Category Archives: QuickBooks

Speeding Up Access to QBO Reports in Excel

If you’re a QuickBooks Online user — be it accountant or business-owner or bookkeeper — then you know that when you download a QBO report to Excel using Chrome or Firefox, the resulting file name appears at the bottom of the browser window. Usually the next step is to click the file name to open the report in Excel.

However, today I learned a great new trick from David Ringstrom, contributor to the AccountEx Report and Excel guru.

Going forward, Chrome and Firefox can open Excel files automatically for you. The next time you download a QBO report to Excel, once it’s sitting at the bottom of your browser window, just click the arrow adjacent to the file name and select “Always Open Files of this Type”. Magic.

As he notes, however:

Unfortunately, this ability to open files automatically after download is not available in the Edge or Safari browsers. You’ll also have to open reports manually if you use the QuickBooks Online desktop app. The app will prompt you to choose a name for your report, but you’ll then need to manually open the report in Excel by navigating to the folder where you saved the workbook.

He also has some nice tips for unraveling automatic downloads (which I don’t personally allow — I have my system set up to prompt me each time a report is downloaded so that I can rename it and save it where I need it). For those who defer to most browsers’ default “downloads” folder, this later section of the article is particularly handy.

Give it a try! Read the entire article here:

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports – Accountex Report

Proposed Changes to QBO ProAdvisor Certification Program

Intuit just announced major changes to the annual certification and re-certification exams for QuickBooks Online. Their intent is to standardize the testing windows so that all ProAdvisors are up for renewal at the same time, and to recommend four hours of annual continuing education (recognizing that many of us already have much more stringent CE requirements due to CPA, EA or other professional designations). They also are considering switching from the requirement to re-take the same certification exam each year to opting for a shorter exam that focuses only on what’s new in QBO.

In the meantime, while they evaluate the best way to implement these changes, they have paused all requirements for certification, with the following statement:

If you completed the QuickBooks Online Certification on or after October 21, 2016, your Certification status will not expire until after we release the new Certification exam. If you completed the exam before October 21, 2016, you can complete the exam currently available in your ProAdvisor Center to maintain or reinstate your Certification benefits.

Source: New QuickBooks Online Certification – Coming in 2018 – QuickBooks Learn & Support

Troubleshooting: Is QuickBooks Online Down?

A common thread pops up on a few of the QB ProAdvisor groups when QBO is having issues and none of us can log in. Sometimes it happens to everyone, sometimes just to some of us, sometimes it’s an isolated incident. Knowing whether or not it’s happening to others can be handy in troubleshooting, so I wanted to share some default “what to do” advice —

  1. clear your cache and cookies — do this for each browser user you have (it’s common especially in Chrome to have multiple “users”);
  2. make sure not to use a bookmarked link to sign in, but rather type in the URL line;
  3. if it still doesn’t work, check out this link to see if others are reporting the same issues: Quickbooks Online down? Current problems and outages

Yesterday the system pretty much went down for everyone for the whole day, but clearing the cache and cookies and typing out the address got most folks back in… by 3 pm the engineers had resolved whatever was wrong and it looks like everyone’s going strong today.

Ultimate Annual vCon Sept 21-22, 2017

For QuickBooks bookkeepers and accountants interested in growing their businesses, the upcoming 2-day virtual conference put on by Michelle Long and Sandi Smith Leyva — two of the QB world’s thought leaders and trainers — is a great opportunity for learning and networking.

Intuitive Accountant made a good point a few years back about the value of this v-conference: for the price ($199), the content (educational sessions) and exposure to potential vendors (networking with reps) can’t be beat, not to mention the fact that it’s all accessible from your computer, wherever you and the internet are found.

The theme this year is “Accelerate Your Success”, and is much more oriented toward marketing/ pricing/ business development topics than usual, including:

  • How to price both old and new services
  • How to find new revenue stream ideas
  • How to get clients
  • How to learn how to introduce clients to new technologies
  • How to transition clients to new technologies without losing your revenue

The schedule is here, the vendor list is here, and registration is here.

Source: Join us for the Ultimate Annual vCon next week – Long for Success, LLC

Import from QuickBooks Desktop to Online — Items That Do Not Convert

Hector Garcia, one of my favorite QuickBooks trainers and a real guru when it comes to both Desktop and Online versions, recently posted a link to this fantastic list of the items that do not import when you convert a file from QBDT to QBO.

A short list of the most common items is here, but there are many more that can mess up an otherwise perfectly good transfer, creating headaches and wasted time for all involved — so I recommend using the master list as a sort of checklist when 1) deciding whether the client may be a good match for conversion (because there are still a lot of features QBO doesn’t yet have that QBDT does); and then, 2) preparing for the conversion itself.

In my opinion, there are a lot of important items on the comprehensive list that are not listed on the “most common” items list, such as:

  • The bank account number and notes are not converted.
  • For accounts where the “detail type” is obvious (for example, Undeposited Funds), the conversion process assigns that detail type. For accounts where it isn’t clear what the detail type should be (the majority of accounts are like this), the conversion process assigns a generic detail type within the type, such as Other Miscellaneous Income which must be edited later. Run the Account Listing report (Reports/All Reports/Accountant Reports) post-conversion to review the Detail Types assigned. Drilling into the report brings you to the edit account window, where you can update the Detail type.
  • The audit trail in QuickBooks Desktop is not converted to QuickBooks Online. This has been an issue for clients of mine before, so make sure not to get rid of the old file, just in case.
  • All the vendors in the QuickBooks Desktop data file are converted to QuickBooks Online but not all of their detail/information converts. The address on the bill payment check is replaced by Vendor address in Vendor list; again, clients have had problems with this — if they’re not expecting it, then all-of-a-sudden, checks are going to the wrong place.
  • Only Profit & Loss budget types convert to QuickBooks Online — no Balance Sheet budgets, which can put you out of compliance with some grants and agencies that require it.
  • Your QuickBooks Desktop closing date is converted, but the password is not. This is a big one.
  • After conversion, the Exceptions to Closing Date report in QuickBooks Online will no longer show the exceptions that you had accumulated — only new exceptions will be tracked.
  • QuickBooks Online does not support custom fields on customers, vendors, employees, or items.
  • Not all of the customer detail and job information for costing purposes is converted.
  • Attachments on transactions are not converted. Another big one for some clients — make sure you keep the final Desktop file for future reference.
  • QuickBooks Online currently doesn’t have group items.  If you have group items in your Desktop data file, they are not converted to the products & services list.
  • If you have accounts, customers or vendors marked as inactive in your QuickBooks Desktop data file that have an open balance, they are converted to QuickBooks Online Plus as regular, “active” elements.
  • You can’t export inventory from QuickBooks for Mac. Only QuickBooks Desktop for Windows can export inventory to QuickBooks Online.
  • QuickBooks Online Plus tracks inventory using the First-in-First-out (FIFO) method in accrual only. When you select the option to import inventory it will ask you to choose a date, which we will use to recalculate your inventory based on FIFO calculations (Desktop uses average cost). Again, this can be a huge adjustment for some (even though it’s a more acceptable method of costing from an accounting perspective).
  • You can’t make a journal entry billable in QuickBooks Online.
  • None of the memorized reports are converted.
  • You have to un-link and re-link your existing QuickBooks Merchant Service account to QuickBooks Online.
  • User names and passwords from Quickbooks Desktop do not convert.  Existing users do not automatically have access to QuickBooks Online, instead they will need to be re-invited from QuickBooks Online to gain access. Furthermore, QuickBooks Online has access permissions that limit the user’s ability to see and use different parts of the application but they don’t allow you to control access at the level of transactions like Desktop can.
  • Imported Purchase Orders that are closed will not be linked to their corresponding Bill.
  • Past reconciliation reports are not converted to QuickBooks Online — yet another reason to keep a final copy of the old Desktop file.
  • If you import to anything other than a Plus account you will not be able to see your recurring transactions; they’re there… but you can’t see them unless you upgrade to “Plus”. (Though for some reason, if you’re importing to QBO Simple Start, you actually have to delete all recurring transactions and templates from within Quickbooks Desktop before importing to avoid errors after importing.)
  • Reminders do not convert to QuickBooks Online.
  • Although your Accrual Basis reports will match in both products, your Cash Basis reports may not match (search the article for this phrase for examples) — it’s best practice to run an “all dates” accrual report in Desktop before converting and then the same report in QBO afterwards to make sure things are all good.
  • After the conversion, there will be at least two sales tax payable accounts on the Chart of Accounts: one for each old Sales Tax Payable account from QuickBooks Desktop and one for each Sales Tax Agency Payable account in the new QuickBooks Online (set up automatically for each jurisdiction during the conversion). Moving forward, QuickBooks Online will only use the new Sales Tax Agency Payable account, and all sales tax will be managed from the Sales Tax Center.

There’s more, but those are the ones I’ve found can cause issues most often. Make sure to read the whole list — What doesn’t come over during an import from QuickBooks Desktop … – QuickBooks Learn & Support — and consider using it as a checklist before and after conversion.

The Best Sources for Accountants & Bookkeepers on How to Use QuickBooks

Great, short article chock-full of recommendations, well-organized (Intuit Resources, Third-Party Resources & User Groups/Social Media), and written by one of my favorite colleagues, Stacy Kildal (who also runs a great program for training professional QB folks).

The only two resources I’d make sure to add on top of the ones she mentions are QuickBooks Power Hour (run by Hector Garcia & Michelle Long), as well as Hector’s own free video series, on QB Desktop, QB Online, and especially the Advanced Topics courses.  I believe his entire collection is organized here, though subscribing to his YouTube channel gets you updated videos as they’re released.

Source: The 12 Absolute Best Sources on How to Use QuickBooks Online

2017 Scaling New Heights Conference

A year ago, I attended my first Woodard Scaling New Heights conference. This is one of the three conferences that accounting technology geeks like me get really excited about — the other two being Accountex (formerly Sleeter Technology) and QB Connect (which I’ll be attending later this year for my first time). I absolutely loved it. I’d been to Sleeter for two years in a row, and as much as I enjoyed attending, one of their successes was helping me realize that I really want to be a QuickBooks-centric practice… I’m not interested in branching out into non-QB accounting options such as Xero, Wave, Zoho, etc. I only know this because of excellent presentations such as Greg Lam and Michelle Long‘s overviews — so I’m indebted to them — but colleagues there suggested that maybe SNH was a better choice for me, since it’s more QB-centric. (They were right.)

One problem remains. I’m not one for motivational speeches. I run my own CPA firm, so if I’m going to take time off work and pay for conference fees, travel & lodging, I’d better be spending that time and money learning something that will help me when I get back to the office — measurable results, real-life advice, tips & tricks that I can put into action to improve my clients’ lives and make me more efficient. Motivational speeches and entertainment just aren’t “worth” my time — I sit through them wishing I’d spent the time doing almost anything else. While we’re at it: I also can’t stand sales pitches. Nor information that is so general, I feel I’ve heard it all before. Finding the right conferences can be a bit of a challenge.

I was a little disappointed in the last Sleeter Technology Conference (now Accountex) I attended. In my opinion, there are too many “keynote” sessions… ones that are meant to “fire up” the audience and get us excited, or big names that we can brag about having seen in-person. These sessions are the only ones that are not concurrent with other learning sessions, meaning that 1) there’s nothing else to do during these sessions, and yet 2) there are so many concurrent sessions that I can’t attend because — well, they’re simultaneous. I wish they’d offer some of those during the keynotes so that I don’t miss the chance to go to more of them.

Yes, I know I can play “hooky” during these sessions — as my colleagues regularly remind me — but honestly, come on: I’m paying to be there. Ideally, the entire conference would be so amazing that I never want to skip out on it (though it is challenging, since they’re always held in interesting places). It might be different if my boss paid my way, but I am the boss! I can’t do billable work while I’m in sessions, so I’m effectively giving up my salary for the entire trip; plus, all of the costs are coming out of my own pocket. I’m not inclined to cheat myself out of much-valued education.

Furthermore, the breakout sessions offered by vendor-partners (presenters that are also at the conference expo, hawking their wares to us) are too often — as mentioned above — 1) either a sales pitch, which is no fun at all and just fosters resentment, or 2) more likely, the vendor has been threatened so hard NOT to make it a sales pitch, that they only offer extremely general “insights” into the industry that motivated them to create a solution. Except… see, we’re already aware of these “insights” — that’s why we attended the session in the first place: to find solutions to the problems we’re already aware exist. What we want when we attend these vendor-presented sessions is in-between these angles: a brief description of the industry issues, and then a specific explanation of how they attempted to solve these issues, and a demo of how it works. That’s not sales — that’s education on a particular piece of software, which allows us to evaluate programs based on how they work, not based on a marketing team’s list of bullet points. (I especially love vendor sessions that are on one particular topic and invite more than one vendor to illustrate their solution to it. That way we get a side-by-side, and can ask questions candidly.)

But the best sessions of all are offered by independent practitioners showing us how they use these various products to solve real-life problems that they’ve come across in their own practices. And that is what I got at last year’s Woodard “Scaling New Heights” conference.

Yes, as with their big competing conference, there were too many keynote “general sessions”. In fact, Joe Woodard’s initial presentation about how Poseidon was going to flood the room (but it’s okay… because he had a “magical force field around us” ???) — was so bad that I was terrified I’d made a serious mistake in attending. (To reiterate: I desperately wish they’d offer an alternative to the general sessions for those of us who prefer to focus on specific learning.)

But — WOW — did they make up for these with some of the best breakout sessions I’ve ever attended. Hector Garcia’s Quickbooks sessions were all incredible, with real-life tips and best practices. I passed the QBO certification with flying colors, no doubt in part to his training. Will English, who I initially met at Sleeter (and who writes for Intuitive Accountant), gave an insightful session on POS solutions — specifically ones that work for retail inventory maanagement. Norman Axelman did a couple great sessions on Excel tricks — he was very generous with his time and eager to solve everyone’s issues. Stacy Kildal was one of my favorite presenters, as she nailed the two-prong approach that most appeals to me: 1) new technologies 2) applied in real-life situations. Her session on QBO apps was insightful and inspiring, and I wish there were a three-hour-long session where I could just watch her work. David Leary from Intuit was one of the most sincere “big-deal” presenters I’ve ever seen; to some extent he restored some of my trust in QB. His eagerness to answer questions and explain the “why” behind big-company decisions was refreshing.

One recommendation to organizers (and DIY attendees) — I always go through the directory of exhibitors and sort them by type of solution: financial analysis, business management/workflow, inventory, publications, POS systems, payroll, 1099/W-2 prep, etc. So it certainly would be helpful if the exhibitors were color-coded by industry, to help us decide who to visit in our limited time away from sessions.

I’m headed back there this week, eager to soak up as much information as I can, and to avoid as many references to the “Yeti” of our practice challenges that we all have to face. (I’m not kidding; that’s the theme.) And if that turns you off as much as it does me, please reconsider, because there are 98 pages of training session information — and I’m just talking about the summaries of the sessions, not the handouts. Plenty of non-Yeti material for us all.

Stacey Byrne will be offering Restaurant Industry Tips & Tricks; MB Raimondi will be teaching the QB Desktop Advanced ProAdvisor Certification Exam Prep; Michelle Long is teaching Apps 101; and Stacy Kildal and Ingrid Edstrom are teaching the session that most interests me: a People’s Choice Peer-Led Apps Training that compares Fathom and LivePlan.

I hope to see you at Scaling New Heights!

Source: 2017 Scaling New Heights Schedule – Woodard

Bonnie Nagayama In Memoriam

I received the extremely sad news during the height of tax season, and am only now finding the words to express my sense of loss.

Bonnie Nagayama was a gifted and educated CPA and QuickBooks ProAdvisor who regularly contributed to our community with lectures, webinars, articles, videos, and her excellent blog… and she was a wealth of information. Generous beyond compare, and a resource to us all; quick to assist in any way possible; and eager to help make connections in the industry with an eye toward providing client value. In a statement from her company, McWilliams & Associates:

With a sad heart we need to inform you of Bonnie Nagayama’s passing on March 3, 2017. Bonnie had worked with QuickBooks since the early 90s and was a member of the Intuit Reseller Program since the beginning of the program. She will be missed by all those in the QuickBooks community.

Both Insightful Accountant and The Progressive Accountant have written short articles on her passing as well, and many in the community have taken time to share their memories online, such as Doug Sleeter, who called her, “A good friend of mine and someone who helped everyone around her.” (Bonnie was one of the chief consultants for The Sleeter Technology Group and a frequent presenter at the Sleeter Conference.)  I especially appreciated Clayton Oates’ moving personal tribute.

Bonnie always made time for me, and as a leading QuickBooks reseller, made time for my clients when they needed to purchase the right bookkeeping solution for their situation. I appreciated that she’d call when she had a client in my area who needed assistance, and our network of CPAs, accountants, bookkeepers and ProAdvisors would work to make sure they got the best service possible. She was dedicated and hardworking, but also personable and kind.  Her quiet demeanor was a calming influence, and her dedication to providing the best continuing education possible was inspiring.

She will be greatly missed.

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.)