eBook Review: The Ultimate Toolkit for the Evolutionary Entrepreneur

It seems like everyday that a new online solution arrives on the scene promising to help business owners save time and money. Some of these tools are truly revolutionary, while others end up creating more problems than they solve. So how do you know which tools and services will be right for you and your business? You could spend hours searching the web for tips and reviews, and poring over articles like, “10 Tools to Manage Your Inbox” and “15 Online Solutions for Bookkeeping,” or you could do yourself a favor and just read The Ultimate Toolkit for the Evolutionary Entrepreneur.

Written by entrepreneur and business strategist Natalie Sisson, The Toolkit is designed to be a one-stop shop for the best online tools and services for every major area of business. All of the 85 tools highlighted have been thoroughly researched and tested by Sisson, and recommended by other entrepreneurs. Instead of overwhelming you with multiple tools for each business need, this book keeps things simple with only two recommendations per category, one for the best paid tool and one for the best free tool. It cuts through technical jargon and clearly explains what the tools can do, what they are best for, and who will benefit most from them. The book also provides real life examples of how other entrepreneurs have used the tools to streamline their businesses and get ahead of the competition.

Our recommendation: Whether you’re an adventurer who wants to run your business from abroad or a small town business owner looking for ways to save time and money, you’ll find everything you need to know about using online tools for business in this book. Get your copy of The Ultimate Toolkit for the Evolutionary Entrepreneur here!

More about Natalie Sisson: As the founder of The Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson works to find new and innovative ways that entrepreneurs can use online tools, social media and outsourcing to run their businesses from anywhere in the world and stay ahead of the competition. She is a regular contributor to Forbes, Under30CEO and Young Entrepreneur, a Visa Business Network mentor, and a Young Entrepreneur Council Member.

Deductions: Rules of the Game

Rule #1: Don’t Cheat the IRS
Rule #2: Don’t Cheat Yourself

The rules for deductions get a little trickier after that, but don’t let that stop you from taking all the legal deductions you can. The more deductions you take, the lower your taxable profit will be, and that means more money in your pocket!

Ordinary and Necessary
Generally speaking, in order for an expense to be deductible it must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your field or profession. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your business. If you’re not sure what you can write off, take the time to ask an expert or check out IRS Publication 535.

The Deductible Dozen
Don’t overlook these common business deductions as you prepare your tax return:

Advertising and promotion
Car expenses/mileage
Employee wages
Retirement plans
Office supplies, furniture, equipment, software
Home office (see IRS Publication 587)
Rent
Insurance
Travel, meals and entertainment (see IRS Publication 463)
Legal and professional services
Taxes
Dues for trade associations and other not-for-profit, business-related organizations

Don’t lose that receipt!
In the unlikely event of an audit, Uncle Sam can require you to explain the deductions on your tax return and show that the expenses were in fact paid. If you do not have adequate records to prove business expenses, the IRS can adjust your tax liability, which means you’ll probably end up owing more in taxes. For more information about recordkeeping, see IRS Publications 334 and 583.

They Deducted What?!?
Even with Uncle Sam’s strict rules for business deductions, a few imaginative taxpayers have successfully written off the following as business expenses:

Breast augmentation
Body oil
Landscaping
A girlfriend
Cat food
An African safari
Free beer

How To Find a Quality Tax Expert

While online tools have made it easier than ever before to prepare your own tax return, there’s certainly no shame in seeking out a tax professional if you ever feel like you’re in over your head. Just remember that you are legally responsible for everything on your tax return, even if you pay someone else to prepare it for you, so choose wisely.

Here are five tips that can help you find a quality tax expert:

Confirm their qualifications: Seek out licensed tax professionals who have received advanced training and specialize in the area you need help. To confirm an individual’s licensure status and check for any disciplinary actions, consult the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility for enrolled agents, the state bar associations for attorneys, and the state boards of accountancy for CPAs.

Check out their history: Search for reviews online at a site like Teaspiller.com and consult the Better Business Bureau to find out if a tax professional has a questionable track record.

Compare rates and fees: National tax franchises offer fast tax help at affordable prices, but many local CPAs and EAs charge only slightly higher fees and offer more personalized services. Some tax professionals charge by the hour or by the number of forms they must complete, while others offer their services at a flat rate. Avoid professionals who base their fees on a percentage of your refund.

Ask about guarantees: Look for tax professionals who are willing to amend any tax prep mistakes at no additional cost. While the “enhanced guarantees” sold by franchises might give you peace of mind, you’re probably better off working with a tax professional who will go to bat for you with the IRS in the event of an audit.

Review your return: Ask questions and make sure that you understand everything on your return before signing it. Never sign a blank return and avoid tax professionals who ask you to do so.

More about Teaspiller:  With more than 20,000 accountants on their site, Teaspiller makes it easy to get tax and accounting advice, and find and work with quality financial professionals all online.

You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 3949-A, Information Referral or by sending a letter to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. Download Form 3949-A from http://www.irs.gov or order by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).