If you fail to keep good records throughout the year, tax time can be a challenge. Therefore, you should closely monitor your revenue, expenses, and potential deductions throughout the calendar year to ensure a complete and accurate tax return. The guidelines and principles below will help you collect essential documentation for your business.
Why Is Record Keeping Important?
There are multiple categories of records you need to keep to file taxes. They include employment records, gross receipts, purchases, and expenses. The main reason you need to keep good records is to prepare for tax season. You will use the records to support the income, credits, and expenses you claim in your returns. However, there are several other reasons that good record keeping is vital to business success, including:
- Effective Business Monitoring: Having complete and accurate records will help you monitor the progress of your business. For example, your business documentation can provide insight into your high-selling products and opportunities to improve cost efficiency.
- Financial Statement Preparation: Accurate business records will provide the foundation for statements about your business profits, losses, and balance sheets. It will be easier to handle creditors and management decisions when you understand your business income, expenses, liabilities, assets, and equity.
- Categorizing Expenses: Good financial record keeping will help you track the source of assets or payments you receive. The information will help distinguish between gross income and taxable income. If the Internal Revenue Service audits your business, accurate records will also be crucial to resolve the situation.
Four Steps to Keep Good Records
Keeping your records organized doesn’t have to be complicated. Establishing a simple filing system and maintaining it regularly can reduce the time you spend on it across the year.
Step 1: Acquire the information
Develop a habit of capturing vital information as you operate your business to track the amount of money you spend and earn. Be sure to keep business and personal expenses separate to avoid unnecessary tax complications. Remember to describe every item purchased for your business, the amount you paid, and the date.
Step 2: Scrutinize the Information
Find time to go through everything you gather and ensure that the information is accurate and complete. Set a specific time, day, or date to check your financial records, as waiting too long could make the process difficult.
Step 3: Record and Save the Information
Each month, transfer your financial records into a presentable format to be stored and evaluated by your bookkeeper. Alternatively, you can enter the information into accounting software or a spreadsheet.
Step 4: Review the Consolidated Information
Compare your financial records on a regular basis, paying particular attention to specific details that suggest challenges, opportunities, or trends for your business. Typically, the most important statements to evaluate are your cash flow analysis and profit and loss statements.
The Bottom Line
The most significant step in financial record keeping is data collection. It’s important to form a habit of regularly collecting, organizing, and assessing your business’ financial information. By following the above process for successful financial record keeping, you can minimize your risk of financial reporting and tax challenges while maximizing your company’s chance of success.