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Tools for recordkeeping - reuse at year end

Many of us have just filed our individual income tax returns for 2010 (October 17th was the extended filing date). From business expenses to employee mileage to capital gains on stock sales, the painful process can take a huge amount of time - especially when it is done after the fact.

In the interest of helping you get ahead of your 2011 taxes before the end of the year, we’ve compiled some helpful tools which are either available online or as mobile applications:

1.       Adjust your withholding.

Most people know about penalties for withholding too little federal income tax from their paycheck. But over-withholding is just as bad. It means you are providing the IRS with an interest free loan of your money. Use the IRS's handy online calculator to adjust your withholding to exactly the right amount before the end of the yearLet us know if you need a more precise estimate of your estimated total taxes due.  

2.       Document your meals and entertainment.

Keep track of your meal and entertainment expenses using a mobile app like www.texthog.com or www.xpenser.com.  With these tools, you can document your meeting information, business purpose and attendees, and then attach a photo of the receipt.   

3.       Substantiate your business mileage.

Take the pain out of mileage substantiation with this easy to use and audit-ready online application from www.bizmile.com . Mileage deductions are automatically computed using GPS technology. You can automatically share your information with your accountant and eliminate one more last minute e-mail.

4.       Manage your stock trades (and track gains and losses).

Manage your portfolio using Etrade Mobile Pro (you must have an ETrade account in order to execute trades) or IStockManager (TDAmeritrade Accounts). If you work with a different organziation, check to see what mobile tools they have available.

5.       Track your donations. 

Document your charitable giving using this app from Cerulean Tech Creations. It lets you record a value, describe and photograph donated items and then e-mail them to your desktop. (Be sure to talk with your accountant before donating unusual items like land or appreciated assets as the IRS might require an appraisal to determine value.)

Note: always use care when installing or downloading mobile applications.