One of the keys to bringing your tax strategy full circle is your bookkeeping. It's one thing to know what's deductible and how to maximize your business deductions, but unless that gets reflected in your bookkeeping, it's as if the tax planning never happened at all. Use this checklist!
Use this checklist to make sure your bookkeeping is maximizing your travel, meals and entertainment deductions.
_ Get reimbursed for business expenses you pay for personally. Ever been to a restaurant that only takes cash? Or taken a taxi that only accepts cash? Or misplaced your business credit card and had to use your personal credit card? These are just a few examples of when we have to pay our business expenses with personal funds. It's easy to miss these expenses so keep an envelope handy and put all of your receipts in this envelope. Then you've got it handy when you complete your expense report.
_ Code meals that are 50% deductible to a separate account to keep them distinct from other expenses that are not subject to this 50% rule. Many times I see just one meal account in the chart of accounts. The problem with this is that while meals are generally only 50% deductible, some meals are 100% deductible. The mistake that I see most often when I review a prospect's prior year tax return, is all meals are treated as only 50% deductible (because they are all coded to one account) and there is no strategy to identify meals that are 100% deductible.
_ Code meals that are 100% deductible to a separate account to make sure these are deducted in full and not combined with meals that are only 50% deductible.
_ Code your entertainment expenses to a separate account from meals and travel.
_ Code your travel expenses that are not meals and entertainment expenses to a separate travel account. Too many times I have seen an account named “Travel, meals and entertainment" (it happens to be a default account in a popular bookkeeping software) and everything gets lumped into this account. Business travel is 100% deductible so separate it out as part of your bookkeeping system. Otherwise, you will have to sort through that account at the end of the year, or worse, you may forget to sort through that account and everything in the account is treated as only 50% deductible!
_ Use the memo section in your bookkeeping software to make notes about who, what, when, where, how much and the business purpose of your travel, meals and entertainment expenses. This is a great way to strengthen your documentation.
How does your bookkeeping match up?
Proper bookkeeping will boost your tax deductions, particularly for travel, meals and entertainment. This is an area where deductions are regularly missed and not properly documented, but once you know the rules and use my system, you'll find more and more deductions!
** Important Tip! **
Keep your bookkeeping current! What does current mean? One easy way to make sure you are staying current is to review your Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statements once a month. Do this review when you receive your monthly bank statement. Simply reconcile your bank statement and then review your financial statements.
Knowing how to maximize your deductions for travel, meals and entertainment is a key part of a successful tax strategy.
Tom Wheelwright is not only the founder and CEO of Provision, but he is the creative force behind Provision Wealth Strategists. In addition to his management responsibilities, Tom likes to coach clients on wealth, business, and tax strategies. Along with his frequent seminars on these strategies, Tom is an adjunct professor in the Masters of Tax program at Arizona State University. For more information please visit http://www.provisionwealth.com