real estate accountants

Best Real Estate Accounting Tips for Agents and Brokers

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

As the owner of a new real estate business, you’re probably aware of the unique characteristics of your industry. You take a personal interest in the real estate market, and you are excited to do great work for your clients, whether buying or selling pieces of property. 

But here’s the thing—running a real estate business is about more than making great deals. Accounting plays a major role in staying organized, managing taxes, and making smart decisions in any business. 

Why accounting is important for real estate businesses

Setting up your real estate accounting system the right way will enable you to minimize the labor and stress involved in large-value transactions, extreme income fluctuations, employee pay formulas, and government regulations.

These tips are for you if your business is:

  • Real estate broker or agent
  • Property management
  • Building construction
  • Residential sales
  • Real estate investment management

Another reason to keep accurate financial records is that you will probably have to show them to interested parties at some point. These entities include:

  • Lenders
  • Shareholders
  • Creditors
  • Government bodies (e.g., the IRS)

There are many motivations to keep accurate books. And, contrary to popular belief, doing so does not have to be a major headache or hassle. With a service like Xendoo, you can outsource your bookkeeping and tax work to focus on what you do best. For more information, check out this post on how to choose the right software to simplify your real estate accounting. 

Two men go over real esate regulations at their desk.

Learn the Regulations

Did you know that it is not just real estate transactions that local and state commissions oversee? These bodies also oversee the financial management of a real estate business, so playing by the rules is essential. Therefore, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their requirements before making any decisions about your bookkeeping system. If the language is unclear, consult a professional accountant who specializes in real estate. It’s far better to spend extra time setting up your accounting procedures properly at the start than trying to untangle a mess when you run into trouble later on.

Choose Who or What Will Do Your Real Estate Accounting

For real estate professionals, the most viable options are:

  • Hire an accountant as a full-time employee
  • Outsource accounting services
  • Accounting software used by management or other designated employees

Hiring an accountant to work in-house is undoubtedly a powerful approach, but it will be costly and likely beyond the scope of many real estate businesses. On the other end of the spectrum, acquiring accounting software to manage the books yourself or amongst your team might be difficult if no one has proper accounting training or the time to dedicate to ensure your books are up to date. Even minor accounting mistakes can add up to bigger ones down the road.

It’s the middle ground – outsourcing accounting tasks to a third party like Xendoo – that will make the most sense for many real estate agents and brokers. This option keeps the costs down while still freeing up your time and utilizing experts to make sure the work is done properly. 

Select Your Accounting Method

You have two choices: cash basis or accrual. Once you make a choice, you must stick with it, unless you submit a change request to the IRS. (Your first tax return shows the IRS which one you chose in the beginning — you don’t have to submit any forms for that.)

Cash basis accounting is often preferred by small businesses because it’s easier to maintain, and it tells you how much money you actually have in the bank on any given day. Accrual accounting is usually the choice of larger companies because it portrays a more accurate portrait of your real estate business’s financial performance. Accrual accounting also allows you to better your long-term plan, which is helpful if you are thinking about expanding your business.

A real estate agent looks over his accounting charts on a tablet.

Create a Chart of Accounts

This complete index of your company’s transactions is essential for knowing how you stand. It will save you many hours of work when you need to measure performance, generate a report, locate past transactions, or prepare tax returns.

The chart of accounts is organized into categories for easy sorting and retrieval. These categories can be anything you need. Under Assets, they might include Cash, Accounts Receivable, and Vehicles. Under Liabilities, you might have sub-accounts such as Accounts Payable, Loans, and Payroll.

Keep Business and Personal Transactions Separate

Don’t fall into the bad habit of pulling out your business credit card or checkbook to pay personal expenses — or vice versa. Without fail, it will cause more problems than it solves, including inaccurate books, tax mistakes, and cash flow issues. 

Real estate accounting shouldn’t be complicated, and this is one of the golden rules that can keep things simple—don’t make personal purchases with business accounts. Opening a separate bank account and a credit card strictly for your business will also make you look more professional to your customers, creditors, and investors.

Fool-Proof Accounts Receivable

Collecting payments that are owed is one of the biggest headaches for small businesses. Prevent delayed and missed payments with an automated invoicing system that:

  • Sends invoices promptly
  • Includes all the necessary information
  • Offers several convenient ways to pay
  • Tracks and contacts delinquent payers

With an automated system in place, you’ll save time and avoid missing out on revenue that slipped through the cracks when you were too busy to track it down. 

Reconcile Your Bank Account Every Month

Reconciling your bank account means checking that the transactions listed on the bank statement match what you have in your books. This process will identify any discrepancies so you can figure out why they happened and make a plan for avoiding those issues in the future.

Usually, it’s something simple like a financial transaction that’s recorded in your books, but the bank hasn’t processed it yet. However, it could be a more severe problem such as data entry error, misunderstandings of using the bookkeeping system, or even theft.

A broker goes over his taxes for his real estate business.

Figure Out Worker Pay and Taxes

Your business may pay one or more of these types of compensation:

  • Salary employee
  • Commission employee
  • Salary plus commission employee
  • Independent sub-contractor

Ideally, you’ll have payroll software that can calculate them all, as well as track them for income tax withholding. Fees to independent contractors may be handled separately by accounts payable since these workers are not, by definition, your employees.

It’s not only the fees that you have to be aware of but also the proper paperwork for each type of employee. You’ll need to learn which tax forms to collect from employees (W-2) and contractors (1099) and how to report their income to the IRS.

At Xendoo, we can also help with payroll processing as an add-on service to our real estate accounting. You won’t have to worry about issuing and filing your W-2s or1099s, which means one less thing keeping you from focusing on your business. 

Make Professional Life a Little Easier

If all this seems overwhelming, consider outsourcing to financial professionals. Xendoo specializes in small business accounting. We’ll relieve you of all that work and worry with services that range from real-time bookkeeping to timely financial reports to preparing your tax return. 

 

See for yourself with a one-month free trial.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Recipe for Success: 5 Must-Have Ingredients of Restaurant Bookkeeping

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

As a busy restaurateur, it’s easy to push restaurant bookkeeping tasks to the bottom of your priority list. After all, you have better things to do – right?

Not so fast. Restaurant bookkeeping is an essential function for businesses large and small, as accurate, reliable numbers are essential for sound decision making. Also, there is the whole matter of taxes to consider. Safe to say, it’s better to get things right the first time with bookkeeping, instead of paying for your mistakes later on. 

To help get your restaurant accounting processes on the right track, we have assembled the following five tips.

1. Record Sales Daily

It’s dangerously easy to fall behind on recording your sales. In fact, one of the reasons that bookkeeping for restaurants is often a mess is simply because owners and managers fall behind on basic tasks. 

To stay up to date, make a habit of copying or importing the sales from your POS system into your accounting software each day. What you’re aiming for are books that correlate with your bank statements. If you save up all those credit card charges for a weekly or monthly deposit, you’ll have a hard time doing analysis later.

Ideally, your accounting software and POS system are integrated so that this is done automatically. At Xendoo, we integrate your bank transactions with your books, so data entry is always up to the minute. Automating this process not only saves you the time of doing the work manually but also greatly improves accuracy. 

Several people are gathered at a table enjoying a meal.

2. Reconcile Bank Statements Every Month

Yes, your bank statements should be reconciled every month. No, it’s not a good idea to let them sit around for 3, 4, 5, or more months. If you’ve forgotten to enter a payment or a sale in your books, but that payment or sale has been processed by your bank, it will be easier to correct the error if you catch it quickly. In an extreme case, not knowing how much you really have in the bank could lead to bounced checks.

For every account that you receive a monthly statement — bank, credit cards, lines of credit, and loans — compare what their statement says with what your books say. If there are discrepancies, track down what happened and fix it. Of course, if you outsource bookkeeping to a service like Xendoo, you can keep up with this task while keeping your personal schedule open for other responsibilities. 

3. Pay Your Bills Promptly

Vendors love customers who pay on time – or even early. Doing so will get you better deals and early payment discounts. On the flip side, being late will rack up interest charges. Staying on top of your bills, along with managing labor costs properly, are keys to keeping your financial house in order.

To make sure this happens, you should have a reliable Accounts Payable process in place. Your A/P system will record invoices, pay bills online with a credit card or digitally generated checks, and automatically enter the expenses in your books. Record new invoices once or twice a week and make payments once per week to stay current.

A restaurateur takes a close look at his financial statements.

4. Take a Close Look at Your Financial Reports

Anyone can quickly glance at the bottom line of a financial report—but those numbers only tell a portion of the story. It’s the details that you need to understand, and those can be gathered if you take the time to read through your restaurant bookkeeping reports carefully.

Your profit & loss statements and balance sheets can reveal crucial statistics for a restaurant business such as:

  • Profit margin: gross profit ÷ total revenue
  • Sales vs. cost of goods sold ratio
  • Prime cost: ideally food + beverage + labor = 60% – 65% of total sales
  • Compare current profit & loss to previous months and years

Profit margins are notoriously tight in the restaurant industry. Having current information about your financial health is just as important as creating tasty food or offering great service. That’s why Xendoo guarantees delivery of your P&L statement by the 5th business day of every month.

5. Nail Your Taxes.

It’s worthwhile to track down as many tax tips for restaurants as you can find since taxes make up such a notable expense every month. One of the best ways to stay on top of taxes and avoid paying more than is necessary is to keep detailed, accurate records of everything that takes place in your business. 

Extra Ingredient: Outsource Your Payroll

Payroll processing can be quite time-consuming, especially given the complex shift scheduling of most restaurants. It also comes with high penalties if you make mistakes in calculating payroll taxes, or don’t file the taxes on time.

Payroll services are generally affordable, and can often be bundled with other accounting services. Xendoo offers packages that include payroll processing for a budget-friendly flat monthly fee.

Documentation is the name of the game in accounting, yet many restaurants – and businesses in other industries – fall short when doing their own bookkeeping. Working with Xendoo is a big step in the right direction when it comes to documentation and record keeping. And, of course, Xendoo can manage your tax filing as well, so there is nothing lost in translation when going from one service to the next. As an all-in-one bookkeeping and tax filing solution for your restaurant, tax season will no longer feel like the nightmare it once was

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

How to Choose the Right Software to Simplify Your Real Estate Accounting

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Let’s face it, bookkeeping for a business in the real estate industry is complicated. That holds true whether your niche is sales, management, construction, or tax and legal services. Unlike some other types of business, you must deal with variables like fluctuating income, expenses, payroll, and property values, not to mention a heavy load of government regulations.

All these factors must be accounted for completely and accurately to control profit margins, satisfy clients, and be prepared for tax filing. It’s a big hassle if you’re doing it the old-fashioned way, creating custom spreadsheets and writing down transactions in a ledger. However, the right real estate accounting software will do many accounting tasks for you automatically, leaving you free to focus on your core business.

Real estate business payroll

Processing payroll is a core function for any business. Using accounting software that takes some of the hassles out of completing payroll each period can save you time and keep your records accurate year after year. 

Your business may have one or more of these types of workers:

• Commission

• Salary plus commission

• Salary

• Independent subcontractors

As it relates to real estate accounting specifically, choose software with a payroll feature capable of calculating commissions and tracking those amounts for income tax withholding. Similarly, you should categorize payments made to independent contractors, as those are typically not subject to withholding.

A person works on their laptop.

Real-time remote work tracking

Whether your people are out on a building site or showing homes to prospective buyers, a cloud-based management app will give them access to the office. At the same time, the office is tracking their activities. Info on everything from materials used to schedule changes can be updated and shared with everyone in real-time.

A system that integrates all departments saves time and money for workers and managers. It also means that data from the field is incorporated into the books automatically, eliminating duplicated effort and potential errors for the accountant. The inherent challenge with real estate accounting is the many moving parts involved—everything doesn’t happen in the same place. Leveraging technology to automatically collect all of this information and incorporate it into a bookkeeping system is sure to lead to better results. 

Breeze through tax time

The topic of taxes will come up again and again in the search for the right real estate accounting software—and for a good reason. Taxes aren’t only necessary because they are a legal requirement but also because they can represent such a significant expense. If your real estate business holds properties, for example, the property taxes alone can take a big chunk out of your bottom line. 

You can’t get away from paying taxes, of course, but you can use good accounting software and a tax filing service like Xendoo to make sure you don’t pay more than your share. 

A real estate records her numbers for the week on a laptop,

Streamline operational expense recording

One of the best real estate accounting tips you can receive is to enter all of your transactions each day. Suppose you wait until a week before your tax return is due to get your books updated. In that case, you’ll be facing a major headache and the likelihood that there will be errors beyond tax filing. Keeping your figures up to date will also reveal when and where you’re losing money. This makes it easier to make sound decisions and avoid spending too much time on a losing endeavor. 

Consider accounting software that integrates with your bank, recording every transaction automatically and saving you a great deal of time and paperwork. Plus, you’ll be ready for an audit any day of the year. Many real estate professionals – and professionals in other industries – feel like they are constantly behind on accounting. The key to getting ahead of the game is not to spend more of your precious time on the task but rather to streamline it using the right real estate accounting software. 

Financial reports data access

Using cloud-based software allows you to see your financial reports or share data with your accountant anytime, anywhere. And with no need for in-house servers to store your data, you’ll mitigate the risk of losing your data and bring down IT expenses as well. If you are currently storing all of the financial data for your business on a single computer in your office, you are playing with fire in terms of data loss risk. Turning to the cloud leaves you with off-site storage that is backed up and secure. 

Two noteworthy options

Most real estate businesses won’t need to take their accounting software search beyond two of the market leaders—Xero and QuickBooks Online. Each of these options includes all of the features you are likely to need to keep the financial side of your business in order. And, as an added bonus when working with Xendoo, we can provide you with a discount on either one of these two excellent accounting platforms. 

Xendoo believes that cloud-based accounting is the right choice for any real estate business looking to increase growth while reducing inefficiencies. By automating bookkeeping chores, we eliminate the hassles, the mistakes, and more than half the costs of traditional accounting. Our real estate accounting service will leave your business ready at every moment to meet challenges and seize opportunities for success.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

An eCommerce seller looks at her items for sale on a tablet

Selling on Amazon vs. eBay: What you need to know

Ready to start selling your products online? Or have you already built a web presence and you’re looking to expand? From marketplaces like Etsy to building and hosting your own website on Squarespace or Shopify, small businesses have plenty of platforms to sell their products online. But eventually, most professional sellers find themselves asking: What are the pros and cons of Amazon vs. eBay?

Amazon vs. eBay: Who has the biggest market for selling potential?

By the sheer number of visitors, selling on Amazon is the winner here: 214.8 million people visit Amazon each month, compared to 106.9 million for eBay. However, both of these numbers represent huge potential audiences, so to really make the right choice about selling on Amazon vs. eBay, you’ll want to break it down. 

eBay’s audience is more international than Amazon: 57% of its revenue comes from international operations. Amazon doesn’t release these figures, but analysts estimate about 33% of its sales are international. eBay is also known for having “niche” customers searching for specialized products and second-hand goods. The real winner here depends on what you sell and who you sell it to.

Amazon vs. eBay: Which channel is more competitive? 

Amazon is much more competitive than eBay. Amazon rewards sellers with the highest-quality items at the lowest price. There are far more sellers on Amazon, and you may be competing with factory-direct prices from China or even with Amazon itself. 

On the other hand, eBay follows an auction format that will show shoppers many different options, conditions from new to used and shipping options, allowing sellers more opportunities to reach them. eBay advertising is also less competitive and therefore cheaper. 

Outside view of an Amazon pick up and return center.

Amazon vs. eBay: Which channel offers the best shipping and fulfillment?

Winner: Amazon.

When sellers opt for fulfillment by Amazon FBA, they’re able to use the retail giant’s warehouses, shipping, and customer service – for a fee, of course. They’re also eligible for Amazon Prime and the benefits that come along with it. Just remember that you may have to pay sales tax in those states if you use Amazon’s warehouses. Make sure you follow eCommerce bookkeeping tips to keep your records in order.

While domestic sellers are responsible for their own packing and shipping on eBay, the company does offer its Global Shipping Program. This allows sellers to use its “hubs” to ship internationally, with eBay taking care of the customs forms and import fees and providing tracking. This is another reason eBay is so popular with international sellers. 

Amazon vs. eBay: Whose fees reign supreme?

Overall, most sellers find that eBay’s fees are lower. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Both platforms’ fees depend on what’s being sold, the type of account you have, and more. On Amazon, you’ll likely want a Professional Seller account, which will run you $39.99 per month. You’ll also pay a 15% commission on Amazon, plus a closing fee. If you go with Amazon FBA, you’ll pay those fees as well. 

On eBay, you’ll pay about $0.35 for each listing you create. With a $28-per-month Basic Store account, you’ll get 250 free listings. Once your item sells, eBay takes only a 10% commission. However, this doesn’t include payment processing, while Amazon does. You’ll also then need to figure out the shipping yourself. 

Once again, the answer to the age-old question of selling on Amazon vs. eBay depends on your sales volume and type of product. Here’s one point for eBay, however: One survey found that eBay was ranked number one by sellers in terms of ease of use, customer service, and profitability – while Amazon came in seventh. 

An eCommerce seller adds items to her online store.

The verdict: Amazon

Pros:

  • Reach a large audience
  • Amazon FBA is a convenient option for most sellers
  • Easy to use interface and tools

Cons:

  • Highly competitive
  •  Slightly higher fees
  • Less freedom over branding, product descriptions, and policies

Which eCommerce sellers are Amazon right for? 

  • Sellers with a high volume
  • Sellers with high-profit margins
  • Sellers of non-specialty items

The verdict: eBay

Pros:

  • Easier international sales and expansion
  • Control over branding, listings, and return policies
  • Lower fees 

Cons:

  • No domestic shipping program
  • Smaller audience
  • Less straightforward user interface

Which eCommerce sellers are eBay right for?

  • International sellers
  • Sellers of used and customized items, collectibles, and niche products
  • Sellers who desire more freedom over the selling process

You can even decide to settle the Amazon vs. eBay debate by selling on both platforms. No matter what you choose – and especially if you decide to sell on both – you’ll need expert eCommerce online bookkeeping to keep your books in order and ensure you keep up with sales tax laws. At Xendoo, we work with eCommerce sellers on both platforms to manage bookkeeping and accounting, so they can focus on what’s important: selling!

A restaurant with patrons

How Your Small Business Can Prepare for Florida’s Minimum Wage Increase

In recent years, we’ve seen a reopening of the debate over minimum wage. Advocates are currently pushing for an increase to $15.00 per hour by 2026, with the door open to possible increases in the years after that. If you’re a worker, this is good news. A slight bump in the Florida minimum wage can increase the pay you receive, compensating for rising costs of living and other expenses.  However, if you’re a small business owner, this wage increase can lead to tough decisions. Unless you’re a corporate giant, it can be tough to maintain your current roster of employees if you have to pay them more.

In this post, we’ll help you to prepare for the coming changes in the Florida minimum wage. We’ll also provide suggestions about the best ways to navigate the road ahead.

What is the Current Florida Minimum Wage?

As of January 1, 2021, Florida’s minimum wage has increased from $8.56 per hour to $8.65 per hour. Tipped employees have seen a recent increase in their wages, rising from $5.54 per hour to $5.63 per hour. 

According to federal law and in some states, like Florida, employers may pay tipped workers less than the mandated minimum wage. This is called a “tip credit” as employees earn enough in tips to make up the difference.  The “credit” is the amount the employer doesn’t have to pay.  So for employers, the applicable state or federal minimum wage minus the tip credit is the least amount the employer pays tipped employees per hour. If an employee doesn’t make enough tips during their shifts to earn the hourly minimum wage, the employer has to pay the difference.

Are There Plans to Change the Florida Minimum Wage After 2021?

These changes will not stop in 2021. In November of 2020, Florida residents voted to raise the Florida minimum wage to $15.00 by 2026. The minimum wage increases will take place in a phased approach, raising the minimum wage each year on September 30. The proposed schedule will run as follows:

  • $10.00/hour on September 30, 2021
  • $11.00/hour on September 30, 2022
  • $12.00/hour on September 30, 2023
  • $13.00/hour on September 30, 2024
  • $14.00/hour on September 30, 2025
  • $15.00/hour on September 30, 2026

 While there are no specific plans after 2026, the minimum wage increase may increase based on changes to the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region.

An employee hads a customer their food order.

How Should Small Business Owners Prepare for Florida Minimum Wage and Paid Leave Increases?

If you’re a business owner, don’t panic. At Xendoo, we understand the unique challenges facing today’s small business owners. 

Here are some suggestions on ways that your business can prepare for changes in the Florida minimum wage:

Audit Your Expenses

How much are you already spending on overhead, supplies, and operating costs? You may be able to cut a few corners with certain expenses or by eliminating wasted spending. The money you save can be channeled into your human resources budget.

Determine Your Budget

Using these increased wage figures, calculate your new operating budget. Forecasting your operating expenses will let you know what you’re dealing with and provide an idea of what your income needs to be to maintain your profit margin.

Update Your Tech Stack

A tech stack refers to the digital tools you need to run your business. An update can help you to automate your social media presence, streamline scheduling, or integrate automated forms into your company’s website. These improvements optimize your business without the need for additional personnel or work hours.

Check Your Employee Classifications

How many full-time employees do you need? How many part-time employees do you need? Of course, you don’t need to start considering downsizing, but at the same time, it can be helpful to consider what your future needs may be.

Staff Accordingly

You may find that in the future, you can get by with fewer staff members. Perhaps you can rely on part-time staff to fill roles that you currently staff with full-time employees.

Gradually Increase Prices

Your new operating costs will probably push you to increase your prices to maintain your profit margin. However, raising prices slowly will give your loyal customers time to adjust while still ensuring you get the revenue you need.

Outsource Your Back Office

Are you still handling your own bookkeeping and accounting? Paying an employee to handle these specialized tasks may put a strain on your operating budget. Instead, outsource these tasks to a company like Xendoo. We can keep your company up and running without allocating your employees to do the job.

Contact Xendoo Today

The increase in the Florida minimum wage might mean big changes for your business. At Xendoo, we can help you stay ahead of the curve, adapt to these changes, and remain healthy and profitable.

 We understand the challenges that Florida small businesses face. We can provide small business owners with Florida bookkeeping services that ensure accuracy and efficiency so that you don’t have to allocate precious resources to maintaining the books. 

We can also help you with your Florida tax preparation, helping you to navigate the laws and changes that are likely to come your way in the immediate future.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A woman writing and looking at images of shoes

Guide to Accounting for Amazon FBA Sellers

Becoming a third-party seller on Amazon is an exciting opportunity for many small businesses. After evaluating the pros and cons of selling on Amazon, you may decide to go with an Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) account. You’ll pay a fee to use Amazon’s warehouses, packaging and shipping, and customer service. One thing that isn’t included? Accounting for Amazon sellers

Amazon FBA offers plenty of benefits for small businesses, including eligibility for Amazon Prime and saving you time that could be better spent on management and growing your business. But there are a few extra considerations when it comes to Amazon FBA accounting:

  • Sales tax: FBA sellers use Amazon’s warehouses to ship goods and may be required to pay Amazon sales tax in the states where those warehouses are located. Check your local guidelines.
  • Consolidated deposits: Amazon pays vendors via a single deposit, once every two weeks. This deposit is more than your sales: It includes chargebacks and returns, fees, and sales tax. Manually sorting it all out takes time and can be complex. 
  • Amazon default reports: Amazon does provide reports, and some small business owners manually import that data into Excel spreadsheets to save money. However, this doesn’t allow you to really dig into the details and predict trends. 

Effective accounting for Amazon sellers doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use accounting software or leave it to the professionals. Let’s go over the DIY steps so you can decide which choice is right for you. 

Choose an online accounting software

You may be an Excel genius, but you need to ditch the spreadsheets if you want to do your Amazon accounting right. The best online accounting software is easy to use and secure, integrates with your bank account and other business and financial software, has good customer service and as a bonus, works with Amazon Seller Central. With software like Xero and QuickBooks Online, you can start small and increase your subscription as your sales grow, so you don’t break the bank. 

Add some helpful add-ons

The right accounting software goes a long way, but there may still be gaps you need to fill in. For example, breaking down those consolidated deposits is a notoriously tricky part of accounting for Amazon sellers. However, an add-on like A2X hooks up to Seller Central and automatically categorizes all the fees and reimbursements. There are also automation solutions like Avalara and TaxJar, which manage your sales tax returns and payments. 

An Amazon seller sets up her accounting reports on her computer

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Set up your reporting

It’s tempting for small business owners to check their bank account, see that big Amazon FBA deposit and assume their company is growing. But thorough Amazon FBA accounting means keeping track of the following: 

  • Profit & Loss Statement: See your revenue and expenses within a given period to spot trends
  • Balance Sheet: See an overview of your assets and liabilities
  • Cash Flow Forecast: Use cash inflows and outflows to model various cash flow scenarios
  • Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable: See what’s owed to you and what you owe others

Reconcile your bank statements

Reconciliation is the process of comparing two different sources, such as internal financial records and bank statements, to ensure they match up. If the software you use to keep track of your finances has the wrong information, those mistakes will compound over time. Double-entry accounting software, like those mentioned above, can help you with this. However, you’ll still want to run a reconciliation report at tax time to double-check your reporting. 

Outside view of an Amazon pick up and return center.

Keep track of your inventory

Amazon FBA sellers use Amazon’s warehouses, packing, and shipping, so they may not even see their inventory. Amazon’s reports will tell you what you’ve sold, but it’s up to you to properly categorize your inventory and look for trends, so you know what to put on sale, what to keep on the shelves and how to deal with shrinkage. And don’t forget to use the matching method for the cost of goods sold: rather than recording a lump sum cost when you buy the inventory, do not record the COGS until the item is actually sold. 

Stay compliant

With warehouses in many states, cross-border trade, and varying sales tax laws, accounting for Amazon sellers can get complex. This is where sales tax compliance for Amazon FBA sellers comes in. Most FBA businesses sell “tangible goods,” which are taxable in nearly all states, with some exceptions for clothing or groceries. You’ll also need to consider whether you have “substantial nexus” in a state – and having inventory in an Amazon FBA warehouse may be enough.

When to hire a professional Amazon accountant

If you’re feeling confused, we don’t blame you. Sales tax compliance alone can be tough to keep up with, and penalties and fees can kill a small business. Accurate, up-to-date recording is essential, as well as basic knowledge of financial statements. Of course, you could do it all yourself, but remember, time is money. Xendoo is here to help, providing expert Amazon bookkeeping and accounting services and leaving you more time to focus on what matters: Growing your business.

an aerial view of a beach

Sunshine Tax: Taxes for Small Business in Florida

Florida is among the most tax-friendly states in America. If you have a small or midsize business in the state of Florida, you may be shielded from many typical forms of small business taxes. But how can you know which tax laws apply to your business? This post will cover some of the more common tax questions related to taxes for small businesses in Florida.

What Types of Tax Liabilities Are There for Florida Small Businesses?

Florida business owners should be aware of the following:

  • Corporations that do business in Florida must pay a 5.5% income tax
  • Florida has a sales tax rate of 6%
  • S Corporations are exempt from paying state income tax
  • Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and most LLCs are exempt from state income tax
  • Florida residents do not pay a state income tax
  • Business owners should expect to pay federal income tax on business earnings
  • Business conducted in other states may be subject to additional state laws

Because so many businesses are exempt from Florida state income tax, many small business owners can benefit from having their business shielded from traditional tax liabilities.  Below, we’ll go into greater detail regarding the rules for taxes for different types of business entities in the state of Florida.  

What Kinds of Taxes Can an S Corporation Expect to Pay in Florida?

In Florida, S Corporations are not treated as traditional corporations when it comes to taxes. Thus, S Corporations do not pay the state’s 5.5% corporate tax. S Corporations are also exempt from federal income tax.

How is this possible? With an S Corporation, the income earned by the business goes directly to the business owners. The owners are then expected to pay federal income tax based on the income they receive from their company. However, this income is not subject to Florida state tax.

A man and a sketch out a project for their LLC business

How Are Small Business LLCs Taxed in Florida?

An LLC can be classified in one of two ways. Typically, LLCs are designated to be partnerships or disregarded entities. However, in this case, the LLC does not pay Florida income tax simply because it is not classified as a corporation.

However, some LLCs can be classified as incorporated. If they are classified as an incorporated business, the LLC must pay the standard 5.5% Florida state income tax—or at least the 3.3% alternative minimum tax. LLCs classified as corporations will file Form F-1065 if one or more of its owners is a corporation.

The actual business owner does not have to pay tax to the state of Florida for the income they personally receive from the business, except in those cases in which the LLC is incorporated.

How Are Small Business Partnerships in Florida Taxed?

Business partnerships can be classified as general partnerships, limited partnerships (LPs), and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). Regardless of these specific designations, none of these partnerships are required to pay state income tax in Florida.

However, the partners of these businesses are required to pay federal income tax on the money they receive from these businesses, based on standard income tax rates. But because Florida does not tax ordinary income, business owners of partnerships are not required to pay Florida state income tax.

A Florida business owner sits at a table with a pile of tax papers.

What Tax Obligations Are There for Sole Proprietorships in Florida?

Florida treats a sole proprietorship like a partnership. The only difference is that the state looks at the distributed income to one proprietor instead of many partners. Thus, like partnerships, sole proprietorships are shielded from traditional state income tax.

This also means that the proprietor is expected to pay tax on any business income he or she receives, though only to the federal government. Since it is considered to be personal income, the individual does not pay state income taxes.

What If You Have a Multi-State Business? How Are You Taxed?

For most organizations, there are no required taxes for small businesses in Florida. However, if you own a business in Florida but earn money from another state, you are considered to have a nexus in those states. Therefore, in these situations, your business may be subject to the tax laws in those states.

Because different states have different state tax laws, this can be confusing. If you earn money in multiple states, it may be prudent to review nexus rules to see how they may impact your business. 

Let Xendoo Help You

Looking for Florida bookkeeping services? Xendoo can help. We understand the rules regarding taxes for small businesses in Florida and help you keep your books up-to-date. We can even help with Florida tax preparation. When you have questions, contact the experts at Xendoo.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

A woman looking at a laptop

Best Small Business Invoicing Practices

Is getting people to pay their invoice balance a challenging part of running your own business? You are not alone. According to a report in Entrepreneur, on average, small businesses had $84,000 in unpaid invoices. Waiting weeks and sometimes months for the checks to arrive and managing cash flow in the meantime can be daunting, to say the least. Since invoicing isn’t the most exciting aspect of your business, we want to share these tips for small business invoicing to help you get paid faster, increase client relations, and save time and money. 

What is an invoice?

An invoice is a bill generated by a vendor that lists details and costs for goods and services provided. You’re likely already invoicing your clients, but don’t forget it is a legally binding contract. Making sure your small business invoicing system is up to snuff can save you headaches down the road. 

Setting Expectations 

Review your contract template and make sure you set expectations for invoicing. Likewise, make sure your invoice aligns with what is in the contract. Include payment schedule, estimated totals, and project milestones for payment.

Consider your software

As you strategize for creating, sending, and organizing your invoices, we recommend automating as much as possible. Your accounting software likely offers a way to do this. At Xendoo, we use QuickBooks Online and Xero, which both have invoicing solutions and are known for being the best accounting software options.

If you’re considering an invoicing program separate from your accounting, ensure the two integrate and consider online payment processing. Clients love having the option to quickly pay online, so make sure your software can integrate with payments. The easiest method is the simplest—at Xendoo we offer solutions with online bookkeeping services, accounting, invoicing, and integrated payment processing all in one.

 

A bookkeeper shows a business owner how to set up an invoice

Make sure you include these basics in your invoices

  • Dates: Include invoice creation date. Consider including the date the good or service was delivered in the summary.
  • Unique invoice number: Especially important when sending multiple invoices to the same client.
  • Client’s P.O.: During the contract phase, find out if your client uses Purchase Orders (P.O.s). A P.O. is an agreement between a vendor and a customer that outlines the purchase details and is issued by the client before work is performed. 
  • Contact information for all parties involved: Include name, address, phone, and email for both companies’ project and accounting contacts.
  • Payment terms: Terms indicate how long the client has to pay you and are determined initially. Net 30 (due in 30 days), Net 60, and Due Upon Receipt are popular terms.
  • Summary description of goods/services provided: Make it concise! A common way to summarize is to refer to completed milestones that were outlined in your contract.
  • SKU numbers: If your company uses SKU numbers for goods/services, make sure to include them. SKUs are helpful when you need a pricing breakdown and to determine what goods are taxable.
  • Totals: Include the cost for each line item, subtotal, taxes or discounts, and the final total. 
  • Late/early payment details: Consider charging an added percentage if the payment is late and a discount for early payments.
  • Method of payments accepted: Indicate all options for how to pay and details. Let them know who to make a check out to and where to mail it, and include a link to pay online.

Be straightforward 

Make your summary description brief while ensuring the client will understand how you arrived at the total. Do everything you can to make it easy for your client to pay you. Keep your invoice to one page. 

Send invoices as soon as possible

An invoice should be sent promptly when the project has been completed. Your client will use the invoice as the first step in processing your payment and likely has internal steps to take before paying you. Therefore, the quicker you send the invoice, the quicker you get paid.

Give your customer multiple ways to pay your invoices

Consider including a “Pay Now!” button on digital invoices. Clients love the convenience of online payment and often take immediate action. And these online payments can sync with your accounting software and help you avoid the “checks in the mail” scenario. If you are issuing an international invoice, indicate which currency you accept.

A hiwte thank you note with black cursive writing sits on a table

The Art of the Follow-up

Frustrations aside, you must send professional follow-ups when you haven’t received payment. Consider making a schedule for follow-up emails in advance and writing templates, customizing them for each client. This might make the process quicker and less frustrating. 

Also, consider using read receipts. They are a great way to track when your communication was received and when to follow up.

When a few emails aren’t enough, call your client. A brief, friendly call gives you another opportunity to connect with your client. They are likely receiving invoices from multiple vendors. Stand out by offering a friendly, professional demeanor.

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks!

Once you’ve received payment(s), send a thank you note. It’s an opportunity to remind your client what a positive experience it was to work together.

Communication Strategy and Branding

Consider your invoice a branding opportunity! Xero and QuickBooks offer customizable options to add to your logo, colors, and fonts. If you’re planning to mail a thank you note, keep it on-brand, too.

Streamlining your small business invoicing process can help you retain customers, increase cash flow, and increase stability. In addition, your customers will remember your professionalism and gratitude. Sign up for Xendoo today, and let us help with bookkeeping and accounting for your small business.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A bar owner standing in front of a POS system

Eight Tax Tips for Restaurant Owners

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

You know that filing taxes can be stressful even in the best of times, but as a restaurant owner, tax time can leave you feeling in the weeds because your deductions are exponentially more complex. Never fear, though, because Xendoo is here to help. If you aren’t yet taking advantage of our full suite of professional business accounting services, here are a few quick restaurant tax tips for filing returns that can help save you some headache and money.

1. Document, Document, Document!

Did we mention that you need to document everything?  One of the best restaurant tax tips is to document and keep every invoice, every check stub, and every e-mail, no matter how inconsequential you might think it is at the time. You just never know when you might need to produce that little receipt during an audit, and running across a receipt might even remind you of something that you almost forgot to deduct. Set up a sound filing system where you can locate any tax documents you might need by vendor or category and keep it up to date.

2. Deduct All Food and Beverage Expenses

Since food cost is almost certainly your largest expense category (with the possible exception of labor), you should be deducting the cost of everything on your menu as an ordinary and necessary cost of doing business. But it’s not just the actual ingredients that you can write off. You can also deduct the cost of preparation materials like fryer oil and condiments, as well as any food that you have to throw out because it’s expired or spoiled. This is one restaurant tax tip that can take the sting out of tossing out old produce.

A restaurant staff cleans up after their shift.

3. Deduct All Employee Compensation

Payroll is your other big expense category, and it’s deductible as an ordinary and necessary expense because obviously, your business can’t operate without staff. But, again, it’s not just the weekly payroll that you get to deduct. You can also deduct the cost of any employee discounts on meals, paid vacation or sick days, and any dental, vision, health, life, or other types of insurance you might provide for your team members. However, business owners don’t generally get to count salaries or benefits to themselves as deductions because doing so would essentially make any profits from the business tax exempt.

4. Deduct Mileage and Business Travel

Do you or any of your employees drive a personal vehicle as part of the business? Are you maybe making deliveries or picking up supplies? What about to or from training events? If you have any sort of driving directly related to your business, you can deduct that at the current standard mileage rate. But be careful—this is an often-abused deduction, so your documentation of it needs to be meticulously maintained. Driving to and from work doesn’t count as a business expense. Use either a separate ledger or a smartphone app that’s designed to track mileage. Also, if you have overnight travel for training, food shows, conferences, or other business-related events, you can deduct hotel and food expenses, as well.

5. Deduct Large Equipment Purchases

Under a 2016 change to the tax code, you can now deduct the total cost of certain equipment purchases up to $500,000 for the year of purchase instead of depreciating equipment over time in the traditional manner. Known as the ‘Section 179 deduction,’ this change is meant to ease the cash flow for small businesses. It covers a wide array of equipment such as computers, office furniture, vehicles, and machinery. That means the new walk-in cooler you just bought because the old one finally bit the dust can start working for you right away.

 

A server pours coffee into mugs.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

6. Take Advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Many business owners aren’t aware that the tax code rewards employers for hiring people from certain groups that have historically had difficulty finding employment. Known as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), these groups might include military veterans, summer youth employees, long-term unemployment recipients, rehabilitated felons, residents of designated Empowerment Zones, and many others. This restaurant tax tip is an excellent way to save your business some money while contributing to the community through socially responsible hiring practices.

7. Make Use of Enhanced Charitable Deductions

With a handful of exceptions, the IRS allows businesses to deduct donations to §501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations just like individuals do, including some enhanced deductions specifically for restaurants donating food. Take advantage of these types of restaurant tax tips can be a little tricky, though, so you probably want to hire a small business accounting firm like Xendoo to help navigate these waters safely. You can’t deduct staff time or the total fair market value of the food, but these deductions can still help boost your profit margin significantly.

8. Track Employee Tips Meticulously

Reporting credit card tips is pretty easy since they are tracked through the POS system, but cash tips can get messy. It’s the responsibility of servers to report their tips accurately, but if they don’t report cash tips, the IRS will assume an 8% tip rule. In cash sale situations, the business owner’s responsibility is to withhold 8% of the employee’s cash sales as an assumed tip, and liability for failure to do so could land on the employer. It’s a good idea to go over these rules with your team because you also have to file a Form 8027 each year, and the IRS expects to see accurate records, so it’s in everyone’s interest to pay attention to this one.

 

These restaurant tax tips are a good start for any business owner, but bookkeeping for restaurants isn’t for the faint of heart, which is why Xendoo is ready to help with our affordable bookkeeping and accounting services. Instead, it would be best if you spent your time growing your business and let our team of experts lift the tax burden and do what they do best.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.