Many businesses get anxious when they think about invoicing and bookkeeping – although it is only through the paid invoice that the wages earned for the service provided can be obtained. This may seem complicated but really, it is not. Here 6 important tips for billing and accounting.
Record Keeping Tips for Small Business Owners
1. Write the invoice correctly. The invoice documents the service performed, delivery and payment terms. In most cases, customers are entitled to it. For example, you can refuse payment under VAT law until you have a proper invoice. But when is an invoice “correct”?
For private customers, invoices are particularly important in order to deduct certain services from the tax, to safeguard any guarantee claims or to secure other evidence. This does not result in any special requirements for the content – apart from the fact that craftsmen should report the proportion of work separately.
The situation in the business environment is different. The input tax deduction plays a major role here – and it only exists if the invoice complies with tax law requirements.
While the tax office examines the input tax deduction meticulously, the requirements for the deduction are less strict as operating expenses. It can happen that an invoice is excluded from the input tax deduction, but is nevertheless recognized as an expense.
2. The small business regulation is not always sensible. Small businesses can be exempted from VAT on request. The small business rule according to the sales tax law is linked to two conditions:
sales in the current financial year are expected to amount to a maximum of EUR 50,000 and
sales in the past financial year were below 22,000 euros.
The emphasis is on the “and” because both conditions must be met. Start-ups can estimate the expected sales in the year of foundation. But be careful, if you start in the middle of the year, the tax-free amount will decrease proportionately. The small business rule eliminates VAT advance registrations and VAT returns. Determining profits is also easier. After all, there is no need to distinguish between gross and net. In addition, small businesses in business with private end customers – who are excluded from the input tax deduction – can offer cheaper services without tax.
On the other hand, there is no input tax deduction. This increases operating costs. Many small business owners also fear that the invoice information could have a negative impact on their image – especially in a business with corporate customers.
3. Advance registration for VAT: meet deadlines! There are taxes that the tax office is after like the devil behind the holy water. Sales tax falls into this category. If you do not submit the advance tax return on time, you will quickly be charged hefty late payment surcharges.
In principle, all companies, self-employed, and freelancers are affected. The only exceptions to VAT are exports, certain health services, real estate, and financial transactions. Those who do not fall into this category or who are exempt from VAT as a small business owner must collect and pay the VAT for the State.
As part of the advance tax return, companies explain to the tax office the VAT burden as the difference between VAT and input tax. As a rule, it must be drawn up on a monthly basis – and must be received by the tax office by the 10th of the following month at the latest.
Those who find it difficult to meet the deadline can save themselves four weeks more with an application for a long-term extension. In return, however, a special advance payment must be made.
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