It’s that time of year again: tax time. How much will you owe Uncle Sam this year?
While sorting through receipts and calculating deductions isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, filing taxes can be especially tough for independent adjusters.
When my husband, Bob, and I were on the road as independent adjusters, we contracted for several IA firms, which meant handling multiple 1099s along with out-of-town deployment expenses. Many adjusters are also unclear on the business entity options available to them, such as limited liability companies and S corps.
Struggling to make sense of your taxes? Here are our strategies for keeping more of your hard-earned money in your bank account.
Write off more than you spent!
It isn’t against the law – it’s just smart business. If you spend a lot of time on the road for deployments, hotel and meal expenses can add up. Some
adjusters try to keep all those receipts organized in a spreadsheet or by only using a single credit card for their travel expenses. The truth is, you don’t need to know the exact dollar amount that you spent to write it off on your taxes.
The federal government allows you to take a per diem allowance based on location and deduct it from your taxable income. That means you’re entitled to a different per diem rate working in downtown Manhattan than in Manhattan, Kansas.
For independent adjusters who spend dozens or even hundreds of days a year working in various locations, calculating all those per diem rates can be a logistical nightmare. Failing to take these deductions, though, means potentially leaving a lot of money on the table.
Schedule It Pro™ now offers adjusters an easier way to take the per diems they’re entitled to. Enter all your 2017 claims in the software, and it calculates your per diems based on the zip code for each deployment and prints out a report at the end of the year for you! You’ll save time and make sure that all your per diem information is correct.
"I only paid Schedule It $1,755.00 total for their personal scheduling assistant services in 2016, but their per diem reports decreased my taxable income by about $17,000.00. That's huge," says Alton Bryant, independent property adjuster at Wardlaw Claims.
Learn more about Schedule It Pro’s income and expense tracking features here.
Form an S corp.
As an independent adjuster, you are your own boss, accepting assignments from your clients (aka IA firms). Many adjusters choose to form their own business entities, which can offer tax benefits as well as asset protection.
The most common ways to incorporate are as a limited liability company (LLC) or an S corp. Either way, you can only be held liable for the amount you’ve invested in the company, protecting your home and other assets if something goes wrong. The S corp also has the added benefit of potentially reducing your income taxes. As the owner of an S corp, you can pay yourself a “reasonable” salary from your earnings and then take the rest of your income as dividends, which are taxed at a lower rate. When Bob and I were independent adjusters, we saved more than $10,000 on our taxes annually by operating as an S corp.
Laws can vary by state, so talk to an accountant to decide which type of entity makes sense for you and your business.
Track your income and expenses.
How many claims have I completed? Have I been paid for each one? Am I working with the right companies? Tracking payments and expenses is especially important for adjusters juggling assignments from multiple firms.
Since most firms pay based on successful claim closures, not just submitting a claim file for review, you may need to follow up on claims so you’re not paying taxes on income that never actually arrived. Make sure to submit reimbursements for expenses outside of your per diem, too, such as new laptops, ladders or software license fees. Schedule It Pro makes tracking income and expenses simple so you won’t miss any deductions.
Want more tips for saving time so you can get more claims? Check out our Ultimate Tools of the Trade Checklist. Whether you're new to the business or a 20-year veteran, it has everything you need to be as efficient as possible.