Xero Survey Reveals Biggest Tax-Time Mistakes, Offers Financial Advice for Small Businesses

Xero, the global leader in online accounting software, today uncovered accounting trends, recommendations, and questionable tactics in its third annual Tax Time survey.

While tax season can bring angst to many small business (SMB) owners, the increasing adoption of accounting technology in the Cloud is helping accounting professionals alleviate tax mistakes, such as attempting outrageous tax write-offs like bail, facelifts, and personal robots. Notably, the survey found that more than 50 percent of accounting professionals are now using Cloud technology to better serve their clients.

The Xero survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics, polled 400 accountants across the United States and found that the biggest mistake SMBs can make is only talking to their accountant during tax time, with 65 percent of accountants recommending more frequent collaboration throughout the year.

“Tax time is stressful for most of my clients. Keeping tabs on existing rules and regulations is complicated enough, and new legislation like the Affordable Care Act and changes in the tax code further muddies the waters,” said Tom Compere, Xero XPAC member and manager of RBZ Accounting. “In this time of ever-changing market conditions, it is imperative that financial data is up-to-date, easily accessible, and comprehensive in order to be prepared for anything.”

Some top tips from Xero's survey and additional findings include:

Tip No. 1: Communicate with your accountant year-round: Financial management should be a year-round activity rather than limited to the traditional tax season, according to more than half of the accountants surveyed. The biggest mistake nearly one-third of SMBs make is only communicating with their accountants during tax time: 44 percent of accounting professionals advise meeting once a month.

Tip No. 2: Maintain updated, comprehensive financials: The vast majority of accountants (75 percent) believe that a comprehensive, real-time view of finances is essential for dispensing the best advice and saving money. However, one in five accountants state that their clients do not have real-time insight into their finances, and nearly 40 percent do not maintain up-to-date records. Cloud accounting tools like Xero automate much of the data reconciliation and allow customers (and their accountants) to receive an accurate read on their company's finances anytime, anywhere.

Tip No. 3: Don't leave money on the table: With tricky tax laws, it is easy to leave money on the table. SMB accountants concur, placing the blame on overlooked deductions, including depreciation (30 percent), out-of-pocket expenses (29 percent), auto expenses (16 percent), and office improvements (10 percent). Xero can reduce oversights by enabling businesses to keep accurate records and enter receipts with just a few simple clicks.

Tip No. 4: Avoid accounting accidents that lead to audits: Nearly 75 percent of accountants blame faulty deductions for audits. Thirty-six percent cite excessive deductions as causing audits, with mixing personal and business deductions as a close second (35 percent). The third cause of deductions is misidentifying workforce members, with 14 percent. Xero's networking of accounting and ecosystem partners like TaxAct enables small businesses to avoid costly deduction errors by allowing Xero users to prepare, print, and e-file their taxes directly through Xero's platform.

“By contributing more than 50 percent of America's GDP, SMBs are the backbone of this country. Xero's goal is to give these companies the tools and technology they need to make the best possible business decisions quickly and easily, from any device, anywhere in the world,” said Peter Karpas, CEO of Xero US. “Given today's industry needs, it's no surprise that more accountants and SMBs are using cloud-based accounting solutions to better manage their finances. We're thrilled to help make life a little bit easier for accounting professionals and SMBs during this extremely busy time of their year.”

Check out Xero's Tax Time infographic here.

About Xero:
Xero is beautiful, easy-to-use online accounting software for small businesses and their advisors. The company has over 250,000 paying customers in more than 100 countries around the world. Recently Xero garnered a “Top Choice” review for Online-Based Business Accounting Apps from PCWorld. The Xero US team is headquartered in San Francisco. Xero is hosted with Rackspace in Chicago.

Zogby Methodology:
Zogby Analytics was commissioned by Xero Limited to conduct an online survey of 400 accountants in the United States. All interviews were completed between February 12 and February 15, 2014.

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