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Essential Tax Season Preparation Tips

tax computation

You’ll rarely hear people talking about tax season in a positive light. The experience of getting stressed out and resorting to procrastination is a fairly universal one. However, if you know how to prepare for doing your taxes ahead of time, it can greatly reduce anxiety and frustration. Here are a couple of preparation tips to make sure you’re ready for tax season. 

Gather Materials for What You Owe

If you have everything you need gathered in one place and ready to use, you won’t have to periodically stop the tax filing process to go searching for documents and information. First of all, make sure you have all of the documentation required to declare your income, as you’ll need to calculate whether you owe anything. 

For example, have your W-2 form ready, which contains all of the earnings information you need to enter in, and it will contain your employer’s tax ID number. There are a number of other forms that may have pertinent information for you. For example, if you are an independent contractor, you should have a 1099-MISC form. Your employer is obligated by law to get these forms to you, so make some inquiries if you don’t have one yet. You’ll also need your Social Security number.

There are other taxable sources that you should be aware of. Interest on savings accounts is taxable, so it is a good idea to get a hold of statements and tax forms on those accounts if you have them. Taxable interest is usually reported in a 1099-INT. If you are invested in stocks or mutual funds, or you’ve received earnings from broker transactions, you’ll need 1099-DIV and 1099-B forms respectively. 

Tax Prep for Businesses

Conversely, if you are a business owner, there are a lot of factors to consider, along with supporting documents available to make sure filing your company’s taxes on your own goes as smoothly as possible.

To start, It’s a good idea to have your tax return from the previous year with you when you’re latest tax return. It’ll have things like your federal tax ID number, your business code number and business activity descriptions, and lots of other vital information. A previous return is also helpful if you need to check for any red flags or if you’d like to compare previous expenses and profit over this year’s finances.  

You’ll also need accounting statements, bank records, credit card statements, and payroll information–basically anything that has to do with your company’s expenses and income. It’s a good idea to have all your accounting information on hand, because regardless of which software you use, organizing your accounting records makes tax preparation much easier. The same goes for banking information. Analyzing deposits and expenditures will enable you to categorize income and deductions to prepare your tax return. 

Filing taxes as a business owner can be daunting as there’s so much to remember and keep track of. However, having all these things organized and reconciled makes filing everything that much easier.

tax receipt

Take Stock of What You Can Deduct

If you want to deduct expenses from the taxes you owe, you’ll need documentation for that too. It is a good idea to have all of this information ready so you can wrap things up fast. 

If you are claiming dependents, you’ll need all of their Social Security numbers in addition to yours. Think of all of the credits you are claiming as well, because you’ll need paperwork for them. For example, a child care credit requires the tax ID number of whoever is taking care of your child. If you are self-employed you can deduct your business expenses, but you’ll need bills, receipts, and other types of documentation to prove it.

Are you self-employed and paying your own insurance premiums? Those premiums can be 100 percent deductible, as long as you don’t qualify for health insurance from your spouse’s job.

Have you taken out a large loan that you are paying interest on, such as a mortgage or a car loan? The interest is tax-deductible, and you’ll need 1098 forms for those loans if you want to deduct them. 

You can also make deductions for paying certain taxes. Real estate taxes are often deductible, and you can get a 1098 for those too. Further, state and local income taxes are deductible, as well as any personal property taxes you might pay, such as on your car. The information for these deductions comes on your W-2. 

Finally, you can take deductions for your charitable activities if they are substantial enough. For example, if you donate personal items that are over $250 in value, you can deduct that value from your taxes. Just make sure you get receipts for your donations. You can also deduct the mileage you accumulated in the course of volunteer work. 

Research Your Filing Status

Your filing status will have an important effect on your taxes. For example, your filing status can look very different if you are single or married. If you are married, but then get divorced, your taxes will change as well. The same holds true if you have children you consider as dependants in the eyes of the IRS.  Consequently, their status changes as well once they’re filing their own taxes and they’re longer financially supported by you.  

Get Started

Once you have all of the required materials and documentation together, you’re ready to begin the tax filing process. Luckily you’ve already covered a lot of ground! All you need to do now is put in all of that information and send it out. 

What type of tax program are you going to use? A casual search will retrieve all sorts of web-based solutions that make filing your taxes easy, or you could use software on your computer like Turbo Tax. 

With this basic preparatory information, you’ll be able to get everything you need together and get your taxes in fast. If the tax filing process proves to be more complex than you initially thought, there is no need to sweat it. You can request an extension with the 4868 form and avoid any associated penalties. With preparation and diligence, tax season shouldn’t be as stressful as it used to be.

Los Angeles Corporate Identity – How to Define Your Business

Corporate identity is a complex and even illusive issue, and many businesses understandably have difficulty forging an identity because they can’t tangibly explain what the process actually entails. Be warned, though, that if you don’t take proactive measures to establish your own identity, you will become subject to an identity nonetheless. It just may not be the one you were hoping for. At Coalition Technologies, our Los Angeles corporate identity consultants use a full range of marketing, branding and Web development measures to help businesses project an empowering identity that always leaves the best lasting impression with consumers.

Defining Your Business

Ask yourself the following question: What drives my business, at its core? In other words, what is the central, underlying mission or philosophy? This is where you need to begin. For instance, if you sell life insurance, your underlying mission might be to help families achieve peace of mind and security amid all of life’s uncertainties. By defining the ultimate motivation of your business as it appeals to your clientele, you can foster the kind of identity that connects with consumers on an emotional level and draws them to you like a magnet.

Second, determine how you can build a visual brand around this central mission. From your logos to your website layout, from your product packaging to your letterhead, everything your customers see should be an unmistakable reflection of your corporate identity. Choosing the right designs and color schemes can be tricky, and this is where a qualified Los Angeles corporate identity consultant can prove an invaluable asset. In order to make that connection between what a customer sees from your business and what he or she feels on a deeper level, you’ll need to focus on targeted, ongoing branding efforts based on comprehensive market research.

Additionally, you must ensure that all of your content, slogans and other written materials constantly reinforce your mission. From your product (or service) descriptions, to your company newsletters, to your homepage copy, everything should connect directly with the consumer according to your central mission.

Looking for Los Angeles Corporate Identity Experts?

Corporate identity is the culmination of multifaceted and constantly evolving efforts, and at Coalition Technologies, we take the time to address and perfect every aspect of this critically important exercise. If you need a helping hand in establishing just the right corporate identity, give our Los Angeles corporate identity experts a call at 1-310-827-3890. We’ll give you a free quote, learn about your business, and let you know exactly how we can help. Don’t let your corporate identity take on a life of its own. Take action, and maintain control over your image.

Magento Developers Help You Retool for the Holidays

From Black Friday to Christmas Eve is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, especially for online retailers. A recent story in the San Jose Mercury News reports that “more holiday shoppers [are buying] later and online.” Sales on Cyber Monday were up 17.5% from last year, and the coming weeks leading up to Christmas are expected to produce a record breaking surge in online sales as well. Is your Magento store in the best position to capitalize?

If you aren’t sure, consulting with Magento developers who stay abreast of the latest, greatest applications for the platform could be well worth the time and money. By optimizing their stores with Magento apps that are designed to help rope in more dollars, many Magento customers are planning to make financial haul this holiday. By working with the Magento developers at Coalition Technologies to implement the right apps for your store, there’s no reason you can’t join them.

Apps You Should Know About

New Magento apps hit the market all the time, and some aren’t worth a second look, as they complicate the buying process, make store management more complex, or resemble a capability that Magento already offers. However, there are also apps that skillfully take advantage of business opportunities and generate dynamic results. Below are four apps that could help you retool your Magento store for the holidays and close out the year with a bang.

Temando Logistical App

A 2011 Stress Free Shopping Campaign Effectiveness Survey found that “48% of online shoppers abandoned purchases at the checkout due to the delivery options offered.” Temando is a comprehensive delivery management platform that uses top-notch logistical solutions to offer dynamic delivery options. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more you’ll benefit from having the Temando application linked to your store, as it will help you capture late purchases.

Bronto Abandoned Shopping Cart App

Bronto has an email marketing app that addresses the abandoned shopping cart phenomenon. With Bronto’s shopping cart app attached to your store, you can send email alerts to customers who abandon their carts. The idea is to tempt shoppers to return and complete the purchase, often with the aid of a promotion. Bronto claims to help businesses recover 70% of abandoned shopping carts. That could be a lot of extra money in your business’ Christmas stocking.

OneStepCheckout App

Magento developers have long known that the fewer steps the checkout process involves, the more likely customers are to purchase something. The OneStepCheckout app is specifically designed to truncate the payment process for Magento stores, and truncate it does. The original six-step process for making a Magento-powered purchase is reduced to just one step. OneStepCheckout reports that their app can increase the sales by up to 60%.

Yotpo Ratings and Reviews App

The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 75% of consumers trust what they hear about a business from their peers, but only 17 percent “trust a great deal” what a business says about itself. The Yotpo ratings and reviews app lets you capitalize on this phenomenon by encouraging customers to leave ratings and reviews and providing them with a way to share the information via social media. Once shared, the information helps generate traffic to your Magento store.

Contact Us Today

Magento is a complex ecommerce platform whose ability to generate results is partially based on the applications a store features. Between now and Christmas, the applications above will play a pivotal role in helping Magento customers capitalize on holiday online sales trends. To find out if these applications would be a good fit for your store, contact the Magento developers at Coalition Technologies at (888) 993-7639, or click here to use our contact form.

BigCommerce HTML5 Developers – Coalition Technologies

HTML5 is the long-awaited new standard for HTML code. It’s hard to believe that the last version of HTML, version 4.01, was unveiled in 1999. Needless to say, the Internet has changed tremendously in 13 years, and HTML was in dire need of an upgrade. As the CEO and founder of Coalition Technologies, one of the top web design firms in L.A., I have used every major programming specification to develop websites, and I’ve seen just how much the web has evolved in recent years. If you want to stay on the cutting edge, consider taking advantage of HTML5.

BigCommerce and HTML5

BigCommerce is one of the most powerful and versatile shopping cart platforms for ecommerce businesses, and while BigCommerce features a large selection of pre-designed templates and themes, the platform allows users a tremendous amount of design and development freedom. Best of all, BigCommerce uses HTML, so if you want to design or customize your website within BigCommerce, you can take full advantage of the new HTML features.

If you already use BigCommerce to run your online store, now is the perfect time to start integrating some of the new HTML5 features. The capabilities of HTML5 are actually quite stunning, and the possibilities are almost limitless. When you combine the content management possibilities of BigCommerce with the design and development possibilities of HTML5, your business is unstoppable.

The Benefits of HTML5

The animation capabilities of HTML5 are so sleek that the specification is often compared to Flash. But unlike with Flash, you don’t need any special software to view HTML5 animations. Most browsers are already HTML5 compatible, and the animation blends seamlessly onto the page, wrapping around text and images, or just softly twinkling into the background. It’s web animation for the 21st century.

But it’s not just animation. HTML5 enables sites to incorporate videos and music without any external software. Finally, websites have the ability to be fully interactive without being dragged down by third-party applications. It’s web surfing the way it was meant to be.

Additionally, HTML5 allows the use of Javascript alone to create diagrams, graphics, animation and more. The specification supports geolocation, improved search capabilities, and is even mobile friendly. While most mobile phones still don’t support Flash, HTML5 allows smart phones to enjoy the full spectrum of videos, music and animation in real time. And as more web users are going to mobile, strong mobile integration is becoming absolutely essential.

Why Choose BigCommerce?

If you have an ecommerce store, BigCommerce is your #1 choice for numerous reasons: top notch SEO, unparalleled support, powerful marketing tools, and of course, total development freedom. If you want to build a stunning custom website using the HTML5 specification, you won’t find a friendlier platform than BigCommerce. In addition to supporting HTML5, BigCommerce supports HTML’s CSS3 integration, so your design options are virtually unlimited.

As an online business, you want a website that will dazzle customers and give you an edge over your competition. HTML5 and BigCommerce enable you to achieve that end with amazing results. But if you truly want to reach your full potential, you need a web development partner that can help you to get the most from HTML5.

The Coalition Difference

At Coalition Technologies, our development team understands the intricacies of HTML5, and understands how to get the most from this cutting edge web technology. Our expert developers and designers work together to build incredible websites for today’s online marketplace.

Coalition Technologies is also a certified BigCommerce partner, specializing in design, development and SEO. We have been using BigCommerce for nearly as long as it has been around, and we know how to get the most from the platform. Most web developers don’t have the level of experience that we have using BigCommerce, and most BigCommerce partners don’t have the quality web designers and developers that we employ. Coalition Technologies is your #1 choice.

If you would like to take your online business to new heights with BigCommerce and HTML5, call us for a free quote at 310-827-3890. We will listen to you, get to know your business, and work with you to develop a tailor-made plan. Call us today.

BigCommerce WordPress Integration – Coalition Can Help

BigCommerce is a powerful platform, with enough functions and features to suit any ecommerce business. WordPress is an extremely powerful and versatile platform in its own right, but BigCommerce and WordPress don’t serve exactly the same function, and each system has its own strengths. The solution? BigCommerce and WordPress integration. Using these two platforms side by side, you can achieve the best of both worlds and maximize your business potential.

The Benefits of BigCommerce

BigCommerce is the ultimate shopping cart platform. Complete with stunning design templates, simple customization features, amazing SEO capabilities and the most professional marketing tools, BigCommerce is a dream come true for anyone who runs an online business. Easily sell and track your products and services, build beautiful product pages made to convert, and provide your customers with convenient shipping options, promotions and more.

The Benefits of WordPress

Though once limited to blogging, WordPress has evolved in recent years to accommodate every type of website need. But even today, WordPress remains your best blogging solution. If you already have a WordPress blog, you can integrate it with your BigCommerce ecommerce site to drive additional traffic. If you do not already have a WordPress blog, consider the benefits that a blog can provide for your business.

The website Hubspot conducted an independent study of 1,531 of its web service customers, 795 of whom blogged, and 736 of whom did not. Hubspot discovered that the sites with active blogs received an average of 55 percent more traffic than the sites without blogs. That’s a pretty staggering difference.

WordPress makes it easy to create and manage your blog, and its SEO features are among the best you’ll find with any content management system. That means that more people will be able to find your blog—and ultimately your business—online.

Coalition Can Help

At Coalition Technologies, we can help you not only with BigCommerce WordPress integration, but we can help you to get the most out of each platform. Coalition Technologies is a core BigCommerce partner, and in fact BigCommerce selected Coalition Technologies for a premiere web design partnership after seeing the quality of our work. Our expert team has built entire websites from the ground up using BigCommerce.

We also know WordPress inside and out. We use WordPress for development as well as marketing, so if you need to integrate an existing blog with your BigCommerce shopping cart, or if you need a partner to create a high-quality, search-optimized blog content for you, you won’t find a more qualified partner than Coalition Technologies.

Give us a call today at 310-827-3890 to discuss your WordPress/BigCommerce needs and receive a free quote. We’re here for you, so call us now.

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