Start preparing now for April 15, 2014
Some of you might have gotten a little sticker shock from your forced donation to the IRS last month. If that’s prompted a midyear resolution to cut costs and get better organized, here are some tips:
DRAFT A BUDGET AND USE IT. Document three to four months of your revenues and expenses, and plan a realistic monthly budget through Dec. 31. Your accountant can help you get started and provide advice that will cut your 2013 tax bill. Don’t forget to budget a cushion for savings, estimated taxes, emergencies and lean times.
RECORD EXPENSES THAT PRODUCE NO RECEIPT. Keep a notebook in your cab to document tax-deductible expenses such as business use of your car or washing your truck at a coin-operated facility. Note the date, location, amount and reason for each expense.
USE A BUSINESS CREDIT CARD. Separating personal and business credit spending will help your accountant reckon your business expenses properly. It also will help if your tax return is audited.
AVOID OVERDRAFTS. Most banks offer an overdraft protection service, which for a small fee automatically draws from your savings or credit card account to cover a bad check. Also, record every check and debit card purchase as soon as possible. Develop a system for logging automatic monthly drafts, such as for utilities, whether it’s a note on a calendar or a future entry in your checkbook.
GET ONLINE BANKING ACCESS. You don’t have to pack a computer and find a Wi-Fi signal to keep up with your accounts while on the road. Many banks now offer mobile banking via smartphone, enabling you to check your balance and cleared checks anywhere you have a cell signal.
DON’T TAKE CASH ADVANCES. It’s best to have a business operating account to manage cash flow instead of being dependent on your carrier. For some operators, having too much cash on hand is a temptation to waste it on unnecessary accessories, entertainment and other items outside of your budget.