What kind of records do most sole proprietors, freelancers and consultants keep?
February 17, 2009 7:39 PM Subscribe
What sort of state of organization are the financial records of most sole proprietorships in?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a small freelance business for about 15 years. About 3 years ago, I was in a car accident that was 100% not my fault. (The other driver admitted fault and there were witnesses.) I am now in the middle of legal dealings with my insurance company, because of the state of whiplash, the effect on my pregnancy and the effect on my ability to run my business and maximize earnings. (I do have a lawyer.) The insurance company is asking for all my financial records from the past nine years. They want copies of every receipt, invoice, mortgage interest statement, etc.
I've never kept a general ledger or anything like that. I just invoice and pay my expenses and credit cards and stuff like that. I've never been very formal about things, although I am excrutiatingly honest. I don't lie on my taxes. However, there have been situations where I just phoned the mortgage company to get the interest amount for my mortgage for the year (for business use of home), because I figured that if I got audited by the government, I would just phone and get a statement sent out. And, as I mentioned, I don't have cash flow statements or anything like that. And sometimes my receipts are in my name, my husband's name or both our names. But I always put money into our joint account to cover everything, usually lump sums throughout the year.
I had planned to incorporate and set up with an accountant, but, because of the car accident, I am just beginning that process now. Going forward, my records will be more diligent, since I'll be incorporated.
But, I'm wondering...what is the typical state of financial records for most freelance and consulting type businesses? My lawyer seems baffled that I have unaudited records...he's not used to sole proprietors. He seemed surprised that I had been doing my own taxes (for all but 3 of the total years, because, honestly, the accountants never got me any more tax back than I got on my own). For the most part, my business records are my personal income tax records, since the sole proprietorship income tax is part of that. I never saw any point to doing balance sheets and neither did the bookkeepers or accountants. Are other freelancers and consultants in a different situation? (Again, I'll be changing this going forward.)