Many owners use software that's designed to help small businesses keep their books easily. They run into problems when they don't input their income and expense figures properly.

Jeffrey Berdahl, a certified public accountant with RLB Accountants in Allentown, Pa., said some clients haven't taken the time to really learn how to use a record-keeping program. "They hand us a disk or thumb drive, and they've handed us a mess."

It's the high-tech equivalent of what accountants ruefully call shoebox or shopping bag clients, ones who show up with a chaotic pile of receipts that a CPA has to then sort through. When an accountant gets a disorganized disk or drive, it has to be straightened out before a return can be completed.

Berdahl says some owners then repeat the problem the next year. The solution is to become more of an expert at using the software, or pay someone who's more techno-savvy to input your numbers.

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