Business Owners: Are You Forgetting This Sneaky Tax Due Date?

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Did the title freak you out a little? Sorry about that, but we thought ripping the band-aid off would be the way to go. After all, it’s the truth – if you own your own business, freelance or generally work for yourself, quarterly estimated taxes are due to the IRS and, likely, to your state’s taxing authority right around the corner.

Did you forget about them, or have never dealt with them before? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ll go over what QETs are, why you have to deal with them, and some of the basics of the process to get you started.

The Basics of Quarterly Estimated Taxes

Remember back when you had a 9 to 5 or even when you worked at that fast food joint downtown while you were in high school? At the end of the pay period your boss took out a certain percentage from every paycheck to pay taxes to the government. Afterwards you got to take home what was left.

Now that you own your own business, you don’t have a boss to do this for you. This means you have to do it yourself. However, it doesn’t quite work the same as it did back then. You don’t submit your taxes every two weeks or even every month.

If you own an (for example) online coffee cup shop, every time you sell a coffee cup you might think you need to submit taxes. But that would get even more complicated than it already is, which is why the QET system was set up.

Every quarter you send in a payment to the government to take care of your tax responsibilities. January, April, June and September become your “buckle down and take care of business” months from now on.

How QETs Work

So if you don’t remit tax payments every time you make a sale, how do QETs work? If it’s your first time ever doing them it can be extremely confusing, but once you get the hang of it everything will fall into place.

The biggest thing to remember is the word “estimated.” This is precisely what these payments are – estimations, as in you’ll hardly ever run into a payment that’s 100% accurate the first time. This is because you basically take your profit from the year (that’s income minus business expenses), figure out what you would owe on taxes on those sales, and then divide by four to get your quarterly estimated tax payment.

You can probably see how this would cause unbalance. You may make most of your profits in the 4th quarter, or you may shut your business down over the summer. Therefore, this “estimate” may be a little off.

Fortunately, there’s the “Safe Harbor Rule” the IRS has put into place. As long as you submit the same amount in taxes as you owed the the year before, you won’t be charged any fees or penalties. As an example, if you accumulated a $5,000 tax bill last year, but business boomed and you owe $10,000 this year, you’ll be fine as long as you pay at least $5,000 over the year in quarterly estimated tax payments. However, you’ll have to pay up the remaining $5,000 when all is said and done and you file your annual taxes on April 15th.

The good thing about this mess, though, is that it can help you get your finances in order as well as prepare you for tax season. When the time rolls around, you’ll be so used to figuring out this kind of stuff that it’ll be a breeze.

Here’s a calendar to keep you up to date:

Q1 – April  15, 2014 (you should have already paid this one on income made from January 1 -March 31, 2014!)

Q2 – June 16, 2014 (pay on income made between April 1, 2014 and May 30, 2014; this due date falls on the 16th because the 15th is on a Sunday)

Q3 – September 15, 2014 (pay on income made between June 1 and August 31, 2014)

Q4 – January 15, 2015 (pay on income made between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014)

What questions do you have about QETs?

Which small business credit card is best for your biz?

One of the most important choices you’ll make as a business owner is which small business credit card to use. In this article, we review four great options and make a recommendation about the best credit card for your business needs.

Finding an awesome virtual assistant, switching your email service provider, scanning your receipts, keeping up with social media… Let’s face it, as a small business owner, you have puh-lenty on your plate without having to scour the Internet trying to find the best small business credit card.

That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. First, we thought about what small business owners need most in a credit card, and came up with the following criteria:

  • Flexible spending: You have business expenses that need to be taken care of today, not three months from now. You need a card that offers you a generous credit line for emergencies and the regular costs of running your business.
  • Rewards: A good small business credit card should have a stellar rewards program that offers you points every time you spend.
  • Perks: In addition to rewards, we wanted to see additional perks such as the ability to secure credit cards for your employees, 0% introductory APR, no annual fees, etc.

Next, we sifted through hundreds of small business credit cards in order to weed out the duds and present you with the studs. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (okay, there wasn’t any blood), here are our top four candidates for the best small business credit cards out there:

AmEx SimplyCash

Our favorite thing about AmEx SimplyCash for small business? You get 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories. You can choose the category that works best for your business to ensure you maximize your cash back. Categories you can choose from include U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations and shipping in the U.S.

Want even more cash back? Lucky for you, SimplyCash also gives you 5% cash back at U.S. office supplies stores and on wireless telephone services through U.S. service providers.

Another great perk is that you’re automatically entitled to 24/7 service and support through dedicated business consultants to help you solve the specific problems your business is facing. You’ll also receive other great benefits, like access to purchase protection, extended warranty and more.

You might be wondering, “How could it get any better?” Well, on top of all of that, SimplyCash has no annual fee and 0% APR for nine months. Pretty awesome, right?

Terms and restrictions apply.

AmEx Blue for Business

There are serious benefits to using an AmEx Blue for Business card. Stay with AmEx Blue for a year and receive an “anniversary bonus” in the form of extra rewards points, which will be the equivalent of 30% of qualified purchases.

AmEx Blue gives you the flexibility to distribute your points to your employees, clients, or any other area of your business that needs a little TLC.

AmEx Blue for Business also offers an introductory rate of 0% APR for 9 months (like SimplyCash). After this period, Blue for Business offers an APR of 11.24% – 19.24% variable.

Terms and restrictions apply.

Chase Ink Cash Business Card

This card gives you $200 cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card. It’s not as high as AmEx SimplyCash, but Chase Ink Chase offers 0% introductory APR for 12 months, regardless of your credit score. After that, you’re looking at a 13.24% APR that will vary with the prime rate.

So what about rewards? This card will give you 5% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend on office supplies and office utilities like internet, cable and phone services.

You’ll also get 2% cash back on restaurant purchases and gas (up to $25,000). Once you’ve spent $25,000 in these areas, you’ll continue to receive 1% cash back, and all other purchases in other categories will also receive 1% cash back.

Because the introductory APR and ongoing interest rate are not based on credit worthiness, this could be a great business card choice for small business owners with less than perfect credit.

Terms and restrictions apply.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

What if you don’t want to worry about what you’re spending based on categories like office supplies, gas and so on?

Then Capital One Spark Cash is the small business credit card for you. This is a great introductory card for new business owners. It doesn’t offer the big introductory cash back bonuses of the other cards ($100 vs. $250), but it doesn’t require you spend as much either ($1,000 in the first 3 months instead of $3,000).

The best feature of this card is its “rewards across the board” promise. Instead of earning 5% cash back on some purchases and 1% on others, you simply earn 2% cash back on all purchases, all the time. There are no spending limits, either – the 2% reward stays in place no matter how much you spend, and what you spend it on.

There are two drawbacks to this card when compared with the others: no 0% introductory rate (you’ll pay between 13.9% and 20.9% based on your credit), and there is an annual fee of $59 (although it’s waived during the first year).

Terms and restrictions apply.

Our Recommendation

Choosing the best card for your small business is a personal choice, and depends a lot on the type of small business you’re running, how much you spend each month, and what types of rewards program would benefit you most.

After reviewing the top four cards, we think AmEx SimplyCash is the best small business credit card for the majority of small business owners.

This card gives you the opportunity to earn the most cash back short-term and long-term. It also gives you 9 months with 0% APR, a low long-term interest rate after the first year, and great business-related perks through the OPEN savings network.

Do you use a credit card for small business? Which one? What do you like/dislike most about it?

*This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser’s affiliate programs.

2014 Tax Calendar for Your Business

Don’t want to get left behind on your 2014 taxes? Here you’ll find a 2014 tax calendar complete with deadlines and details for your small business, courtesy of our friends at GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping!

This guest post is brought to you by GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping (formerly Outright) the simplest way to manage your small business finances online. Sign up today for a less taxing tax time!

Don’t want to get left behind on your 2014 taxes? It’s every business owner’s nightmare to wake up and see you’ve forgotten an important tax date and now owe a huge fee for being late. Instead of always being in fear of getting left behind, stay ahead of the game with this tax calendar! Here you’ll find the major dates every entrepreneur or freelancer needs to know.

Date: January 15th

What’s Due: Quarterly Estimated Tax

It’s time again for that quarterly pain in the neck! If you’ve never done these before, quarterly estimated taxes (QETs) are payments made in lieu of having regular taxes taken out of your paychecks. Since as a business owner or freelancer you don’t have taxes regularly taken out, the IRS (and likely your state’s taxing authority) requires you to pay quarterly instead.

On this date you’re technically paying your final payment as it’s the fourth quarter. The 1st quarter comes around at tax time, which can either be seen as obnoxious or helpful; more on this later.

Date: January 31st

What’s Due: 1099-MISC Forms Should Be Sent

If you hired a contractor or freelancer to help you with your business in some capacity in 2013, make sure to send them their 10990-MISC form by January 31st. This form aids them in doing their own taxes for April. Also, if you don’t send it on time, you could face penalties.

What to Expect: The IRS Accepting Tax Filings 

If you’re like many and like to submit your tax forms as soon as absolute possible, you’re going to run into a hiccup this year. That’s because the government shutdown in 2013 pushed back the IRS’ expected date to take in completed forms.

Date: Early February

What to Expect: Form 1099-K 

Do you sell on sites like eBay or Amazon? If you make enough money, be prepared to receive this nifty form in the mail. However, don’t fret, as it’s actually quite helpful! The 1099-K merely tells you how much money you made through those websites so you can help use it for your taxes. A copy is also sent to the IRS to give them a more accurate picture of what the tax landscape looks like.

You will receive this form if you fit these criteria:

  • You made $20,000 or more through online transactions
  • You made that $20K through 200 or more transactions through one payment processor (Amazon, PayPal, Etsy Direct Checkout, etc.)

If you don’t meet both of those, you don’t have to look for this in your mailbox.

Date: April 15th

What’s Due: Federal Taxes and Q1 QET 

This is it, the big dance, the date everyone remembers. Your federal (and state, local, etc.) taxes are due by this date, so make sure you send everything off before the post office closes. Of course actually starting your taxes this day would be a disaster, so get started as early as possible. If you feel like you just can’t get the forms done in time, file for an extension by this day.

Also due today is your first quarter QET payment. Now, as stated above, this could be seen as a blessing or a curse. It is a little annoying that this kind of thing is due the same day as your “big” annual taxes. However, since you have to do yearly taxes anyway, use the opportunity to knock your QETs out no problem and get your business organized. This will help you the rest of the year as well, especially when QETs roll around again.

Need more help figuring out your taxes? Head on over to our Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Small Businesses for tons of great info!