A software founder's guide to navigating tax season

Helen Chong
Category: Puzzle Guides

Though often considered among the unsexiest parts of being a founder, tax planning and education are critical for your startup’s success. 

Luckily, Puzzle provides you with the tools you need to be tax compliant and ready for tax time. We’re also here to support you on your journey, and when things get complex, we can connect you with the ideal professional to and are here to support you on your journey. 

Even if you choose to handle your own bookkeeping (i.e. you create your own financial statements), you may consider bringing on an accountant to file your taxes.

Why do I need to nail my tax filing?

Investors’ confidence in your business relies on your ability to properly file taxes. If an investor discovers that you haven’t filed your taxes, they’ll question your ability to perform basic business tasks.

Of course, you can’t only make your investors happy; you also need to keep the IRS happy. And legal compliance requires airtight practices. 

All of this starts with basic accounting and bookkeeping. If you nail those processes, you’ll keep your tax filings as accurate and easy as possible.

Should I use an accountant for my taxes?

When it comes to tax season and general compliance, most first-time founders don’t know what they don’t know. That’s where a tax accountant comes in: 

They help you evade common pitfalls that soon become expensive, hard-to-fix headaches – and, much like a personal accountant, can help you leverage tax credits. 

During tax filing season, tax accountants can help you with: 

  • Identifying tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for (i.e. claiming your R&D tax credit)
  • Preparing and filing your tax return, ensuring that all necessary information is included and that the return is accurate
  • Representing your startup in case of an audit or other tax-related issues with the government
  • Ensuring you’re processing payroll properly
  • Discovering savings opportunities, like the Qualified Small Business Stock exemption

And when it comes to general compliance (aka, the ongoing stuff that you probably put on the back burner), they can help with items like:

  • Deciding if or when to file an 83(b) election
  • Keeping your startup informed about changes in tax laws and regulations
  • Helping you understand and comply with all tax-related reporting requirements, such as issuing W-2s and 1099s to employees and contractors
  • Assisting with compliance related to international regulations, if you conduct business overseas.

In other words, hiring a tax accountant is preventative care – and will save you hours down the line.

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Helen Chong
Growth @ Puzzle

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