5 Ways to Go Green While Filing Your Taxes in 2014

Tax season is the perfect time to start implementing green, environmentally friendly practices into your daily work routine. These five tips will help you get started.

Tax season has officially arrived, and with it comes a great opportunity for entrepreneurs! Now I know I just used the words “tax” and “great” in the same sentence when they typically tend to be as far apart as you can get them, but tax season is actually the perfect time to start implementing green, environmentally friendly practices into your daily work routine. These five tips will help you get started.

1. Digitize as you work

I understand why only a few people have moved past keeping physical records. Digitization can take a lot of time, and old habits die hard. However, continuing to ask for, or printing out, physical copies of every important document and receipt can have a really negative affect on the environment. We already waste too much paper, so why add to the problem? As you begin to work on your returns, scan important documents (or use Shoeboxed) so that you can access the digital versions easily. In the following months, opt to receive electronic copies of bank statements, receipts, and other necessary records whenever possible.

2. eFile

Did you know that the IRS has been experimenting with eFiling since 1986? Even back then, most government agencies had recognized the need to modernize and eFiling was seen as a great way to help clear out storage space and use less paper. 28 years later, and eFiling is now the most popular way to file returns. Back in 2012, nearly 80% of all returns were filed electronically. According to accounting firm H&R Block, over 28,000 trees were saved during the 2011 tax season thanks to eFiling. If you haven’t started eFiling, this tax season is a great year to start. Federal eFiling is free and, though some states charge for eFiling, the fee is nominal and you really help the environment by going and staying digital.

3. Think before you print

A lot of people I know who work on their own taxes like having printouts of IRS regulations so they can keep them on the table and look at them whenever they need to. And, while that system works, it is a waste of paper. The IRS has made it easier than ever before to search through digital copies of instructions and forms, and a quick search is much more efficient than sorting through stacks of paper. Try using only digital copies of IRS rules and instructions – you’d be surprised at how much easier it is to hang onto these documents and share them with other entrepreneurs doing their taxes too.

4. Recycle whatever paper you use

No matter how green you go, it’s still tough to get through the tax season without using some paper. Maybe you have a notebook that you use to add receipts, or maybe you like having a stack of Post-It notes handy so you can quickly scrawl down form numbers or instructions. Whatever the case, you’ll inevitably use some paper, and that’s fine – just make sure you also remember to use that lovely little recycling bin next to your desk when you’re done.

5. Take advantage of ‘green’ tax credits

One great incentive to going digital for your taxes is that the government rewards people and businesses that are trying to go green. Though a few of the most popular green tax incentives expired in 2011, there are still plenty of tax breaks available to the environmentally conscious. One credit will cover 30% of new renewable energy systems installed in residential homes, and buying and installing certain Energy Star products can also net you a nice tax credit. Also, if you supported a qualified environmental charity, you can also deduct the donations made to them in 2013!

Going green with your taxes might seem difficult at first, but if you’ve been toying with trying to live a more environmentally conscious life, tax season is a great opportunity to do just that. Opt for electronic record keeping, eFile your returns, recycle whatever paper you do use, and don’t forget to claim whatever green-related tax breaks you can. Once you start changing the way you work, you’ll quickly find yourself changing the way you live.

Author Bio:

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Small Business Tax Changes to Look Out For in 2014

Each year the IRS makes tax changes that impact small businesses, but they can be easy to miss. Here are some small business tax changes for 2014.

Each year the IRS makes tax changes that impact small businesses, but usually they’re small and easy to miss. When filing your taxes this year, you’ll have to account for some major changes to multiple small business tax laws. Here are the highlights.

Home office deduction

A lot of small business owners balk at taking a home office deduction, even if they legitimately work from home!

The main reason for this is that the IRS method for calculating the deduction has always seemed to involve high level calculus equations and the use of a tape measure. Thankfully, Uncle Sam has come to his senses and decided to make it easier than ever for small business owners to calculate their home office deductions.

Now you can deduct $5 per square foot with a maximum $1500 deduction. No more measuring the square footage of the bathroom or calculating portions of your utility bills. Simply determine the square footage of your home office, multiply that number times $5, and that’s the amount you’re eligible to deduct.

The $1500 cap also means the office area in question can’t be larger than 300 square feet. If it is larger, a) good for you! and b) you can still only take the deduction up to 300 square feet.

Just make sure that your business income is higher than your expenses – if your expenses are greater, you’ll only qualify for a portion of the deduction.

Affordable Care Act

There is still a lot of confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and what it means for small businesses. Don’t freak out, and don’t believe all the hype – the best thing you can do is research how the new laws impact your business, because the way the act is applied to someone else’s business may be completely different than how it’s applied to yours.

The manner in which the Affordable Care Act impacts your small business depends, in part, on the size of your small business.

If you have less than 50 employees, you won’t be required to offer health insurance and you won’t be fined if you don’t. The majority of small business owners in the U.S. fall into this category, which means the act won’t impact their taxes in any way.

However, if you have less than 50 employees and you do choose to provide health insurance to them, the IRS will give you a tax credit.

Do your research – every small business is different, and a tax law that applies to your friend’s company may not apply to yours, even if you have the same number of employees.

A health insurance agent is a great resource for finding out more about how the Affordable Care Act affects your small business. Contact a representative from an insurance agency and get your questions answered – these representatives are required to be up to date on the way the law impacts small businesses.

Equipment and other assets

This change is perhaps the biggest for 2014.

Purchasing equipment for your small business is a huge expense. Because of this, Uncle Sam has allowed small business owners to deduct the cost of the purchase of large equipment, as well as the amount the equipment depreciates in value over the first few years after purchase.

Well, bad news for anyone out there buying million dollar security systems or restaurant equipment. Last year, section 179 allowed you to deduct up to half a million dollars. This year? Uncle Sam decided that $25,000 was the highest he’d go.

That’s right – the deduction amount has been reduced to just 5% of the original amount. If you’d been planning on making a large equipment purchase in 2014, you might want to wait a year or two and see if the allowance is restored to the higher amount.

Questions about your 2014 taxes? Post them below!

No Rendering of Advice – The information contained in here represents the opinion of Shoeboxed, Inc. and is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant or attorney. We advise not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant. Any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this website is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law. 
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Presenting the Small Business Tax Handbook by Bench

Our friends at Bench created a helpful Small Business Tax Handbook to make this tax season easier and less stressful than ever. Check it out!

This guest post is brought to you by Bench, the online accountants that use your Shoeboxed receipts to build you tax-ready financial statements.

Taxes are confusing, time-consuming, and sometimes even scary. Unfortunately, they’re also unavoidable (note to Wesley Snipes). While we can’t change the latter, we can give you the resources you need to make this your easiest tax year yet.

We’re thrilled to share The Bench Tax Handbook with you this tax season!

As we get closer to April 15, we wanted to provide small business owners with an interactive and engaging way to successfully navigate through tax season. While there is no substitute to talking with a professional, there is definitely a better option than poring over the IRS website – and that’s what we’ve provided.

The Bench Tax Handbook has everything small business owners need to know – from important tax deadlines, to how to file for an extension (and what happens if you miss the deadline). And it’s also fun to look at. We know that tax season can be stressful, but Shoeboxed and Bench are making it easier.

So if you want to have your best tax year yet, go ahead and check out the The Bench Tax Handbook.

Happy Tax Season!