It may seem light years away now, but year-end will be here before you know it.
There will be no shortage of headaches then. Why not take any little steps you can now to knock at least a few annoyances off your radar?
The best part: None of these will take you more than 10 minutes.
Step 1: Order your information returns now
Sure, most folks are still squeezing in their last little bit of time at the beach. But 10 minutes on IRS’ Web site will mean your company is ready to go when those W-2s have to be in employees’ hands.
IRS will ship the forms as soon as each individual type is available, so your company may get multiple shipments.
Step 2: Check your specs for e-reporting
If your company is planning to file their year-end information returns electronically (a smart move) take note: There are some changes for this year.
IRS just released Tax Year 2009 specifications for e-filing Forms 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, 8935, and W-2G.
Download this pronto.
There are two groups who should take a peek at the publication sooner rather than later:
- Accounts Payable: There are six general changes, and
- IT: There are 19 programming changes.
This will keep you from getting caught short by unpleasant surprises later.
Step 3: Set deadlines now
When do employees have to submit their last expense reports to be reimbursed in 2009? What’s the deadline for purchase orders for purchases to be charged against 2009 budgets? When must vendors send invoices in order to be paid this year?
A few minutes with a calendar will help you and the rest of Finance to work backward to set deadlines for each of these critical tasks, so everyone in every department has been given plenty of notice and there will be no excuses a few months from now.
Step 4: Create templates for annual updates
You know there are some things that change every year: the taxable wage base, the standard mileage rate, pension plan limits, per-diem rates. And when do most of those updates come out? When Finance is in full-on year-end frenzy mode.
That’s why it’s a good idea to prep for those inevitable updates now. Think about crafting memos for each of those updates (or drafts for your company intranet). The only thing missing: the new numbers.
That way when IRS, SSA and the GSA issue the changes, all you have to do is plug in a number and send it out.
Hint: You might also start a file to collect all of those updates so, as they come out, you can keep them collected in one place.
Step 5: Review your debriefing from last year-end
Hopefully you and the rest of the Finance team stepped back after surviving last year-end to talk about what worked and what didn’t. That way you have a good idea what your company wants to repeat and what it wants to avoid.
Pull out that list now to see if there are any steps you need to take to do just that. And if you never did any Monday morning quarterbacking last March, try holding an informal session with staffers now to see if they have any ideas on how to make this year-end smoother.