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We said it once, we'll say it again: new year, new taxes. We've done a pretty good job of discussing your tax obligations by giving you small law firm tax preparation tips -- but what about your clients? They need tax tips too.
Since many of the clients you advise may be small business owners as well, many of the same considerations apply. So while you're getting your to do list in order, why not get one ready for your clients -- might we suggest a tax preparation newsletter? Never. Not. Marketing.
1. Clarify the Home Office Deduction
The IRS has adopted a new, simplified method for determining the home office deduction beginning in the 2013 tax year. The new calculation differs in three ways from the old method: (1) a standard $5/square foot deduction (with max 300 square feet); (2) allowable home-related deduction may be claimed in full; and (3) there is no home depreciation deduction. This new, simplified method may be easier for your clients to handle, and they'll appreciate hearing about the change.
2. Distinguish Between Employees and Contractors
If your client uses the services of others, make sure they've given the proper designation of employee and independent contractors. The categorization will dictate which IRS forms your client will have to issue as an employer or one who uses contractors, as well as their tax obligations.
3. Remind Clients About Deductions
As business owners, your clients may be eligible to deduct many business expenses such as business travel and meals, professional fees, education expenses, marketing expenses, and the purchase of assets.
4. Which Forms to File
Depending on whether your client is a sole proprietor, or a legal entity, will determine what tax forms she must file. If a sole proprietor then the business' taxes will show up on the personal return. However, if her business is a legal entity, that entity will have to file its own return.
5. Suggest Hiring a(nother) Professional
Just as your client hired you to handle legal issues, you may want to suggest that your client hire an accountant to oversee their tax issues.
6. Give Organization Tips
Ok, there may be a little bit of "do as I say, not as I do," but when it comes to tax matters it always helps to be organized. Gently nudge your clients to get all their paperwork in order before attempting to start their taxes.
Giving your clients a nice reminder about seasonal issues -- in this case tax issues -- is a great way to stay relevant with your clients, even long after their cases may have closed. By situating yourself as a business resource, you are not only giving your clients value, marketing in disguise. Before you know it, your clients will forward your newsletter to prospective clients. Let the rainmaking begin.
Did we miss something? What tax issues are you reminding your clients about? Tweet us @FindLawLP.