Prepare for the new year with this year-end accounting checklist

Photo credit: Cordia Partners and Cordia Resources


This content is sponsored by Cordia Partners and Cordia Resources.

Keeping your financial records in order is highly important to the success of a company. As the end of the calendar year approaches, accounting and finance departments start to work diligently to close out their books so that they can prepare to file tax returns and become audit ready. To avoid missing any steps and to ensure a smooth transition into the new year, we have prepared this year-end accounting checklist.

Document accounting transactions

Document all entries in the accounting system and make year-end adjustments to account for accruals and deferrals.

Reconcile all balance sheet accounts

Go through all of your credit and bank accounts for the business and reconcile all charges and payments. Make sure the statements match with your records and investigate any unexplained discrepancies.

Review income statement accounts for misclassifications

Review expense accounts to determine if any charges should be reclassified to fixed assets, prepaid expenses or other balance sheet accounts.  Also look for expenses that were charged to the wrong expense account and reclassify those expenses if necessary.  Accurate expense classification will make preparing next years budget much more informative and straightforward.

Payroll and vendor tax forms

  • 1099s: These forms should be mailed no later than January 31 to any independent contractors you hired. Be sure to gather vendor tax ID’s and other required information before year-end if you haven’t gathered this information throughout the year.
  • 1096This form must be mailed to the IRS no later than February 28.
  • Payroll Forms (e.g. W-2, W-3, 940, 941): Print and mail these forms as soon as you can, especially if you’re handling it yourself and not asking a payroll service or outside accounting firm to prepare the forms. Be sure to include any non-standard taxable income on employee W-2’s, such as the taxable portion of employer group term life insurance, taxable education reimbursements, and other types of taxable income that may not be processed through the normal payroll cycle. Remember that your employees cannot file their taxes until they receive a W-2, and many people like to file as soon as possible.

Close out outstanding receivables

Make the effort to collect on unpaid bills in order to close out all outstanding receivables and improve control over your cashflow.

Create an annual budget

Start planning an annual budget by reviewing the current year’s interim financial statements. These will give insight into expenditures from the current year and will drive the financial forecast and budget for the next year.

Become audit ready

If your financials are not GAAP compliant, then now is the time to start moving in that direction. If seeking funding or selling a business is in the near horizon, investors will require accurate financials. Working to become compliant also means, you can become audit ready.

Assess internal controls

Review your internal processes and controls to make sure that they are working. Look for gaps in the process that allow the potential for fraud or errors to run high.

Evaluate process improvements

If manual data entry is slowing down the process of producing accurate financial statements on time or impeding staff performance, consider using automation to improve the accounting process. Demo desired softwares and budget for the incoming year.

The end of the fiscal year is a crazy time for any business, but smaller businesses feel the pinch even more due to limited staffing and skill-set availability. Prepare yourself and make sure to cross off all of the steps necessary for a successful and responsible end of the fiscal year.

To hire temporary or permanent accounting help, visit For accounting technology advice or to find out when and how to outsource accounting functions, visit

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