2018 Business Tax Prep Checklist

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Tax Prep Checklist

At this time of year, if you’re a small business owner, you don’t have time to mess around. You need to get your taxes done, and done fast. Happily, you’re not alone in the race to meet this year’s April 17th deadline. We Merchant Maverick folk are here to help, and so is your accounting software.

That’s why we’ve created a simple, printable checklist to help you prep for your tax filings. This checklist covers how to get your accounting software up to date before filing, what accounting reports you need to fill out your tax forms, important filing information, and more. Download this checklist to get ahead of the tax game and read on to learn some of our tax filing tips and tricks.

Merchant Maverick’s Tax Prep Checklist (PDF)

Filing Taxes:

You don’t need Spock to tell you that logically, the next step is actually completing and filing your tax forms.

Which forms you need to file depends entirely on the type of small business you have: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporations, S Corporation or LLC. This IRS Business Structure site will tell you every tax form you need to file depending on your business. Some of the most common are income tax, Schedule Cs, 1099-MISCs, W-2s, and W-4s.

If you hire an accountant to do your taxes for you, he or she will be able to tell you which forms to file. Accountants often charge by the hour, so having the necessary information in place from the start saves them time and saves you money. Being prepared is the best gift you can give them (and yourself).

If you are filing your taxes yourself, it is incredibly important to do your research and take advantage of every resource possible—including your accounting software. Most accounting software companies offer some degree of tax support. Read our How to Get the Most Out of Your Accounting Software This Tax Season guide to learn which tax forms your software supports. There are also many small business tax resources for those who need a helping hand, including:

  • IRS Virtual Workshops– When in doubt, ask the IRS. The IRS has nine videos for small business owners as well as all information necessary for tax filing.
  • First-Time Business Owners: A Brief Guide to Tax Filing– The Entrepreneur put together a helpful tax filing guide for those of you who are new to business taxes.
  • Careful Cents – Careful Cents is a blog run by tax expert Carrie Smith, who offers two free books—“Tax Toolkit: A Checklist for Self-Employed Biz Owners” and “The Ultimate Guide to Self-Employed Tax Deductions.”

It is also important to note that even after you file your taxes, you must hold on to the records prepared above; they will be incredibly important if the IRS decides to audit you somewhere down the line. How long should I keep my business records, you ask? Many people will tell you three years, but in some cases, the IRS can file an audit up to six years after a filing (or even an indefinite time period, depending on the reason for the audit). Tax records are definitely an instance where it is much better to be safe than sorry.

We wish you an easy, audit-free tax season—and we hope that this checklist will help you achieve just that.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause

Head Accounting and Invoicing Writer
Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. She became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she's not working, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, daydreaming about her newest story, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.
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