This article appeared in print as part of “Ask & Give: Female Entrepreneurs Rally in Columbia” Growing up, it didn’t take long for Liz...
1. How can an accountant help a business navigate the financial landscape? What’s the benefit? Accounting firms such as Accounting Plus that focus on small businesses are familiar with the unique bookkeeping, payroll and tax challenges and requirements faced by small-business owners. An accounting firm can help keep the business owner abreast of tax deadlines, record-keeping requirements and payroll laws, just to name a few.
2. How have you seen companies deal with rising health care costs from a tax standpoint? How are they related? Small-business owners have historically struggled with providing quality affordable health care insurance to their employees. In the face of rising health insurance premiums, many have opted not to provide insurance at all. With the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, small business were incentivized to offer health care to their employees by receiving a sizable tax credit for doing so. This has helped to defray these rising costs, but it remains to be seen how effective this will be with the full-featured Obamacare plan rolling out in January.
3. What special services to you offer that no one else does? Accounting Plus focuses on the small-business owner and their needs. Specifically, we are known in and around Columbia for our quality QuickBooks training and consulting services. We have four QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisers on staff who can help businesses with all facets of the software from setup, to cleanup, to going to the business location to train the owners or employees who will be using it day to day.
4. What is the biggest tax write-off you see businesses miss year after year? The deduction we most often see missed or underutilized is the mileage deduction. For 2013, each mile driven by a business owner is deductible at $0.565 per mile, which really adds up if one tracks all those miles driven to the bank, to the office supply store, to visit customers and so forth. We offer all of our business clients a free mileage log and educate each of them on how to use it and what types of miles are deductible.
5. What’s the story behind your name? What does the “plus” really mean? What is it that you add beyond the typical accounting experience? Our tagline is, “Leave it all to us at Accounting Plus.” We take that “all” seriously and try to offer all of the accounting-related services a small-business owner would need, including bookkeeping, tax preparation, business entity setup, QuickBooks training and consulting and payroll. The recent trend for accounting firms is to drop their payroll product because of the deadline-driven nature of the service. At Accounting Plus we have been actively growing our payroll business because our clients need it. In 2014 Accounting Plus plans to begin offering business insurance products to its clients to add one more service to the “plus.”
6. What are people you talk to most surprised about regarding your industry? People most often seem surprised at the amount of business advisory services an accountant can offer. They seem to believe that accountants can only prepare tax returns and financial statements, when in fact an accountant can help them with so much more.
7. How has technology affected the accounting industry? The accounting industry has benefited greatly from technology advances over the past decade, most notably within the tax-preparation industry, where, according to the IRS, more than 80 percent of 2012 tax returns were filed electronically. For tax preparers who use tax software (there aren’t many left that prepare returns by hand), that software helps to ensure both accuracy and thoroughness and allows the returns to be electronically filed with the IRS and the state, thereby speeding up the refund process.