View Full Version : I know I need a lawyer and accountant but...

01-05-2007, 07:34 AM
just a general questioon to head me in the right direction.

I KNOW I need to contact a lawwyer and anccountant but...

If I incorporate or begin a haunt for profit and thereby have to start filing quartely estimated tax returns, what happens if I only stay open for one year and crash and burn? Do I have to pay estimated taxes on what I MIGHT have earned the next year?

Thanks as always, I appreciate the tremendous amount of assistance available through this site.

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Jim Warfield
01-05-2007, 08:24 AM
I heard in Peru that you have to pay all your projected taxes for the first year before you ever open the door or take in one dollar.
My ex's Cousin was a lawyer in Peru.

Duke of Darkness
01-05-2007, 11:51 PM
Okay, I am an attorney, but not a tax attorney, so take this as general information, then get more specific info from an accountant or tax attorney.

In a seasonal business like a haunt you many not have to file quarterly estimated tax returns/pay estimated taxes quarterly. See IRS publication 505 for more information.

As a side note, depending on what state you are in, you might consider filing as an LLC rather than as a corporation. There are less paperwork requirements and several tax options. Once again, you will want to talk to an attorney and/or accountant to discuss the tax implications, but in most cases that is what I end up advising my clients (and indeed what I have done with my own haunt).

Greg Chrise
01-06-2007, 01:04 AM
You do not have to file quarterly estimated tax until the amount you would owe in a calendar year exceeds $2500. Further on the 3 forms you will routinely have to deal with there is a little check box for seasonal business, seasonal employer and other stuff is anual anyhow. You don't pay until you are somehow with holding the governments money and they don't want you having more than $2500. This could also be determined at start up when applying for things like the EIN, FTU witholding accounts and so on.

I agree with the LLC thing unless legitimately several parties are putting in serious volumes of capital or assets and it is not a start from $1,000 enterprise. Corporations are more for what would be expected to be long term ever expanding concern with no limitation on market share. An LCC is for a few individuals or one who wishes beneficiary to others of record with no large capital binding to begin with, that are declaring liability concerns over an entity or business.

The reporting aspect of a corporation is also to the extent that your origional attorney should be young and live the span of what ever changes would occur over time. To disengage from a corporation requires full accountability and an LLC can change status at a later date relatively easily.

I am pretending to be both an accountant and an attorney. I am not a Doctor nor do I play one on TV.

01-06-2007, 04:49 AM
That helps immensely. I want to do this right, and don't even know the right questions to ask as my "experience" has primarily been home haunting and assisting charity events on a creative level.

Trying to protect the old assests. heh heh

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01-06-2007, 01:17 PM
er... ASSets!

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Greg Chrise
01-06-2007, 04:14 PM
Late in the wee hours I thought of more. The schedule for a seasonal or quarterly income at any rate only pertains to the income of record and is not due until 15 days after that quarter has been concluded.

Even if setting up the forms to only arrive in the mail for the one quarter is botched, you simply fill out every quarter except the 4th quarter with any income or loss and this is your history. Paying estimated tax again comes about by not filing the real figures and submitting a payment from past earnings histories. If you can close the books in November, you have until January 15th to file what really happened.

Making expenses through the year certainly are an annualb figure not regulated by the quarter, so you would pay any employee taxes on January 15th and your federal income on April 15th. It comes on the honor system and those that do not pay in full or elect to have an estimated tax get routinely audited and or have messed up and owe taxes and having been busted are require to file quarterly.

If you get forms you just put 0 in every box and send it in except for the 4th quarter (which still may sho now income if it is a loss) and every form has a little box does this business continue or have you quit doing this and this is your final report.

You actually don't need an accountant or lawer if you will do your home work and everything may take a few weeks to digest but is available on www.irs.gov and if you walk into the irs office they hand you the books free and go thru a quick check list of what you have to do. Either way it is the same information.

Additionally the reporting documents and scheduals are listed in the books and online, not hard to follow if it is seasonal And even the information about what the classifications of businesses are and what they can and can not do are in these pages.

Some of the information is state related but their entire purpose is to welcome you to the wonderful world of taxation. Its all free, what the attorneys and tax accountants will tell you for a fee. You really don't get those services unless you do such a volume of document keeping and accounting that requires them or makes so much money you can afford to have them.

I don't know the size of your event.

Next I will pretend to be a mechanic and a veterenarian first thing to do is learn how to spell it. Next week I will be implanting ear flushing apparatus on all my pets, sewing in quick disconnects and writing off the expense as a business deduction under research and development. I may but little pnuematics like the Indy cars to lift them at service time.

Then after that I will be blogging about my findings wait for the checks to roll in.

Jim Warfield
01-06-2007, 05:29 PM
Gregg! You copycat! Those things were all the exact same things I was going to do today!
Then I heard this loud crunching sound from a block away...."That sounds like someone eating a house with a piece of heavy equiptment!"
It was. The old house about 140ft. south of my house that had been the Mt. Carroll JC's first haunted house.
I spent the next half a day ferreting out good , solid bricks from where the chimney used to be , cleaning the old mortar off them and trucking them home. Hay! The price was right!
Very good bricks just in time to make my next basement wall, "Hold still, Honey, the mortar will set up in about an hour."
It's the 6th of Jan. and today it was sunny and very warm, just like a summer day, all day! ??
I also finished welding the steel bracket (toothy looking) to edge and pad a steel basement door I have been working on for awhile now.
It will look ominous but be padded. I call it "The Falsey", presently comes in one size, 83inches tall. I am not taking orders.

01-07-2007, 04:30 PM
I don't pay quarterly, just yearly (except sales tax). I'm an LLC, and my husband is a seperate LLC. I rent everything from him. In two years I've only made $500 each year. The min so I'm not considered a hobby company. Everything else goes to the lease of the building and props.

We have 2 LLC's just incase I'm sued, then the only thing I'd loose is my investment into the company which is $25. EVERYTHING to run the haunted house is leased.

But know, to do this you will end up paying more in taxes then to run just one LLC.

Check with your state to see if it's legal to do this. I know in Utah it is, but they said if we moved to a different state to check because in some it's not.

Jim Warfield
01-08-2007, 09:31 PM
In some states if you go to court the LLC can simply be thrown out and mean nothing, at least this is what it said in an on-line site concerning them, actually trying to promote them.
I have noticed the LLC on some company trucks of companys that are rather affluent , going concerns, which sort of surprised me.
Does LLC stand for "Lick Long Creep? "Lamenting Losers Cry?"
"Lawyers Laundering "C"-notes? "Laughing Lepers Choke?"

01-09-2007, 12:01 PM
You can still be sued with an LLC and loose everything. That's why we have the two.

Duke of Darkness
01-09-2007, 12:49 PM
Actually, in most states an LLC offers as much individual protection as an INC. It offers good protection from negligence claims. For claims like fraud, not so much, but neither does a corporation. In either case, as a general rule, a persons loss is limited to their investment in the business.

The most common problem I see when people lose the protection of their LLC (or corp) is when the treat the LLC as an extension of their personal affairs, and not as a separate business entity. This includes making personal purchases with the business checking account, driving a company vehicle for personal errands, etc.

There are other times that having a separate business entity won't protect you individually. If you personally injure someone or intentionally/recklessly commit a crime against them (especially fraud), even if at the place of business; if you don't pay your employee withholding taxes; or if you personally guarantee a debt and the LLC defaults, then your personal assets may be vulnerable.

Do research the protections offered by various entities in your state, as they are not uniform across the country. That said, I would look into LLCs, in my experience they really do offer the protection of a corporation with fewer paperwork requirements and more flexible tax options.

As far as having multiple LLCs, that MIGHT help, just like having multiple corporations might. It is, however, a double edged sword. You must be even more careful to keep everything compartmentalized so the it does not appear to be one company hiding assets by using to entities. If, for example, using HaungedWebby's situation as an example, if her husbands LLC leased her the equipment for $1.00 per year, a court might rule that the second entity is a sham, and not a legitimate business entity.

Another consideration with having two entities, you will want to make sure that each has its own insurance. Again using HauntedWebby's situation as an example (sorry Haunted Webby, not trying to pick on you, just trying to illustrate a principle. Obviously I have no idea how you actually work things). Let's take a hypothetical, awful situation. Say that company A leases the equipment to company B to run the haunt. A pneumatic malfunctions and a person is injured. In the resulting lawsuit, a decent lawyer would sue both company A and company B. If company A was insured, but company B was not, even if the LLC worked as they were supposed to and there was not personal liability, all of the companies real assets -- the equipment -- would be at risk since company B was not adequately insured.

That said, the real protection, for you and your business comes in the form of having solid, written polices on safety and security matters; following those policies; and having adequate insurance. Accidents happen. Businesses get sued. It is a fact of life in the business world, and all you can do is take steps to protect yourself.

My point is this: protect yourself, but don't outsmart yourself. As the situation gets more complex, you have to make sure that you have all the bases covered or it may be wasted time and money.

You don't have to have an attorney or accountant on retainer, but spending $50 or $100 to sit down and talk to one may be considered very cheap protection. If your business is important to you, don't trust it to legal advice that you read on the internet. That last sentence it the very best advice I have to offer.

Wishing everyone much success in the coming new year.


P.S. Sorry to ramble on so long. I have had clients lose their business, or worse, by making some of the mistakes that I describe above and I would hate to see that happen to any of my haunt family. I really am not trying to be critical or pick on anyone...

01-09-2007, 05:04 PM
Your not picking on me Theatremacabre :D

You brought up something I didn't. In my case each LLC has it's own insurance, accountants, dealing, lawyers, tax filing and anytihng else. The only time the deal with each other is when company A leases from company B.

Now a good lawyer can try to sue a rental company, but the rental company's lawyer's just need to show that the renter didn't use or maintain the equipment correctly. Most (not all) the time the rental company won't be held liable.

If you go the way I did, make sure you have good contract between each other and good lawyers on both sides.

Oh and also, hubbie is not the only rental company I use. SO it look it looks like the business is not dependant on the rental company. Granted I rent more from him then anyone else :wink: