5 QuickBooks Online Reports You Should Run Regularly

5 QuickBooks Online Reports You Should Run Regularly

There are numerous QuickBooks Online reports that you should be consulting at regular intervals. But you need these five at least every week.

QuickBooks Online’s Dashboard, the first screen you see when you log in, provides an effective overview of your company’s finances. It contains at-a-glance information about your recent expenses, your sales, and the status of your invoices. It displays a simple Profit and Loss graph and a list of your account balances. Scroll down and click the See all activity button in the lower right and your Audit Log opens, a list of everything that’s been done on the site and by whom.

You can actually get a lot of work done from this page. Click the bar on the Invoices graph, for example, and a list view opens, allowing you access to individual transactions. Click Expenses to see the related Transaction Report. Below the list of account balances, you can Go to registers and connect new accounts.

Other Pressing Questions

The Dashboard supplies enough information that you can spot potential problems with expenses and sales, accounts, and overdue invoices. But you’re likely to have other tasks that require attention. How’s your inventory holding up? Are you staying within your budget? How about your accounts payable – will you owe money to anyone soon?

QuickBooks Online offers dozens of report templates that answer these questions and many more. If you’ve never explored the list, we suggest that you do so. It’s impossible to make plans for your company’s future without understanding its financial history and current state.

QuickBooks Online reports
QuickBooks Online has many reports that can provide real-time, in-depth insight into your company’s financial health.

Comprehensive and Customizable

When you click Reports in your QuickBooks Online toolbar, the view defaults to All. The site divides its report content into 10 different sections, including Business Overview, Sales and Customers, Expenses and Vendors, and Payroll. Each has two buttons to the right of its name.

Click the star, and that report’s title will appear in your Favorites list at the top of the page. This will save time since you’ll be able to quickly find your most often-used reports. Click the three vertical dots and then Customize to view your customization options for that report (you’ll have access to this tool from the reports themselves).

Necessary Knowledge

You can, of course, run any report you’d like as often as you’d like. Most small businesses, though, don’t require this frequent intense scrutiny. But there are five reports that you do want to consult on a regular basis. They are:

  1. Accounts Receivable Aging Detail. Displays a list of invoices that haven’t yet been paid, divided into groups like 1-30 days past due, 31-60 days past due, etc.
  2. Budget vs. Actuals. Just what it sounds like: a comparison of your monthly budgeted amounts and your actual income and expenses.

 Warning: Some reports let you choose between cash and accrual basis. Do you know the difference and which you should choose? Ask us.

Settings for QuickBooks Online reports

You can customize QuickBooks Online reports in several ways.

  1. Unpaid Bills. Helps you avoid missing accounts payable due dates by displaying what’s due and when.
  2. Sales by Product/Service Detail. Tells you what’s selling and what’s not by displaying date, transaction type, quantity, rate, amount, and total.
  3. Product/Service List. An accounting of the products and/or services you sell, with columns for price, cost, and quantity on hand.

Customization, Complex QuickBooks Online Reports

Note that there’s a category of reports in QuickBooks Online named For My Accountant. That’s where we come in. The site includes templates for reports that you can run yourself, but that you’d have difficulty customizing and analyzing. These standard financial reports—which, by the way, you’ll need if you create a business plan or try to get funding for your business—include Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows, and Trial Balance.

You don’t need to have these reports generated frequently, but you should be learning from the insight they provide monthly or quarterly. We can handle this part of your accounting tasks for you, as well as any other aspect of financial management where you need assistance. Contact us, and we’ll see where we might help provide the feedback and bookkeeping expertise that can help you make better decisions for the future of your business.

Don’t Have a Budget? QuickBooks Online Can Help

Don’t Have a Budget? QuickBooks Online Can Help

The hardest part of creating a budget is getting started. QuickBooks Online provides tools that can jump-start the process.

You know you should have a budget. You’re aware that it can help you stay on track with your company’s income and expenses throughout the year. Maybe you’ve even tried to make one before, but you got discouraged by the mechanics or by the difficulty of estimating money in and out for the next 12 months.

June may not be the beginning of your fiscal year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a serious effort to start building a budget that can help you rein in expenses and set revenue goals.

Here’s a look at QuickBooks Online’s budgeting features.

Creating the Framework

Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that your fiscal year is set correctly in QuickBooks Online. Click the gear icon in the upper right, then click Your Company | Account and Settings | Advanced. If the First month of fiscal year isn’t correct, click the pencil icon over to the right and change it. Then click Save and exit out of this window.

Click the gear icon again and select Budgeting, then click Add budget in the upper right.

Budget QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online asks you the questions that need to be answered before you start filling in your budget grid.

The first thing you’ll do is give your budget a descriptive name by entering it in the Name field. Next, open the drop-down list under Fiscal year and select the correct 12-month period. You can create your budget in one of three intervals: Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly. If you want to populate your budget with numbers from this year or last, make that selection in the Pre-fill data? field.

There’s one more option at the top of the Budgets Grid screen that’s not shown in the image above. You can Subdivide by Customer, Class, or Location. This can be useful if you want to view budget data specific to a subset of entries in each of those categories. You could, for example, choose three customers and view only their numbers in the grid individually, one at a time.

Providing Your Numbers

Once you’re satisfied with the selections you’ve made, click Create Budget in the lower right. The screen will refresh and display a grid that you can edit.

Let’s say you’re working on a budget for the second half of 2018. QuickBooks Online brought in your numbers for January-May. You see that the numbers don’t vary much from month to month on one specific line item, so you’re going to assume that they will continue to be true (unless you know something that will affect it after May). You could enter a rough average of the first five months in the JUN field.

Hover your cursor over the arrow to the side of that field, and this sentence appears in a small bubble: Click to copy the value across on the row. QuickBooks Online will then enter that number in the JUL through DEC fields.

Budget Monthly Numbers

QuickBooks Online can save you some time as you enter data in your budget grid fields.

When you’re done entering data in all of the fields relevant to your business, click Save in the lower right and close the window. Your budget will now show up in the list.

Tip: If you have multiple blank rows and don’t want them to be displayed, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your budget page. Click in the box in front of Hide blank rows to create a checkmark.

The Hard Part

QuickBooks Online simplifies the mechanics of creating a budget, but it’s up to you to supply the numbers. There’s lots of common-sense advice that experts offer for this process, like:
• Remember seasonal upswings and downswings.
• Make your goals as realistic as possible. You might want to create separate budgets for “needs” and “wants.”
• Track your expenses carefully for a period of time so you can estimate more confidently.
• Create reports regularly that compare your budget vs actuals.

QuickBooks Online can help you with that last piece of advice; it offers a report called Budget vs. Actuals. You’ll find it in the Business Overview group.

We can help, too. Once we understand a little more about your business structure and goals, we can take a look at your income and expense history and make some personalized recommendations. Connect with us soon, and we can start you on the path to a more focused financial future.

How Do You File an Amended Tax Return?

How Do You File an Amended Tax Return?

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re doing your own tax preparation. The IRS has a special procedure for fixing them.

That sense of accomplishment you feel after you’ve filed your income taxes can turn quickly to dread if you realize later that you made a mistake. What do you do now?

The IRS knows that this will happen to some taxpayers every year. The tax code is so complex, and if you prepare your taxes manually, you’ve probably been shuffling a lot of papers around.

So, first: Don’t panic. You can fix this. The IRS offers what’s called an amended return, the Form 1040X, for just this type of situation.

If you’ve made a mistake on your income tax return, you’ll be able to file a Form 1040X.

What IRS forms does the 1040X cover?

If your original tax return was filed using a Form 1040, 1040A 1040EZ, 1040NR, or 1040NR-EZ, you should file a Form 1040X to amend that return.

What if I realize I made a math error?

The IRS will make the necessary corrections, so you usually don’t need to file an amended return. However, you should submit one if there was an error related to your filing status, income, deductions, or credits.

I forgot to file my Schedule B. Should I file an amended return?

Usually, no. The IRS will request missing forms and schedules from you.

Can I file a Form 1040X electronically?

No. You must submit a paper return.

How much time do I have to file a Form 1040X?

You can usually file an amended return up to three years after the date of your original income tax return or within two years of actually paying the taxes – whichever date is later. Look at the above image of Form 1040X. You must indicate the year of the return you’re amending by checking a box or entering a year after This return is for the calendar year…

What if my amended return entitles me to an additional refund?

Don’t file a Form 1040X until you’ve received the first refund. Once that’s in hand, you can file the amended return and cash the check. Keep in mind that it can take up to 16 weeks for the IRS to process an amended return. It may not even appear in the system for three weeks after you’ve mailed it.

The IRS Form 1040X uses a three-column approach to help you illustrate where errors have occurred.

I realized that I owed more income tax than I sent, but it’s only March. Can I file a 1040X and include the additional funds?

Yes, as long as it’s received by the April due date for that specific year. You’ll avoid taxes and penalties.

Can I check on the progress of my amended return?

Yes. Go to this IRS page. You’ll need to supply your birthdate, Social Security number, and Zip code. You’ll be able to view the status of your return: received, adjusted (refund, balance due, or no changes), or completed.

Accuracy and Thoroughness Critical

The Form 1040X is not the most complicated of the standard IRS forms, but neither is it the simplest. It’s critical that you complete it absolutely correctly, so you don’t start having to amend your amended returns.

The completion of your Form 1040X can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including the presence of errors. It may take more than 16 weeks to process because it’s:

  • Incomplete.
  • Unsigned.
  • A victim of fraud or identity theft.
  • In need of additional information.

Avoiding Amended Returns

We can help you determine whether you need to file an amended return at all, and if so, how you should fill out the form.

If you don’t want to risk going through this whole thing again, talk to us about getting you started with year-round tax planning. It makes the whole tax preparation process (which we can handle for you, too) much easier and less stressful. We’ve worked hard with other individuals and small business to minimize their tax obligations, and we can do the same for you.

 

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Preparing for 2017 Taxes: 5 Things You Can Do Now

Preparing for 2017 Taxes: 5 Things You Can Do Now

Your income tax obligation needs to be on your mind year-round. Here are some ways you can get a jump on your 2017 taxes.

Summer’s over. The kids are back in school. And soon, there’ll be only three months left in 2017. If you haven’t started thinking about how to minimize your income tax obligation for this year, there’s still time.

Whether you’re a small business or an individual taxpayer, year-round tax planning is more than just a way to make tax preparation an easier, faster process. By keeping taxes in mind as you go through every 12-month period, you’ll be able to see where you might take specific actions early that will have an impact on what you end up owing. Make it a habit, and you’ll find that it just comes naturally to consider the tax implications of purchase and sales decisions.

Create a System

Effective tax planning requires more than just saving receipts and organizing tax-related documents in physical or digital file folders – though that’s a good start. Create a system in early January that you can maintain throughout the year (of course, a lot of your information will be stored in your accounting or personal finance application, if you use one). But you should be saving statements, receipts, sales forms – anything related to your income and expenses that will eventually feed into IRS forms or schedules.

Evaluate Your Expense-Tracking

Businesses: How do you—and your employees, if you have them—keep track of daily expenses? You may have forms like purchase orders and bills for the big ones, but you probably buy things on occasion that are just documented by paper receipts. How do you categorize and organize these so you won’t miss any when it’s time to complete a Schedule C? Is there a better way?

Do any of your employees make trips on behalf of your business? You really should consider subscribing to an online service that automates the process of creating and approving expense reports. If you’re not aware of these options, ask us.

Know Your Tax Forms

Individuals and businesses file some of the same forms and schedules, but some, of course, are different. Your previous years’ tax returns can be good resources for you. Refer to them occasionally as you go through the year and do some comparing, especially if you must pay quarterly estimated taxes. You may not remember from year to year what’s deductible and what’s not. Revisiting your returns will jog your memory and remind you.

 

Consider Generosity

Are you having a good year? You’ll have an idea of how your financial health is if you’re keeping up with income and expenses. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to do any charitable giving that you’re going to do (although it’s usually best to hold off until the fourth quarter).

Learn How Changes Will Affect Your Taxes

This is so important for individual taxpayers. Did you get married or divorced, or have a child? Did you move? Buy or sell a home? Get a raise or, conversely, lose regular income for some reason? Did you have educational expenses? All these life events—and more—can change your income tax obligation.

Businesses often experience major changes, too, and your financial state at the end of the year is way harder to predict than it is for an individual with W-2 income. Stay on top of the impact of deviations in income and expenses created by events like the introduction of new products (or the loss of existing ones), personnel fluctuations, and major acquisitions.

Comprehensive Planning

Tax planning should be an element of your overall financial planning. If you have a business or household budget, you’re way ahead of the game. You can compare your actual income and expenses every month to those you built into your budget. A budget can be a tremendous tool as you plan for the current year’s taxes. If you’ve never created one, or if you’ve never stuck to one successfully, we can help you with this.

We’d also be happy to work with you periodically throughout the year on taxes. We can get you set up with financial software if you’re not already using it and advise you on ways to work toward minimizing your 2017 obligation now.

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Tax-Deductible Expenses: Are You Recording All of Them?

Tax-Deductible Expenses: Are You Recording All of Them?

2017 income tax preparation seems a long way off. Make it easier by tracking all the deductions you can take.

You’ve heard it said before: Tax planning should be a year-round process. It’s so true. Your life will be a lot easier early next year when all your tax forms start rolling in.

Forms like 1099s and W-2s do a lot of the tracking for you. You only need to transfer data over to your IRS tax forms and schedules. But what about the daily stuff, the expenses you incur as a part of your workday that no one else is documenting? There are a lot of tax-deductible costs that can really add up when it’s time to file.

The IRS has two criteria for evaluating the validity of business expenses. First, is it ordinary? Is it something that other companies in your trade or profession would commonly buy? Second, is it necessary? Is it “…helpful and appropriate?”

Warning: Some expenses that you think might be deductible are not. Obviously, you can’t claim the costs of personal items. The IRS specifies two other types of expenses that can’t be deducted: Capital Expenses and those used the calculate the Cost of Goods Sold. Questions? Ask us.

Pulling together all that numbers required for the IRS Schedule C can be challenging. Let us know if you have questions.

Here are some examples of expenses that you might not consider, but which should be recorded as they occur so you don’t forget about them come tax time.

Advertising and promotion

Some of these expenses are obvious. For example, you might report printing costs for brochures, ad space bought, and postage for mailers and other business correspondence. But there’s much more that fits into this category. Think about everything you do that helps promote your business, like expenses related to:

  • Business cards
  • Team sponsorships
  • Your website (including start-up and maintenance fees)
  • Graphic design
  • Workshops/Webinars

Insurance

Do you have any kind of business insurance, like liability or malpractice? Your premiums are deductible.

Car and truck expenses

Understandably, you can only deduct expenses for miles driven for business purposes. If you have a vehicle—either owned or leased—that you also use for personal driving part of the time, you’ll need to track those two separately.

There are two options for calculating business mileage: Actual Expenses and Standard Mileage. To calculate the latter, you’d multiply the number of business miles driven by 53.5 cents for the tax year 2017, then add tolls and parking fees. The Actual Expense method is more complicated; it involves many costs and recognizes depreciation of the vehicle. Check with us if you’re planning to claim expenses for a car or truck, as there are additional rules governing this deduction.

Postage and office supplies

Yes, they’re deductible if you need them for your business.

Meals and entertainment

Familiarize yourself with the rules for this one. They’re complicated, and the IRS looks closely at such deductions.

Business use of your home

Ditto. There are all kinds of regulations, restrictions, and exceptions here, even if you use the simplified method that the IRS introduced a few years ago. Further, the home office deduction can be an audit red flag.

The rules are very specific and very rigid. For example, even if you use your home’s land line for business, you can’t deduct it. Add another line for business, and you can.

Professional and legal fees

If you pay an individual or firm for services provided to help you operate your business, those fees are often deductible. This includes lawyers, accountants, and tax preparers, of course, but as always, there are exceptions. You can’t usually, for example, deduct attorneys’ fees if you were getting legal help to buy business assets.

Dealing with Details

As you can see, there are many allowable business expenses that require meticulous record keeping. You can, of course, do this on paper or in a spreadsheet. There are cloud-based applications specifically designed for this purpose. If you’re interested in checking these out, let us know. We’re always available to help you plan for future tax filings.

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Hired Your First Employee? Your Tax Obligations

Hired Your First Employee? Your Tax Obligations

It’s a major milestone for you, but it comes with a lot of paperwork that must be done correctly. Bringing a new employee into your business is a reason to celebrate. You’ve done well enough as a sole proprietor that you can’t handle the workload by yourself anymore. Onboarding your first worker, though, comes with a great deal of extra effort for you at first. You have to show him or her the ropes so you can offload some of the extra weight you’ve been carrying.

But first things first. Before your employee even shows up for the first day of work, you should have assembled all the paperwork required to keep you compliant with the IRS and other federal and state agencies.
A New Number
As a one-person company, you’ve been using your Social Security number as your tax ID. You’re an employer now, so you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for one here.
 
The IRS’s EIN Assistant walks you through the process of applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Once you’ve completed the steps in the IRS’s EIN Assistant, you’ll receive your EIN right away, and can start using it to open a business bank account, apply for a business license, etc.
You’ll also need an EIN before you start paying your employee. It’s required on the Form W-4. If you’ve ever worked for a business yourself, you’ve probably filled out this form. As an employer now, you should provide one to your new hire on the first day. When it’s completed, it will help you determine how much federal income tax to withhold every payday. If you’re not bringing in a full-time employee but, rather, an independent contractor, you won’t be responsible for withholding and paying income taxes for that individual. You’ll need to supply him or her with a Form W-9.
Note: Payroll processing is probably the most complex element of small business accounting. If you don’t have any experience with it, you’ll probably want to use an online payroll application. After you’re set up on one of these websites, you enter the hours worked every pay period. The site calculates tax withholding and payroll taxes due, then prints or direct deposits paychecks. Let us know if you want some guidance on this.
Don’t forget about state taxes if your state requires them, and any local obligations. The IRS maintains a page with links to each state’s website. You can get information about doing business in your geographical area, which includes taxation requirements.
More Forms
You also have to be in contact with your state to report a new hire (same goes if you ever re-hire someone). The Small Business Administration (SBA) can be helpful here, as it is in many other aspects of managing a small business. The organization maintains a list of links to state entities here.
All employees are required to fill out a Form I-9 on the first day of a new job.
New employees must also prove that they’re legally eligible to work in the United States. To do this, they complete a Form I-9 from the Department of Homeland Security. As their employer, you’re charged with verifying that the information provided is accurate by looking at one or a combination of documents (U.S. Passport, driver’s license and birth certificate, etc.). By signing this form, you’re stating that you’ve done that.
You can also use the U.S. government’s E-Verify online tool to confirm eligibility.
A Helping Hand
The Department of Labor has a great website for new employers. The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor helps employers understand what DOL federal employment laws apply to them and what record keeping they’re required to do.
Please consider us a resource, too, as you take on a new employee. Preparing for a complex new set of tax obligations will be a challenge. We’d like to see you get everything right from the start.

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