Special Report: Taxes
Tips and tools to reduce your tax time headaches
15 Small-Business Tax Deductions
Tracking expenses consistently can help you shrink your tax bill.
Opportunities abound for small businesses to cut their tax bills. The key is understanding what's deductible for your business. A good tax preparer can guide you, but it is your responsibility to save receipts throughout the year.

"Organization and good record keeping are the keys to lower tax preparation fees and painless IRS audits," says Sam Fawaz, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Y.D. Financial Services in Franklin, Tenn. "Bringing a shoe box to your CPA or accountant and saying, 'Here are my tax records; please prepare my return' will undoubtedly cost you more in compilation and accounting fees to arrive at tax return numbers."
Are Your Books in Order?
Avoid tax-time headaches with these organizational tips.
Tax season has hit full on. It's time to get organized not only for preparation of your 2009 income taxes but to get rolling on 2010. The agony of compiling tax data last-minute can be cut considerably by employing a few organizational skills.

1. Pack up 2009. You've got to clear the way for 2010, which means you have to make room. Get 2009 out of there. I store my vendor files, appointment book, and bank records in a plastic tub marked with the tax year. Some files are considered permanent and remain in the office: Insurance policies, capital asset files, investment accounts, real estate and capital improvement files, to name a few.
Tax FAQs
Our quick-hitting FAQs cover some of your most pressing tax-related questions.
How do I get a tax ID number?
Every new business needs its own tax ID number. To get a federal tax ID number, you must fill out IRS Form SS-4 (available from the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov--click on "Forms and Publications"), and either mail or fax it to the IRS office indicated in the Instructions to Form SS-4. There is no fee.

Once the IRS issues you a number, you will have to get a tax ID number from each state in which you have a business address. This will involve filling out a state form (which will look suspiciously like the SS-4) and paying a small filing fee. A complete list of state tax authorities and their websites, from which you can obtain the appropriate form, can be found at www.taxsites.com(click on "State and Local Tax"). You can ask your lawyer, bookkeeper or accountant to do this for you, but they may charge you for their time.
Tax Time. No Dough. Don't Sweat.
The IRS offers several options to business owners struggling to meet the April 15 deadline.
Some business owners may be getting a nasty, sinking feeling right now, as they realize that April 15 is looming and they can't pay their taxes. That can happen easily if business was good for much of 2008 but has fallen off since. Michael Rozbruch, CEO of Tax Resolution Services in Encino, Calif., says he expects 2009 to set a record for the number of taxpayers unable to pay their full tax bill on time.

Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service offers several options for taxpayers in trouble. The most important thing to do is tell the IRS right away. If you're honest about the situation--and continue filing tax forms on time--you may be able to work out a payment plan, or settle the debt. If you don't file, there's no time limit on how long the IRS can try to collect.
Get a Head Start on Taxes
Tips for getting your records in order and preparing for the tax season
With the April 15 tax filing deadline looming, now is the time for business owners to get a jump on tax preparation and begin organizing receipts from 2009. Whether you are an independent contractor or a growing small business, giving yourself ample time to prepare your tax return can help curtail errors and provide you more time to properly identify deductible items that may be overlooked if you're rushed.

First, it is important to have a central repository for your records such as expense receipts, bank statements, and other important documents. Start by making sure everything is accurate and up-to-date, and that your records and documentation are clearly organized.

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