Foreign bank accounts are one of the most misunderstood tools of business banking. When people hear about foreign bank accounts, they picture shady, offshore Cayman Island accounts, or the strict, private banks of Switzerland. The reality is much less exciting. There are plenty of reasons why a business would want a foreign account. International banks facilitate international business, which helps pay for foreign contractors, cover payroll, and invest in emerging markets. However, because offshore banking is so heavily associated with tax dodgers, the federal government keeps a close eye on any business with a foreign bank account, and requires entities with such accounts to file an annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
What is a FBAR?
This is a simple form that some entities with foreign bank accounts must file with the Department of Treasury. Officially called FinCEN Form 114, it asks for the filer’s personal information and the information related to any foreign accounts overseen. The bank’s name, type of account, and the maximum value of the account all have to be disclosed. (You can download the form at the Department of the Treasury’s website.)
It’s that time once again: time to whip out the finance books and try to figure out just how much you owe for quarterly estimated taxes, or QETs. More sitting down at the dining room table, going over numbers, scratching your head trying to figure out what this abbreviation stands for…
Wait, you don’t know what this is about? Quarterly estimated taxes are a big part of the small business owner’s life as they’re constantly buzzing around just around the corner, ready to pounce and make a mess. However, many small business owners still manage to forget about them, leading to headaches and possible fines.
Instead of putting them off, read our quick guide so you can get ahead of the game!
No matter what industry you are in, your business still needs a name. Not just a good one for marketing purposes, but also a name that isn’t taken by someone else and is filed legally as a DBA.
DBA stands for “doing business as” and allows your company to do business under a fictitious name (AKA one you made up) instead of your own personal name, names of your partners, or the name of your corporation or LLC. In order to do this, you must file for a DBA.
1) Does your company even need a DBA?
The first step in creating a DBA is determining if you even need one. The answer depends on whether your business operates as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation or LLC.
For Sole Proprietorships:
The only reason to not get a DBA is if you want your business to operate under your personal name only. Picking a business name will plant the seed for your brand to grow strong – and filing a DBA will protect it.
If your corporation or LLC wants to conduct any sort of business with a name that is different than the one you filed on your corporation/LLC paperwork, then you need a DBA.
We decided to do something a bit different with our weekly business basics post this time around, and instead look at a new service we’ve just started offering – business license compliance packages. We’ve covered business licenses before, but we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the topic and explain why we decided to start offering this service to our customers. Our team kicked around the idea for awhile, trying to figure out whether or not there was any demand for this type of service, and we realized that there were three questions we’d have to be able to answer before launching.
Why offer business license compliance packages?
MyCorporation has always aimed to meet all of the needs of new business owners. The next logical step after creating your business is to apply for all of the licenses you need to legally open your doors. Without the right licensing, you’re effectively dead in the water. So expanding our offerings to include licensing just makes sense.
Being the sole proprietor of a business has many benefits, even if it does require a heavy workload. The possibility of bankruptcy, however, can be terrifying, especially when you’re on your own.
If you ever find yourself in a position where bankruptcy is your best option, it’s critical that you’re prepared. The following are three things you should know about sole proprietorship and bankruptcy and what it means for you and your business.
1. You and “the business” are not separate entities.
You may wonder if it’s possible to file bankruptcy for the company and not involve your own credit in the process. In short, the answer is no. Even though you have a license from the city for “doing business as” you do not get to sever yourself from your company entirely in times of bankruptcy. While corporations and LLCs are able to keep their personal accounts out of their business, as sole proprietor you are not. Make sure to check all of your finances and consult a bankruptcy attorney to see how your decision to file will affect you in both the short and long term.
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Be honest: how difficult were your taxes this year? Did you have trouble figuring out how much you made and how bad your expenses were? Were you afraid you missed something? How many fistfuls of hair did you pull out?
Many sole proprietors start their businesses as a hobby or side income. It might not seem worth it to go to the hassle of opening a whole new business bank account. But keeping your personal and business finances combined can lead to some pretty bad headaches. And not just at tax time, either. There are several reasons why you should consider splitting your two financial worlds up immediately. Here are a few that could be affecting your business right now.
One of the most common questions we get here at MyCorporation about forming a limited liability company or corporation is, “How hard is it to actually run this type of business?” Running an LLC or corporation is very different than running a sole proprietorship, and the government will expect those running the business to adhere to certain rules. It should be noted that the only governance document need for Corporations and LLCs is an Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Organization. However, there are other types of governance documents that should be kept and maintained.
Articles of Incorporation and Certificates of Organization
In order to form a corporation, you have to file your articles of incorporation. And in order to form an LLC, you have to file what is normally called a certificate of organization. In both cases, these documents act a sort of birth certificate for the new business entity. They disclose the entity’s name, address, registered agent information, and the information of any managers or owners. A lot of states actually offer a “fill-in-the-blank” type of form on the website of their Secretary of State or department of corporations. However, these forms only meet the minimal requirements for a corporation or LLC as set by the state. They also don’t set the rules for how your company will actually be run. Along with these formation documents, you should consider drafting a set of bylaws or an operating agreement.
Operating agreements are one of the most vital, and overlooked, tools in running a limited liability company. We’ve actually covered operating agreements as part of our ‘ABCs of MyCorp’ series, but we never delved into what an operating agreement should actually say. As a quick refresher, an operating agreement is essentially a document that defines how the LLC will be run, and the SBA recommends that every LLC draft one. The trouble is that only a couple of states, like Missouri and New York, legally require new LLCs to have an operating agreement. But without the rules, structure, and regulations an operating agreement provides, your LLC could be in serious trouble if partners disagree, a member wants to leave, or if the state starts questioning the validity of your LLC. Operating agreements are also pretty easy to draft and only need to cover a few key areas.
This week we are looking at Texas – the Lone Star State. As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. The state has successfully accommodated changes in the economy and US consumption – though it was originally a cattle state, oil rich land and a strong infrastructure has turned the cowboy state into one of the economically diverse states in the USA. In their Best States for Business survey, Forbes ranked Texas at #7 with the state’s economic climate in first place and most analysts also expect Texas to see some serious growth in the next few years. If you’ve ever wanted to start a business, Texas is a great place to do it. But how hard is it to start a business, form an LLC, or incorporate in Texas?
What do you need to start a business in Texas?
Surprisingly little! Some states require sole proprietorships, which are the simplest type of business entity, to register before they do business. All Texas requires is that the sole-proprietorship’s owner file an ‘Assumed Name Certificate,’ also known as a ‘Doing Business As’ name, with the County Clerk. Depending on where you plan on doing business, and what sort of business you run, you may also need to file for a business license – the Small Business Administration has a handy tool to help new business owners figure out exactly what they need on that front!
Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an old hand, money occupies a prominent role in your business. Failing to get – and keep – your finances in order can doom your company or consulting practice in the long run. While each entrepreneur has their own set of unique financial challenges, there are several areas where nearly all entrepreneurs can draw from a general well of wisdom.
1. Pay yourself first, Uncle Sam second.
No doubt, you’ve heard the expression “pay yourself first.” That’s good advice for everyone. However, entrepreneurs must remember that with no employer-initiated tax deductions to count on, they must also make provisions to cover self-employment taxes.
2. Hire pros, but know what they’re doing.
You didn’t go into business to spend hours working on spreadsheets. That’s why you hired a Certified Public Accountant. However, you should still understand the basics of keeping the books, if for no other reason than to be able to answer your accountant’s questions at tax time.