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Tackling Tax Season In Your Furniture Painting And Refinishing Business

What is UP my friends and fellow busybees. The first month of the year is already over, just like that… how are we all feeling? Like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating New Year’s? Yeah, same here. This month has been a total blur, but I’ve gotta admit, it’s been jam packed with a lot of great stuff. My husband and I got back on Friday from a week’s holidays down in Mexico, we were in La Cruz which is just outside Puerto Vallarta and joined my parents there who had rented a house and it was a great time. The weather was a 10/10 all day every day, the food we had was amazing, we randomly found the best BBQ place that had the tastiest ribs I’ve ever had and of course the tacos were incredible. It was nice to spend some time unplugged from social media and just take it easy, but I’m so glad to be back and tackle some new projects.

A couple days after we got back from Mexico we also got to pick up our little bundle of joy– if you haven’t yet seen on my Instagram, my husband and I got a new puppy and it’s honestly disgusting how obsessed we are with him. His name is Yukon and he’s a Bernese Mountain Dog and Giant Alaskan Malamute mix and obviously I am incredibly biased but I’m pretty sure he’s top 3 cutest puppies to ever exist but… you can go peep some photos and be the judge of that yourself! What I can confirm is that playing with a puppy, though it can be a bit tiring after awhile, is definitely good for the soul. By the end of the day my cheeks have literally been aching from smiling so much so… yeah, that’s where I’m at. So if you’re ever in need of a pick me up, just tune in to my stories on Instagram because that has basically turned into a livestream feed of the little guy #SorryNotSorry.

So because we have already very quickly whipped through the first month of the year, it’s the time we need to be thinking about taxes for our small businesses. Depending where you live, you may have a shorter or longer timeline to get them fully accomplished but here in Canada (I live in Ontario), we have until April 30th to have our taxes completed and submitted. However, that doesn’t mean that we are waiting until April 25th to start looking at our receipts, income and expenses for last year and doing a mad dash waiting until we’re down to the wire to get it done, right? Riiiight?? Okay, good, that’s what I thought.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m typically someone who leaves things until the last minute and then justifies it by saying things like “I just work well under pressure! Having an upcoming deadline really puts my butt into gear, and I always end up getting it done!”. I got myself through many a university essay taking that route but in the case of doing your taxes for your business, and also just your personal taxes, I don’t recommend it. Sometimes it can take longer than expected to find all your receipts and invoices and get them organized (especially if you haven’t been keeping track throughout the year in preparation for this), and then having to get everything tallied and ready to go and then actually preparing the return and either getting it sent in physically or submitting it online.

There’s also always the possibility of glitches or something being down or not working properly on the technology side, as well as the fact that you could come across something you aren’t sure how to handle or what to file it under or something like that, so that could slow you down if you need to stop what you’re doing and either do some research to find out the answer or reach out to someone who knows, like a tax professional.

If you plan to have someone else complete your tax return on your behalf, or alongside you to help walk you through the process so you can do it yourself in the future, then they’re also going to be incredibly busy around the deadline time and it will be hard, if not impossible to get in with someone on your schedule. So do your due diligence and start tackling it now and you will thank yourself later. Starting earlier also allows you to be able to break the process up into smaller chunks of time if you prefer to do so instead of just deep diving and immersing yourself in the exciting world of taxes for hours and hours on end all at once.

Alright, so I’ve said my part so if you end up getting lazy or forgetting and leaving it until the last minute and make your life difficult, don’t come complaining to me, got it?! Alright cool. So in today’s episode, I thought it would be helpful to just walk through some of the things I do when it comes to completing taxes for my furniture painting and refinishing business in hopes that it helps out some of you out there who are maye brand new to having to complete yours, or help to make it seem more accessible and not so scary to those who may be thinking of creating their own official furniture painting and refinishing business. And for those of you out there who are well seasoned in this area and already know what’s up, hopefully you learn a thing or two, too!

Now I’m adding context and a disclaimer here that I am still in my first few years of business and so I am still always learning, too. Nothing in the episode today is official tax or financial advice, I am not trained in those subjects so just use this episode as a starting point to get you thinking about your taxes and business expenses and do not treat it as official information. Do your own research and I always recommend talking to someone licensed and experienced to discuss your situation: firstly because even if you plan to complete your own tax return, they will help guide you in the right direction so you do it correctly from the get-go, they can speak to your specific business and the way it is set up, and they will know the laws and regulations where you live. Again, I’m in Canada but even if you are a Canadian listening in, make sure to consult with a CPA, accountant or other tax expert.

Now, some people are scared of the word taxes. They don’t understand them, they think they’re bad, and some people even avoid officially registering their business and making it official to avoid having to deal with and pay taxes. Again, not legal or financial advice, but that is liiiikely against the law of some sort where you live, so I highly recommend following the regulations where you live and just registering and following the appropriate procedures of declaring your income if you are selling painted and refinished furniture pieces. There are many reasons for this– I’m actually thinking that that might make its own podcast episode to be able to deep dive into those more so let me know if that’s something you would be interested in– but at the end of the day, you always come out ahead when you register and declare.

And keeping track of your income and expenses for your business can be as technical and organized or as lazy and straight forward as you’d like it to be. If you like to keep things digitally, find a system to keep them online. If you’re a pen and paper person, you can absolutely choose to take that route if it is the difference of you doing it or not. Make it your own and choose something that you will upkeep throughout the year and it will make your life so much quicker and easier when it comes time to look at those things come tax time.

Personally, I use a tax software called QuickBooks and it works great for me. I’ve talked about this in more detail in a previous episode, Episode 19 where I discuss ways to streamline the admin work in your furniture painting and refinishing business– I’ll link to that episode in the show notes or you can click through to listen to that after you’re done this episode in the podcast player you’re listening in on. But essentially, QuickBooks if my one stop shop for all things income, expenses and tax-related in my business and it has been since the start. I began implementing this early because I knew that I wanted to get familiar with a process early on when I had the time to learn it before things got more busy and hectic in the business, and by now it’s second nature to me to go in and record things in there.

You can access QuickBooks on your laptop but I usually just use my phone and their app because it’s handy and I have it on me all the time. So I have 4 main things that I track in there: income, expenses, mileage and invoices and estimates. Let’s talk briefly about each of them:

  • Income: any time that I receive money as income for the business, I open up the app and add the income record. I put the date it was received, who from, the amount, a little note for reference of what it was from, and there’s a feature to either take a photo if I have a paper receipt or can upload a photo if I have a screenshot– for example, if I’m paid by e-transfer, I will screenshot the confirmation once it has been deposited because that shows the amount, way it was received, name of the person it came from and it’s time stamped.

    • Also, side note but very relevant: keeping your income for the business separate from your personal expenses is what was recommended to me, so if you don’t already have a business account opened to put your income into, then I would say that might be a good thing to add to the To Do list.

  • Expenses: Just like income, any time I have a business expense that I incur, I open up the app and add an expense record in. Now, sometimes I do this in the moment and sometimes I wait until I have a few all at once and batch input them, but do what works best for you. If you think you may just keep putting it off and the pile of receipts will grow and grow and you’ll build it up as a huge task in your head, just do it one at a time as you get them and knock it off the list. Take it from someone who made that mistake at the beginning and then had to spend like, two solid hours inputting receipts at 6am one day– which isn’t the hugest amount of time, but is super mundane and actually kind of a lot of time to just be inputting Home Depot and gas station receipts when you really think of it.

    • There are a lot of different business expenses that can be claimed and at the end of this episode we’ll walk through some of them quickly to get you starting to think about what would be relevant for you and your furniture painting and refinishing business (or, maybe you’re listening in and you have a different kind of small business– they’ll apply to you, too!).

    • So I hop into my QuickBooks app, again record the date the expense was incurred, the place or person that provided the product or service, categorize it based on the categories they provide, which really conveniently line up with the expense categories when you go to file your taxes, and then again you can either upload a photo of a screenshot for proof of purchase or take a photo of the physical receipt you have to keep in your records.

    • I do also retain those physical receipts as well just in case I were to ever be audited, and I have a super complex system for keeping those: pop ‘em in a big Ziploc bag with the year written on it and call it a day. Like I said, keep it easy so you’ll maintain your system long-term!

  • Mileage: I love QuickBooks because you not only have a place to track your mileage that you’re doing for your business, but they give you a couple different ways for doing so. You can either manually go in and record the trips you take, so add in the starting and ending addresses and then add in your purpose for the trip and it will calculate the distance you drove. Or, if you prefer because it’s easier or you might forget to do it, you can turn on its auto feature and it will track your trips and then you can periodically go in and select which trips were for business purposes, add in any details and save.

  • Invoices: I also create and send custom project estimates through QuickBooks which keeps them all in one place and allows me to customize them as needed. You can then mark them as paid once payment is received, and if you choose to input a due date for the invoice when you send the estimate, it will automatically remind your client of any unpaid invoices, should you wish to use that feature. Super handy and I just like knowing that I can go into one app for everything that I need.

Now, there are certainly other types of tax software out there so feel free to do your research on what works best for you and your business but so far I have been loving QuickBooks and it has worked great over the last few years for my needs. It has taken away the anxiety and dread of tax time for me as a small business owner, and if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, I am a QuickBooks affiliate because I believe in the software so much so if you want to try it out for yourself you can get 30% off your first 6 months with a QuickBooks subscription. And remember… that’s an expense you can write off, since you’re using it for your business!

Does anyone else hear the term write off and just immediately think of David from Schitt’s Creek like me now? “It’s a write off, it’s when you buy something for your business and the government pays you back for it” “OH, and who pays for it?” “nobody… you write it off…”. So while, again, not an accountant, I wanted to briefly walk through some of the categories from the CRA’s website that might be pertinent to you and your business to claim as business expenses, or, otherwise known as a write off (a tax write off, more specifically).

  • Interest and bank charges- You can deduct interest incurred on money borrowed for business purposes.

  • Legal, accounting and other professional fees- You can deduct fees incurred for external professional advice or services like consulting (keep that in mind if you need someone to help you get things on the right track in your furniture painting and refinishing business as this is a service I do offer, check out for more information). You can also deduct accounting or legal fees you incur when getting advice or help keeping your records on track, as well as those incurred for preparing and filing your income tax and GST/HST returns, if you have those.

  • Management and administration fees- You can deduct management and administration fees, including bank charges, incurred to operate your business which includes charges for processing payments (think PayPal and Stripe).

  • Office Expenses- This means small items needed to run your business (pens, pencils, stationary and stamps).

  • Supplies- You can deduct the cost of items the business used indirectly to provide goods or services.

  • Telephone- You can deduct the expense for your telephone if you incurred the expense to earn income.

For the final time, I am not a tax advisor so be sure to talk to someone who is qualified, but there are a lot of small expenses that you may be overlooking in your furniture painting and refinishing business when it comes to business expenses so do be sure to talk to someone who can walk you through it to ensure you’re submitting the most accurate tax return and you’re getting all of the benefits that you’re entitled to as a small business owner. If you are interested in another episode where I go through the different elements in my business that I declare as expenses to give an idea of what that looks like in the context of a furniture painting and refinishing business, just let me know by sending me an email or hop into my DM’s on Instagram @MelDidItHerself .

And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.

So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is: Overthinking = paralysis by analysis.

Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!

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