Bookkeeping Mistakes to Avoid 

by | Oct 9, 2023

Bookkeeping is an essential and unavoidable task for businesses, regardless of their size or industry. However, it is a task that is often fraught with potential pitfalls and common errors that can have severe consequences if left unaddressed. This article will shed light on some of the most common bookkeeping mistakes and provide guidance on how to avoid them.

1. Inadequate Receipt Management:
One of the most common mistakes is neglecting to save receipts, particularly those under $75. While not a strict requirement by the IRS, these receipts serve as supporting documentation for various deductions. Many digital accounting programs and apps allow quick and easy capture and storage of these receipts. However, maintaining a physical backup is also recommended.

2. Ignoring Reimbursable Expenses:
Another common pitfall is failing to track reimbursable expenses. This oversight can lead to a loss of money and missed tax deductions. Regular tracking of expenses as they are incurred is recommended, enabled by numerous expense-tracking apps and software.

3. Misclassifying Employees:
With a growing number of freelancers and independent contractors, it can be challenging to correctly classify workers. However, this task is crucial as misclassification can result in tax penalties and potential lawsuits. 

4. Poor Communication:
Bookkeeping requires constant and effective communication between all parties involved. Whether you are outsourcing your bookkeeping or handling it in-house, ensure that all transactions, including bonuses and supply purchases, are reported promptly and accurately to the bookkeeper.

5. Failure to Reconcile:
Reconciliation of your books with bank statements is a fundamental aspect of maintaining your business's financial health. This process helps identify available funds and detect bank errors before they escalate into significant issues.

6. Neglecting Sales Tax Compliance:
Sales tax has become increasingly complex due to the rise of e-commerce. It's crucial to stay updated on the latest rules and regulations to ensure compliance and limit tax liability.

7. Casual Handling of Petty Cash:
Petty cash should be managed by a dedicated custodian to maintain accountability and limit potential fraud or theft. Clear policies regarding petty cash purchases and maintaining receipts for each purchase help maintain transparency and control.

8. Mis-categorization or Over-categorization:
Maintaining a clear and organized chart of accounts is critical for successful bookkeeping. It's easy to create duplicate categories or fail to enter expenses into the correct category. Following general bookkeeping guidelines for standard categorizations can help avoid this issue.

9. Do-it-yourself Approach:
While it may seem cost-effective, trying to handle all bookkeeping tasks in-house can lead to errors and missed opportunities. Hiring a professional bookkeeper ensures accuracy, efficiency, and an expert eye that can catch subtle errors.

In conclusion, while bookkeeping may seem daunting, being aware of these common mistakes and taking proactive steps to avoid them can streamline your business's financial management. A professional bookkeeper can provide valuable support and guidance, helping your business thrive financially.