If you’re in the personal service business, then you know that keeping your clients happy is how you’re going to pay your bills.  Whether you’re an accountant, personal trainer, therapist, or any other like-business, you depend on them.

We’ve put together the top 3 ways (that we’ve found) that keep your clients coming back, and refer their friends to you.

1. Keep the communication lines open

The fastest way to keep lose your clients is to not communicate with them.  There’s really nothing magical about this.  Just talk, email, or meet with them.  How many of us have lost a client and to find out if communication was better, we could have saved the relationship?  If you’re already doing this, maybe it’s the opposite and your client is a bad communicator–not much you can do there.  But, if you give them multiple chances to voice their opinions, then if they decide to leave, it’s probably due to something outside of your relationship.  Plus, as we communicate and develop relationships, they’ll refer their friends to us.  And that is the best compliment!

2. Prove your worth–over and over again

When you start services, it’s easy for the client to see the value of your services.  But a funny thing happens with time–they forget!  So in order to keep your clients happy, you have to re-sell your self every chance you get.  There’s lots of ways to do this including: newsletters, value-added services, cards, etc.  Do what’s best for you and your business.  But the goal is to remind your clients of your worth.  For instance, when we meet with a client to do proactive tax planning, we often do tax projections.  In those projections we always point out that if they didn’t have us helping them, the would be paying $X amount of dollars more in taxes.  Our value is proven and quantified.

3. Focus on educating, not selling

Think about the last time you purchased a car.  Was the sales man “pushy”, or did he just try to educate and answer your questions?  Which was a more pleasant experience?  Chances are that it was the guy who educated and answered your questions.  What you’re doing is empowering your client to make the best decision for themselves.  If that decision to hire you, then it will be a great client relationship since they’re the ones coming to your table.  Over time, educators always develop the best relationships, which translates in more dollars for you.

What are your best practices to keep clients engaged?  Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

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Whether you you have 1 or 30 employees, payroll is often synonymous with big costs and lots of headaches.  And rightfully so.  For a small business, payroll is often the #1 expense, and if you’ve ever tried to run and file payroll returns your self, you know how complex it can be.

In the last few years a new breed of cloud-based payroll companies have emerged into the small business services market.  Not only do they cater to the small business, but they make it easy for a small business owner to run their own payroll.  Here are some features that we like, and that can benefit your small business:

Cloud (Internet) based software

Since these services are cloud based, they’re accessible from any computer with an internet connection.  They also follow the “Software as a Service”, or “SaaS’ model.  Which means you pay a monthly fee for access to the software, with no IT or other software costs to you.

Direct Integration With Your Accounting Software

A good majority of them integrate with some of our favorite cloud-based accounting systems like Xero & QuickBooks Online.  This means that every time you run payroll, the entries are automatically entered into your books with no complicated manual entries required.

Time and Attendance that Integrates Directly with Your Payroll

Along side cloud payroll, are time and attendance solutions that integrate directly to your payroll AND your accounting software.  Again, this saves you tons of time with calculating hours, and inputting onto a time sheet.  Approving hours and paying your employees is often just a few mouse clicks.

One Cost for Everything

Cloud-based payroll systems have cut and dry pricing.  One fee per month, for unlimited pay runs and no extra hidden charges.  Some of the big players, charge you per each pay run, charge you for quarterly returns, and even W-2’s at the end of the year.

Direct Deposit and Online Pay Stubs

Direct deposit means that you don’t have to spend hours cutting checks for your employees.  And often, cloud payroll services give each employee their own access to view and print their own pay stubs.

Collaboration With Your Accountant

Not only is cloud payroll easily accessible, but it’s also easily shared with your accountant.  This allows for quick, and easy help when you need it.

 

Cloud payroll services may not be the best fit for everyone, but for most small businesses, they offer what you need at a fraction of the cost of some of the big players.  Here at iAccounting Solutions, we’re experts in cloud payroll services.  Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions, or need some advice on which service to choose.

 

 

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Although the 2012 tax season is officially over, tax scams unfortunately are not, which is why the IRS issues an annual “Dirty Dozen” list that includes common tax scams affecting taxpayers.

Taxpayers should be aware of these tax scams so they can protect themselves against claims that sound too good to be true, and because taxpayers who buy into illegal tax scams can end up facing significant penalties and interest and even criminal prosecution.

Here are the tax scams that made the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list this filing season:

1. Identity Theft. Tax fraud through the use of identity theft tops this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list. Combating identity theft and refund fraud is a top priority for the IRS. The IRS’s ID theft strategy focuses on prevention, detection and victim assistance. During 2012, the IRS protected $20 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related to identity theft. This compares to $14 billion in 2011. Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should immediately contact the IRS so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. If you have received a notice from the IRS, call the phone number on the notice.

2. Phishing. Phishing typically involves an unsolicited email or a fake website that seems legitimate but lures victims into providing personal and financial information. Once scammers obtain that information, they can commit identity theft or financial theft. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.

3. Return Preparer Fraud. Although most return preparers are reputable and provide good service, you should choose carefully when hiring someone to prepare your tax return. Only use a preparer who signs the return they prepare for you and enters their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

4. Hiding Income Offshore. One form of tax evasion is hiding income in offshore accounts. This includes using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access those funds. While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements taxpayers need to fulfill. Failing to comply can lead to penalties or criminal prosecution.

5. “Free Money” from the IRS & Tax Scams Involving Social Security. Beware of scammers who prey on people with low income, the elderly and church members around the country. Scammers use flyers and ads with bogus promises of refunds that don’t exist. The schemes target people who have little or no income and normally don’t have to file a tax return. In some cases, a victim may be due a legitimate tax credit or refund but scammers fraudulently inflate income or use other false information to file a return to obtain a larger refund. By the time people find out the IRS has rejected their claim, the promoters are long gone.

6. Impersonation of Charitable Organizations. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities.

7. False/Inflated Income and Expenses. Falsely claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to get larger refundable tax credits is tax fraud. This includes false claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In many cases the taxpayer ends up repaying the refund, including penalties and interest. In some cases the taxpayer faces criminal prosecution. In one particular scam, taxpayers file excessive claims for the fuel tax credit. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is a frivolous claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

8. False Form 1099 Refund Claims. In this scam, the perpetrator files a fake information return, such as a Form 1099-OID, to justify a false refund claim.

9. Frivolous Arguments. Promoters of frivolous schemes advise taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. These are false arguments that the courts have consistently thrown out. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law.

10. Falsely Claiming Zero Wages. Filing a phony information return is an illegal way to lower the amount of taxes an individual owes. Typically, scammers use a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. Filing this type of return can result in a $5,000 penalty.

11. Disguised Corporate Ownership. Scammers improperly use third parties form corporations that hide the true ownership of the business. They help dishonest individuals underreport income, claim fake deductions and avoid filing tax returns. They also facilitate money laundering and other financial crimes.

12. Misuse of Trusts. There are legitimate uses of trusts in tax and estate planning. But some questionable transactions promise to reduce the amount of income that is subject to tax, offer deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the promised tax benefits. They primarily help avoid taxes and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

If you think you’ve been scammed, call our office immediately.

 

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If you’re one of the more than 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction), you might be interested in the new simplified option available for taxpayers starting with the 2013 return most taxpayers file early in 2014.

The new optional deduction, recently announced by the IRS, is capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet. It is expected to reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

Currently, taxpayers claiming the home office deduction are generally required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions. Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.

Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method. Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.

Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

If you need more details about the new simplified home office deduction for tax year 2013, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to help.

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Question: How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

Answer: If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year.

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

If you are filing as a corporation you generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return.

If you had a tax liability for the prior year, you may have to pay estimated tax for the current year; however, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings.

There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and certain higher taxpayers.

Contact us if you are unsure whether you need to make an estimated tax payment. The first estimated payment for 2012 is due April 15, 2013.

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