Avoid stress! We are now into the fourth quarter of 2018, which means it is prime planning time for 2019. There are just twelve weeks left in the year. Here are some things you can do now. Your firm's financials should be reviewed all year long, not just at year-end. That means creating a monthly checklist of items and reports you need to read. Confirm each month that everything on your checklist is done. It is much easier to find and correct problems monthly than only once at the end of the year.
Make sure your data entry is up to date. Check to see that all payments are posted in your account and all outgoing bills are finalized. Assure that all trust transactions are entered into your trust accounting system. See to it that all accounts-payable are entered into your accounting system and paid. Monitor to be certain that all payroll is posted and tax liabilities paid. Finally complete all bank reconciliations.
Let your firm's timekeepers know how many hours they have billed YTD and if they are falling short of their annual goal. Provide them with target reports or dashboards showing actual and expected time.
Start work on your tax forms, such as W-2s and 1099s. If you are not using a payroll service, you will need to acquire and prepare the forms yourself. The deadline for sending these forms in January 31.
Review your financial statements. Check for miscoded expense entries. If you have a line of credit, verify the balance. Check on all Work-in-Progress and review aged accounts receivable, especially if over 90 days old.
If after reviewing your financial statements, you determine that net income is higher than expected, consider logical expenditures to make before the end of the fiscal year to reduce tax liability. These may include new technology, such as hardware or software. Verify that any expenditure can be fully expensed in the current fiscal year.
Work with your CPA to finalize all items for tax purposes. Once the CPA has completed all items, lock-down the firm's financials so no inadvertent changes are made that could upset the CPA's careful tax planning for your firm.
Yes, year-end can be busy. But it is a great opportunity to put your firm in the best possible position for next year.