‘Tis the (Filing) Season – Time for W2s and 1099 Reporting

1099-santa-hatEvery year-end brings with it not just the holiday spirit, but also the underlying dread felt by small business owners – a creepy and back-of-your-neck hair-raising feeling associated with annual business tax reporting and filing. That old saying about “death and taxes” has a lot of validity to it; sometimes they feel like the same thing to a small business owner. And this is the filing season. Ho ho ho.

The reporting requirements for small businesses seem to be growing at a rapid pace, and business owners are struggling to find the information and tools that ease the adjustment to increasingly burdensome reporting and compliance. The IRS has implemented a number of measures to increase tax revenues and enforce compliance, including stricter 1099 reporting requirements. With information provided at both ends of the “transaction” it is easier to identify those discrepancies which trigger audits.   With this type of business intelligence, the IRS has developed a fairly strong weapon to combat non-compliance, so small business owners need to really pay attention (the IRS is).  If the feds are tooling up, then business owners should, too.

Just to add to the seasonal festivities, make sure you upgrade your accounting software in time to benefit from the right rules and forms. If you run a small business and keep most of your information on spreadsheets (still? really?), that’s OK because there are solutions available which draw the information from spreadsheets, eliminating the need to re-enter data. Seriously, though, you should consider using actual bookkeeping or accounting software.

It is also important to remember that payroll tax filing dates for W-2s and 1099 forms were changed for 2016 taxes, and these changes continue for 2017. The filing deadline for 2017 W-2s and 1099 forms (including Form 1099-MISC) is January 31, 2018, which is a month earlier than the pre-2017 filing date. Thankfully, the deadline for providing W-2 forms to employees and 1099-MISC forms to other workers for 2017 has not changed. This deadline is still January 31, 2018. 

Using a cloud-based service to file 1099s online should be something your business considers doing if it isn’t already. Because most services include form and feature updates, users don’t have to go looking for the right documents or worry that they are using an outdated form.  In an online or hosted solution, users benefit from updates without downloads and get stricter security around their data than would likely be present on their own PC.  As it relates to your accounting software, make sure it has the capabilities you need in this area and don’t settle for limited functionality.

Here are some features you’ll want to look for in your e-filing solution this year:

  • The ability to print and/or mail forms to recipients as well as e-filing forms directly with the IRS or SSA
  • Have Form 1096 or W-3 automatically calculated and transmitted electronically with the detail forms
  • Upload volumes of data with Excel templates or import from your accounting software (saves time and reduces input errors)
  • Store data securely and provide full access to filed forms for multiple years
  • Maintain payer and recipient records securely for use year after year.
  • Encrypt data upon submission and keep it encrypted throughout the entire process
  • Supports 1099 Corrections (should allow filing of corrected forms regardless of how the original form was filed)
  • Accountants, Bookkeepers and Tax Preparers should be able to set up multiple payers and file on behalf of many clients from a single account, even filing for all clients at once or via batch submission

Year-end tax filing, especially dealing with 1099s and W2s, is an arduous task for most small businesses and their professional service providers, yet it is one of those things that simply can’t be put off.  Where there is a single income tax return there could be literally hundreds of associated 1099s or W2s to file.  1099 filing in particular has become more of a focus as authorities crack down on contractor versus employer classifications and seek to develop easier identification of audit candidates (something every business owner wants to avoid).

The point of the discussion is that there are cloud-based tools which are highly useful, feature rich, and very affordable… and business owners and their accountants or bookkeepers would be wise to take a look rather than assuming that the general accounting software will do the trick this year and the next.  Remember that tax filing season is an annual event, and being able to rely on a consistently useful solution can make the season a bit merrier (or at least a little less stressful) for all.

jmbunnyfeetMake Sense?

J

Hi! I was looking for the Frangos.

The Cloud and the Business Desktop

Cloud computing is here – no longer is it considered to be temporary or just a fad.  Even though there are many businesses in the country without access to high quality high-speed Internet connectivity, the levels of investment and revenue surrounding cloud and mobile computing solutions and technologies has proven that mobility and managed service matter to those who are connected. What’s interesting is that the popularity of the cloud and the emergence of cloud-based applications and services haven’t really put much of a dent in the need for the desktop, which remains as the business workhorse and – connected or not – represents the foundation for business productivity and getting work done.

Some years ago, business applications began to emerge in SaaS (software-as-a-service) format, meaning a customer could simply subscribe to an application on the web rather than purchasing and installing software.  This option clearly resounded with many business customers and ushered in an era of online application services oriented specifically toward mobile users. Yet the desktop remains as the place where online solutions meet productivity (export any online data to an Excel spreadsheet recently?) and where accounting and finance connect with the rest of the operation.

Believing too much of the marketing-speak around cloud computing, many business users believe that they can only remotely access business software solutions if they are “cloud” and subscription model applications, and that the desktop products they know and have invested in cannot be available to them in a fully managed online model.  In fact, a large number of the business owners I speak with that actually use hosted desktop services somehow believe that the software they are using is something special and different from that which would be installed to their PCs. The fact is that the software is not different, regardless of what they may think. More often than not, the hosted applications are EXACTLY what the customer had previously installed (or would have installed) to their own computers had they not been working with a hosting provider.  Whether they are hosted or not… the desktop products generally function with all the features and capability designed into them because they are hosted on platforms they were designed to run on (like Microsoft Windows, for example).

Customers of the QuickBooks hosting companies often refer to their systems as “QuickBooks cloud, but not the online one”, not really understanding that it is simply the full desktop application that is being hosted for them.

Regardless of how many online application services emerge, and even if (IF) web-based versions of our favorite word processing and spreadsheet software become as useful as the installed kind, there will still be a need for the desktop if for no other reason than to make it easier to use and work with a variety of solutions at the same time.  Perhaps this is why remote desktop computing and hosted application services are becoming increasingly popular approaches to cloud and managed computing services.  The user benefits from having the feature-rich applications they need and a single place to access them and make them work together (the desktop value proposition), yet is able to have remote and mobile access, comprehensive system management and maintenance, data protection, helpdesk support and affordable monthly payments (the cloud value proposition).  In many ways, application hosting models represent the best of both worlds for the business.

JJoanie Mann Bunny Feet

Make Sense?

Consider how beneficial it would be to businesses who want the advantage of remote desktop and mobile access to applications to be able to run their QuickBooks (feature-rich desktop QuickBooks) and/or other business applications in an anytime, anywhere sort of environment. Businesses can obtain hosting services for QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise – allowing organizations to have their QuickBooks financial applications managed, protected, secured, and made available to users all the time and from any location. Some hosting services may also support integrations and extensions for QuickBooks – for both desktop and Web-based applications and services. When the host can provide authorized subscription licensing for Microsoft Office, a business can have a complete, outsourced IT solution and pay only monthly service fees to get it. No installation or system management to worry about: the QuickBooks financials, the productivity, the operational systems and plugged-in applications can all be hosted in the cloud.