‘Tis The Season For Taxes

Ben is a client of ours and has generously taken his free time to write a guest post for us so that you will benefit from his tax law expertise. With tax season being upon us we all need a little extra advice, and who better than to receive that advice from than a tax attorney. Read Ben’s article for 3 great tips to help you be better prepared for tax season.


‘Tis The Season For Taxes
Article by Ben Cramer

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Like it or not, tax season 2013 is here. Let’s get one thing out of the way: paying taxes isn’t fun. It doesn’t suddenly become more fun once you own your own business—in fact, it usually becomes a lot more complicated. I’m a tax professional and I hate paying taxes as much as you do. But it’s not optional (at least the IRS doesn’t see it that way). There are three things to keep in mind to make tax season as easy as possible this year: (1) keep good records; (2) choose the right tax professional to help you, and (3) deal with any problems as soon as they arise.

The first requirement, and possibly the most important one for a smooth tax season, is to keep good records. It is difficult to overemphasize how important it is to your business that you keep good records. If there is ever a dispute between you and the IRS your records will make all the difference. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep your own books; I don’t keep my own books and you shouldn’t either unless your business involves bookkeeping or accounting. Outsource your bookkeeping to a professional and consider using a virtual bookkeeper to keep you organized (I bet Rhonda could hook you up). This will keep your financial records in order and free up your time to focus on running your business.

Another important step is to select the right tax professional to help you. Taxes are complicated; don’t try to do them yourself. This is not the place to cut corners. Good tax professionals pay for themselves by helping their clients find as many deductions as possible, by providing good counsel during tax time and throughout the rest of the year, by guiding their clients around common traps, and by helping to resolve any disputes that may arise with the taxing authorities.

There are basically three types of tax professionals. Enrolled agents are tax preparers who have passed a complicated exam that allows them to practice before the IRS. Using an enrolled agent can be a cost effective way of preparing your taxes. The next level of tax professional is the certified public accountant. If you hire an accountant to do your taxes, make sure that you hire a CPA or someone under the watch of a CPA. CPAs are authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service and some of them specialize in taxation and preparing tax returns. The final type of tax professional is a tax attorney. Tax attorneys specialize in interpreting the complexities of the tax code and advising clients about strategies to minimize their tax burden. Some of them (myself included) also prepare tax returns. Tax attorneys have a great deal of training in handling disputes with the IRS and other government agencies. If the IRS is after you, call a tax attorney.

Many people go to a retail tax preparation franchise such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, or Liberty Tax. Be careful if you take this approach. Frequently, these firms hire seasonal workers who will likely not be around if you have a question a few months from now. When you select a tax professional, choose someone who is not going anywhere and who will be available to answer your questions whether they come up before or after April 15th.

Finally, things will be much easier for you if you respond immediately to any problems that arise. I am shocked by the number of clients I see with tax troubles that hand me a stack of unopened letters from the IRS. Read your mail, even if it looks unpleasant. If the IRS sends you a letter, open it. If the IRS asks for a phone call by a certain day, call them or ask your tax professional to call them. Whatever you do, do something—doing nothing will only make the problem bigger.

At the end of the day, we all hate taxes. But you can make tax season easier by following the three steps I outlined above. If I can ever be of service or answer any questions please feel free to contact me.


Benjamin D. Cramer, Esq.

Benjamin D. Cramer, Esq.

Ben Cramer is an attorney and owner of Cramer Legal, LLC in the Cincinnati, Ohio suburb of Anderson Township. His practice focuses on tax law, small business law, and bankruptcy. He can be reached at (513) 245-4170 or at Ben@CramerLegal.com.
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