Tax compliance for startups can feel challenging to founders and managers. Inexperience, inadequate time, and constrained resources can make dealing with taxes a source of concern.
Although starting a business can be exciting for individuals looking to pursue their entrepreneurial passions and increase their incomes, owning a business comes with many responsibilities, and taxes are a big part of that.
The most common method for ensuring startup tax compliance is to file and pay quarterly estimated taxes.
Strict tax compliance with applicable laws helps you avoid fines and penalties. This guide will help lessen your tax headaches, help you remain (or become) compliant, and give you peace of mind by offering tips on how to plan, file, and pay startup taxes on time.
Steps for Startup Tax Compliance
A critical aspect of running a business is maintaining tax compliance. For example, did you know that you still need to file your taxes, even without a steady income or sales? Keeping a tax checklist for the things you need as a startup can help. Doing so will help you avoid harsh penalties and interest on unpaid tax bills.
Step 1: Undertake a Self-Assessment of Tax Obligations
To have your startup taxes under control, you must understand what taxes apply to your business. This will help you fully comply with all tax regulations and ensure your startup is in good standing with the tax authorities.
It also allows you to identify any issues or mistakes and rectify them before they become significant problems. A self-assessment gives you an idea of what to pay and when making it easier to plan your taxes and pay them on time.
Step 2: Get Registered for Taxes
To avoid penalties or fines, ensure that your startup is registered properly with the IRS and has paid all applicable taxes. You’ll also want to become familiar with regulations that may impact your business taxes and reporting requirements.
Registering for taxes can be time-consuming, but it’s vital for your business. An accountant or lawyer specializing in startups can help you navigate the process more quickly and thoroughly if you don’t know where to start.
Step 3: Determine Tax Deductible Business Expenses
Although some jurisdictions require sales and value-added taxes, most business taxes are paid on profits. Deductible expenses reduce your tax burden by reducing the taxable income and the amount of money you owe the taxman.
Business expenses are deductible when they’re directly related to producing income from your business activities.
For example, deductibles include:
- Software and subscriptions
- Office supplies and equipment
- Employee salaries and benefits
Interest paid on business loans used for equipment or other capital purchases can often be deducted.
Step 4: Record Business Transactions Accurately
Because accurate records help you justify your level of expenses and taxable income, it’s imperative to keep accurate records of all transactions associated with your business activities. There are multiple ways to track your business’s financial information, from a simple spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel or advanced ERP systems like Oracle’s NetSuite.
When transaction records don’t match, it casts doubt on the accuracy of your financial statements and could result in penalties for underreporting income. The records act as proof when an audit is required by law enforcement agencies or other entities looking into possible tax violations.
Step 5: File Tax Returns in Time
Filing on time can help you avoid penalties, especially if you have underpaid your quarterly estimated taxes.
If you miss the deadline by two weeks or more, you will have to pay late fees and interest charges until you file your return. You can also file an extension with the IRS if your business is not yet profitable so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity of claiming deductions and credits.
Step 6: Pay Taxes Accurately and on Time
Tax compliance is one of the most critical aspects of running a startup. Timely payment of taxes is essential for avoiding audits and penalties, interest, and other fees. The IRS can initiate an in-depth audit against a company if it feels it has not paid its fair share of taxes.
Step 7: Monitor Changes in Tax Laws
Startups have a lot of moving parts, and it’s easy to overlook the tax implications of changes in the business’s setup, structure, and applicable external rules. Staying compliant with federal tax laws means always keeping an eye on changes in tax laws so that you don’t get caught by any new regulations or requirements. Continuous monitoring can help avoid costly startup tax issues and give you peace of mind.
Stay Compliant with Your Startup Taxes
The US tax system is complex, and businesses can often find themselves in a quandary when dealing with the government. Tax compliance is crucial to avoid penalties, audits, interests, and fines.
Self-assessments, tax registrations, utilizing tax deductions, maintaining accurate records, timely payment and filing of taxes, and monitoring changes in tax laws are great tips to ensure compliance for your startup.
Financial experts like the professionals at Founder’s CPA can help you tackle the complexity of taxes for startups and the challenges of running a business. Our team can help you set up systems to ensure compliance, pay the correct taxes, and file timely returns.
Contact us today for peace of mind regarding taxes for your startup.