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    Archives for Tax Preparation Billings MT

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    2018 Taxes: What Do You Do with The Paperwork?

    Don’t fret about an audit, because, for most of us, an audit isn’t an overly scary thing. If you payed your taxes and had the professionals at Practical Taxes help to get your paperwork in order and helped you file that paperwork correctly, by the correct date, you’re probably fine. But still an audit can happen. And it can happen even a year or two after the tax year for which the IRS wishes to audit (Sometimes an audit can come seemingly out of nowhere, a complete surprise). And if you are going to be audited, you will want to be prepared; you will want to be able to show the IRS everything for that particular tax year.

    Keep all your receipts from the tax year with your tax paperwork. Oftentimes proof of a particular expense is all the IRS needs to happily close your case and move on. You want every receipt, every scrap of paper that was official evidence that you had an expense pertaining to your tax liability. If you wrote off gas mileage and the like, then make sure to keep that evidence handy as well. Gas logs are invaluable at times like these.

    How Long Should I Keep the Records?

    The statute of limitations (Admittedly that term sounds too officially criminal, but it just refers to the limit on the span of time for which the law can investigate and then try a person) is different in every state. For most of us it’s important to keep our tax records for five years—longer if you kept tax records for employees.

    If you have any questions about dealing with an IRS audit, or if you need accounting help in the coming year—Practical Taxes can help with payroll services, and full service, year-round accounting services—then make sure to call the tax experts at Practical Taxes. Remember, most times an IRS audit is nothing to be worried about, but you can have even more confidence when Practical Taxes guides you through.

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    Three Ways to Run a Better Business

    If you are a business owner then you are always on the lookout for how to run a better business. You want to have a clean and fluid business that can operate without you. You want to be able to take a vacation and know that when you return, there won’t be a pile of work for you to get done. But you wonder how can that can even happen? You’re scraping by now and can only dream of those days.

    It all starts with taking small steps. Let your accountant in Billings, MT explain the three steps it takes to run a better business.

    Invest in Your Presence

    There are two different types of marketing out there: branding and marketing. Branding is letting people know who you are; marketing is letting people know what you sell. Many businesses skip the first step, and jump right into the second step.

    Before you can sell a product to your customer, your customer needs to be familiar with your face. Let’s look at it this way. You need life insurance and the only two companies that you can find are MET Life and XYZ Financial. You have seen the Snoopy commercials, you know “Get MET, it Pays”, and you’re familiar with the brand. XYZ Financial says they offer a premium product for 20% less than MET Life offers. Who do you choose? Most people will go with MET because they trust the brand (although they know nothing about the brand other than they have heard the name often).

    As a business owner, you want your name to become a household name (Coca-Cola, Kleenex, Apple, Toyota, etc.). When people already know your name, then they will be more likely to buy your product.

    Sell to Your Customer; Not to You

    A good sales person knows this rule of sales: make it all about the customer. Don’t tell them what you have to offer, tell them how you can solve their problem.

    accountant and payroll services expert in Billingsaccountant and payroll services expert in Billings

    Often we hear sales pitches that go like this: “We have the best product on the market. Through years of research and development, we have developed a product that blows away the competition. Our product is ranked better than 98% of all others out there, and our sales show that we are the best!”

    Nobody cares. The customer wants to hear a pitch like this: “Are you tired of [xyz]? 98% of our customers report that [product name] has helped them. Don’t suffer any more, try us today. If it doesn’t work out, we have a money back guarantee.”

    See the difference? The first pitch is all about how great the product is. The second is all about how the product helps the customer.

    Meet the customer’s needs, and the sale will make itself.

    Get Organized

    One of the biggest business killers is lack of organization. If you want to run a better business, you have to invest time (every single day) into staying organized. Doing so will help ensure that you will remember to reply to all of those emails, return phone calls, and get everything done.

    Look at it like this. Suppose you remain unorganized. Every morning, before you get any work done, you have to spend an hour remembering where you left off the day before, figuring out what project you are working on, and de-cluttering your desk. Now let’s suppose you spend 15 minutes at the end of every day organizing for the following day. Now you have that entire hour at the beginning of the day (when you are fresh and thinking clearly), to get as much accomplished as possible. You can run a better business with ease because you gave yourself a boost.

    Let Practical Taxes help you Run a Better Business

    As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You have work to do, prospects to follow up with, and phone calls to return. The last thing that you want to do is worry about your taxes and payroll. Don’t muddle through doing your own taxes, leave them to us!

    We offer affordable tax preparation services here in Billings, MT. We spend our time on your taxes, so you can spend your time learning how to run a better business.

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    tax services billings mt

    Small Business Smarts

    It’s becoming a popular thing to do: start up a small business, even a “micro” small business (consider the tiny online stores on the Etsy and Ebay websites). And the talk in Government is all about the encouragement of more small business; encourage the working man or woman to set out on their own, get a tax break in the process… And it’s true that owning a small business has considerable benefit to those willing to take on the responsibility: there can be great pride in building a business, pride in ownership, in being your own boss. But there are many overlooked costs and responsibilities that people may not consider when starting out on their own. Here’s a few.

    Wait time and Cost of Licensure, Insurance, Registration…

    Most folks consider the process of licensure when they start up the business, but not everyone considers the cost and scope of insurance; the cost and scope of insuring employees, or the liability of using contractors, operating on their own specialized license, in relation to the liability of the business.

    Paperwork

    Sometimes people get into business without any real foundation of the required paperwork—everywhere in business there seems to be paperwork—and to be bogged down and unprepared for the banal methods of paperwork can be costly for your business. You may want to consider hiring an accountant to help with payroll and other accounting jobs; Practical Taxes will ensure your annual tax liability gets handled smoothly. Did you know, for instance, that when you work for yourself there is a self-employment tax? Have you ever considered how much of your precious time will be taken away by employee background checks and payroll?

    Unfortunately, even businesses built with the best of intentions don’t last long without proper financial planning. If you are planning to go into business on your own soon, or if you are still on the fence, considering it, remember that a quality accountant can help your business run smarter and more efficient. If you have any other questions as to how Practical Taxes can help your business, call today.

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    Tax Implications of Selling Your House

    Tax Implications of Selling Your House

     

    A great way to build wealth is to own a house. Now keep in mind that buying a house ajust because you think it’s the perfect investment is actually not the way to go. A house is a good investment, but there are better ways to invest that will earn a bigger return.

    But what happens when you want to sell your house? Suppose you want something bigger, or maybe smaller. Perhaps you’re sick of maintaining your home and you want to move into a rental. Or you have been transferred out of state for your job. No matter what the reason for selling, there are tax implications of selling your house that you need to be aware of (don’t worry, your accountant in Billings, Montana will know the specifics; you just need to be aware).

    Avoiding Taxes when Selling Your House

    In 1997 the Taxpayer Relief Act was passed. This law provided a big relief to those who were selling their home and making a bit of a profit on it. Before the law was passed you had to reinvest those profits into another home (a bigger home) within a certain time period. Now you get a big break.

    2 of the last 5 – The law states that if you have lived in the house, as your primary residence, for at least two of the last five years, then you can claim the capital gains exclusion when selling your house.

    $250,000 to $500,000 – If you file your taxes as single, then you can profit $250,000 on the sale of your house and not have to pay taxes on the gains. If you are married, then you can profit up to $500,000 on the sale of your house.

    Age is Just a Number – You can claim the capital gains exclusion no matter how old you are. You don’t have to be over 55 to get this.

    Before 1997 it was pretty hard to sell a house, make a profit, and get away without paying the taxes. Now it is pretty easy to sell a house, make a profit, and not have to worry about paying taxes on the gains. But there are times when you still might owe.

    When do You Pay Taxes when Selling Your House?

    Not everyone can get away without paying taxes on the sale of their house. But you almost have to try hard to pay those taxes.

    If you profit more than the exclusion allows, then you will owe taxes when selling your house. But the good news is that you don’t owe taxes on the full amount. For instance, if you are married, and you sold your house and made a profit of $500,100, you would only have to pay taxes on the $100 over the exclusion amount. There is more though. If you make over $200,000 per year, there is a Medicare tax imposed on the gains over and above the exclusion.

    Keep in mind that you can only claim the exclusion for one house at a time. So if you sell your primary residence, you can claim the exclusion. But then if you sell your vacation home, you cannot claim the exclusion (because you weren’t living there for 2 of the last 5 years).

    Taxes when Selling Your House

    Still have questions about the tax implications when selling your house? Contact Practical Taxes today!

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    professional tax services billings mt

    April 15th Is Tax Day: Information For Anyone Needing An Extension

    It’s that time of year again; April 15th marks the end date to pay 2017 income tax. If you miss this date, you will be subject to a tax penalty—fee. But you do have a chance to file for tax extension, and a tax extension will allow a person a six-month-long period (Given an extension, October 15th will be the new date at which 2017 income tax filing will be due) in which they can file and avoid the tax penalty. You can get the extension on the IRS website here: www.irs.gov. And the deadline to request an extension from the IRS is April 17th, which allows people a few extra days, post Tax Day, to get their income tax affairs in order. There are special rules, however, for individuals who serve abroad in a combat zone or, what the IRS calls, a hazardous duty area. People who live outside the United States are also given certain consideration.

    The form to receive an extension is rather short and simple to complete, and, usually, tax extensions are provided automatically. Also, if you cannot afford to immediately pay your income tax, it’s best to either file on or before Tax Day and then sort out the particulars of the required income tax payment with the IRS—the IRS does offer several payment plans—or file for an extension by the 17th of April. To not have filed your taxes will end up costing you considerably more in the long run than an IRS interest rate or the percentage penalty for a delinquent payment (remember there is no penalty for an extension, as long as the income tax is filed on or before the 15th of October).

    If you have any questions as to how to communicate with the IRS about your financial situation, how to handle an extension, or would like advice on how to get your 2017 income tax filed, and then paid, then call the experts at Practical Taxes today.

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    The Curse of the Lottery Winner

    The Curse of the Lottery Winner

    People dream of winning the lottery. They make big plans on what they would do if they were to win millions of dollars, and they talk about how many people they would help. Of course they complain that the government would take approximately half of their winnings in the form of taxes, but overall they would still be happy with the huge surplus of money that they are left with. So how is it that about 70% of those who win the lottery will go bankrupt?

    The Curse of the Lottery Winner

    Unfortunately a sudden influx of money does nothing to help improve financial sense. So when people suddenly win millions upon millions of dollars, they simply stick with their same foolish spending habits. Only now those habits are at a much larger scale.

    Winning the lottery could help someone out tremendously. And the economic impacts of the lottery can’t be argued with. After all, those who win the lottery spend a considerable amount of it right away. They buy new houses, new cars, give to charities and family members, they pick up the tab at a restaurant… for every customer there. Lottery winners seldom have a problem finding ways to spend their money.

    However, without a set plan on how to spend the money, most will make foolish money mistakes that ultimately reduce them right back to where they were before they won their millions of dollars. If you don’t believe me that winning the lottery brings some unnecessary hardship, check out these 10 people that couldn’t handle their winnings.

    Make a Plan before You Win

    There is really no financially sound reason that you should even try to win the lottery in the first place. In fact, the odds of winning are astronomically high. But you can take this advice and apply it to other financial windfalls like receiving an inheritance, getting a large tax refund, or maybe even an unexpected bonus at work.

    Before any money actually comes in, make a sound plan to use it appropriately. For instance, you might want to pay off all of your debt, buy a new car, give a little to your family members, and take a vacation. Depending on your situation, that should only take up a few hundred thousand of your winnings. After that, invest the rest in a trust, preferably an irrevocable trust that has detailed information about who can take money out and how much they can access.

    Without a plan, we as humans are likely to overspend. Whether it is on ourselves, giving to charities, or all around just wasteful use of money, the lottery winnings will disappear quickly.

    If You’re Lucky

    If you have been lucky enough to win the lottery, you will want to enlist the help of an accountant in Billings, Montana. With the help of Practical Taxes, you can be sure that your money will be put to the best use, and your taxes will be minimized. Have you seen a sudden influx of money? Did that money disappear a lot faster than you care to admit?

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. While tax preparation is a huge part of our business, we also love to help with payroll services. One specialty is online payroll services; no matter what part of the country you live in, we can get your payroll done.

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    IRS

    Have you heard of the phone scam where someone calls and pretends to represent the IRS? The scammers inevitably ask for personal information, and, too often, people willingly give out their personal information, such as their social security number to these scammers. The scammers also ask for money. And, unfortunately, people pay it; or they provide their banking account numbers. It’s estimated that over ten thousand people—more everyday—have been affected by these phone scams; estimated that over fifty-four million dollars has been paid to these scammers. But you should know that there should never be a day where an IRS agent simply calls you up, unannounced, and asks personal questions.

    The IRS will make initial contact via the good old USPS. If they are requesting money, they will send to you in the mail a bill, requesting payment. The bill will look like any other bill you would receive in the mail; however, it will be from the IRS. There will be directions in the bill as to how to proceed to pay the bill or how to contact the IRS with any questions you may have; it will be simple and to the point. The IRS may notify you of a possible attempt to contact you via telephone—possibly even request a face-to-face meeting—but, when they do call, they won’t request that you tell them all your personal information. Remember, the IRS already has a lot of your personal information, and they won’t ask you for your social security number over the phone; they won’t ask you to tell them your bank routing codes, or your checking account number; they won’t ask you to pay your bill over the phone, and they won’t initially demand a payment—remember that you have rights, too, and one of those rights is to appeal. And they won’t threaten to have you arrested by the local police if you don’t pay.

    Call Practical Taxes for all your tax needs.

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    Child Tax Credit

    Let’s discuss the Child Tax Credit. It’s a tax credit, taken annually, by people with children. The credit does not apply to everyone, however, and there are limitations and rules that govern when it can be used. Here are a few reasons why the Child Tax Credit might be a big advantage for your family.

    The amount of the Child Tax Credit is one-thousand dollars per qualifying child. That means if you have three children who qualify for the Child Tax Credit, then you will get one-thousand dollars for each of the qualifying children. The child needs to be under the age of seventeen to qualify (sixteen and under).

    To claim the child, you will need to have a legal parental relationship with the child. This relationship includes: son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, grandchild, niece or nephew. Brother, sister, etc., applies only in the case that the child meets the requirements for financial support. In order for the child to meet the financial criteria, the child cannot have provided more than half of their own support—the bulk of the financial responsibilities should fall on the parent.

    There are also citizen and resident requirement to meet when claiming this credit. The child must be a citizen of the United States, a U.S. National, or a legal resident alien. The child needs to have lived in your household, in your care, for half the year. There are some exceptions to this requirement, however they don’t apply to everyone, and should be discussed with your tax preparer.

    It’s for reasons such as these that hiring a tax preparer, come tax season, is important. Your relationship with your child may not be black and white. You might not know if your child qualifies for the credit or not. A qualified, professional tax preparer can help you through the process; they can make sure you get each and every dollar back on your taxes. Remember, if you make a mistake on your taxes, the IRS may audit you to get every last penny, but they won’t be banging on your door ready to hand you back money you’ve already paid. Don’t leave money behind.

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    Tax Implications of Selling Savings Bonds

    Savings bonds are largely a financial tool of the past. 20 or 30 years ago well intending grandparents would purchase a bond for their new grandkids. Over the next few decades those bonds would grow and eventually mature. At that point they are cashed out and the grandchild would be able to use them for college expenses, a down payment on a house, or whatever else they thought necessary. Today, however, buying those bonds isn’t nearly as popular in part due to the low interest rates.

    Regardless of who is, or isn’t buying bonds today, there are many of them that are maturing. So what happens when your savings bond matures? What are the tax implications of cashing in a savings bond? Your accountant in Billings, Montana can help you know the options.

    What Happens When a Bond Matures?

    Savings bonds have changed some over the years. There are two basic types: those that are purchased at face value and pay interest once or twice per year, and those that are purchased at a discounted value but grow to full value when they mature. Depending on what type you have determines what happens when they mature.

    If you have an older bond you most likely are dealing with one that was purchased at a discount and matures for full value. If you have this type of bond, and it has reached its maturity date, then it doesn’t do any good to keep it around any longer. You should cash it in since it is no longer appreciating or earning interest.

    What are the Tax Implications of Selling a Savings Bond?

    Since the savings bond was purchased for less than it is worth, there will be some gains. But are these taxed? The bottom line is: maybe.

    Interest earned on savings bonds is subject to federal income tax, but it’s not subject to state tax. To complicate matters more, you may not have to pay federal income tax on your bond’s interest if you use the money for higher education purposes.

    For bonds that accumulate interest year after year, you have to report that interest when you earn it. Most often you will get a 1099-INT from the brokerage through which you made the purchase. For bonds that mature at a higher value than for which they were sold, you report that interest when you take possession of the money.

    Confused on How Savings Bonds Work?

    Savings bonds have a few moving parts, they currently pay low interest (around .1%) and don’t offer substantial tax benefits. So why do people purchase them? Really the only reason is that they are putting their faith in the US government rather than a financial institution. But that low interest rate has made them significantly less popular than other financial vehicles like CD’s, investments, money market accounts, and corporate bonds.

    If you have savings bonds, and you are confused on what to do, your accountant in Billings, Montana can help you figure everything out. Taxes are likely due on them, so make an appointment today!

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help with all of your tax preparation needs as well as online payroll services, business consultation, and much more!

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    April Is Tax Month!

    On April 18th, the 2016 tax season will come to a close—it’s not necessarily over by any means, but marks the IRS’s filing deadline (yes, there are extensions and other programs that extend out the season). And for many people this time of year is crazy and hectic, and they anxiously crowd into the offices of their favorite accountant to prepare their taxes before the season closes.

    But don’t worry, take breath, there’s still a few weeks. However, while you are remaining calm, it’s important to take stock in whatever it is you plan to report on your 2016 taxes. When people rush they often forget things. It’s not good one way or the other to forget to report something on your taxes. Funny that the IRS will notice an omission benefiting them, but will never contact you on an omission benefiting you.

    So, look out for yourself, and make sure everything gets reported. You don’t want to miss any deduction on your taxes. While we make a big deal over what taxes mean, for most of us, taxes mean a refund, and getting as much money as you are entitled; conversely, for those of you that owe on your taxes, you will want to account for every deduction that could potentially get you to owe less.

    Remember all those charitable contribution, those mileage logs, all the childcare paperwork you have paid out in the last year, etc. Also, for those of you who wait, your accountant may notice your missing something from your file, and, in that event, you will request an extension until the proper paperwork can be supplied, and, for those of you relying on your 2016 tax return, forgetting important paperwork will greatly slow up the process. The IRS claims that, for most people, it takes three weeks and under to receive money via direct deposit.

    Call and make an Appointment!

    If you have yet to schedule a tax preparation appointment, call today, or as soon as possible, to have your taxes prepared by the professionals at Practical Taxes.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

     

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    Earned Income Tax Credit

    The federal government has tax plans in place to assist those members of our society who earn moderate-to-low incomes. It’s given out in the form of a tax credit called the earned income tax credit, and it’s available to both working families with children, and for those without children, although the amounts at which it’s offered differ between the two. The original purposes of the tax credit were to benefit those with children, and to offset the costs of caring for children—daily needs, day care, etc.—while balancing out an obvious income discrepancy. The tax credit is often bundled with the political talk of a change to the minimum wage.

    Earned Income Tax Credit

    For those who qualify for the credit, the amount will be calculated depending upon a person’s income and the number of children they have. To qualify a person needs to be earning an income from working—income derived from other outside sources—trust, etc.—does not apply. Also, you must have a social security number, and that number should be issued before the date of your tax return. For those wanting to qualify for the earned income tax credit, who do not have children, you must have worked for someone in that tax year, or you could have run a farm or business, and earned less than a predetermined amount.

    Filing Status

    If you are intending to file for the earned income tax credit, you must file your tax return in one of the following ways. If you are married, then you must file your return as married filing jointly—you cannot claim the earned income tax credit if you file married, but filing separately (this is to prevent people from receiving the benefit, when they have other means of a joint income).  The 2016 income requirements can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit.

    If you have any questions as to whether you, or you and your family, qualify for the tax credit call Practical Taxes today. Also, having a quality accountant to prepare your taxes may prove invaluable, if indeed, you qualify for that credit, or others like it.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

     

     

     

     

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    Tax Season Is Upon Us

    2016 is officially over, and that means it’s time to prepare for another tax season! Like it or not there’s only a few months left until the April the 18th deadline, and for most of you there’s so much to prepare.

    Prepare

    For those of you who have a lot of write-offs, those of you with small businesses, etc., January is the time to start getting all of your receipts in order. Make sure that everything is accounted for. If you are missing something, and need to have the filed-proof of something (say an invoice for something work related, etc.) ensure now that you either have appropriately filed away a copy, or, if you have unfortunately lost your copy, you have the time now to find it. This is the time of year to have your vehicle mileage documented orderly if you have yet to do so.

    Forms

    January the 31st marks the last day at which you should mail your employees W-2 forms. Obviously you will want to mail out any forms on time, because your employees are counting on you for this, but there could also be a penalty charged to your company by the IRS if you do fail to mail out your forms on the 31st of January. Remember, the W-2 form only needs to be postmarked by this date, your employees may not receive it in the mail until a few days after, so, if you are planning to mail the forms at the last minute, it may be wise to explain this to your employees who may be expecting to receive it sooner.

    Make a date with you tax preparer

    Regardless of how difficult your taxes, your accountant is ready to help you through the process. Try and plan an hour or two for one day in the future (or on several days in some cases) to visit your accountant’s office to prepare your taxes. To ensure that you receive the undivided attention of the accountant you want to see, make a reservation. If you are seeing an accountant for the first time, Practical Taxes is here and ready to help you through the process of your 2016 tax returns.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

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    What if We Told You that You Can Save $1,000 Easily?

    Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, by making some very slight lifestyle tweaks you can save a significant amount of money. The key is to make the adjustments small enough so that you don’t even notice them; cut expenses on the things you hate paying for (like car insurance and cell phone bills). Then live more comfortably knowing that you’re money isn’t going to things that don’t bring you enjoyment. Here are 12 ideas from your Aurora accountant to get you started. If you then think of 3 more you will be well on your way to financial freedom.

    Skip Eating Out for Lunch

    Instead of dining out every day of the week when the noon meal rolls around, do it just once a week, then brown bag home-prepared food for the rest of your work days.

    Just Drink Water

    Aside from the fact that water is the healthy, staying away from flavored drinks and pop will help you save quite a bit of money. Drinking a pop per day can add up to over $350 per year.

    Goodbye Car Wash

    Rather than bringing your car to the car wash, why not make washing the car an additional chore? If you have kids, sign them up and make car washing a weekly family chore. If you have to, you can bring your car to the car wash just once a month, instead of once a week.

    Groom your dog.

    You love your pet, right? So show him/her by personally washing your pet instead of taking him/her to the groomer every time. If nothing else you can increase the time between grooming.

    Brew Coffee at Home

    We all know how easy and convenient it is to buy ready-made coffee from those coffee shops that are just everywhere. You can choose to continue with this coffee-buying attitude or you can try brewing your own coffee for a change, and for the better. Sure, you can treat yourself occasionally but if you’re determined to save up, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save by making your own coffee.

    Get Your News Online

    Are you still subscribed to the local newspaper? If yes, consider discontinuing your subscription and catch up on local, international and all kinds of news online instead.

    Do Your Own Nails

    Rather than paying someone else to do your nails for you every time, learn to do it yourself and save some bucks in the process.

    Exercise for Free

    Still paying for gym membership? Time to drop it and exercise on your own. There are so many articles and videos about exercise. Take some time to go over those that relate to the type of exercise you have in mind, then get work out your body based on the information you got.

    Go Generic

    When you experience some minor but common discomforts like headaches or migraines, you don’t always need to buy name brand medicine. If it’s just a simple headache, a generic aspirin can likely make the pain go away just as well as a branded aspirin. Some generic products are just as good as their brand name counterparts, but others (usually foods) aren’t quite up to snuff.

    Negotiate your Car Insurance

    Car insurance is one of those things that you have to pay for. If you want the luxury of driving a vehicle, you have to maintain insurance in case something bad happens. But how many of us have taken the time to actually go over our insurance lately? There is a good chance that you are overpaying your premiums. A 30 minute phone call with your agent could save you hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars per year.

    Downgrade your Cell Service

    Do you really need that $90 monthly cellphone service? Are you able to use it up or is part of it always getting wasted because your phone usage doesn’t really go that high? Maybe it’s time you reviewed your phone consumption and get a lower plan — one that actually fits your cellphone habits. Most major carriers have switched to plans based on data usage. It’s as simple as a 15 minute call to save $30 per month.

    Find other ways to relax.

    Getting a massage is always a treat. But do you really have to do it every week? There are many other ways to relax. Find a relaxation technique that you can do for free. From healthy eating, to exercising at home, there are ways to relax without expense.

    Bonus: Cut the Cable

    With so many online streaming options for television, do you need to be paying $60 per month for TV that is turned off most of the day? Cut back to Netflix and Hulu and you could save $40/month. That’s an instant savings of $480 per year by getting rid of something you’re not using anyway.

    Practical Taxes is Here to Help

    We want to make sure that you are financially healthy. By offering our online tax preparation services to the Aurora, Colorado area, we are helping thousands of people to be able to afford the services of an accountant, and ultimately get a bigger refund than they would have on their own. That refund can help jump start your emergency fund, bolster your retirement savings, or let you splurge on one of the things above that we just told you to cut out.

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    Property Taxes

    Property Tax

    Property taxes are beneficial because they support many of our community’s public services. Property taxes can support schools, police and fire, parks services, and street maintenance.  But, because most people pay different, varying sums in property tax, it can be confusing to know if you are paying your fair share, or too much.  The following is the how/why of property taxes.

    Tax Assessments

    Tax assessments are the basis for all property tax. These assessments are based on how much a home is worth. Usually, the higher a home’s value, the higher it’s property taxes. This is something to consider if you are planning to trade-up for a new home, know your property taxes will likely be assessed at a higher rate, because the new home possesses a greater value. This could also be true of the neighborhood, if the other houses in the neighborhood are considered to have considerable value. That value will likely be figured into the assessment of your new home (even in the case of buying a less expensive home in a neighborhood). The reasons for this is that a tax assessment is conducted by an assessor who groups together comparable homes, comparing all the home’s in the value range, and comes up with a tax figure that they determine to best assesses the home’s value. It’s a process akin to a home appraisal, however everything, including neighborhood, etc. is put into consideration.

    Appeal your Property Tax Rate

    It’s not unheard of to appeal your property tax rate. There’s formal processes for those folks thinking that the assessor may have missed something in determining a home’s value. Reasons for appeal are varied, but the most common could include: incorrect assessments of the home’s square footage, missing something like an addition, or possibly even incorrectly determining the number of bedrooms within the home. It’s times like these your accountant is ready to help you get through the appeal process. You can hire also a home appraiser, who may come in, and do a private assessment as to a home’s value.

    If you find yourself struggling with property taxes, or just have tax questions in general, give us a call today.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

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    Time to Start Getting Your Taxes For 2017 In Order

    It’s only September, but it’s never too early to start considering getting everything for your taxes in order.  It’s not the time to rush, you have time, but to have everything in order come tax season can make things easier on you, and make for a quicker appointment with your accountant.

    Tax Forms

    First, obviously, when you go see your accountant this tax season you’ll need to bring in your tax forms, forms for most of you that you wont have until January, and your employer has the entire month before they’re legally bound to have sent this out, so this one part you wont have to worry about until then.

    Medical Expenses

    This is the time of year to gather all of the paid forms for medical expenses, childcare expenses, student loan payments, etc.  At the end of the year you will most likely receive certain tax documents from some of these institutions, and it’s important that you can quickly double check the tax form against the receipts of payment for what you paid out monthly.

    There can be discrepancies at the end of the year, which could end up costing you, if you’re not prepared.  Also, this is the time of year to collect each and every receipt.  Oftentimes people will absently store paper receipts, future write-offs—we’re looking at you small business owner—in a wallet or a purse, only to later be discarded as trash by accident.

    Receipts

    Every single applicable receipt for your business counts.  Document the receipts, as well as keep the original copies, to ensure that come tax season you’re not missing out on one, single write off.

    Mileage

    Also, for those of you who write off your vehicle mileage, it can be easy to forget to do this each and every day if you’re not in the habit.  Each and every mile could count for a certain amount in taxable deductions, so know what those miles are.  Have this information documented, so come tax time, there’s no question as to how many you need to report.

    Obviously September is not a major tax month for most of us, but everyone should always be reminded to be prepared for the tax season.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

     

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    accountant billings mt

    Reasons Why Small Business Owners Need to Keep Meticulous Records

    Being a small business owner, I get it, there is so much to do and keeping track of records just isn’t at the top of the list. But it should be. Keeping things organized and tracing records can help you in the long run.

    Tax Season Billings MT
    If you keep track of your records and receipts, when it comes to tax season, it will be much easier for you to locate your receipts. It will also help you to get all of the deductions that you are entitled to. The IRS does not accept bank statements. They want the actual receipts to validate your expenses.

    Payroll Management Billings MT
    Keeping your payroll records organized can assist you with tracking your employees. It makes it much easier when it comes to paying your employees. If you aren’t comfortable doing payroll or just don’t have time, Practical Taxes can manage your payroll for you.

    Invoicing Billings MT
    When it comes to invoicing your clients, keeping track of your records will help you to know who has paid and who has not. It can also help you to keep track of projects and to know what money is coming in.

    Trust me when I tell you that spending a few minutes each day on your records will pay off in the long run.  Keeping track of your records will make tax season much easier as well.

    Practical Taxes

    Practical Taxes is a full service accounting firm in Billings, Montana. We can help you get the most from your taxes, and make sure that you will get the maximum refund every year. But we don’t just do taxes! We can help with your bookkeeping, payroll, bank reconciliation, budgeting, and more. Give us a call at 406-894-2090 to learn more.

     

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    Tax Preparation Billings MT

    Increase Your Income by Earning More on the Side

    Side-Job-300x225There are thousands of people who would like to make more money or save more money. It would allow them to afford the lifestyle that they truly want. But they run into problems, such as they are at the top of where they can get to at work, or they have scrimped and saved and really cannot cut costs anywhere else. They wonder where they should turn. In today’s society, packed with internet bills, cell phone bills, high utility fees, and many other things that cost a lot of money, many people need to pick up some sort of side income. Depending on how you earn the money, there could be tax consequences that you want to address (also where an accountant in Billings, Montana could help you out).

     

    Getting a Second Job

    To bring in extra cash, most people will get a second job. This could be serving at a bar or a restaurant in the evenings, or working part-time as a cashier at a retail store. There are the goods and the bads that come with this choice.

    The benefits of a second job are that you will have regular hours. That means a steady second paycheck. Also, you will get another paycheck where taxes have been taken out; there will be less to worry about come tax season (on top of that, the employer will pay half of your FICA taxes).

    The downsides, however, are that you are stuck working for someone else. You have to follow their hours, their guidelines, and you are likely to be stuck making close to minimum wage (being a server, however, you could make substantially more because of tips).

    Working on the Side

    Because of the lack of flexibility and the low pay of working a side job, many people choose to follow their passions, and monetize their hobbies or interests. This method takes a little more planning, but the benefits in the long run are a lot better.

    The best part about starting your own side business is that you get to set your hours. You work when you want to, and as much as you want to. So if you only have a few hours per week, you don’t have to rearrange your entire schedule just to bring in some extra money. Another positive aspect is that you get to set your own rates. With proper marketing, and if you have the skills, you can make substantially more than minimum wage.

    The biggest drawback of earning income on the side like this is that you will have to pay all of the taxes. Next tax season you will have a bigger tax bill that may drop your tax refund into the negatives. This is especially true because you will be paying ALL of the 15.3% into your FICA taxes (working for someone else, half of this is covered). Combine that with the fact that you have to find all of your own clients, and many people are deterred from this option (even though you can make a lot more, it is quite a bit harder).

    Using an Accountant in Billings, Montana

    If you hire an accountant in Billings, Montana, you will be able to take a lot of the worry away from your side business. Here at Practical Taxes, we know the tax laws, and if you are starting your own side business we can work with you to get the most deductions possible (and help to offset those taxes that you have to pay).

    If you are interested in making more money on the side, consider starting a little side business (often called a side hustle). You will be happy that you did, and the extra income can go a long ways.

    Practical Taxes knows all the current tax laws and can help you with your business needs including business planning, accounting, tax preparation, and more.

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