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Opinion: 12 steps to tax-time ease

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Maybe you aren’t concerned about the clock ticking toward April 15 because you’ve got everything done and your taxes already are filed.

Or perhaps you better get started because you still haven’t entered all the invoices from December 2011. Maybe you are still behind from 2010? No worries. The point of power is now.

Here’s the process:
Assemble your bean counters. Assess your certified public accountant and bookkeeper and be willing to upgrade with people who are capable and willing to help you become a first rate financial manager. There is no room for an intimidator or a martyr on your team. Set a date to sit side-by-side and review every account on the balance sheet and income statement. Audit the accounts and “pinky swear” to get every one current and accurate through Dec. 31, 2011.

Establish your compliance requirements and due dates. Decide who will gather missing or needed information. Create a year-end checklist and document everything. Set up your next follow-up meeting to check progress.

Get 2011 completely entered. Don’t worry about making every month perfect. It’s too late for that. Get the balances right for Dec. 31, 2012. Lump data entry if that will speed things up. You can tighten things up for this year, but only if you get caught up. Ask your bean counters about the audit risks. Press on and get it done. Leave notes in the memo fields of your accounting transactions as you make adjustments.

Have your CPA get the tax return done. Be ready to provide everything your CPA needs. No extension and no excuses.

Work together to enter year-end journal entries. Also, make sure your accounting software account balances match your 2011 tax return balances. Makes sense, right? Don’t put up with messy financials. Last year’s ending balance sheet numbers become this year’s beginning balances.

Address how much you owe for taxes. Nothing? Well, commit to making some money this year. Something? Start stockpiling money. You have between now and, technically, April 17, given the way the calendar falls this year. Charge more than it costs for your goods and services and manufacture some money. Collect it in cash.

Update your chart of accounts. The income statement accounts start at zero every year, so use this opportunity to get the information you want in a useful format. This will help you make better financial decisions.

Get the financials caught up for 2012.

Now, crank up 2012. Update your business plan. Put a simple budget together. Move fast. Establish simple goals for sales and expenses. Crunch the numbers and come up with a selling price that will support those goals. Or just double your prices and see what happens.

Put a date on your calendar to start the year-end checklist in September for 2012.

Starting now, review your financials weekly, and study them with a fine-tooth comb monthly.

Relax. This is something you can do. Just get going. Wrap up last year, so you can focus on this year – your best year yet.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant who offers systems for getting focused and organized, making money and having fun in business. Her latest book is “The Bare Bones Biz Plan.” She can be reached at ellen@barebonesbiz.com.[[In-content Ad]]

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