Washington DC Wedding Photographer: Stephen Gosling Photography
The first thing I want to say is that I am under no illusion that people read my blog, let alone other photographers. I in no way think that the way I do things is the correct way and I am not writing these posts to tell people how to shoot or how to run their businesses. I am however going to be writing about my experiences; my failures, my successes, etc. If these posts help anyone, great! If not; no big deal.
I started my business here in DC (Arlington if you want to be picky) when I moved to the area back in 2007. In the beginning when I started my business (it still feels funny to say that I ‘run’ my own business) work was slow. It’s usually slow in the beginning because it takes time to build up your advertising, your base of clients, word of mouth, etc. And because things in the beginning are slow things like receipts and taxes are easier to keep track of. The picture below shows my business receipts for the past 5 years. I am very proud to say that I am pretty organized when it comes to receipts; and the folders below represent what I hand to my CPA every year at tax time (in case you were unaware a CPA is a Certified Public Accountant).
For the first 3 years I actually filed my own taxes. I did this because I was inexperienced and wasn’t making a lot of profit and didn’t want to give some of my profits away to an accountant. And besides; for the first 3 years (as you can see above) my receipts were not overwhelming. Then 2010 happened. 2010 is when my business really started to blossom. The things I mentioned earlier about advertising and my client base and word of mouth, really started to work well together and thusly; as my business grew – so did my receipts.
Every year at tax time for the first 3 years I would get so incredibly overwhelmed and stressed out because proper filing practices and deductions and things like 5 year depreciation plans were just so confusing to me. So in 2010 I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I decided I would find a CPA to do it for me and whatever the price was for using their services I would just pay it and be content in knowing that I didn’t have to deal with it myself. So in 2010 I found Aaron L. Peters of Peters & Associates, PC.
Aaron is great. Not only does he deal with my incessant questions about all things tax but he does it with a smile and a comfortable knowledge that calms me down. And the best thing about it; using a CPA was not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be. It is actually very, VERY reasonable. And considering that he knows the proper way to file, and the right places to get deductions and business write offs; the amount of money he saves me each year is way more than it costs me to hire him. So in theory he not only pays for himself, but he also finds me money that I didn’t know was mine!
As my business grows (and I’m sure; as any business grows) my receipts will also continue to grow. As you can see below; the receipts for 2011 are more than 2007 through 2010 combined! And the receipts that I’ve compiled for 2012 are already stacking up too!
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I’m super organized when it comes to keeping track of my receipts. I’m not going to get into that now but I just wanted to mention that I use a service called outright. I’ll cover that more in a separate post. Please remind me if I don’t get to it in a timely manner.
So, the moral of this story; Taxes are complicated. The IRS and you State Tax authority hate you. They hate you. They make your life complicated by having so many different rules and regulations it will make your head spin. Do yourself a favour (YES THERE IS A ‘U’ IN THE WORD FAVOUR!) and hire yourself a tax professional. They cost less than you think and are SOOOOOOO worth it. They will not only save you money; they will save you from many headaches and fits of rage.
For anyone in need of a CPA I highly recommend my guy;
Peters & Associates, PC – website – http://peterscpa.info
Peters & Associates, PC – twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/aarontakesdc
Peters & Associates, PC – facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peters-Associates-PC/46437751380