Posts tagged ‘my online bookkeeping’

February 22nd, 2012

You Still Have Time!

One of the earliest lessons in life is that actions have consequences, and approaching retirement age without a substantial nest egg is one of those consequences. But if you are in this situation, you are not alone, as millions of other Americans are faced with the same need to save enough to retire comfortably.

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Our priorities shift throughout our lives. Early in the life cycle, home ownership is a priority; that is usually followed by raising and educating children. However, as retirement approaches, the focus needs to shift toward retirement funding. By the time most people are 45 or 50, their children are on their own, the mortgage is close to being paid off, and there is more discretionary income to set aside for retirement.

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If you are starting to think about retirement, there are three pitfalls you need to avoid: (1) retiring on your birthday instead of your bank account, (2) not properly managing your risk and (3) retiring with too much debt.

One way to get your retirement funding started is by making tax-advantaged IRA contributions. Self-employed individuals can make tax-advantaged Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan contributions. You still have time to make an IRA and/or SEP contribution for 2011.

Generally, after the close of the year you can no longer take steps to alter the outcome of your tax return. However, both IRA contributions and SEP contributions can be made for 12 months after the year has closed, and if you converted a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA, you can undo that conversion after the close of the year. Here are the details:

IRA Contributions – IRA contributions (tax-deductible and non-deductible) for 2011 can be made up to and including the un-extended filing due date for your 2011 tax return, which is April 17, 2012. The maximum contribution allowed is $5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or over) for each taxpayer. The annual maximum must be allocated between traditional and Roth IRA contributions.

If you are an active participant in an employer-sponsored plan, the IRA contributions are phased out for higher-income taxpayers. Roth IRA contributions are also phased out. The traditional IRA AGI phase-outs for 2011 are between $90,000 and $110,000 for married individuals filing jointly and individuals qualifying as a surviving spouse, $56,000 and $66,000 for unmarried individuals, and $0 to $10,000 for married individuals filing separately.

Where one spouse participates in an employer plan but the other does not, the non-participating spouse’s phase-out is between $169,000 and $179,000 for 2011.

SEP Plan Contributions – SEP plans are tax-deductible retirement plans for self-employed individuals. Contributions can be made up to and including the extended due date, which for the 2011 tax return is October 15, 2012. The maximum annual contribution to a SEP plan is the lesser of “25% of compensation” (20% of net profit after deducting the SEP contribution for the self-employed proprietor’s contribution) or $49,000. SEP plans have no AGI phase-out limitations and no catch-up contributions for older individuals.

Other Plans – Other plans such as Simple Plans and Keogh plans also permit contributions in 2012 for 2011.

For additional information related to making retirement plan contributions after the close of the tax year, please give this office a call.

February 16th, 2012

Is Your Schedule C in the Audit Bull's-eye?

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In a recent study, the IRS determined that over half of all under-reporting is attributable to Schedule C, the form used by self-employed individuals to report their profits or losses for the year. It is no wonder that the audit rate for Schedule C returns has increased substantially and is among the highest of all rates. Based on 2010 IRS figures, Schedule Cs have a 300% higher chance of being audited than either a partnership or an S-Corporation. Of the Schedule Cs audited in 2010, the average adjustment exceeded $9,000.

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Among the areas of underreporting are:

Personal Expenses – Over-deductions attributable to the inclusion of non-deductible personal expenses and the failure to allocate for personal use of a vehicle.

Underreporting Income – Failure to include all income. To counter this problem, the IRS has initiated merchant card and third-party reporting that will provide the IRS with all income from credit card sales.

Worker Misclassification – Misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of treating them as W-2 employees, thereby avoiding the employer’s share of payroll, unemployment, and other taxes. The IRS currently has a Voluntary Classification Settlement Program in effect that allows eligible taxpayers to voluntarily reclassify their workers for federal employment tax purposes. Voluntary programs usually precede more aggressive compliance measures.

Failing to Issue Information Returns – Generally, businesses are required to issue 1099s for fees they pay to individuals other than employees or to corporations. This is a huge area of non-compliance that denies the IRS the ability to ensure that payees are properly reporting their income. In an audit in which a 1099 should have been issued and was not, the IRS will generally disallow the deduction for those services. The 2011 Schedule C asks two catch-22 questions: “Did you make payments that would require you to

file a Form 1099?” and “If yes, did you or will you file all required Forms 1099?”

Hobby Losses – Some businesses are actually hobbies, where there is no real intention of ever making a profit. Businesses deemed to be hobbies have special rules that limit the expense deductions to the income and require the deductions to be taken as itemized deductions on Schedule A. Watch for a future article on hobby losses that will appear in the March newsletter.

If you have questions related to your Schedule C or any of the issues in this article, please give this office a call.

February 9th, 2012

Don't be Scammed by Tax Season Cyber Criminals

Now that tax season is upon us, so are the e-mail scammers pretending to be the IRS. Most of these scams fraudulently use the IRS name, logo, and/or website header as a lure to make the communication appear more authentic and enticing. They lead you to believe you had a refund of some sort coming and request personal information. The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information. The scammers can then use your information – like your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card numbers – to commit identity theft or steal your money.

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The Internal Revenue

Service receives thousands of reports each year from taxpayers who receive suspicious e-mails, phone calls, faxes, or notices claiming to be from the IRS. If you find something suspicious, you should immediately call this office before responding. In fact, it is a good policy to check with this office before responding to any inquiry from the IRS or state or local tax agencies.

Here are some tips you should know about phishing scams.

1. The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords, or similar secret access information for credit card, bank, or other financial accounts.

2. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be a representative of the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:

Do not reply to the message.

Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.

Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website and entered confidential information, you may have compromised your financial information. If you entered your credit card number, contact the credit card company for guidance. If you entered your banking information, contact the bank for the appropriate steps to take. The IRS website provides additional resources that can help. Visit the IRS website  and enter the search term “identity theft” for additional information.

3. The address of the official IRS website is Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site.

4. If you receive a phone call, fax, or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect he or she is not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. You can forward a suspicious e-mail to

If you have any questions or doubts related to a letter, phone call, or e-mail from the IRS or other taxing authorities, please call this office before responding or providing any financial or personal information. Better safe than sorry!

February 3rd, 2012

What is Online Or Virtual Bookkeeping?

Online or virtual bookkeeping is conceptually similar to on-site bookkeeping.

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Virtual bookkeeping: The only difference from on-site or traditional bookkeeping is that we don’t come to your physical location or office. This makes it virtual.

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So what

does this mean?  Somehow we have to get your source documents or transactions – i.e. bills/invoices/receipts etc.  How do we do this? Electronically, over the internet.  We then update the transactions online. This updating of information and keeping of your books makes it online bookkeeping.

Get it? Bookkeeping is done online. Your books are updated by a virtual bookkeeper.

Really, virtual or online bookkeeping are the same thing, describing the new paperless wave of bookkeeping. Some people prefer the word online, others prefer the term virtual. Still others use the term remote bookkeeping.

Learn more at

February 3rd, 2012

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Did you know My Online Bookkeeper offers a risk free trial?  Call or email us today for this great


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Call us.  (415) 480-5204                    Email us:

Here are the details:

  • 1 hour of initial consultation – Free.
  • Once you sign up, we will enter 1 month of current transactions for you. If you are not completely satisfied, just let us know. We will not charge you for a month of transactions and cancel your agreement. It’s that simple.
  • Applies to clients who sign up for monthly bookkeeping services only.
February 3rd, 2012

How Online Bookkeeping Works

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1. Initial Consultation

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When you call we will set up an initial consultation with you. This is free for you. We will understand your business, your industry and your processes. We will determine your bookkeeping needs and tailor a specific plan for you. Based on your requirements we will assign a trained bookkeeper to you. This is the person who will work on your books month after month.

2. Tailoring a Solution

At this stage, we will tailor a specific solution that meets your needs. We will also design a process that makes sense for you and make your life easier.

If you need, we will set up a chart of accounts for you. This requires creating and mapping a chart of accounts that is specific to your industry and your business.  This allows you and your accountant to easily recognize income, expense, assets and liabilities. Your transactions will be classified according  to the categories that have been set up in the chart of accounts.

3. Transfer of Information

You can send us your source documentation via a number of ways. We prefer electronic documentation. If you don’t have your documents in electronic format – don’t worry – in a lot of cases we can show you how to get them electronically.  Use our secure client portal – our Lockbox – for all confidential and sensitive information.

a) Email (not recommended for confidential and sensitive information – use our Lockbox instead)

b) Fax

c) Regular Mail: We will send you pre-paid envelopes and you simply mail it in.

d) Courier Pick Up

(Additional charges apply for mail and courier pick up service)

e) Upload directly to our bookkeeping client portal – we recommend this for all confidential documents.

4. Updating Your Books

Your bookkeeper updates your books via

a) Online software (eg. Quick books online)

b) Remote login to your computer (only if authorized)

c) Hosted software on our secure Servers

5. Your Reports

We will prepare customized reports for you that you can access anytime.

Visit or email us at for more information!

February 3rd, 2012

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And, if you’re on Twitter, be sure to join the conversation there, too!  @E_Bookkeeping

February 3rd, 2012

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Join the conversation on Twitter!  We would love to answer any questions you have regarding our services.  We have representatives online

all the time talking to existing and potential clients alike!

Follow us @E_Bookkeeping!

February 3rd, 2012

Google+ Comes to My Online Bookkeeper

My Online Bookkeeper is now connecting with even more of our friends on Google+.  In the spirit of keeping up with the technology

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February 3rd, 2012

What to do if you're missing a W-2

Have you received your W-2? These documents are essential to filling out most individual tax returns. You should receive a 2011 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers each year. Employers have until January 31, 2012 to provide or send you a 2011 W-2 earnings statement either electronically or in paper form.  However, you should wait a week or so before becoming concerned. If by then you have not received your W-2, follow these steps:

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1. Contact My Online Bookkeeper: Let us know you are missing a W-2. If your appointment is in the near future, we will advise you whether to keep the appointment or change it to another time. Most payroll services provide year-to-date totals of income and withholding with each paycheck, so your final paycheck for the year will probably include all the data needed to prepare your return, and you can still keep your tax appointment. Even if you do not have the year-to-date totals for a missing W-2 or 1099, it is best to keep the appointment. Everything else for the return, except for the missing document, can be completed, and you can

mail or drop the missing items by the office at a later date. That way, your return can be finished as soon as the W-2 or 1099 is available. This will speed up your refund if you are receiving one.

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2. Contact your employer: If you have not received your W-2, the first step is to contact your employer to inquire if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address. After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or to issue the W-2.

3. Contact the IRS: If you still do not receive your W-2 by February 15, you can contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. However, we recommend that you hold off from contacting the IRS until you are certain that you will not be receiving a W-2 from the employer, even at a date substantially later than February 15. If, and when, you do call the IRS, have the following information at hand:

Employer’s name, address, city, and state, including zip code;

Your name, address, city, and state, including zip code, and your Social Security number; and

An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and the period you worked for that employer. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible. This office can assist you in making the estimate.

4. File your return: Even if you don’t receive a W-2, you still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by April 17.

If you anticipate that you will ultimately receive the missing W-2, this office can estimate your 2011 tax liability and file extensions for you. If you have a substantial refund coming, you may opt to have this office prepare a substitute W-2, and you can file without the W-2. Refunds for returns including substitute W-2s can be delayed significantly while the IRS verifies the W-2 information.

If you don’t anticipate receiving the missing W-2, then a substitute W-2 can be prepared, allowing you to file your 2011 tax return.

If a substitute W-2 is used and it is later determined that the information used to prepare the substitute W-2 was in error, an amended return may have to be prepared for you to file.

Please My Online Bookkeeper if you have any questions at (415) 480-5204 or