Regardless of how life changes, one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face in running your own business is to stay on top of your numerous obligations to federal, state, and local tax agencies. A tax headache is only one mistake away, be it a missed payment or filing deadline, an improperly claimed deduction, or incomplete records.

You can safely assume that a tax auditor presenting an assessment of additional taxes, penalties, and interest will not look kindly on an “I didn’t know I was required to do that” claim. The old legal saying that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is perhaps most often applied in tax settings. On the other hand, it is surprising how many small businesses actually overpay their taxes. They often neglect to take deductions they’re legally entitled to, or just don’t know about certain breaks that can help them lower their tax bill.

Adding to the mayhem, we have tax codes that seem to be in a constant state of flux. Creating exceptions for special groups has resulted in a steady stream of new and revised tax laws, which have lengthened the Internal Revenue Code to over 4,500 pages and rendered it barely understandable to even the most experienced tax professionals. Often one section can run up to several hundred pages. A special tax service used by tax professionals explains the meaning and application of each part of the code. It is contained in another 12 volumes! The harder Congress tries to simplify the code, the more complex it becomes.

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Tags: preparing your taxes, professional accountant, running your own business, self-employment, small business, small businesses, tax deduction, tax headache, Tax Preparation, tax professionals