Answers to Common Tax Questions
This article is based on US Taxes
1) What if I don’t receive my W2?
Employers are required by law to mail all employee W2’s by the end of January each year. So, January 31st has come and gone and you haven’t yet received your W2. What should you do?
First, consider whether or not you’ve allowed enough time for the mailing to reach you. Employers need only mail the document by the 31st of January, not have it in your hands by that date.
Ok, you’ve patiently waited out the normal delivery time frame of your postal service and still no W2; what now? Your first step at this point should be to contact your employer; the Human Resources department if one exists. Most often, it’s as simple as that. If it’s simply a matter of delivery, your company should be able to easily supply you with another copy.
2) My employer gave me a 1099. What’s that?
While 1099’s are used for a variety of reasons, typically they are given to independent contractors, also known as freelancers, as a record of income received from a particular business or organization. The income is noted on the form and reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by the business, but no deductions are taken for medical, deferred compensation, social security, or federal or state taxes. It is the freelancer’s responsibility to make all tax deductions and forward payment to the IRS.
3) I have expenses related to my job. Can I claim them?
If you are employed by a business, the general rule of thumb is that you can claim those expenses directly related to your job that are not already compensated for by your employer. A catch though is that those expenses combined, in total, must be in excess of 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). And, only the amount over and above the 2% is allowed to be deducted.
If you are self-employed or working freelance on a job, there are a whole host of expenses you can claim. Unfortunately, those items come with a large list of guidelines and rules that need to be followed. In this case, it is best to refer to the instructions for completing a 1040 Schedule C, which can be found online at www.irs.gov or locally at your library or Commissioner of Revenues office.
Whether you have a job, are using employees or contractors in your business, you may get some of these questions. But – you really should have more understanding of accounting for your business than just this. The problem is that reading a book on accounting is like listening to a boring teaching in the classroom.
Can accounting be fun, even if you don’t have a thing for numbers? Well, sure it can. I found an easy-to-follow book that explains the basics of accounting for the small business owner. If nothing else, you should have the basic knowledge so you can understand what your accountant is telling you and you should know what to ask him or her.
Just the book cover alone lets you know this is not your boring accounting textbook.
In addition to the basics, you’ll learn:
- Accounting for a service based business (that’s you!)
- Depreciating assets (like your computer)
- How to account for your equipment (expense vs. capitalize it)
- The different accounting methods and when they are needed
- When to specify something is for “tax purposes” and what that means
Take a look inside The Accounting Game: Accounting Fresh From the Lemonade Stand to view the table of contents.
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