits is equal to the sum of all debits.
If you’re using a program like QuickBooks, don’t worry about this part—it should be done automatically. If you’re doing your bookkeeping on paper or in Excel, check out our guide to double-entry bookkeeping.
Reconcile your bank accounts
“Reconciling” is just a fancy accounting term for “make sure your books match your bank records.” But doing so can save you and your bookkeeper loads of time and trouble in April.
Your bookkeeping isn’t really done until you’ve checked it against what the bank says.
Separate personal and business expenses
Not separating personal and business expenses can become a huge headache around tax time. It generally takes more time to sort through expenses when they’re mixed up in one account, and you might miss some deductions.
The sooner you open a small business account and separate your personal and business accounts, the better.
Talk to a professional
Doing everything yourself can be a great way to save money, but we strongly advise that you have an experienced CPA or tax professional take a look at your books. They can make sure you’re set up properly, that you’re taking advantage of the right year end tax moves, and that your business is in good shape for tax season.