Are your receipts looking like enormous New Year’s confetti all over the office? Are you having trouble sorting out how to categorize year-end bonuses and client gifts? Did you lose the comparison sheet on your options for travel expenses? Are you scrambling to get your fourth quarter tax details in order? If so, you’re probably feeling like a tea bag in boiling water, hoping your accountant will turn down the temperature. We can help!

Here are several ways you can get more organized for your CPA:

1. Make a folder for your charitable donations and have a copy of the receipt or letter from each organization.

2. Make a folder for those 1099s and 1098s when they start coming in - your CPA needs these.

3. Make a folder or notebook of your bank and cc records.  But make sure to reconcile all of your bank accounts, credit card accounts and loan accounts.  Match the ending amounts to the Dec 31 statements.

4. Make a folder (or two) for receipts - Make notes on receipts for anything you plan to claim as a deduction.  Save all of them or scan them if you want to store in the cloud. your CPA should not need them all if you have entered them in your accounting software - but if you have nothing together - then they will have to sort through them.

5. Get your mileage together:  1) If you used your personal vehicle for company purposes, Or 2) Likewise if you used the company car for personal purposes - your CPA needs these numbers.  It is your responsibility to prove the miles you are claiming are legitimate - start using an app for that!

6. Know the requirements to qualify for deductions for meals and entertainment: 1) must have a business purpose and 2) you must actually meet with someone.  Your drive-through meal does not qualify as a business meal.

7. If you file is in an accounting software like QuickBooks, you can send a copy of the file to your CPA after you have reconciled everything.  

8. Confirm employees have turned in all their reimbursable expenses for the business.

When you’re finished, scan your receipts and documents so they’re easy to find and send with your files.

If you need further guidance on any financial questions, consult your accountant. Assuming you are self-employed, there’s an IRS help link for you. The IRS also has a section pertaining to home offices. There is a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center Office at: 5740 Uptain Road / 37411. Or, you can reach them at: 423-855-6460.

And, of course, you’re always welcome to start with us when you have a list of questions. We’ll be happy to answer them for you or point you in the right direction!

Let us turn the boiling tea bag effect into a relaxing sauna…ahh…

Lynn Talbott, MBA, PHR, received the TSBDC’s 2015 Small Business Person of the Year Award for Chattanooga and was recognized as a 2015 Rising Star. She is the Founder and President of HR Business Solutions, LLC. Lynn was previously a Corporate Trainer and HR Manager for a Fortune 500 company in Seattle, WA. She has 20+ years’ experience advising entrepreneurs of small- to mid-sized businesses in HR and Office Management. She is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and is Xero-Certified.