Best Practices for Tax Seaon 2017

Don’t let the sound of tax season scare you. It can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing, so Schlenner & Wenner Co. wants to help ease your worries during this hectic time. While some individuals calculate their own tax returns, many miss out on new law changes, discounts they weren’t aware of, or simply make mistakes. It is reassuring to file with a professional to guarantee the paperwork is filed correctly.

We’ve gathered the top tax tips and information to get you through this tax season effortlessly:

Stay Organized. Get rid of that junk drawer filled with old receipts and paperwork. Have one designated place to store all of your tax documents and earning statements. Keep a spreadsheet of your charitable donations for easy access. Being organized is the first step to a successful tax season and makes the rest a breeze.

Protect Your Identity. Identity theft is a common concern during tax season. Use a security software and always double check where you’re entering personal information online. Create strong passwords using random letters, numbers and special characters to prevent hackers. And stay on the lookout for tax season scams; remember, the IRS will never contact you directly via email, phone, or social media. They will only contact you via letter, and will not ask for specific payment instructions, like a prepaid credit or debit card.

Don’t Forget Your Earned Income Tax Credit. According to the IRS, one out of every 5 workers fails to claim their earned income tax credit. An income tax credit is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and couples. The amount of income tax credit benefit depends on the recipient’s income.

Make the Most of Your Educational Expenses. The IRS offers tax breaks to individuals who are furthering their education. If you, your spouse or your dependents had higher education costs this year, there may be some tax savings in your future. Learn what tax benefits for education you qualify for.

How you handle your taxes is up to you. Avoid common mistakes and create a stress-free tax season; work with Schlenner Wenner & Co. for assurance that your paperwork will be filed correctly and that you receive your maximum refund. We want to make this time of year a breeze for our clients and tax professionals.

 

We are happy to be voted central MN’s best accountant.

 

 

Take Control of Your Holiday Budget

There are many temptations during the holiday season; temptations to grab that extra ginger cookie off the kitchen counter or splurging on that stylish holiday outfit for the office party. Stores certainly do not help us resist temptations by offering sales seemingly at every corner or fetching end caps that are far too accessible. How can we get the holiday season we want without spending more than we want? Let us help you stay on top of your holiday budget with some tips below:

Narrow Your Social Calendar

With holiday office parties, family gatherings, and expensive social excursions, your time and available finances will quickly be eaten up. It can be especially hard on your budget if you feel obligated to bring a gift, bottle of wine, or contribute to meals or party décor. While the holidays are the perfect time to spend with friends and family, limit your RSVP’s to a manageable amount. Also, consider getting together with friends after the holiday season or engaging in more low-key events to maximize time for your relationships and minimize stress and money spent.

Put Together an Honest Gift List

Be a smart shopper and plan an honest gift list that does not rely on credit cards to fill the gap. This will be important if you want to start out the new year free of debt. Set a spending limit for each person on your list and stick to it. The forethought that you put into planning and the dedication that you put into sticking your budget will help you start the new year on a financially strong foot.

Shop Smart

Picking up smart shopping habits this holiday season will help you get into the practice of shopping smart all year round. To begin, learn how to comparison shop and use shopping apps to compare prices and save you time and money. Compare deals across multiple stores and online. This can ensure that you get the best deals. Keep your list with you and begin shopping as early as you can to reduce the stress of last-minute shopping. Another tip to remember? There’s no shame in thrift shopping if you can find one-of-a-kind gifts that are in great shape. There’s also no shame in regifting as long as the item can bring greater happiness to someone else.

Planning a budget for your holiday spending does not have to mean skimping out on the best of the season. Think ahead, have a strong financial plan, and have the dedication to stick to the budget. You will find yourself feeling thankful for it in the new year.

For more advice on becoming financially savvy in 2017, visit Schlenner Wenner & Company today.

 

How to Make a Lasting Impression in an Interview

In the financial and accounting fields, interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience for even the most experienced job hunter. Even when you do everything right, a single mishap can change the course of the interview. How can you make the most of every moment of the interview process? Read on to discover five vital tips on leaving a positive and lasting impression during an interview:

 

1.     Look good on paper and in person

Physical appearances make a difference in an interview. Dress professionally and conservatively—meaning well-fitted, not sloppy business professional attire, closed-toe shoes, and appropriate accessories—to make a lasting impression. Remember that dressing conservatively does not have to be boring. Be confident and express your sharp style. In addition to appropriate clothing, keep your personal hygiene in check, especially in these hot summer months. It is always a good idea to take a peek in the mirror before you step into the building.

 

2.     Be as strong of a candidate in person as you are on paper

Your excellent resume is what got you in the door in the first place. Know your resume and cover letter backward and forward. Be able to explain why you want the job and how you are the perfect candidate for it. This can demonstrate competency, integrity, and passion as well as be an indicative signal of how you will fit into the position. An interview is basically a meeting to confirm your compatibility with a company and to see what you can bring to the table. Preparing professional interview answers and anecdotes based on experience will help you through.

 

3.     Never forget the importance of respect

Respect and manners will take you a long way in the interview process. Remember the basics of professional conversation: don’t swear, lie, or speak negatively. Turn off you phone and all distractions. An interview should be a conversation in which both parties can learn and benefit from one another, so listen well and continue the flow of conversation. It will also signal to your interviewer that you can handle meetings and interactions with clients with respect and trust.

 

4.     End on a high note

Interviewers often end a meeting by asking whether or not you have questions for them. A foolproof way to leave a positive, lasting impression is to ask well-formed questions. A well-formed question can demonstrate that you have done your research on the history and mission of the company, reiterate your determination and desire to work with the company, and can clarify any previous answers.

 

5.     Follow through

The job hunting process doesn’t end with an interview. How you follow up post-interview can set you apart from other candidates. Write a respectful and appreciative thank you note to your interviewer and follow up with a post-interview call reiterating your interest. These not-so-small steps can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer and can help you secure the job.

 

Interviewing with potential employers can be a nerve-wracking experience. Take every precaution to make the most out of your interview experience. For more ways to leave a lasting impression on an accounting or financial position interview, visit Schlenner Wenner & Company.

 

You Just Received Your Tax Refund, Now What?

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your money is important. That’s why strategically spending or saving your tax refund becomes crucial. Many people view their refund as money to spend on frivolous things, however, this is a perfect starting point for travel savings or taking a chunk out of your debt. Here are some of the best ways to use your tax return to make the smartest investments:

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Pay Off Debt

Pay off your credit card with the highest interest rates first. It is always best to pay down your debt than to try and build unneeded savings. With that said, make sure you have emergency savings before paying off your debt.

Upgrade Your Car

Trade in your old car for a newer version. In order to get the most for your money, don’t buy a brand new car. Instead, purchase one that is a few years older. Also, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of the car you intend to purchase. Don’t pick the first thing you see on the lot.

Plan a Vacation

No debt? Congratulations, statistics show you’re in the minority of American consumers! Plan a vacation and enjoy a break from the hectic everyday life. There are plenty of low-cost destinations available. Cruises are a great option with great deals and the option to travel the world.

Start a Tuition Fund for the Kids

Start a savings account for your kids’ college education. Start early so that you can help them start their own path with little or no debt once they graduate college. Talk with your financial provider about your options - many parents tend to make costly mistakes while maintaining the best intentions for their kids.

Create Investment Account

Visit with a financial advisor and start investing your money. If you find a compounding interest investment, you can grow your investment rapidly over the next ten to twenty years. It’s always good to start early.

Renovate your Home

Use your tax refund to upgrade your kitchen or make another home upgrade. Put your money to good use and invest in something that will benefit you in the future.

Emergency Savings

Set aside money for an “in case of an emergency” fund. If something happens with your job, a medical complication or another unexpected costs turn up, you should be able to coast for a couple of months without going to your credit card or line of credit.

Whatever you choose to do with your tax refund, make sure you analyze the pros and cons and make the best choice. Remember, your tax refund might seem like an opportunity to splurge, but making a smart decision and investing in something appropriate to your needs will allow you to splurge much more in the future.

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

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The first day of Spring - March 20th - is almost here. This means that we need to account for Spring cleaning. Organization and cleaning help us purge the old and make room for the new. Most people think of spring cleaning as a time to clean the house and garden, but it’s also a perfect time to clean your finances. After all, you’re already looking through your financials to do your taxes!

Review your business structure

Are your personal assets separate from your business? If not, you can set up an LLC or incorporate your company to mitigate the risk of your personal finances.

Set up a plan with a CPA

You are digging through documents, receipts, and files for tax season, why not spend a little extra time with a CPA. Meeting with a CPA and setting up a plan can help alleviate the stresses of tax season in the future. They can help you identify what is necessary to keep and where to keep it.

Dig deeper into your finances

Look into your labor expenses. This is often times the most expensive part of your finances. Looking deeper into your labor costs can help you create extra incentive goals for your employees or help limit your spending if you end up short.

Pay yourself

Remember to pay yourself. Keep track of invoices and customer payments. Are you considered an employee, a partner, a corporate officer, or something else? Learn the different legal forms of business and how you should be paying yourself at irs.gov.

Maintain your newly organized system

Set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of each week to file, trash, and organize your files and documents. This includes physical and digital documents. Backup what needs to be saved digitally, shred sensitive document that are no longer needed, and maintain the system you put into place.

Speaking of CPA’s… we know a few. With a foundation of knowledge dating back to 1964, Schlenner Wenner can supply you with the highest knowledge and professional ability. If you would like to organize your business but don’t have the time or you feel overwhelmed, bring your receipts, documents, questions, and computer screens to us. Clean up your finances now and look forward to your company’s growing in the future.

 

We Have. We Will.

Schlenner Wenner & Co. has offered high-quality accounting services to Central Minnesota for the last 50 years, and we are committed to bringing the same quality service for the next 50 years. Starting out as a single tax focused firm in 1964, we have expanded our services as well as grown our geographical reach in Minnesota. Today, we are one of the 25 largest accounting firms in Minnesota. We believe in helping the community and helping our clients.

Saint Cloud has been our home from the beginning and we have embraced our new locations with the same homage as we have in Saint Cloud. Therefore, whether you are looking for assistance in Monticello or in Saint Cloud we will treat you with the same respect and the same quality work.

Since James Schlenner and Michael Wenner joined the firm in and became partners in 1985, they have welcomed other highly qualified partners. Becoming a partner in the firm means that they have an investment in the company. Partners want to ensure the success of the firm, by providing the best service they possibly can to their clients. Because of this, you never have to worry about the quality of work we provide. We treat each case as if it were our own.

Our next generation of accountants (managers) work hard to learn the ins and outs of being high-performing accountants. Our partners teach our managers their knowledge so that they can carry out the same level of professional experience when they become partners. The next 50 years of Schlenner Wenner & Co. will be held to the same standard as the past 50 years has been held to, with exception to the increased knowledge and experience gained along the way.