Business Startup Checklist

If you are planning on starting a business in Hillsborough County Florida, there are some things you will want to consider and prepare for early in the process. With some guidance from the official Hillsborough County government website, here are some of those things.
  1. You may choose to attend one of the county's workshops offered at various facilities in the county during the year, including at the ECC in Ybor. The workshops are designed to provide information and resources to ease the business startup process.
  2. Prepare a summary of your new business plan.
    Let this be a general overview of the idea or ideas you have for your business. This should include where your business will be located, how many employees you expect to have, and who is your target market. This is a good time to consider your total startup costs, monthly bills and projected cash flow
  3. Determine the business structure you'll use.
    Hiring a professional at this point may be beneficial. A qualified CPA will help you evaluate your situation and determine the structure that suits your situation best. Being a sole proprietor is simple, but does nothing to protect the owner. An LLC has advantages and can be taxed as a pass-through, or as an S Corp. A Corporation requires a bit more planning and reporting, but for some business, the administrative load is balanced by the benefits of the structure. Your CPA will advise you on the various state agencies with whom you must register for the structure you choose.
  4. DBA / Fictitious Name
    If you intend to do business by any name other than your legal name (ie: John Doe) or the name of your LLC or corporation, you'll need to register a "DBA" or "Fictitious Name". Again, your CPA will advise you on this and direct you to the Florida Division of Corporations as needed.
  5. Contractor and Professional Licenses
    Many types of business require licenses by the county and or the state. Those include beauty (hair and nail) salons, Accountants / CPAs, Construction, Food Service, Hotels and more. Some businesses will also need to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  6. Permitting & Zoning
    Whether you're planning on opening a store front, or working from home, you'll need to research the state, county and city regulations to ensure you are in compliance, obtaining any necessary permits and resolving any zoning conflicts that might arise.
  7. Business Tax Receipt
    Any business operating in Hillsborough County is required to obtain a business tax receipt. If your business is inside any of: Tampa, Plant City or Temple Terrace, you may need a city business tax receipt. Contact your city government for more details.
  8. Federal, State and County Taxes
    If you're going step by step through this guide, your CPA has probably already advised you on some of the tax implications of some of the choices you have to make when starting your business. There's a good chance your company will need, or at least choose, to have a Federal Employment ID, (FEIN) Getting one is simple at the IRS website.
  9. If you sell anything physical or a service in this list:
    1. Nonresidential Cleaning Services
    2. Commercial Pest Control Services
    3. Commercial/Residential Burglary and Security Services
    4. Detective Services
    You'll need to collect Florida State sales tax. Let's add to that list "A service that includes any physical product". A search for the "drop of oil" rule will enlighten you on this topic.
  10. These businesses will have to collect the Florida Communication Services Tax
    1. Telephone Services
    2. Paging Services
    3. Faxing/Facsimile Services
    4. Video Conferencing Services
    5. Cable Services
    6. Direct-to-home Satellite Services 
    Your CPA can help you confirm if your business fits into any of these categories.
There are many factors to consider when starting a business and as you establish and grow within the community. Trust a CPA who knows the area and knows what's best for your business. Trust Accountability Team LLC.

Tampa Tax Prep – CPA

Tampa Tax Preparation by a CPA

Are you looking for information in Tampa on tax preparation by a CPA? There's information businesses should understand when seeking tax preparation services in Tampa.

Types of Tax Preparers In Tampa

There are different types of tax preparers to suit a myriad of individual and business tax needs. We want to equip you with the knowledge of the different types of tax preparers. This will help you choose the proper Tampa tax preparation by a CPA or otherwise. 

CPA Certified Public Accountant:

A CPA has invested the most time and money into their expert position. Certified public accountants are state licensed. They cover a broad range of account practices and services that have nothing to do with taxes. This could include full service monthly account management. They can represent you in issues like auditing and consult on tax laws that affect your business. Next to a business banker or lawyer relationship, a CPA is a great asset to your business network. CPA's are the smart choice for companies. They're qualified to prepare audited statements.

IRS Enrolled Agent:

An IRS enrolled agent, also called an EA, focuses on tax preparation. EA's are licensed by the federal government. The IRS offers the title of Enrolled Agent either to former employees or those that have passed an IRS exam that covers tax preparation. There is no educational component to this title beyond passing the exam.

Unlicensed Accountant:

Unlicensed accountants aren't required to have a degree in accounting to provide service. They may be individuals who excel at monthly bookkeeping but aren't required to be as "in the know" about current tax laws. While they may hold a certificate in accounting, it is not mandated. They're capable of tax preparation services yet, they're unable to represent you to the IRS. They prepare the tax forms and you file them yourself in most cases.

Advantages of Tampa Tax Preparation By a CPA

Tampa tax preparation by a CPA includes more than preparing tax forms. A CPA in Tampa can tell you how life changing events affect your taxes. Examples might be a birth, death, or a divorce. These things affect your tax status and a CPA can tell you what effect each change has. Auditing happens everyday. A business can add "peace of mind" by having a CPA in place before these events ever happen. An experienced CPA is prepared to help you through it. Tampa tax preparation by a CPA can give you added tax savings. Local and state taxes change and can affect your business and investments. A CPA helps you capitalize on these changes for added tax savings. Certified public accountants are an important piece to running a great business. CPA's can offer advice on a variety of services outside of taxes. Because of this, they are a versatile asset to any business. Many business startups consult with CPA's prior to setting up their business structure. This helps them determine the best financial practices to use within their business.

Tampa Tax Planning

Tampa Tax Planning

There are many reasons to live or do business in the Tampa Bay area. The weather is amazing, there are great sports teams and there is no state income tax. Florida is known for its beaches and tourism. The Tampa region is a diverse and active community.

Business Owners and Individuals in the Tampa area looking to maximize their tax savings and minimize their tax liability will want to start their tax planning early in the year. Careful consideration of all available deductions, credits and tax incentives will be crucial to succeeding in this effort.

Tax Planner Tampa

Because the IRS and tax laws and regulations constantly evolve, and never seem to simplify, a qualified, experienced CPA will be an invaluable asset in this process. Tanya Higginbotham, of Accountability Team LLC, has been a CPA for nearly 20 years and has helped individuals as well as small to medium businesses not just survive tax season, but to thrive and profit. Accountability Team LLC, located in one of Tampa's suburbs, Valrico, is ready to help you:
Consult with you during the planning phase of your business
Prepare your business and personal taxes.
Compile your monthly reoprts
Help you implement Quickbooks Account Software
Train you and your employees on the proper use of Quickbooks
Remediation of past Quickbooks issues or errors in use or implementation.
Tanya's experience with a wide range of business types and their unique individual situations has prepared her to help your business before, during and after tax season.

Affordable Care Act – Obama Care

Obama Care

The Affordable Care Act, known as ACA or "Obama Care" has left some people confused. Each year since it passed, we have clients who are "surprised" when they receive their tax returns and find that they have incurred a penalty for not having insurance or not having insurance that complies with the ACA. Also, folks who are on a subsidized Obama Care health plan sometimes have to pay back some or all of their premiums because their family income increased from bonuses, raises, new jobs or other increases. When this happens, the person may have to repay some or all of the subsidy they received for their ACA Coverage.

ACA Quick Tips for individuals:

Don't miss open enrollment.
Unless some changes are implemented, open enrollment will begin on 1 November and end 31 January each year. Native Americans and Alaska Natives can enroll anytime.  Applicants who are eligible for Medicaid can also enroll throughout the year. There are "Qualifying Events" that may allow you to enroll under a "Special enrollment period". These include birth and adoption events, a permanent move (in some cases), loss of other coverage, and marriage. Proof will be required when claiming a Qualifying Event. Get Coverage From Your Employer
If your employer offers health insurance, you'll most likely want to take it. The marketplace is only for those whose employers don't offer it, or don't offer enough coverage. Keep good records
When tax time comes, you'll need to prove you and all your dependents were covered, and what months were included in that coverage. You may otherwise be fined for each person for each month without proven coverage. At the end of the year, you should received a Form 1095A, 1095B, or 1095C depending upon what type of coverage you had for the previous year (Ermployer, Individual, or MarketPlace). Review carefully and keep that form for your records; you may also be requested to supply your CPA with a copy of that form when filing your tax return. Check for possible refunds
ACA subsidies are called the Advance Premium Tax Credit. If Advance Premium Tax Credits are lower than the amount of premium tax credit calculated on your tax return, they will reduce your tax bill or increase your refund. This is likely to happen if your household income goes down during the year and you do not notify the Marketplace to adjust your subsidy.

ACA Quick Tips for small businesses

The ACA Employer Mandate May Not Apply to Small Businesses
If your company has less than 50 full time employees, you will not be required to provide health coverage. If your number of full time employees fluctuates, and that number stays normally around 45-50, you'll need to keep extra careful records and keep track. Also be aware of what the ACA calls "full time equivalents" which uses a formula to count hours worked by non full time employees as if the were additional employees. You can read more at, but your the best advice is to let a professional CPA help you with this. Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
Businesses with fewer than 25 full time employees may qualify for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit if their employees earn less than $50,000 per year and the business covers at least 50% of their insurance premium purchased through the SHOP Marketplace.
  The future of the ACA
The future of the ACA is in question, so close attention to changing legislation is imperative. You're busy running your own business or taking care of your own family. Let Tanya Higginbotham, a Certified Public Accountant who's well equipped to follow and understand these changes, help you keep track of it all.

Choosing a Business Structure


When starting a business, one of the early and important decision you have to make is the type of entity your business will be. This decision will effect how your business and your salary are taxed, the amount of paperwork you'll have to keep up with and your personal exposure to liability. In the eyes of the IRS, there are two types of businesses, those that are taxed directly, and those whose tax liability passes through to the owner(s). Those taxed directly are C-Corps. Those that are considered "pass through" or "flow through" entities include Sole Proprietorships, various Partnerships, LLCs & S-Corps. Deciding on an entity type often begins with these tax considerations. The next consideration is often the limitation of liability. If your business becomes liable for a debt or judgement, are your personal assets at risk? Let's take a look at each of the entity types mentioned above: The simplest form of business is a sole proprietorship. Any income generated by a sole proprietorship is directly taxable to the owner. Any debt or liability incurred is incurred by the owner him or herself. A sole proprietor generally must make quarterly estimated tax payments to keep up with self-employment tax. A step up from a sole proprietorship is a partnership. When two or more people contribute labor, skill, property or finances and expect to share in the profits and losses of the business, this is a partnership. Partnerships come in two varieties, general and limited. A limited partnership will limit the liability for only some partners. Both are pass-through entities. The self employment tax on these partnerships varies. Your CPA can help you with the details.


Next is the LLC or Limited Liability Company which is a state by state structure, so check the details in your state. An owner of an LLC is called a member. Members can be people, corporations or other LLCs. An alternative to a sole proprietorship is known as a Single Member LLC. An LLC has a choice of being disregarded by the IRS, and therefore treated like a partnership or sole proprietorship, or to be treated as an S-Corp. An S-Corp is structured like a C-Corp whose owner(s) have chosen to allow the corporate income and losses to pass through to the shareholders. The corporation itself need not file it's own taxes, as it's shareholders are responsible for that. There may be some exception to these rules, so check with your CPA and your state's regulations. The more formal business type is a C-Corp. When forming a C-Corp, shareholders purchase stock in the corporation with money, property or both. The corporation earns income and pays it's own taxes and distributes profits to it's shareholders. The corporation is a separate taxable entity. Because the corporation is taxed on the income and shareholders are taxed on distributions, there is a double tax. The shareholders of a corporation are generally not liable for the debts or liabilities of the corporation, with possible exceptions under some state laws. It's impossible to say that one of these entity types is better than the others. Different situations will favor one entity over another. Talk to your CPA about your short and long term goals and let her guide you into the best fit for your business.


Don’t Wait until Tax Season

An individual may choose a tax preparation firm with little notice or diligence, and may wait until near the filing deadline to choose an accounting or tax professional. If that person has a relatively simple situation, this may work out.

Small Business Taxes

If that individual is a small business owner, or if the entity involved is a corporation, then this is a sub-optimal strategy. An accountant does more than prepare and file taxes. A well trained, licensed, CPA has the skills and knowledge to provide insight and understanding of complex financial situations and to help you make the best decisions from the beginning of the year and throughout. He or she is available for each opportunity you have, a professional with an outside perspective to ensure each financial decision is made with due diligence and consideration of all the complexities surrounding it. Consulting a CPA during the initialization phase of your business can help you ensure you've chosen the best business structure for you, any partners you might have, and the long term profitability of you company. A CPA can help you compile your monthly reports so you can get a better understanding of your cash-flow, what's coming in, and where it's going.

Quickbook Accounting Software

Accountability Team LLC can help you implement Quickbooks, train you and your employees in the proper use of Quickbooks, and remediate any issues that might be present in an existing Quickbooks setup. Accountability Team LLC focuses on building a relationship with their clients, both as individual and business owners, helping them learn about and understand their tax burden and the overall health and direction of their finances. Contact Accountability Team LLC now to get started.

Tampa Corporate Tax

Tampa consistently ranks well as one of the most cost effective cities to operate a business. Tampa and the surrounding area have a strong population of skilled workers and a competitive labor cost. Add to this the relatively moderate cost of office and industrial leasing and purchase and reasonable sales tax rates and Tampa is one of the least costly places to run a business in the United States. Tampa's excellent international airport, sea port, rail road connections and the interstate highways (I-4, I-75/275) make transportation and shipping very convenient. Tampa is also a strong candidate for startup or relocation because of the warm climate and access to cultural and entertainment resources such as the beach, professional sports teams and local and not too distant amusement parks. If you're already doing business in Tampa, you already know all this. If you're considering it, a quick visit just might win you over. Tampa area businesses looking for a CPA or corporate tax professional can count on Tanya Higginbotham of Accountability Team LLC whose experience in and around Tampa is sure to be a great benefit to your company.

Monthly Write-Ups

For a small business owner, accounting may be something that only comes to mind when it absolutely has to, like when bills are due or at tax time. Good accounting practices are an ongoing, year-round process and a good accounting system can prevent problems or identify them early so they can be quickly corrected. Part of that system will be monthly write-ups that include reconciling your accounts to make sure every transaction is recorded correctly, generating your income or Profit and Loss statement so you can see how much you're making, and balance sheet so you can see where you are at the moment, and finally reviewing and correcting your general ledger to ensure everything is properly balanced. Once this foundation has been laid, you can use the information to plan for the future. If you need financing for a growth project, banks will need to see these reports and others in order to determine your ability to repay the loan. Trust a certified CPA to handle all your monthly or quarterly reports to ensure they are prepared professionally and accurately. Having your CPA work with you throughout the year allows them to become familiar with your business and lets them see trends that might influence their advice to you for tax and growth planning.

Identity Theft

Identity Theft and Ways You Can Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is a serious and growing concern. With rapid growth in technology, personal security shouldn't be ignored or overlooked. People using automated systems have to be aware of the different ways identity theft can happen. In our current digital world we are at risk of identity theft in our email inboxes, in the information we provide to others, and in any area data is kept, stored or disposed of. Credit cards and bank statements that get thrown away without being shredded are an example of a common way people leave the door wide open to identity thieves. Let's look at some ways you can better protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft.

8 Ways To Reduce the Risk of Being a Victim of Identity Theft

Personal Document Protection

Physical documents such as your birth certificate, social security card, insurance policies and living wills should be kept in a fire safe lock box. Your mortgage agreement, health insurance information, and other like paperwork should be kept safe and secure from break ins or emergencies. 

Don't Throw Your Identity Into The Trash

Cutting a credit card in half isn't cutting it anymore. Identity theft is big business and thieves will resort to extreme measures to get your information. For this reason, you must be just as extreme in protecting your identity and personal information. Business owners that handle other people's sensitive information use cross cutting shredders for extra protection. There are companies that offer pickup and bulk shredding services if you want to skip acquiring this new habit. Some of these companies will shred right on site before leaving your driveway. Items to be shredded should include; bank statements, billing statements, credit offers, credit applications, expired credit cards, old check blanks and deposit slips. Any item that has identifying information on it should be sent through a shredder before being thrown in the trash. This can be your name, address, phone number, social security number, or any billing account number. 

Personal Identification Safety With Service Providers

Companies often ask for your personal information to be able to provide a service to you. You'll want to think about what the actual need for them is to have this information before you give it to them. If they are asking for your social security number and it's not a service that needs it, ask if they have an alternative way to verify your identity. You can ask why they need your social security number, how it will be used, and how they protect your information. You may even choose to use a different provider for some services to avoid sharing some of your personal details.

Online and Email Scams Can Steal Your Identity

Be aware of and watch for common online scams. Your email inbox is often a prime target for an identity theft attack. Any email that appears to be from a financial institution should be considered suspect. Yes, your financial institution may contact you by email, but you can carefully determine the authenticity after thinking if it's fraudulent or not. Don't click on the links in the email if it's suspect. Instead, manually type the address into your browser or call the bank using the number on your card or physical statement.

Public WIFI or Shared Internet Safety

When you use public WiFi, ensure that any private information you share is done over a secure connection. You'll recognize this because your browser will have the "https" in the address bar and will show a closed padlock icon. Modern browsers will give a warning and show the padlock open if the supposed secure connection has a problem. Tech savvy culprits have succeeded at identity theft by simply sitting at coffee shops and letting their computers gather data from other guests who are using an unsecured WiFi connection. When you see the padlock icon, you're protected from this type of attack. It's advised not to login to banking site or money processing sites from an open connection. Stored passwords can be swiped and used fraudulently without your knowledge. If you have logged into sites from shared computers double check that you've logged out again. 

Proper Data Disposal Protects You From Identity Theft

Just like shredding documents, data on computers and mobile devices you no longer use needs to be disposed of. When the time comes to upgrade your computer or mobile phone, have the old data wiped from it using your operating system or device reset options. This will remove your personal data and reset the systems to their original manufacturer settings. Make sure to follow directions found in the owner’s manual, on the service providers or manufacturers website. In extreme cases, you can remove the hard drive and destroy it. You'll want to ensure that your emails, text messages, address books and browser history are all removed. Take out any removable memory cards and the SIM card from your phones. The best solution is to leave the device entirely blank.

Identity Theft Protection Service Providers

Before you choose this type of service, familiarize yourself with the company and confirm they have a solid reputation in the data security industry. By giving them some limited authority to represent you to the credit reporting agencies and other institutions, they are able to place freezes and fraud alerts and generate reports for you. Much of this you can do on your own for free, but you may find it valuable to have a professional service handle this for you.

Credit Report Monitoring For Identity Theft Protection

You'll want to keep a close watch on your bank and credit card statements. Identify that each transaction was performed by you. If you find any transaction that you didn't make, take action immediately! In some cases, if the fraud is not reported within 60 days, you may not be able to recoup your losses. Check your credit reports every so often. Each of the credit reporting agencies will provide you a free credit report each year. If you schedule them out you can get a free one every 4 months. If you see any accounts on your report that don't belong to you or are unfamiliar, get immediate professional help.  You can significantly lower your risk of identity theft by being aware of the common places identity thieves can get access to your information. By taking a few precautionary steps, being alert, and being proactive you can protect yourself from ever experiencing identity theft.

Year End Tax Planning

Since we've reached the fourth quarter, for those whose tax year is the calendar year the time has come to work out your year end tax planning. It's more than collecting documents and ensuring you have proof for each deduction. Yes, do those things. They are important. Perhaps more important though, is reviewing and considering possibilities to reduce your tax burden. Business owners will compare current year profits to the previous year to have a proper expectation if there will be an increased tax burden this year. Individuals will consider changing circumstances which affect their tax liability including, marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, sending a child to college or having a dependent child strike out on their own, thus no longer qualifying as a tax deduction when you file.. These factors and more can affect the amount of taxes you owe in a particular year. A business that is experiencing high revenue growth will likely have a very different, perhaps even opposite tax strategy compared to a long established business whose profits are more even. When considering the sale of a business, the owner might choose show a higher profit when the increased value of the business at the time of the sale would offset any additional tax paid against that profit. A business with more complex holdings will face many dynamic factors such as capital purchases, gains & losses, retirement / pension or profit sharing options and bonus programs as well as others. With more than 74,600 pages of tax code, regulations and IRS rulings, it's a good idea to contact your tax professional to discuss your unique situation. With a proper understanding of the business and/or personal income for the current tax year, and a projection of expected increased or decreased income next year, your CPA will help you decide on the most advantageous strategy to optimize your tax savings.
Contact Accountability Team LLC to begin your year-end tax planning today.