Avoid Holiday Stress

holiday-stress2‘Tis the season to stress out—fa-la-la-la-la.  Really, wouldn’t it be better to manage the seasonal stress so that you can enjoy the holidays?  Here we share 7 tips designed to help you better savor the holidays by managing the stress that’s often associated with them:

1. Be positive Often you can think away your stress.  When you change your thought patterns and continually repeat positive affirmations, like “I have plenty of time to prepare for Christmas” or “I am feeling calm and relaxed,” you increase your capacity to manage difficult situations.

2. Exercise This is an age-old stress-relieving tactic.  It releases endorphins in the bloodstream which will enable you to feel more energized.  It releases serotonin in the brain which will enable you to be more alert.  It increases your body’s immune system which will enable you to better fight illnesses, both small and large.  And last, but definitely not least, exercise is a natural relaxant that will alleviate stress.

3. Avoid over-scheduling. Professionals have the tendencies to over-schedule.  This can be especially stress-inducing during the holidays.  Be realistic about your schedule and only plan for those things you have designated as priorities.

4. Delegate. When possible, delegate tasks (both professional and seasonal).  Your family will probably be more than willing to help if it means they can spend more time with a less stressed you!  Consider simple tasks that don’t require your knowledge or expertise (filing, organizing, mailing, etc.)

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Prioritize your projects and determine what you can and should let go.  When dealing with stress overload, you need to be able to focus on what matters and put the rest on hold, especially during the holidays.

6. Anticipate changes in routines and schedules. Due to all the holiday parties, recitals, programs, etc. it can be more difficult to schedule meetings with your clients in the next couple months.  Rather than become frustrated, anticipate the change in routine and be prepared with a back-up plan.

7. Schedule down-time. It is, after all, a time to enjoy your family and friends. While it may not seem like you have any time to spare, it can be extremely rejuvenating to take an hour or two and do something relaxing with your family.  It also can give you the perspective necessary to balance your personal and professional lives over the holidays.

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but managing that stress is key in whether or not you actually enjoy the celebrated season.  This year take time to manage your holiday stress instead of allowing it to manage you.

QuickBooks Made Profitable

Knowing how to make the most of your accounting software could save you hours of working on the computer.  Consider purchasing Universal Accounting Center’s QuickBooks Made Profitable (QBMP).  For next to nothing you can use your QuickBooks expertise to attract more clients and increase your bottom line!

80% of small businesses use Intuit’s QuickBooks software.  Once you complete QuickBooks Made Profitable, you will be able to use our proven system to attract more clients with your QuickBooks expertise.  Not only that, but when you add QuickBooks setup, help and consultation services to your menu, you enhance your financial service offerings and widen your customer appeal.

Take advantage of this marvelous opportunity to eliminate some stress and increase your bottom line.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to order now!

IRS Resources You Should Know About

Treasury tax check with cash.The IRS, in addition to being a somewhat ominous government agency which exacts compliance and accuracy, also provides taxpayers with resources designed to simplify the tax reporting process.  As a tax preparer, you should be aware of these resources and not only share them with clients but utilize them yourself.  Here are just a few you should know about:

e-Services for Tax Pros.  As described by the IRS, “e-Services is a suite of web-based products that will allow tax professionals and payers to conduct business with the IRS electronically.  There services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the internet.”  The following are available to all those who qualify:

      • Registration
      • e-file Application
      • Transcript Delivery System (TDS)
      • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching
      • QuickAlerts Messaging Service

Basic Tools for Tax Professionals.  In the event that you need to access information or instruction from the IRS, this would be the place to look for it.  Organized in a list format with links to more information, this would make a good bookmark for all tax preparers.

Circular 230 Tax Professionals and Tax Code, Regulations and Official Guidance.  If you’re interested in reading up on IRS regulations governing attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Enrolled Actuaries, Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents, and Appraisers, this series of documents can provide you with the information for which you’re looking.

e-News Subscriptions.  The IRS sends out updates and alerts to subscribers, so if you’re interested in being the first to hear about IRS news and tips, this is where you want to go.

Forms and Publications.  This site provides all taxpayers with easy access to all IRS forms and publications.

Current Tax Tips and Fact Sheets 2014 are both useful resources that will enable you to be aware of any tax changes or alerts as you approach this year’s filing season.

Latest News.  If you don’t subscribe to IRS updates and newsletters, you can still access the most recent news releases by visiting this screen.

PTIN Requirements.  If you still haven’t secured your PTIN, you may want to visit this screen to learn more about the new IRS regulations for tax preparers.  You can also apply for your PTN here.

Frequently Asked Tax Questions and Answers.  And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in any of those other resources, you’re likely to find it here, or at least be directed to where it might be.

The IRS has all this information and more, proving to be a helpful resource to many of us who may need it.

Universal Accounting is Also a Valuable Resource

Here at Universal, we’re interested in seeing you succeed as a tax preparer.  Our Professional Tax Preparer Program is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, becoming efficient in the completion of individual and business returns.  If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!  Or call us at 1-877-833-7909 to enroll now!

Key Social Media Rules

The proliferation of social networking sites has left many professionals wondering how to best manage profiles in order to generate interest in their businesses.  In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, author Brian Patrick Eha describes “5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know.”   Here we share three of his tips:

1. Produce quality content.  In order for your online presence to be valuable to others, you must provide them with information applicable to their particular needs and situation.  In order to accomplish this you must know your target market well and understand their most pressing concerns.  When you can address those, your tweets, posts, and pins becomes a valuable resource to their business.

2. Be open and engaging. Online communication can be tricky.  You need to ensure that all your correspondence is upbeat and personable so that your audience is drawn to your profile and attends to your updates.  Also, it’s important that you engage with followers, responding to their questions and requests.

3. Focus on a specific niche.  As Eha explains, “On social media, you can either be a generalist – producing and curating a hodge podge of content across many different disciplines—or you can choose to specialize in one or a few areas.  Specialists tend to bend more ears than generalists…” 

Using social media to promote your business can be daunting, considering all the different sites out there.  Following a simple set of ground rules could help you find greater success as you try to build your business online.

Enjoy Greater Prosperity!

Tax professionals charge 100 + an hour providing planning and preparation services to clients.  In the course of one tax season, many tax preparers earn what others take an entire year to bring in.  Universal’s Professional Tax Preparer Program will enable you to help your clients save enough money in taxes to more than cover your fees.  And what you earn in one tax season will more than cover your registration for this course.  

1.   Establishing the Tax Foundation.  Learn the entire process for determining income and adjustments to income, which will factor into the Adjusted Gross Income.  In fact, you’ll cover all the information necessary to prepare Page One of Form 1040.

2.   Becoming the 1040 Expert. This module deals with background information and forms that go into the 1040, Page 2.  We also discuss all the adjustments that can be made to gross income, including credits that are allowed and different types of deductions and exemptions that can be taken against that adjust gross income number.

3.   Profitable Business Returns.  In Module 3, we introduce you to the world of business organizations and their tax concerns.  This module is a practical companion to Module 2, as it give you experience in completing each of the schedules and forms common to business organizations.

4.   Building Your Successful Tax Practice.  Module 4 was designed to give you a head start in creating and running your own tax preparation service.  You will find yourself light years ahead of the competition as you put these strategies into play. 

Invest in your business by becoming a Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) before next tax season.  Universal’s PTP program will give you hands-on training in completing full individual (1040) and business returns while enabling you to further grow your business.  Call 1-877-833-7909 to enroll now.

Resource

Eha, Brian Patrick.  “5 Social Media Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know.”  14 June 2013  Entrepreneur.com

Closing the Deal (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

6 Steps for Turning Prospective Clients into Current Clients

You’ve made a good first impression and now you want to deliver your sales pitch and seal the deal. That may be easier said than done. But when you attend to the client’s needs and follow 6 simple steps, it can happen, and quite possibly, before the bill arrives.

1. Arrive early

It’s important that you properly set up your meeting. Most sales pitches are delivered over a meal; it’s a great way to lure prospective clients from their own businesses in order to discuss your services. In that case, you should ensure the restaurant is aware that your reservation is for a business breakfast, lunch or dinner. Give them your card before the clients arrive in order to avoid that awkward moment when the bill is presented. You can also determine seating at this time, which is important when meeting with more than one prospective client.

2. Build your professional relationship

Set the meeting’s tone by getting to know the client better before jumping into your pitch. Ask questions and listen to their answers. Just about everyone likes to talk about themselves, their families, their businesses, and even the weather. Exhibit genuine interest in your client’s life and you’re sure to build a solid base for your professional relationship.

3. Time your pitch

You want to avoid interruption and ensure adequate time to deliver your pitch. If you’re having breakfast, you don’t have much time and will want to start fairly soon. Lunch appointments are a little longer and you should wait until everyone orders before you start. Dinner appointments are the most leisurely and you should wait until everyone has finished their entre before you start talking business.

4. Ask the right questions

It’s important that you determine your prospective client’s needs. What are their current accounting needs? Do they already have an accountant? Are they satisfied with their current accountant? What services would they find most beneficial? The more you learn about their business and corresponding accounting needs the better equipped you’ll be to cater your pitch to align with their business objectives.

5. Emphasize benefits

Before you even practice your pitch try to take on your prospective client’s perspective. What would they most want from an accountant? While you probably offer everything from standard bookkeeping to payroll services, the client is more interested in how those services will benefit their business. It’s much more appealing to hear that you’ll help them cut costs and increase profits than it is to know that you can manage their accounts payable and accounts receivable.

6. Listen to and answer questions

This step is often overlooked. We can be so focused on delivering our pitch that we forget to listen to our prospective client’s questions and thoughtfully answer them. This will help you best determine what their deeper concerns might be. Often this is where the deal is sealed as the client comes to realize that you’re genuinely interested in what is best for their business.

Enhancing Your Sales PitchYou’ll be better equipped to seal the deal when you have a professional designation to back your experience and expertise. Not to mention, when you receive training in small business accounting, you will enhance your service offerings and become a full-service financial provider! What client wouldn’t want their tax preparer to become a one-stop shop for their financial needs?And when you enroll in Universal’s Professional Bookkeeper Program, you learn how to become a client’s Profit Expert, enabling you to contribute to a client’s profitability – a skill that makes your services invaluable. Imagine how that will enhance your sales pitch!Get started today! UAC has been training professionals like you for over 25 years. Benefit from our experience and expertise. Enroll now and gain the skills and confidence necessary to secure more clients and seal countless deals!

Hiring Employees

Complying with IRS Regulations

When you begin the search for employees, you must ensure that you complete all the necessary documentation in order to comply with IRS regulations.  The following are three tasks you must complete before adding someone to your payroll:

1. Ensure Eligibility to Work in the US.  To verify an employee’s ability to work in the United States, require him/her to fill out IRS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  This government form, provided by the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, enables employers to determine whether an individual is authorized to work in the states.

2. Secure Social Security Number.  In order to complete the W-2 form, you must secure each employee’s name and social security number (SSN).  You can make a copy of the card for your own records, although this documentation is not required.  The IRS website offers the following clarification: “Do not accept an ITIN in place of an SSN for employee identification or for work. An ITIN is only available to resident and nonresident aliens who are not eligible for U.S. employment and need identification for other tax purposes. You can identify an ITIN because it is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number “9″ and is formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNN).”

3. Determine Employee’s Withholding.    Each employee must submit a W-4 form, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, which you must keep on file.  This is where employees state their filing status and withholding allowances which determine the amount of income tax withholding from their paychecks.  The submitted form remains on file until the employee replaces it with an updated W-4.  As declared by the IRS, “If employees claim exemption from income tax withholding, they must give you a new Form W-4 each year.”  The W-4 becomes effective with the first wage payment following form submission.

While you may be aware of these regulations, your clients may not be, and failure to comply can cost them in the long-run.  Consider providing them with a tip sheet that notes these three tasks, or refer them to the IRS website for more information.

Universal’s IRS-Approved Tax Training Will Help Meet IRS Regulations

Universal Accounting recently announced its approval as an IRS Continuing Education Provider, enabling individuals desiring to become Registered Tax Return Preparers to fulfill their CE requirements through Universal’s self-study and online tax courses.

The IRS oversees the approval of all CE providers.  Because Universal’s tax training was already recognized as a sponsor of Quality Assurance Service (QAS) self-study courses after meeting the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) rigorous standards, the Professional Tax Preparer program was easily adopted by the IRS. Universal is happy to join the ranks of IRS-approved Continuing Education Providers and is confident that their tax training will enable countless graduates to advance their careers in the finance industry.

If you would like to learn how the Professional Tax Program can enhance your career, call Universal Accounting at 1-877-833-7909.

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