Monday, August 27, 2012

An IRS Surprise...Color! (Docs Small Businesses can Use)

At a meeting of SCORE chairs last week, I interloped as a newcomer and got to sit in. During that meeting Shawn Savage, from the Small Business/Self-Employed Division of the IRS in Augusta, Maine stopped in to present to us some information useful for small businesses.

We were given a folder that the IRS representative had carefully curated for us, which means you can't call up the IRS and ask for the Shawn Savage folder, but the selection of documents was so thoughtfully curated that I believe it makes a great toolkit for small business owners and the self-employed.

This post includes links to all the documents in the folder so that you can print or order your own copies.

I have to admit, the colors surprised me.

The colorful collection of documents immediately makes the complexity of the subject matter more approachable, so I highly recommend ordering your own set of documents if you are a visual learner.

The Website

The Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center offers...everything. It's both a wonderful resource and an overwhelming one, but this Center should be one of your first stops when you have questions.

2012 IRS Tax Calendar

By far, the cutest item in the folder is a "Tax Calendar For Small Businesses and Self-Employed, but before you think, uh, that's not something I want on my wall, take a look:

It's kind of cute. It's set up like a cookbook and I'm usually not a fan of cookbook-style instruction manuals, but I'm really not a fan of the IRS pubs that look like this: 

So I'll take the colorful cookbook-style calendar over that. Each month includes tax-related reminders about paying payroll taxes or making quarterly tax payments, etc. Each month includes a topic relevant to small business as well. The calendar is also useable in that the boxes are large enough to hold other information.

Download: A desktop "gadget" calendar and an online version are available, too.

Order: The 2012 wall calendar is out of stock, but the 2013 version is coming out soon, and you can order one if you prefer the paper style.

Disaster Resource Guide

The Disaster Resource Guide (pictured above) provides information for individuals and businesses affected by a federally declared disaster and information about the assistance available to disaster victims.

Publication 2194 (Rev. 2-2012) Catalog Number 24928R
Download a PDF or order a copy.

Employer Identification Number

You can now apply for an Employer Identification Number online, and this is a free service provided by the IRS. You'll get your EIN the same day and can begin using it to, you know, pay your taxes. (Well, free things usually come with a catch.)

Click to read more or to apply for an EIN.

Is It Too Good to Be True? Recognizing Illegal Tax Avoidance Schemes

This brochure helps you identify programs that claim to help you avoid taxes but may be too good to be true.

Publication 3995 (8-2003) Catalog Number 33989Q
Download a PDF or order a copy.

Small Business Federal Tax Responsibilities

This brochure provides a quick reference to forms and educational materials so that you can understand the tax rules that apply to your business or work. 
Publication 4591 (10-2010) 49785A 

A Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop CD
(Subtitled in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese)

This is a workshop to help new business owners understand and meet federal tax obligations. 
This CD is great for different learning styles. The lessons are presented by a speaker, so auditory learners will be able to listen to the content. Visual learners can turn off the audio and use the closed captioning instead and read through the text rapidly or slowly, depending on preference. The CD provides opportunities to click through the material, engaging tactile learners.

Publication 1066C (10-2009) Catalog Number 39085X
View Online or order your own CD.

IRS Tax Information for Small Businesses and Self-Employed Taxpayers
(Laminated Quick Reference Card)

This card provides helpful search terms for topics related to small businesses and the self-employed. For example, for a checklist for starting a business, the search term is "Business Checklist."

Publication 4667 (12-2010) Catalog Number 51358J
This card can be ordered.

Electronic Federal Tax Payment System:
A Guide to Getting Started

This booklet provides instructions for paying taxes online. One feature is that payments can be scheduled ahead of time.

Publication 966 (03-2012) Catalog Number 22397E
Download a PDF or order. (Enter the publication number in the search box in the middle of the page.)

Independent Contractor or Employee

This brochure helps you determine if the person working for you is an independent contractor or an employee. Or, if you are an independent contractor, you'll learn whether you should be classified as an employee.

Publication 1779 (8-2008) Catalog Number 16134L
I can't find the brochure online, but the content can be found here.

Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance

This brochure explains what to do if you are a victim of identity theft and how your taxes might be affected.

Publication 4535 (9-2010) Catalog Number 48656M
Available for download.

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