Questions to Ask When Building a Business Website

One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

But before building that all-important website you must ask yourself a few searching questions:

1. Who is your intended audience? Unless you clearly understand who your target audience is, you will be unable to build a website that both attracts them and satisfies their needs.  Obviously you will want your website to appeal to both current and prospective clients.  Once you clearly define who might comprise that intended audience, you can ask yourself more specific questions regarding their expectations.

2. What are your objectives? When you are able to determine what you hope to accomplish through your business website, you have a standard by which you can measure its success.  Would you like it to simply share your business information like an electronic business card?  While it’s good to have that type of information available, a website can accomplish so much more.  Would you like to secure more clients by offering special website promotions?  What about explaining your services and their value?  Be sure that your list of objectives is specific and exhaustive.  Once you have developed that list you can use it as a guide in building your site.

3. What should visitors expect to find on your site? Visitors will obviously expect to find an explanation of your services along with contact information.  What else might they expect?  You don’t want to disappoint prospective visitors by falling short of their expectations.  Consider posing this question to a handful of individuals from your intended audience.   Current clients could also provide you with valuable insight on what they would like to find on your site.

4. What will bring visitors back? Attracting first-time visitors is one thing, but how do you bring them back to your site continually?  Again you must look at your website from a visitor’s standpoint and determine what would interest them enough to not only like your site, but bookmark it.  The one thing that will bring visitors back is offering valuable content that you update continually.  Consider offering a tax tips section, a client spotlight, or a regular website promotion.

5. What will they take with them? You’ve determined how you might build a site that interests repeat visitors, but what do you want them to take from your site?  Obviously, you want them to value your services more.  You also want them to remember you, even if they don’t retain your services initially.  When they need tax help, you want them to remember your website and return to get your number so they can schedule an appointment.

Universal Accounting Center Can Help You Create a Custom Website for Your Practice

Imagine how difficult it would be to create your own website that addressed all the above questions.  Now imagine that UAC can manage that process for you, enabling you to create a strong web presence without expending much energy.  Universal’s Accountweb, a website development tool, is available exclusively for financial professionals.  Within a number of business days you can create a personalized website for your practice, enabling potential clients to access your business even after your office closes.

To see a sample of a website developed from the Universal Accountweb platform, go to www.universalaccountingservices.com.

Whether you run a full-time practice or perform tax services on the side, you need a website that tells potential clients about your business even when you are unable to.  If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, today is the day!  Order your subscription now—your website will be up and running by the following business week.  And if you are a Universal Accounting student, you will receive a free six-month trial! 

PTIN Renewal and New Filing Season Program

Treasury tax check with cash.

PTIN Renewal

If you’re a paid tax preparer and haven’t already done so, now is the time to submit applications and renewals for your PTIN.  The IRS recently released information, including an audio troubleshooting video, designed to help tax professionals complete this important requirement with little time and energy.

It can be accomplished by completing three simple steps:

  1. Login to your PTIN account (or register for a new one).
  2. Complete the online renewal application which requires the verification of personal information.
  3. Pay the $63 renewal fee online using a credit or debit card.

You can also fulfil this requirement using a hardcopy form that can be mailed directly to the IRS for processing.

Annual Filing Season Program

The IRS is encouraging non-credentialed tax preparers to increase their level of professionalism by obtaining continuing education credits.  Tax preparers become eligible for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education which includes a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.  All those who received an AFSP Record of Completion from the IRS will be included in a public database of return preparers the IRS will launch in January 2015.

Those who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) test offered between November 2011 and January 2013 must fulfill the 15-hour CE requirement each year to secure an AFSP—Record of Completion.  According to the IRS press release, “Those who passed the RTRP test and certain other recognized national and state tests are exempt from the six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.”

With programs such as these, the IRS continues to encourage paid tax preparers to increase their professionalism by investing in continuing education.  Also, changes in the representation rights of return preparers will change come 2016.  At that time:

Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

AFSP participants will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.

For more information, visit the official IRS website.

Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed

At Universal, we also believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success 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!

Resource

–.  “New!  Annual Filing Season Program.”  IRS.gov

–.  “PTIN Requirements for Tax Return Preparers.”  IRS.gov

Start a New Habit

upswing2While many like to argue, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, the truth is anyone can choose to start a positive and healthy habit today.  While it may require self-discipline and drive, we can alter the course of our lives simply by making new choices leading to better outcomes.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, author and entrepreneur James Clear shares “5 Steps to Building a New Habit.”  Here we share the first three of those steps:

  1. Start with an incredibly small habit.  Willpower is not something that can be activated upon command.  As Clear explains, “Research shows that willpower is like a muscle.  It gets fatigued as you use it throughout the day.  Another way to think of this is that your motivation ebbs and flows.  It rises and falls.”  This stands to reason that if you can exercise your willpower with a small habit, you can build to bigger habits as that willpower gains strength.
  2. Increase your habit in very small ways.  Clear demonstrated this concept well in his article on the power of one percent.  Small, incremental increases (and decreases, should we choose) can have a profound impact.  The aggregation of marginal gains can be seen in both our personal and professional lives.  Jim Rohn said, “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
  3. As you build up, break habits into chunks.  It can be difficult to tackle a bigger habit at one time.  Clear suggests breaking a larger habit into smaller, more manageable habits.  For example, if you want to exercise for 30 minutes a day, perhaps you can begin by excising 15 minutes, twice a day.  Once your willpower and stamina improve, you can perform those two habits back to back, finally making that bigger habit a part of your daily routine.

It’s important that we continually seek to improve our lives, and that can be accomplished by replacing poor habits with good ones.  Deciding that you will make the change is just the first step.  Following that choice with these three steps can ensure that you’re on your way to an improved life based on positive and healthy habits.

Let Universal Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

If you need a little inspiration to help you change your habits, we suggest you consider working with UAC’s motivation speakers.  Universal Accounting Center has some exceptional speakers on staff that can motivate you and your team to excel.  With a number of individuals experienced in a variety of topics, they can help you better serve your clients, better market your practice, and better grow your wealth.  Learn more about Universal Accounting Center’s speaker and book one for your next event!

Resource

Clear, James.  “5 Steps to Building a New Habit.” 30 July 2014 Entrepreneur.com

Consider Semi-Retirement

Many professionals dream of early retirement, hoping to spend more discretionary time doing what they’d like before their 65th birthdays.  And while a narrow margin of individuals is able to enjoy early retirement, it can be difficult to achieve.  Not only does that leave you with less time to build savings and enable investments to compound, but that slimmer retirement package will need to last longer, and you’ll have to wait for Medicare or Social Security to kick in and supplement your nest egg.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article entitled “4 Obstacles to Early Retirement and How to Overcome Them,” author J.D. Roth suggests that perhaps semi-retirement would be a more practical goal.  Instead of quitting work completely, consider moving to part time and seasonal work which would enable you to enjoy the benefits of more free time while being able to secure the following:

Ample savings.  You are still able to put money away for that time when you plan to enjoy full-time retirement.

Modest living. Robert Brokamp, certified financial planner and senior adviser for The Motley Fool newsletter Rule Your Retirement explains, “The less you can live on now, the sooner you can retire.  I often say that living below you means is like saving for retirement twice.”

Ongoing work.  When you continue to generate income, you avoid drawing on your retirement while still enjoying the flexibility of working periodically.  Maintaining a small yet profitable business on the side is a great way to enjoy ongoing work while determining what your work schedule looks like.

Purpose.  In semi-retirement you can select those projects and professions that most excite you, enabling you to enjoy more satisfaction and purpose in your pre-retirement years.

While you can still work towards the goal of early retirement, semi-retirement is a viable option.  As with all professional decisions, you must make the choice that works best for you after considering all those options.

Increase Your Options and Your Earning Potential

Becoming a tax preparer is a great way to prepare for semi-retirement.  It could supplement your current income with part-time work in the evenings or on the weekends, enabling you to increase your retirement savings.  And, eventually, it could provide the substantial income you live on as a Professional Tax Preparer after quitting your fulltime job.  Fortunately, the training necessary to become a tax preparer isn’t as long and as painful as you might expect.  Universal Accounting Center has made it easy.

Our Professional Tax Preparer program includes the following:

  • Informative video instruction
  • Full 1040 training
  • Full business return (1065, 1120, 1120S) training
  • One Year Follow-up Support from expert tax preparers

Most tax preparation courses include books and some worksheets. Our training uses engaging and entertaining tax preparers who give practical advice on tax issues; they also provide real-world solutions that will give you the edge in productivity and profitability.

Because the IRS has imposed stricter regulations on paid tax preparers, they have opened the door to a narrower margin of individuals willing to fulfill requirements which include additional training and required testing.  Universal is an IRS-approved Continuing Education Provider, and the Professional Tax Preparer program will enable you to become proficient in tax preparation while helping you comply with new IRS regulations.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to enroll today!

Resource

Roth, J.D. “4 Obstacles to Early Retirement and How to Overcome Them.”  10 July 2012  Entrepreneur.com

IRS Tax News and Updates

IRS-retirementThe IRS announced that the 2014 tax season opens on January 31st and ends on April 15th. This start day comes one day later than the opening day last year, partly to give the IRS more time to program and test a new tax processing system.

IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel explained, “Our teams have been working hard throughout the fall to prepare for the upcoming tax season.  The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation.  It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers.”

In anticipation of the upcoming tax season, the IRS made two additional announcements:

1. Paid tax preparers must renew their PTINs for 2014.  Current PTINs expired on December 31, 2013, so tax preparers intending to complete and file returns for clients must renew their PTINs for a $63 fee.  Those obtaining PTINs for the first time must create an online account, and their total cost is $64.25. 

2. The IRS published a new guide to help taxpayers with their 2013 taxes.  According to the IRS website, “Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, features details on taking advantage of a wide range of tax-saving opportunities, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit for parents and college students, and the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income workers.  It also features a rundown on tax changes for 2013 including information on revised tax rates and new limits on various tax benefits for some taxpayers.”  Publication 17 has been published every year since 1940.

Ensure Your Creditability as a Tax Professional

Tax preparation is a viable and lucrative career path.  Universal’s tax training will help you acquire the expertise you need.   UA’s Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) program will not only help you earn a professional designation, but you could receive up to 60 CPE credits, depending on the number of modules you complete.

The four models include the following:

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. Here 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. Get 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.

Hone your skills and earn a designation as a Professional Tax Preparer.  Call Universal Accounting at 1-877-833-7909 to enroll today.

Resource

Official IRS Website

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