Saturday, October 19, 2013

What's New in QuickBooks 2014 for Accountants

QuickBooks® Accountant (QBA) 2014 is full of new and improved tools to make what we do easier and more impressive to our clients.  With these new and improved QBA features – and accounting professionals supporting enterprise clients with the Accountant Edition of QuickBooks Enterprise – you will not only improve your efficiency; you'll also prove to your clients just how indispensable and responsive you are to their needs.Some of the features are enhancements of previous functions and others are brand new.

New for 2014

New QuickBooks Accountant Plus – including Client Collaborator
QBA Plus users (including QuickBooks ProAdvisors®) have exclusive access to the new Client Collaborator feature, a great tool designed to solve many of the challenges accounting professionals encounter when dealing with their clients
QuickBooks Accountant Plus is a new subscription offering that saves accounting professionals time by giving them the option to automatically obtain the latest QuickBooks Accountant version each year.
QBA Plus users (including QuickBooks ProAdvisors®) have exclusive access to the new Client Collaborator feature, a great tool designed to solve many of the challenges accounting professionals encounter when dealing with their clients.
For example, the accountant can now contact the client directly through the client's QuickBooks' file to inquire about a particular transaction. The interactions and conversations are tracked and linked to specific transactions, so the accountant always has a point of reference. These interactions between the accountant and client are stored on a secure server and accessed online, ensuring that nothing is lost. This new feature, which transcends the world of desktop accounting and touches on cloud computing, eliminates the need to keep track of disparate email strings and trying to remember what specific transaction was being discussed. All discussions are linked and accessible.

Here's how the Client Collaborator works: the accountant selects the Ask Question icon on the right of the menu bar to contact the client through QuickBooks. Selecting this icon enables the accountant to tie the question directly to this transaction within the client's file.
The client opens their copy of the company file in their-non accountant version (such as Pro) and then selects View Conversation List from the Company menu.
The accountant can document what he or she did for each transaction and view it all in the Transaction Conversation window. To close a Transaction Conversation, simply click the Close button.
The accountant's client will need a version of QuickBooks 2014 to use this feature; an Internet connection is required for both parties.
What's New in QuickBooks Pro and Above
Although this article is focusing on the new and enhanced features of QBA 2014, since QBA has all the features of QuickBooks Pro and Premier (and the Accountant Edition of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions has all the features of all editions of Enterprise), I feel compelled to list at least some of my favorite new features in QuickBooks Pro and above.
New! Income Tracker
Select Customers > Income Tracker and you'll see this new dashboard view of all customer and sales-related activity.
The Income Tracker includes a visual display that allows the customer to drill into each color block and filter the dashboard quickly for transactions like all open Estimates or unpaid Invoices. Also, the QuickBooks user can sort and filter the information provided in the Income Tracker and even take action, such as converting an Estimate to an Invoice.
New! Record Bounced Checks
I'm pretty impressed with this one, since I previously created my own workaround for dealing with bounced checks and put it on the Tips and Tricks page of my company website. This new feature makes my creative workaround obsolete.
If a customer bounces a check on your client, simply open the Customer Payment window where that payment was entered and select Record Bounced Check.
With just a few simple steps, QuickBooks will create or change all the necessary transactions, including marking the Invoice or Sales Receipt as unpaid, removing the deposited funds and applicable service fees from the bank account, and creating a new Invoice for any bounced check charges passed on to the customer.
Improved! Bank Feeds (previously Online Banking)
The enhancements to the Online Banking workflows for 2014 are so significant that the feature has been renamed Bank Feeds. This feature includes a simplified setup process, an improved visual presentation of bank accounts and transactions, and simplified and expanded matching rules. Bank Feeds are accessed by selecting Banking > Bank Feeds.
Bank Feeds offer all the following:
All bank accounts are in one list.
An overview of downloaded transactions.
A link to downloaded transactions.
A summary of items to send.
Matching of transactions is easier: rules are written in plain English for better understanding.
Better rules: a powerful rules engine is more flexible and automates matching more frequently.
Improved! Job Costing
Reports can now be filtered by Job Status. Also, QuickBooks now has a Rep field at the Job level, allowing businesses to assign a rep to individual jobs, rather than simply at the customer level.
Improved! Reporting Ribbon
The Reports tab in the Ribbon at the top of transactions now contains more reports such as Average Days to Pay Summary at the top of Invoices:
New! Customize View Balances
When you are using the Left Icon Bar view, you can click on Customize view balances at the bottom of the View Balances section:
This allows you to choose to view balances for accounts of all types, including revenue, cost of goods sold and expense accounts:
New! Copy/Paste Line Items
Line items on a transaction can now be copied and pasted within that transaction, simply by right-clicking on the row in the body of the transaction, or by highlighting any part of that row and selecting Edit. I've been waiting forever for this one!
Improved! Bill Payment Stub
In previous versions, if a vendor bill was paid 100% by a vendor credit at the time of the bill pay run, that bill and bill credit did not get included on the bill payment stub; now they do. Hooray!
Improved! Report Print/Preview Scaling
You're no doubt familiar with being able to scale a report so that it is a specified number of pages wide. That's been in QuickBooks for eons. However, now you can choose to scale the report so that it is also a specified number of pages long. You can combine the two scale options or choose only one when printing or previewing a report.
Enhanced features in QuickBooks Accountant 2014
Here are my top picks for the great enhancements in QuickBooks Accountant 2014:
Improved! Batch Enter Transactions now includes Invoices, Credit Memos, Bills and Bill Credits
I really like the Batch Enter Transactions feature, which was introduced last year. It was great for taking a client who recorded year-to-date company transactions in a different accounting system (or just in spreadsheet format) and bring them into the QuickBooks universe with very little effort or chance of entry errors. All you needed was to get the "old system" transactions in spreadsheet format and copy and paste columns from there. If everything in the client's old system was manual or couldn't be exported to a spreadsheet, at least you could enter transactions of the same type (the different types being checks, deposits, or credit card charges and credits) in a "heads down" fashion without ever touching a mouse in one screen and review them before recording them all. Bookkeepers, in particular, loved it.
Now for 2014, Batch Enter Transactions has expanded capabilities, offering a screen for entering bills and bill credits and another for invoices and credit memos. This offers up more ways to automate getting a client's old-system transactions into QuickBooks, either by copying and pasting columns from a spreadsheet or, if necessary, manually entering them into one screen without interruption.
Improved! Send General Journal Entries Now Support Mac Clients
Last year, we were introduced to the cool concept of QBA users sending journal entries (as a *.QBJ file attachment) to their clients by email;the email would instruct the client how to import the entries seamlessly on their end. This year, sending general journal entries to clients is even cooler, because QuickBooks for Mac clients can import those entries as well.
Imagine your QuickBooks for Mac client sent you a data file. You've converted it to Windows to open it in QBA. While your Mac client continues with business as usual, you work your year-end magic and create a bunch of general journal entries in your Windows copy of the client's data file. You select Accountant > Send General Journal Entries, choose your date range and the entries to send, (then decide whether you want to allow your client to choose specific entries to import or not) and then select Email as Attachment and follow the prompts.
Your Mac client receives the email with instructions for seamless importing of the entries, just as your Windows clients do. Presto! The entries are in. No fuss, no muss and no client entry errors messing up your skilled work.
Improved! Client Data Review Now Offers Reclassify Source Account Feature
Find and fix client errors quickly using the ever-popular Client Data Review (CDR) feature, enhanced yet again for 2014! CDR now has a Reclassify Source Account function, which handles all of the following, quickly and easily, without resorting to reports and drilling down on individual transactions:
Locate transactions written from a specific bank or credit card account.
Reclassify the source account of multiple transactions in just a few clicks.
Works if the two source accounts are of the same type (for example, two bank accounts).
Free! Accountant copy File Transfer Service
Here's a great bonus: the Accountant Copy File Transfer Service is free to QuickBooks Accountant users this year.
A Final Word
All in all, I really like the new features of QuickBooks Accountant 2014, and I'm especially excited for all of us to start using the Client Collaborator in QBA Plus, because we'll be even more indispensible to our clients than we were before. I'm also very pleased for our QuickBooks clients, because they'll reap the benefits of QuickBooks 2014's enhancements, and they'll also be benefiting from having indispensible accounting professionals – like us – supporting them.

ns product, and then re-enter summary or detail information into QuickBooks for the purposes of preparing financials.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Point of Sale Goes Mobile

Here’s some exciting news for retailers looking to grow! QuickBooks Point of Sale software now integrates beautifully with GoPayment, ensuring that you never miss a sale — whether you’re in or out of your brick and mortar location.
QuickBooks Point of Sale gives you the powerful tools needed to manage your store and make better business decisions. It enables you to track inventory, set automatic re-order points, manage customer contact information, send personalized customer communications and access detailed business reporting.  And now you can keep inventory and sales in sync no matter where you get paid, thanks to GoPayment.
So whether you’re at a tradeshow, having a sidewalk sale, or simply want to step out from behind the counter to get that line moving, your inventory and sales data will match up, which means no more manual data entry when you need to be on the go.
QuickBooks Point of Sale can manage data for up to 20 locations. In addition to the features mentioned above, it also helps you track employee hours and commissions.
Check out to learn how you can get set up to get on the go.

Checklist New Businesses

Overview of major steps critical to planning and starting a business People start and operate businesses for many reasons. Regardless of why you are interested in starting and operating your own business, you want to be successful. The act of forming a business is not particularly difficult. However, planning for and developing a profitable, growing business is a complex, ongoing process. Adequate planning, attention to details, and realistic expectations are critical to your success, especially if the business grows rapidly.

step 1:

Examine your motivation for business ownership 
Although hundreds of businesses are started each day, owning and operating a 
business is not for everyone. Many businesses are started without a realistic evaluation 
of personal objectives, individual talents, and personality traits. If you open a business 
without an honest evaluation of your motives, you may find yourself unhappy and 

step 2:

Choose a business suitable for you 
A question often asked is "What kind of business should I start?" No one can answer 
this question for you. Your choice is a highly personal matter. Businesses of all types 
are both successful and unsuccessful. A particular business generally succeeds or fails 
based on the customer market, the skills of the owner(s) and workers, and the quality of 
the products; not because of the type of business. Personal Areas To Consider When 
Choosing Your Business: your experience, your talents and your interests. 

step 3:

Evaluate the feasibility of your chosen business 
At this point, you have examined your personal motivation for business ownership and 
chosen an interesting possibility. Most likely, you are anxious to run to the bank, get a 
loan, and open your business. STOP! 
A common mistake made by many individuals is to blindly pursue business ownership 
without adequately evaluating whether their idea is actually feasible. Before you go any 
further, you need to examine your idea for feasibility. A good feasibility evaluation 
involves a detailed examination of financial, personal, and market realities 

step 4:

Consider start-up requirements and common pitfalls 
Become aware of the legal forms of organization you may choose. Learn which permits, 
licenses, rules and regulations are applicable to your proposed business. Determine the 
types of records you will have to keep for local, state, and federal tax purposes. 
Determine the types of record keeping and control systems you will need for internal 
management purposes. Determine the steps you must take to establish a legal Checklist for Starting a 
business entity. Consider your professional needs, such as marketing and advertising, legal, 
accounting and tax, insurance, and banking. 

step 5:

Develop your business plan 
Many people talk about a business plan when they really mean a financing request. If 
you are seeking significant private investment, the two documents will require much of 
the same information. However, if you are going to seek traditional commercial 
financing, which is much more likely, the financing request will usually be less 
 • A Business Plan Is: The strategic plan for the development and operation of your 
business for your internal management use. 
 • A Financing Request Is: A document you prepare for raising capital based on 
information in your business plan. 
 • A Business Plan Is a Management Tool You Should: Use to help you think 
through the development of your business and ensure that you have considered 
options and anticipated potential difficulties; Use to evaluate your progress 
against your planned business goals; Update and modify for operational and 
strategic planning purposes as the business environment changes; Use in the 
development of financing proposals. 

step 6:

Develop your financing request and obtain initial capital 
In reaching this step, you have determined you have enough personal money to cover a 
"down payment" or the "full cost" of starting your business. If should do an honest 
analysis of your financial position, without doing so you could invest a lot of your 
personal time only to learn that you are not going to be able to borrow the money 
necessary to start your business. 
Facts you should know about borrowing money to finance your business: 
 • Most businesses are started with money from personal savings, family, or 
 • Only approximately 20% of new business owners start their business with money 
borrowed from commercial lenders. 
 • No conventional lending source, private or governmental, will make a commercial 
loan for 100% of the funds you need to start your business. 
 • As a rule of thumb, your personal investment will need to approximately 25% the 
total start-up costs of your business. If you have less than this, your chances of 
obtaining outside financing are not as good. 
 • Your "sweat equity" will not be considered relevant by the lender. As a general 
rule of thumb, you will need $1.50 in quality collateral for every $1 you want to 
borrow. Checklist for Starting a Business   
Although you may think your collateral's true worth is its appraised value or its original 
cost, its worth to the lender will be far less than either of these values. Your financial 
projections must show that any loan proceeds plus interest and other business 
expenses can be repaid from business revenues. The assumptions that you base your 
financial projections on will be examined carefully for reasonability. Simply having 
adequate collateral will not override the business's inability to generate positive cash 
flow when the lending decision is being made. 
Acquiring a loan will be more involved and time-consuming than you think. In the best of 
circumstances, it will normally take 60-90 days to close a loan. If you have a complex 
situation or if the lender needs additional information for any reason, the time span may 
be significantly longer. 
Do not assume your loan request will be approved. Be realistic. Lenders are in 
the business of making money, not buying ideas. 

step 7:

Finalize all start-up requirements. You have completed your planning and have acquired the funding 
needed to start your business. Now is the time to sign contracts and lease agreements, pay various 
licenses, permits, and fees, obtain utility services and complete all other requirements.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Spring Cleaning Never Throw These Important Papers Away

Spring is a great time to clean out that growing mountain of financial papers and tax documents that clutters your home and office. Here's what you need to keep and what you can throw out without fearing the wrath of the IRS.

Let's start with your "safety zone," the IRS statute of limitations. This limits the number of years during which the IRS can audit your tax returns. Once that period has expired, the IRS is legally prohibited from even asking you questions about those returns.

The concept behind it is that after a period of years, records are lost or misplaced and memory isn't as accurate as we would hope. There's a need for finality. Once the statute of limitations has expired, the IRS can't go after you for additional taxes, but you can't go after the IRS for additional refunds, either.
The Three-Year Rule

For assessment of additional taxes, the statute of limitation runs generally three years from the date you file your return. If you're looking for an additional refund, the limitations period is generally the later of three years from the date you filed the original return or two years from the date you paid the tax. There are some exceptions:

  • If you don't report all your income and the unreported amount is more than 25% of the gross income actually shown on your return, the limitation period is six years.

  • If you've claimed a loss from a worthless security, the limitation period is extended to seven years.

  • If you file a "fraudulent" return, or don't file at all, the limitations period doesn't apply. In fact, the IRS can get you at any time.

  • If you're deciding what records you need or want to keep, you have to ask what your chances are of an audit. A tax audit is an IRS verification of items of income and deductions on your return. So you should keep records to support those items until the statute of limitations runs out.
Assuming that you've filed on time and paid what you should, you only have to keep your tax records for three years, but some records have to be kept longer than that.
Remember, the three-year rule relates to the information on your tax return. But, some of that information may relate to transactions more than three years old.

Here's a checklist of the documents you should hold on to:
  1. Capital gains and losses. Your gain is reduced by your basis - your cost (including all commissions) plus, with mutual funds, any reinvested dividends and capital gains. But you may have bought that stock five years ago and you've been reinvesting those dividends and capital gains over the last decade. And don't forget those stock splits.

    You don't ever want to throw these records away until after you sell the securities. And then if you're audited, you'll have to prove those numbers. Therefore, you'll need to keep those records for at least three years after you file the return reporting their sales.

  2. Expenses on your home. Cost records for your house and any improvements should be kept until the home is sold. It's just good practice, even though most homeowners won't face any tax problems. That's because profit of less than $250,000 on your home ($500,000 on a joint return) isn't subject to taxes under tax legislation enacted in 1997.

    If the profit is more than $250,000/$500,000, or if you don't qualify for the full gain exclusion, then you're going to need those records for another three years after that return is filed. Most homeowners probably won't face that issue thanks to the 1997 tax law, but of course, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  3. Business records. Business records can become a nightmare. Non-residential real estate is now depreciated over 39 years. You could be audited on the depreciation up to three years after you file the return for the 39th year. That's a long time to hold on to receipts, but you may need to validate those numbers.

  4. Employment, bank, and brokerage statements. Keep all your W-2s, 1099s, brokerage, and bank statements to prove income until three years after you file. And don't even think about dumping checks, receipts, mileage logs, tax diaries, and other documentation that substantiate your expenses.

  5. Tax returns. Keep copies of your tax returns as well. You can't rely on the IRS to actually have a copy of your old returns. As a general rule, you should keep tax records for 6 years. The bottom line is that you've got to keep those records until they can no longer affect your tax return, plus the three-year statute of limitations.

  6. Social Security records. You will need to keep some records for Social Security purposes, so check with the Social Security Administration each year to confirm that your payments have been appropriately credited. If they're wrong, you'll need your W-2 or copies of your Schedule C (if self-employed) to prove the right amount. Don't dispose of those records until after you've validated those contributions.

    Contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about what records you need to keep this spring.

Friday, March 30, 2012

QuickBooks 2012: New Paths to Better

As it usually does this time of year, Intuit has introduced new versions of its Pro and Premier products. QuickBooks 2012 promises to help you get better organized, save steps, and acquire more in-depth financial insights.

The new Express Start is designed for businesses that want to blast through setup and start entering customers and invoices. You have two other options, though: Advanced Setup is the old EasyStep interview that solicits more details. You can also open an existing file or convert data from Quicken or other accounting software.

Express Start requires minimal input: company name, industry, company type, tax ID, and contact information. After you save your company file, it lets you start adding or importing customers/vendors/employees, products/services, and bank accounts.

Figure 1: Express Start simplifies company setup.

An Activity-Driven Calendar
QuickBooks' Reminders keep you apprised of each day's tasks, but they don't provide any information about the past or future. QuickBooks 2012 solves this problem with its new Calendar. When you enter an appointment, to-do, or key business task (invoices, bills, purchase orders, etc.), it appears in the calendar. You can display a graphical view of the month that tallies activities for each day and lists them below. Daily and weekly views are in list form. And links open the original documents.

Figure 2: The new Calendar displays daily, weekly, and monthly views of your financial transactions.

Save Excel Formatting
Once you've formatted a QuickBooks report in Excel, it's frustrating to have to reformat it each time you run it for different time periods and/or with your ever-changing content. Excel Integration Refresh simplifies this process. You can now export a report to Excel, make formatting changes and save them, and then reapply them later to the same type of report using different date ranges and your updated QuickBooks data. Acceptable alterations include:
  • Row and column header font formatting
  • New formulas
  • Renamed column and row headers, and report titles
  • Resized columns
  • Inserted columns and rows
  • Inserted formula text
You can do this by opening your report in QuickBooks and clicking Update an existing worksheet, or by launching your report in Excel and clicking the QuickBooks tab on the toolbar, then the Update Report button.

Figure 3: This window opens when you click Update Report in Excel.

A New Report Community
There's always room for more report formats. QuickBooks 2012 offers a library of Contributed Reports, variations created either by Intuit or your fellow users. You can select one of these, like Customer Sales By Quantity By Item Detail and instantly populate it with your own data.

You can sort these templates by industry and rating, and view them as a list, in a grid, or in the Report Center's Carousel view.

Centralized Operations
QuickBooks 2012 also saves you time with its new Centers. The Inventory Center works similarly to those available for customers, vendors, and employees. It's a clearinghouse of item records and transactions that can be viewed and sorted. You can also do inventory housekeeping tasks here, like adding items and launching transactions.

The Lead Center helps you carefully track new leads that you either paste in from Excel or enter manually. You can add to-dos and notes to contact records, and convert them into customers.

Upgrading Can Be Tricky
Intuit has included other, smaller time-saving organizational and reporting tools in QuickBooks 2012, like One-Click Transactions, which lets you create related transactions from existing ones (i.e., invoice to credit memo) with one click.

There's nothing especially difficult about using most of QuickBooks 2012's new features. But upgrading and setup are sometimes quirky, and the Excel Integration Refresh tool has a learning curve. We're happy to help you start your company file on the right foot or get acclimated to this latest version.