Tips From A Pro: Tackling Tax Season For Small Business Owners

With the dreaded April 15th tax deadline quickly approaching, it is important for small business owners to consider options and plan ahead. In addition to gathering and organizing paperwork, it may be difficult to master all the intricate rules of tax. However, small business owners, in particular, must educated themselves regarding the “ins and outs” of paying taxes and receiving tax deductions in order to successfully tackle tax season.

In an interview with founder of R.J. Centrello, CPA Robert Centrello, we came up with the following advice for tackling this tax season.

Prepare accurate contemporaneous records and take steps to keep them confidential.

You must remember that your security, specifically online, is at high risk. Make sure to utilize passwords and security precautions to protect your data.

R.J. Centrello stressed the importance of maintaining flawless records when trying to raise capital, as the various taxing jurisdictions may request a review of your records to ensure that you are paying your appropriate share of taxes and fees. Reinforcing the importance of orderly records, Centrello warned that “state and local jurisdictions have become much more aggressive in determining tax liabilities and collecting what is due.”

In addition to keeping these general tips in mind, for some small business owners there are certain special deductions, in which they may be able to take advantage of.

Is your business a start-up?

You may be able to deduct expenses. First, calculate the expenses paid to start your business. These expenses may include transportation, training for employees, or any kind of advertising costs. These deductions are typically considered capital taxes and, therefore, the deductions must be spread out over a certain amount of years.

Do you use your vehicle for business?

You may be eligible for tax deductions as well, such as the costs of maintaining and operating the vehicle. The IRS’s standard rate is 56 cents per mile. Or, you can deduct your actual expenses, including things gas, tolls, and parking fees. According to the IRS, you can still take a deduction if you use your vehicle for both business and personal endeavors. You simply must divide the expenses based on the mileage used for each.

Do you run your business out of your home?

You may be able to collect a home office deduction. However, this is only an option if a portion of your home is used solely for managing business. If you qualify for the deduction, you have two options—to deduct actual expenses or use the IRS’s system. Only expenses acquired from the business portion of the home will qualify for full deductions. Other expenses like insurance, utilities, and repairs can be deductible based on the percentage of your home used for business. In using the IRS’s method the deduction may be determined by calculating the square footage of the area of business in your home by five dollars.

Did you know that your office furniture is tax deductible?

Your office furniture provides another chance to trim your taxes. Items such as desks, chairs, tables, and other office-related equipment may qualify for deductions. You have two choices—deduct the entire cost of the furniture during the first year of your purchase or deduct a percentage of the expense over the course of seven years. Either way, your saving money!

(In addition to considering these helpful tips, we advise companies to consult with a qualified business accountant).

7 Steps to a Happy Mind and a Happier Workday!


We’ve all been there. It’s eleven AM on a Wednesday. The walls of your cubicle seem to be closing in on you. Your eyes are glued to the clock. You want to bolt for the door. But of course, if you did, you would find yourself searching for another job. So, with a pained look on your face, you slump in your chair and proceed with the usual routine. Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes in and outside of the office will ensure a happier workday. The things you surround yourself with throughout the day have a greater impact than you may think. Even the most dull and dreary jobs can be remedied. A happy workday begins with a happy mind!

1. Wake up just a little earlier

I know what you’re thinking—NO WAY! Who wants to give up those last precious moments of rest before starting the workday? But, your morning determines your day. So, get to bed at a decent time. Resist that Netflix urge. Set your alarm thirty to forty minutes earlier than your usual routine requires. Bolting out of bed, skipping breakfast, or bypassing your morning hygienic routine leaves your body with insufficient time to wake up. Waking up a little earlier will leave you with the necessary wiggle room to relax and prepare for the day with minimal stress. Plan to prepare yourself a hearty breakfast as an extra incentive to get out of bed.

2. Be Nice to your Body

Make sure you’re feeling nourished at work. If your stomach is rumbling you are more likely to feel irritable or unfocused. It is never productive to make important decisions while your body is hungry or dehydrated. Keep a water bottle filled throughout the day and drink more than you think you should. You’d be surprised what some cold water can do for your mood and overall productivity. Have a mid-afternoon snack to hold you over after lunch and before dinner. Healthy choices are always the best decision. Snack on fruit, yogurt, or wholesome bars. A satisfied stomach fuels a happy and sharper mind.

3. Sticky notes, sticky notes, sticky notes!

The world’s most versatile invention—the sticky note. The possibilities are endless. Think of them as colorful little reminders to maintain a positive energy and mindset throughout the workday. Jot down inspiring quotes or funny sayings that just make you feel good. Who’s your ultimate role model? Capture his/her voice and wisdom on a sticky note. Share this insight with others. Leave colleagues little reminders saying, “don’t forget, meeting at 11!,” or friendly notes reading, “stop by my cubicle later to chat!” This is an effective way to stay organized, get up on your feet a bit, and maintain a more personal relationship with your colleagues. Who doesn’t love personalized notes (not to mention on fun, colorful paper)?

4. Make Someone’s Day

Studies have shown that smiling more actually makes you feel happier throughout the day. Friendliness breeds positive energy. Bring this energy into the workplace. Be social with your colleagues. Set aside petty rivalries. Remember, you’re all on the same team. Be nice. People don’t forget it. Not only will this attitude create a more enjoyable and comfortable working environment, but also, will potentially open doors for you down the road professionally.

5. Create a Minimal-Stress Schedule

Plan ahead. Construct a list of objectives for the day and make sure you achieve them. Go at your own pace. Don’t be a slacker, but be realistic. You know yourself and your work habits. Prioritize important projects and avoid lingering on small tasks and trivial details. If you get stuck, move on. When you fulfill all your goals for the day, go back and perfect them. Always stash your cellphone and other distractions in your desk drawer. Aim to be your most productive self!

6. Take Breaks

Working diligently throughout the day takes a major toll on your mind and body. Leave room in your schedule for a mental break. Rise from your chair regularly. Find excuses to walk around. Refill your water bottle, break up your printing and copying tasks to retrieve your work sporadically throughout the day, or simply take a quick lap. Find a quiet room to be alone for a few minutes. Clear your mind. Get outside and stretch your legs. Enjoy a short walk in the fresh air. Absorb the sunshine. Briefly close your eyes and breathe. Listen to a soothing tune or calm ocean sounds—whatever transports you to your happy place.

7. Ask for Help/Lend a Hand

We all run into obstacles at work. It’s okay to ask for help. Rather than a sign of weakness, asking thoughtful questions is actually a chance to better yourself (and yet another opportunity to be social with colleagues). Be open- minded. Accept constructive criticism. Try to see things another way, and schedule regular brainstorming exercises. Conversely, always be willing to offer guidance and helpful advice to others. This back and forth process of sharing and swapping ideas will fuel creativity and teamwork in the office.

Spring Cleaning: 3 Quick Ways to Ditch Digital Clutter


In the office, a significant, yet commonly overlooked clutter exists within your cellphone and computer hard drive. This lingering chaos causes you underlying stress and a cluttered mind.

1. Sort Through Email Junk
Make it a priority to sort through your emails. Delete or archive any non-relevant emails. Also, take this time to part with the automatic notifications from last season. You don’t want to risk re-cluttering your inbox.

2. Create Desktop Folders
Your computer desktop is the first thing you see when you sit down at your desk in the morning. Ensure that it is welcoming. Disorganized icons are not only stressful to look at, but make it extremely difficult to find anything. Create and label desktop folders by task. This simple digital filing system will immensely increase productivity and efficiency.

3. Revamp Digital Appearance!
Staring at the same screen all day can become tiresome. Update your default screen savor to an uplifting photograph, like a beach scene or favorite vacation spot. Set your screen saver to a photo montage of fun memories (work-friendly shots, of course). Replace your old grey mouse pad with something a bit more colorful. Add a keyboard cover with a funky pattern or brightly colored design. You’d be amazed at the positive results on your psyche.

Just a note: For security reasons, change your password!  It is important to be cautious with your personal and work information. The same recycled password is vulnerable on the Internet.

4 Simple Steps To a Relaxed Cubicle Environment

So, you’re moving into a new workspace or looking to revamp your already worn-in cubicle. Why not take this time to include simple changes, like personalizing your cubicle, to create a relaxing office environment. Spicing up your surroundings can have a great emotional impact, fueling a positive working environment; while, lifting your spirit throughout the day. Get started with these simple steps.

Step 1: Organize and Prioritize
You want to make the most of your cubicle. Clutter is the enemy. Keeping this in mind, first make a list of essential supplies (pens, sticky notes, paper clips etc). Once you’ve sifted out dispensable items, organize! Sort materials into drawers or containers (color coordination always helps). Don’t leave miscellaneous items flailing about.

Step 2: Decorate and Customize
Have fun with it. This is your space to express yourself. Feel free to display important mementos, such as family pictures or sports team schedules. It’s always nice to exhibit pride in your university emblem or favorite sports team logo.

Step 3: Encourage Healthy Habits
What you store in your cubicle matters. Always have a water bottle, and refill regularly. It’s no secret that hydration is key to a productive day at the office. Leave the candy behind and supplement with energy infused items, such as fruit and nuts to snack on throughout the day. Don’t overdose on caffeine. Replace your afternoon coffee run with a cup of tea to reboot and energize.

Step 4: Be a Good Neighbor!
Don’t be the one that every employee complains about. A friendly environment contributes to a a relaxed, yet professional atmosphere, triggering the flow of collaborative ideas and innovation.

Office Relocation: 5 Major Pitfalls to Avoid

So you are thinking about relocating your office. Maybe your business is booming and you need more space (we hope). Maybe the boss is looking for a change of scenery (very common). Or maybe everyone is just tired of the drab carpet and taupe walls (even more common). Either way, relocating an organization can be a little tricky, in a sneaky sort of way – and it’s not until you are living and breathing the move that you realize the potential pitfalls.

Having helped hundreds of companies move their offices over the last 25 years, we have seen it all, from lightening-fast, successful transitions to epic failures. We consistently share our expertise in the office furniture and cubicle industry, and thought it would be helpful to put together a few key mistakes other individuals and companies have made when moving so that you can avoid them.

Best of luck with your move!

 Pitfall #1: No Single Point of Contact

Who is in charge of your relocation process? Have you been appointed king or queen of the great migration? If so, does everyone know you’re the grand poobah?

Like all projects in business, office relocation has a lot of moving parts. Everyone in the organization is involved, from Ned in IT to girl in accounting with the squeaky voice. There are paper files, phones, a million cords, and furniture to move, employees to appease, and many other concerns. Without a plan, and someone in clearly in charge of that plan, disorganization can lead to error, added moving time, and operational downtime. Just like with all aspects of business, downtime is unacceptable.

How to Avoid: Your move should be treated like any other business function. Assign a single “operations” manager who is in charge of managing the process. Just like you might name one account manager to a client or one project manager for an important task, make sure you have one person who knows what’s going on with the move at all times. Also, make sure that everyone knows who has been selected as the point person. This can ensure that questions are answered and everyone is on the same page so the move is executed quickly and efficiently the first time.

Pitfall #2: Being Shortsighted

Many businesses struggle to plan for holiday parties let alone 12-month growth. When deciding to move an office, people just take measurements, count the number of cubicles, offices, printers, and chairs they currently have, and start looking for new space that will fit it all. When they sign their new lease, it’s only enough space for today’s needs. Go figure.

Sometimes organizations even start hiring during the moving process, not taking this into consideration before relocating. The result? You can run out of space very quickly and waste more time and money scrambling for space.

How to Avoid: Consider the following: Will you be planning to hire people, secure new clients, or develop new partnerships in the next 12 months? The answer is probably yes – so plan for expansion. Adding personnel and new business will create needs for cubicles, desks, office space, cabinets, and other furniture, at the very least. Now is the time to plan for expansion – so you don’t have to go through this process again in three months.

Pitfall #3: Bringing Paper Baggage

Many companies do not clean and condense beforehand – especially paper files. They quickly box everything up, pay oodles of dollars to move the documents, and figure out a place to store everything in the new location. Why? Going through filing cabinets is Excel-sheet-formula-calculation-tedious, and there aren’t enough interns to go around.

How to Avoid: Build time into the move to allow paper files to be reviewed and discarded and recycled when warranted. Assign team leaders to go through different paper assets, such as internal accounting documents and client files. Break up the task so it’s not only on a few people’s shoulders. Depending on your industry and budget, you could also consider converting paper documents to secure electronic files. Look at this office move as an opportunity to free your organization of unneeded paper baggage, avoid the cost of moving trash, and establish a leaner workspace.

Pitfall #4: Bringing Furniture Baggage

When searching for office space, it’s easy to get excited about new styles, paint colors, and carpet. This is the fun part. But the tripwire lies in forgetting to consider how current furniture will look in the new location. Many organizations find out that their cool new office décor doesn’t match their drab old furniture. So in addition to paying to move the old furniture, they may have to pay to move it again once new furniture arrives.

How to Avoid: Take pictures of your office furniture and bring them with you when searching for the new environment. If you really like your current furniture, consider asking your new landlord about changing paint colors and carpet type so it matches. At the very least, decide whether you will bring your furniture to the new location so you don’t waste money. If you decide to purchase new furniture, you may be able to sell your old chairs, desks, and cubicles, donate the items, or even give some to your employees. (If you decide to give furniture to your employees, look into having them sign a waiver releasing the company of responsibility. Your legal team will be able to help.)

Pitfall #5: Rushing the Job

Moving an office requires significant man-hours and may be someone’s full-time job for a period of time. From employee communication to phone systems to computers and printers, there is substantial coordination needed to ensure a successful move. Many times organizations substantially underestimate time requirements. They want to move faster than Speed Racer, but don’t want to spend time building an engine.

How to Avoid: Develop a move checklist and timeline – and build in at least a 5-office day buffer. Work with key stakeholders within the organization and delegate tasks related to furniture, IT services, notifying employees, and cleaning and trash removal. Also, be sure to take an inventory of everything in your office that will be moved to the new location so you can make sure everything arrives.