Category Archives: QuickBooks

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.)

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.