Now that tax season is officially over (any extensions you have to file aside), now is the perfect time to shift into tax planning mode for your SMB (small-to-medium business) clients. Why tax planning? To me, it’s the ultimate, easy way to engage clients into a deeper advisory relationship.
Plus, it’s a fundamental strategy to support the future viability of your firm and your clients! However, I like to keep things simple and streamlined, and in my mind having a process that I can follow with each of my Schedule C and S-corp clients makes everything easier and less taxing (pun intended)! That’s where the following simplified SMB tax planning checklist comes in. I use it with my own clients at Powerful Accounting, and I am sharing it here so you can use it, too.
- Identify your Schedule C clients who based on estimated tax payments should consider moving to an S-Corp. These are the clients where you can have a conversation about changing entity type to save them payroll taxes.
- Entity selection planning comes next. This refers to choosing the appropriate entity type for your clients’ business based on their ownership structure, performance, and goals. If you are not doing this already, you are missing out on a lucrative new revenue stream as well as immediate value that you can add.This also starts a natural conversation about the overall health of your clients’ business which is a great segue into other areas of assistance you can provide including reasonable compensation.
- Once you have the entity planning conversation, you can leverage reasonable compensation analysis as an entry point to create enhanced revenue opportunities while keeping your clients in full tax compliance as well. I love RCReports for this purpose.Special note here: You do not want to use spreadsheets to calculate reasonable compensation or skip this! If you have not been doing reasonable compensation analysis, then you definitely need to check out RCReports because it’s the law and you and your client could be the subject of an investigation by the IRS if it isn’t done or done improperly.
- Next, you can start looking at the tax return for some additional opportunities to help your clients. This could be with estimated taxes for business owners as well as payroll tax planning for S-corps and self-employment tax strategies for Schedule-C clients. When you have a truly accurate reasonable compensation number (see previous point) you will then have real numbers to work with!
- Once you have the fundamentals above completed, you can use a tax planning tool to look more closely at your client’s return. This could open up opportunities for more advanced tax strategies depending on your clients sophistication and the complexity of their situation.
- Retirement tax planning is also important to consider for SMBs and something to look at with every client. Not only will it set the stage for reducing their current tax bill, but it can also lead to other advisory service conversations if you also offer investments, insurance or retirement benefits (or partner with someone else who does).
Now that you have these six simple and easy-to-follow steps for SMB tax planning, it’s time to think back to all of your tax season clients and identify which Schedule C clients and S-corp clients you can serve, starting with the critical entity selection and reasonable compensation calculations. By starting with a solid foundation like this, you’ll have the confidence and clarity that will ensure you have all your bases covered from a compliance standpoint which is the cornerstone for effective tax planning for your clients.