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Landscape Poet
12-06-2011, 05:38 PM
I have been working the last couple days on getting all my expenses in line for taxes and trying to get a rough idea if I NEED to make any purchases before the year end but I am always surprised on how the little expenses and even the not so little expenses add up.

Any of you open enough to discuss your expenses on here and possibly learn from each other? Just a thought - not sure if others are that open - but if we were to it would give us a chance to figure out how we are doing compared to each other and most importantly it could get us to look at what we could do better that others are doing.

I know everyone's numbers are going to be a little different based off of the size of operation alone as well as the part of the industry you are in such as only maint. vs L and O owner and the number employees etc...but maybe we could learn something from each other?:confused:

Anyone interested?

fl-landscapes
12-06-2011, 05:49 PM
Like my accountant says "don't let the tail wag the dog" and purchase something just for the write off. If you NEED something, sure purchase and right off but only if you need it. I am an equipment freak but this year decided to back off big ticket purchases this year unless there was a true need. I use quick books so I constantly know where I am at throughout the year. Every quarter and end of year I send a file to my accountant and he files my qurarterly and year end. As well advises on things like you mentioned. Sounds like your not using accounting software and I would suggest you start. Having all the numbers at the click of a mouse is real convenient.
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Landscape Poet
12-06-2011, 05:52 PM
Like my accountant says "don't let the tail wag the dog" and purchase something just for the write off. If you NEED something, sure purchase and right off but only if you need it. I am an equipment freak but this year decided to back off big ticket purchases this year unless there was a true need. I use quick books so I constantly know where I am at throughout the year. Every quarter and end of year I send a file to my accountant and he files my qurarterly and year end. As well advises on things like you mentioned. Sounds like your not using accounting software and I would suggest you start. Having all the numbers at the click of a mouse is real convenient.
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Have quickbooks but am just now getting familiar with it. The software I was using for invoices was suppose to transfer data over easily - and that is not the case of what I have found so far.
Once I have a little bit of time on QB I think I will like it - but it is just a lot to take in at first.


And as far as equipment - I am one that will more likely make it through with what I have until I have to buy something - so the end of the year is just me buying what I really should of bought all year but I am just too damn cheap to .

Patriot Services
12-06-2011, 05:54 PM
I would max out my SEP IRA contribution before buying something for the sake of a write off.
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fl-landscapes
12-06-2011, 06:00 PM
Good peer discussions to have but I think on the open forum it will turn into a who has a bigger Wang contest and info may be skewed, which won't help. Private message and emails with similar size companies who perform similar services preferably close to your area would be more beneficial.
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Landscape Poet
12-06-2011, 06:05 PM
I would max out my SEP IRA contribution before buying something for the sake of a write off.
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Valid point - again my write offs will not be just because the write off - but rather things that will come in handy that really should of been purchased during the year but I am just too cheap to buy at the time. For example a couple of things that will most likely be purchased this year is additional racks for the trailer - nothing that is going to break the bank - but something that makes life simpler during the heat of the summer as something is no longer in your way.

With that said - more to the point of the original post - % I guess would work best as no one will be disclosing their numbers.

For example what % of fuel for the mowers and 2 cycles does run a year?
Anyone out there actual have a large enough gas bill running solo to take the deduction for it vs the alloted deduction per mile? ETC ETC .

Landscape Poet
12-06-2011, 06:08 PM
Good peer discussions to have but I think on the open forum it will turn into a who has a bigger Wang contest and info may be skewed, which won't help. Private message and emails with similar size companies who perform similar services preferably close to your area would be more beneficial.
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Valid point - for sure - but you posted this before my last post. % should be something of interest to all - and not create a big wang contest I would guess. I would be more interested in knowing someones close to my size pure numbers - but knowing others % would also be a helpful guide I would think to know where fat can be trimmed and where maybe you are missing the boat.

GreenT
12-06-2011, 10:29 PM
With that said - more to the point of the original post - % I guess would work best as no one will be disclosing their numbers.


I don't think you'll get many concrete answers on this Michael, way too many variables. And if you do, it would be more as anecdotal information rather than empirical.

The structure of each business has a great impact on numbers and percentages. There's a difference in operating costs between maintenance outfits v. landscape one, and/or any combination in between. Labor percentages, raw materials, supplies, etc.

And ultimately, each company's pricing structure will have the biggest impact on those numbers as well, rendering any info inapplicable unless you can find two identical situations.

And what are the odds?....

.

Landscape Poet
12-07-2011, 12:01 AM
I don't think you'll get many concrete answers on this Michael, way too many variables. And if you do, it would be more as anecdotal information rather than empirical.

The structure of each business has a great impact on numbers and percentages. There's a difference in operating costs between maintenance outfits v. landscape one, and/or any combination in between. Labor percentages, raw materials, supplies, etc.

And ultimately, each company's pricing structure will have the biggest impact on those numbers as well, rendering any info inapplicable unless you can find two identical situations.

And what are the odds?....

.

I guess that would be correct to a point. I guess I am just referencing my business experience from my previous life as a big box store mgr. We would compare numbers in the district and be held accountable for our numbers even though there was large differences in the stores volume and even selection etc. Supercenters should obviously have a lower payroll % you would think - but in general the stores that were the regular old Wal-Marts were expected to control their payroll % the same as the supers, the same held true for many aspects such as shrink, accidents etc, because in realilty we were talking % to % and not raw numbers as there were dramatic differences there but the % were similar enough believe it or not.

GreenT
12-07-2011, 12:53 AM
I guess that would be correct to a point. I guess I am just referencing my business experience from my previous life as a big box store mgr. We would compare numbers in the district and be held accountable for our numbers even though there was large differences in the stores volume and even selection etc. Supercenters should obviously have a lower payroll % you would think - but in general the stores that were the regular old Wal-Marts were expected to control their payroll % the same as the supers, the same held true for many aspects such as shrink, accidents etc, because in realilty we were talking % to % and not raw numbers as there were dramatic differences there but the % were similar enough believe it or not.



I believe you. I spent a lifetime in the restaurant industry and the fundamentals were the same, 30% labor, 25% food cost, etc. Sales volume was the most notable difference and where you picked up the efficiencies, or lack thereof.

This, this is a whole different animal.

But a lot more fun. :)

.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 10:38 AM
Here is a question for all of you that are reading this. Do you log the mileage on your vehicle monthly or just yearly. With that said do you take your gas receipts for the truck(s) vs the mileage deduction?

The last couple of years and this year too it looks like taking the deduction given for mileage is going to be better for me than actual gas receipts for gas used in the truck. But I have a question concerning mileage this year and wanted to see what and how you guys were approaching it, if you know yet.

Ric
12-21-2011, 11:05 AM
Here is a question for all of you that are reading this. Do you log the mileage on your vehicle monthly or just yearly. With that said do you take your gas receipts for the truck(s) vs the mileage deduction?

The last couple of years and this year too it looks like taking the deduction given for mileage is going to be better for me than actual gas receipts for gas used in the truck. But I have a question concerning mileage this year and wanted to see what and how you guys were approaching it, if you know yet.

Mikey

I have a home office and separate work trucks and personal vehicles. I take 100% of the works once a year and 80% of the personal vehicle's mileage once a year. I also deduct a huge portion as Office Rent. If the Big boys can have accounts why can't I take every advantage also? Yes that is or should be an advantage to being in business.

BTW because my trucks are bought and paid for for a long time now, Mileage gives me a better break than actual cost of Gas and repairs etc.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 11:20 AM
Mikey

I have a home office and separate work trucks and personal vehicles. I take 100% of the works once a year and 80% of the personal vehicle's mileage once a year. I also deduct a huge portion as Office Rent. If the Big boys can have accounts why can't I take every advantage also? Yes that is or should be an advantage to being in business.

BTW because my trucks are bought and paid for for a long time now, Mileage gives me a better break than actual cost of Gas and repairs etc.

See you are in the same boat I am in then Ric. I am not sure if you have reviewed the deductions for this year yet but I just did this morning. Rates have increased from 51 cents for business rate last year to 55 cents this year. The issue I have is for the first time to my knowledge, they are giving a split rate for the year depending on what time the mileage was incurred.

This year for mile driven before July 1, 2011 - = 51 cents per mile for miles driven after June 30, 2011 = 55.5 cents per mile . This of course is great news for us but I am confused on how they realistically expect us to accurately file this information as I figure most are like us and only record the information once a year. I have always just did it from year to year based off of the previous filings mileage.
This throws a loop hole in things. I guess I could just split the mileage in half but I really think that is doing myself a injustice as my revenue was significantly higher in the third quarter - which most likely means more miles were traveled...and especially when you consider how little mileage is actually put on during the winter months - especially last year with the weather pattern.

Just wondering how you and others will approach this now knowing that information. I know your mileage might be a little more steady due to the nature of your part of the industry than say mine..but I imagine you pick up different mileage as you gain one time spray accounts etc during the peak of the season too.

The mileage used on my personal vehicle will also be skewed as we do carry a notebook in it for recording mileage to and from business related events when used, however, again - I do not write down the dates.

stickleylawncare
12-21-2011, 02:40 PM
I record the odometer at every fill up and keep a running tally in excel throughout the year. Just takes a few seconds to write the odometer on the receipt while Im at the pump. I track the mowers, and equipment gas the same way. Its just so I can see how much gas goes to what.

The truck is solely driving for business. Not sure if that makes a difference, this will be the first year I go to an accountant and make sure things are set for next year.

Darryl G
12-21-2011, 03:57 PM
I'm not willing to share too much info, but it always surprises me when I add up my expenses for office supplies. I consider my office to be pretty bare minimum yet I typically spend more on it than equipment maintenance/repairs...not something I would have guessed.

It's also funny how adding a tool when I'm really busy and the cash is flowing nicely seems so easily justifiable, yet in the winter when I'm sitting around counting pocket change I think about how I could have done without it, lol.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 05:23 PM
I'm not willing to share too much info, but it always surprises me when I add up my expenses for office supplies. I consider my office to be pretty bare minimum yet I typically spend more on it than equipment maintenance/repairs...not something I would have guessed.


Office supplies are a big one for me too, but I also include postage in that category of expense so every month it gets a little hit even if the office did not purchase anything else per say. Add in Ink Cartridges, envelops, Internet connection, Security software for the CPU and of course a new CPU every so often and there is a pretty mint hidden in the office for sure. My business is still ran out of my home, so the home office gets taken to the max by the accountant and my wife. My wife keeps every receipt for any thing that could be used in the business such as paper towels and the accountant goes through and takes it all off or a % based off the % of the household expected vs business use is. Paper Towels, TP, GoJo, etc etc ...it all adds up for sure....I am just wishing it would add up quicker this year as I am not seeing a figure I am liking too much as of yet. :confused: I am hoping on our first meeting this year she will remind me of lots of stuff I have overlooked.

Florida Gardener
12-21-2011, 05:34 PM
Office supplies are a big one for me too, but I also include postage in that category of expense so every month it gets a little hit even if the office did not purchase anything else per say. Add in Ink Cartridges, envelops, Internet connection, Security software for the CPU and of course a new CPU every so often and there is a pretty mint hidden in the office for sure. My business is still ran out of my home, so the home office gets taken to the max by the accountant and my wife. My wife keeps every receipt for any thing that could be used in the business such as paper towels and the accountant goes through and takes it all off or a % based off the % of the household expected vs business use is. Paper Towels, TP, GoJo, etc etc ...it all adds up for sure....I am just wishing it would add up quicker this year as I am not seeing a figure I am liking too much as of yet. :confused: I am hoping on our first meeting this year she will remind me of lots of stuff I have overlooked.

Mike

Do you send your customers invoices in an envelope?

All my customers are billed via email through quickbooks and the send me the check either through a personal check or through their bank. I don't use any paper or stamps this way......just a thought.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 06:29 PM
Mike

Do you send your customers invoices in an envelope?

All my customers are billed via email through quickbooks and the send me the check either through a personal check or through their bank. I don't use any paper or stamps this way......just a thought.

I do both - however if they have agreed to email they still get a hard copy too. I am old school like that I guess. It would work for a large part of my customer base but some of the old ones do not even have a internet connection so I would still be mailing some.

I am trying to get converted over to quickbooks. I bought it last year and have failed to spend any time learning it. I will convert hopefully this year - we will see. The biggest thing in my way is that my current program was suppose to convert the information over to quickbooks easy....I have not experienced that so far in the conversion. Everything is too difficult. When I finally have everything laid out - backed up and ready to go for taxes I am going to try to convert everything this year but it is too risky to do so at this point as I can not afford to lose any information in the transfer.

Florida Gardener
12-21-2011, 06:48 PM
I do both - however if they have agreed to email they still get a hard copy too. I am old school like that I guess. It would work for a large part of my customer base but some of the old ones do not even have a internet connection so I would still be mailing some.

I am trying to get converted over to quickbooks. I bought it last year and have failed to spend any time learning it. I will convert hopefully this year - we will see. The biggest thing in my way is that my current program was suppose to convert the information over to quickbooks easy....I have not experienced that so far in the conversion. Everything is too difficult. When I finally have everything laid out - backed up and ready to go for taxes I am going to try to convert everything this year but it is too risky to do so at this point as I can not afford to lose any information in the transfer.
oh yea forgot about the people who don't use email. The one person I have like that hands me the check first week of the month all the time. Yea, Quickbooks makes life much easier, even if you only send half your invoices, that's a lot of saved postage.
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Darryl G
12-21-2011, 06:51 PM
Here is a question for all of you that are reading this. Do you log the mileage on your vehicle monthly or just yearly. With that said do you take your gas receipts for the truck(s) vs the mileage deduction?

The last couple of years and this year too it looks like taking the deduction given for mileage is going to be better for me than actual gas receipts for gas used in the truck. But I have a question concerning mileage this year and wanted to see what and how you guys were approaching it, if you know yet.

I deduct actual vehicle expenses, 100% of them because we have personal vehicles for personal use. I'm not sure you can swtich between the two methods, pretty sure I read that you have to pick one and stick with it, but I could be wrong. And I just check my mileage annually, no daily/weekly/monthly log or anything.

Darryl G
12-21-2011, 06:55 PM
I haven't had the greatest luck with e-mailing my invoices. It seems that people go through their e-mail and open it but don't always print it out, since they might open it at work or something. Then it gets forgotten. And then they don't have the payment envelope I would include with a hard copy either. I do e-mail a few, but the bulk of my invoices are sent via snail mail.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 07:40 PM
I deduct actual vehicle expenses, 100% of them because we have personal vehicles for personal use. I'm not sure you can swtich between the two methods, pretty sure I read that you have to pick one and stick with it, but I could be wrong. And I just check my mileage annually, no daily/weekly/monthly log or anything.

Mine is used for strictly business use too... :rolleyes: although there might be a trip to and from the grocery store or something on occasion.....nothing that I think anyone would get too upset about.

I believe if you take the mileage deduction you have to do it the first year the vehicle is in service....and you can switch there after if you want...but not the other way around. I am however not positive about that.


I have over $1600 in Repairs this year when you include the towing as the CPU on it went out so it is looking more and more like the actual cost is going to be the higher of the two.

Landscape Poet
12-21-2011, 07:48 PM
oh yea forgot about the people who don't use email. The one person I have like that hands me the check first week of the month all the time. Yea, Quickbooks makes life much easier, even if you only send half your invoices, that's a lot of saved postage.
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I got several that hand me the check too - and to be honest I would much rather just have it sent to me. I am always worried it is going to get lost in the truck. They generally have it in a envelope and a couple of them on a days route stack up and become akward having around with me all day. I would say that roughly 70% of people have their payment through either auto pay or by having a check cut through online banking but they still get sent a hard copy too. Saving the postage would be nice though but I guess I am stuck in my ways.

My current program does email - but I need to make the switch to Quickbooks to help keep everything neatly laid out. Currently I have to make my own catagories for expenses etc etc. Another reason for the want to move to Quickbooks is my banks online program allows you to label each transaction and note if it is able to be deducted and put it in a category and then it is suppose to export a file upon you downloading directly to quickbooks. Not sure how that will work but it sounds a heck of a lot more simple.