Category Archives: QuickBooks

QB Online Referral Pricing Increase Soon!

I just got word that my accountant-referral pricing on QuickBooks Online is changing soon.  It’s currently a “35%-off for the life of the account” discount.  Due to cost increases from Intuit, they have to switch to “50%-off for 12 months and then full-price afterwards”.  So, if you are thinking of moving to QBO from QB Desktop or spreadsheets, now is the time to do it.

(Yes, of course they’d do this during tax season. Sigh.)

To be fair, the 50%-off for 12-months is still better pricing than Intuit’s 50%-off for 6-months, but it’s not as good as perpetual 35%-off.  Please get in touch with me immediately if you’re interested in trying to get under the wire for the old deal; they haven’t given me an actual date for the change yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll get advance-warning beyond what they’ve just sent.

Self-Employed? Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes

I recently had the pleasure of being asked by Hustle & Co to contribute to their blog post on common mistakes that freelancers and the self-employed tend to make regarding taxes.  My quotes in their article came from a longer version intended for my blog — and lucky day: you can now read the full version here.

What are common mistakes that freelancers or self-employed people tend to make when preparing for or filing taxes, and how can these mistakes be avoided?

The biggest mistake that self-employed people tend to make when preparing for taxes is that they don’t seek professional help. (I’m not saying this just because I’m a CPA; I’m saying it because I see the results of this mistake regularly.) To clarify, by “professional help”, I’m not suggesting you go to a big tax prep chain and hand in your shoebox of receipts at tax-time; I’m saying that involving an accountant in your business should be one of the first steps a freelancer takes, well before taxes are due. This doesn’t mean you can’t file your own taxes… but if you take the time to consult with an expert first, you’ll make way fewer mistakes when you do. A qualified accountant who specializes in your industry can help you with so many of the key issues that otherwise might come back to haunt you at tax-time:

1) Selection of the right type of entity: sole proprietor, single-member LLC, partnership, multi-member LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, cooperative, not-for-profit, etc.
2) How to fund your business without tapping into retirement funds and paying a major tax-time penalty.
3) Setting up accounting software and tracking income and expenses properly.
4) Deciding whether to file taxes on the cash basis or accrual basis.
5) Understanding the home office deduction rules.
6) Sorting through the complexities of health insurance: what’s deductible and where; do you qualify for exemptions; how to minimize any penalty for lack of coverage.
7) Explaining the rules for what is deductible, and helping to identify commonly missed deductions such as travel, equipment, cell phone, meals & entertainment, dues & subscriptions, and mileage.
8) Demystifying and debunking what your “uncle’s friend’s lawyer” said you should do to save on your tax bill.

In other words, find an accountant who you feel comfortable with, ask them a million questions, and develop a relationship with them, involving them on your team.

The second-biggest mistake that self-employed people tend to make when preparing for taxes? Looking for an accountant during tax season. By that time, we’re all knee-deep in our existing clients’ needs, and most of us don’t have time to help you convert to QuickBooks or organize your receipts. If you haven’t found someone by tax time, then it might make sense to approach potential accountants with the suggestion that you’d like them to help you file an extension and get organized after tax season is over; you’re more likely to have good luck getting them to work with you.

As for mistakes that I see on a lot of prior-year tax returns that new clients bring me, here are some of the most common:
1) All income is taxable — not just the income that is reported on your 1099-MISC forms.
2) Speaking of 1099-MISC forms… double-check yours the moment they arrive and request corrections immediately. Don’t wait until April.
3) Keep a mileage log or recreate your mileage log from the last tax year based on calendar entries. The IRS does not allow vehicle mileage deductions without one.
4) Speaking of mileage — commuting is not deductible.
5) If you have inventory, count it at 12/31 or as close to it as you can. Even cash-basis taxpayers have to report inventory and cannot include it as a cost of sales.
6) Be careful deducting educational expenses. The IRS will not allow a deduction for education a) to meet minimum requirements of a job, nor b) that qualifies you for a new trade or business. They do, however, allow a deduction for education to “maintain or improve skills”.
7) Gifts to business clients, vendors and the like are only deductible up to $25 per person, per year. (Seriously — it was never indexed for inflation.)
8) Understand the rules of the entity type you chose. (For example, if you’re an S-Corp, pay yourself “reasonable compensation” via payroll; it’s the law.)
9) Depreciable basis on property does not include land. Ever. (If you own your own home and are claiming a home office deduction without using the safe harbor, this means you.)
10) Speaking of depreciation — it’s not optional. You can’t decide not to depreciate something just because you feel it’s too complicated. If the IRS audits you, they will reduce the basis of your property by the amount of the depreciation you should have taken, and you’ll pay gain on the disposal of your property without having had the benefit of the deduction. Sound complicated? (It is. Hire a professional.)

Warning: Another QuickBooks Phishing Scam

According to the Better Business Bureau Northwest, there’s a new email phishing scam targeting users of QuickBooks accounting software:

Victims receive an email in their inbox with the subject line, “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.” The email claims to be a confirmation from Intuit that a business has changed its name and contains a hyperlink that the recipient can click on to cancel the request. However, if email recipients click on the link, it directs them to a site that downloads malware to their device… the malware allows criminals to capture passwords and other personal information from a device.

Some good tips from the BBB Scam Alert statement

  • Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as jsmith@company.com.
  •  Check the destination of links: Hover over links to see where they lead. Be sure the link points to the correct domain (www.companyname.com) not a variation, such as companyname.othersite.com or almostcompanyname.com. Scammers can get creative, so look closely.
  • Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.
  • Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.
  • Don’t believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address.

Source: Accounting Today — Better Business Bureau warns of QuickBooks phishing scam

QuickBooks Online Interface Overhaul

Our good friend Charlie Russell over at Accountex Report (formerly Sleeter) has helped us out once again by 1) warning us that QuickBooks Online is once again changing its interface and 2) letting us know what the changes are and how we’re likely to be affected and react.

His summary?  Meh, it’s fine — it’s not as major as the last time they did this, and it’s mostly being done to create consistency across all their online product platforms (which is a good thing).  His (and I couldn’t agree more) main complaint is that they need to keep these “redesigns” around for longer, allowing us to get used to them and become more efficient with our navigation and data entry.

The full article has lots of great screen shots and step-by-step info; I encourage a quick read (it’s only 2-pages long), as these changes are rolling out throughout the course of the month, and you’ll want to be on top of your game when doing financial reviews in January in anticipation of tax-time.

QuickBooks Online Interface Overhaul – Accountex Report

Access “QuickBooks Self-Employed” (QBSE) Clients from QBOA

Big news for accountants using the QuickBooks Online Accountant program, from my favorite QB blogger, Charlie Russell:

Now you can access QuickBooks Self-Employed from QuickBooks Online Accountant. All your clients will be located in one centralized list.

However, an important warning — although you may have clients who signed up on their own for QuickBooks Self-Employed (in which case it’s obviously super-helpful to have them show up in your list of QBOA clients), QBSE is NOT a full-featured accounting program.  Furthermore, unlike the rest of the world of QuickBooks products (desktop and online), QBSE cannot be converted into a QuickBooks full-featured version of any of their accounting software.

This means that as accountants, we have a duty to warn clients and potential clients against this program.  The costs, time and trouble to “start over” with only summary info for prior years, or even higher costs, time and trouble to re-import transactional data into a version of QuickBooks that will work properly from an accounting perspective is not worth the cost-savings of starting with QBSE.

That said: for those clients who somehow already got themselves into this situation, at least now, we as accountants will be able to access their files with all of our other QBO client files.

More here, at the original article:

Access QuickBooks Self-Employed from QuickBooks Online Accountant – Accountex Report

New QuickBooks Online Reporting – A Guide

Okay, so Intuit says, “we improved reports to make them more professional looking and easier to customize.”  I am not a fan.  Any time I have to click more times to get to the data or the reports I need than I had to click previously, it’s NOT an improvement.

Nevertheless, onward.  The change is coming, and I’ve had a sneak preview for a while… I got the notice today that these reports are rolling out to my clients this week.  (You may already have them or it may be a while longer, as they tend to roll out changes in batches.)

I do, however, think that Intuit did a nice job with their guide to the new (and “improved”) reports — Improved QuickBooks reports • QuickBooks Online — complete with screen shots and step-by-step instructions (for things that should take you fewer steps; grrr).

But don’t blame me if you don’t like the new reports.  Blame Apple.  ;)

QuickBooks 2017 Has Arrived!

It’s time once again for me to share what an amazing human being Charlie Russell is.  One of my favorite bloggers anywhere and on any topic, he’s just released a new article called “QuickBooks 2017 Has Arrived! Here Is What to Expect“.  I encourage you to read all of it, as he does the most wonderful job of presenting illustrations, describing his testing, and offering real-life interpretations of everything, including the value he sees in various features.

To summarize, however, I’ll quote a few of Charlie’s responses from the comments section (run together with ellipses):

“Intuit is continuing with their recent policy of making fewer changes in the annual release of QuickBooks than in the past… Back in Fall 2014 Intuit stated that there would only be incremental improvements to the desktop product, few if any big significant changes. They want to keep the desktop people happy long enough for them to get comfortable with the idea of an online product, and then get them to move over there… I’m still waiting for the online products to match their hype.”

That said, there are some really nice changes to this year’s version of the QuickBooks Desktop software.  My personal favorites are (1) Search Improvements and (2) Report Customization Improvements, though some folks are pretty excited about (3) Scheduled Reports, and (4) Security Updates.

In addition, there are some miscellaneous improvements that are a total relief… as in FINALLY!

  • The Record Deposits icon shows the number of deposits that are available.
  • A Cleared flag shows on cleared credit card charges.
  • If a User is deleted, the deleted user’s name will still show on the audit trail.
  • Your Company name will print on the deposit summary.
  • You can copy/paste detail lines on weekly timesheets.

Now, as Charlie points out:

“Accounting professionals will have to get the new version, of course, because you will have clients who have the new version. You need this version to work with their files… but from the end-user’s standpoint, there isn’t a lot that compels you to upgrade unless your version of QuickBooks is retiring.”

Still and all, I’m pretty happy about these changes.  I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles — I just want a stable product to continue to be stable, with improvements that shave a few minutes off my workday here and there.

There are also some updates in the most recent QuickBooks Online version — but as you’re probably aware, these come up constantly (usually monthly), so they are usually less significant than the annual updates we see in the Desktop version.  (Personally, it makes me insane how cloud software just changes overnight without warning.  I like to have time to play with new features and improvements before interrupting my workflow with them.)

And if you’re not already subscribed to Charlie’s blog posts in Accountex (formerly the Sleeter Group), do yourself a favor and take care of that right now.

 

QuickBooks Online Updates

Not sure how many of you QuickBooks Online users out there follow the QBO Blog, but I recommend it.  It’s not very sales-y, the posts are generally short and to-the-point, and the information is often pretty solid.  Case in point, the most recent QBO Update review of changes, here: QuickBooks update: June 26 2015 • QuickBooks Online

One thing to be aware of on their blog is that they often like to tout “pretty” updates, like changes to formatting and styles that they feel make things easier to read or navigate.  (I generally find these types of changes to be annoying wastes of time, especially when there are serious bugs that need desperately to be addressed.  Furthermore, in their effort to look more sleekly Apple i-design-y, they often increase the number of clicks it takes to accomplish a given task — a no-no in my book.  Case in point, the new version of bank registers.  Avoid it for now, is my suggestion.

However, something truly useful they recently included is the long-awaited ability to copy journal entries!  As they put it, especially convenient when you need to duplicate long journal entries.  Of course, saving a JE as a “Recurring” transaction (“Memorized” in the Desktop version) is still your best bet, but sometimes that’s not an option or not the most efficient option.  Here’s all you do:

Create (+) > Journal Entry > Recent Transactions > choose an entry > More > Copy.

Try it out.  You’ll love it.

Also, this update allows you to import invoice styles from Word, which I don’t think is a big deal, but clients LOVE.  So, go make a client happy and tell them they can now do this.  Another feature folks have been waiting for a long time that will win some smiles.

Main point is: follow the QBO Updates.  They’re often quite useful — and a handy archive is located here: http://quickbooks.intuit.com/blog/quickbooks-update-archive/