That all important, dreaded date of April 15 is already next month. It seems as if no matter how hard you try to keep all your records in order, there is always a document or two that can’t be located or files that are missing, which causes a frantic search.
How you file is almost as important as what you file. In the event you need to locate records because of an audit, an inspection, a lawsuit or any number of things that could cause an examination, a good filing system is a must.
Outside of the all-important date declared by the IRS to be the deadline, small transportation businesses are dogged with recordkeeping by a variety of agencies. It seems as if you can’t run fast enough to outrun the government bulldozer trying to gobble you up. Here are some tips to manage the mountain of legal requirements:
End of Month Packages
It is easier to manage 12 individual bundles of information rather than a year’s worth of records thrown in a box. Consider placing everything from each month in a package. This could be a large envelope for small operators to large cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Create a checklist of things you should store at the end of each month, including bank statements, trip sheets, deposit slips, payroll records and anything else occurring during the month.
You might even consider printing a copy of your monthly P&L statement along with a printed check register as well as other information you might need for an audit or catastrophic data loss.
How you file is almost as important as what you file. In the event you need to locate records because of an audit, an inspection, a lawsuit or any number of things that could cause an examination, a good filing system is a must. Payroll and employee data is highly sensitive and must be kept under lock and key. Important documents such as vehicle titles, installment contracts and warranty information should be grouped together and stored in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet.
Routine records such as paid receipts, owner’s manuals and similar documents should be easily accessible to everyone who might need access on a daily basis. At the end of each year, documents that no longer need to be regularly referred to can be filed away into permanent storage. It is not advisable to file paid vendor invoices with the monthly packages, as you may need these invoices for comparison shopping or budgeting. For instance, the price of glass can fluctuate, and if you buy glassware for your vehicles, you can monitor the changes over the past year and determine an average case price.
Government Compliance Master Checklist
With a myriad of agencies to report to, renew licenses with, and comply with, consider creating a master checklist of compliance issues and placing them in chronological order. It should include things such as renewing your business license or your authority to operate. As you go about your daily business, each time you become aware of compliance issues, such as payroll tax payment due date or other quarterly tax dates, enter the information on the date, the basis or amount of the tax, the agency, a contact name and number, license number and anything else relevant such as “Form 940.” In the event something should happen to you, this document will make it easy for anyone to make sure your business stays in compliance.