Category Archives: Software

2/28/17 CCH Webinar on S-Corp Reasonable Compensation for Shareholder-Employees

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on S-Corp “reasonable compensation” — a hot audit topic at the IRS these days — for quite some time… in fact, ever since discovering my favorite app of the year, RCReports, which has been a real game-changer for my practice and my S-Corp clients.

(Note: RCReports has its own series of webinars, which I can personally recommend.)

However, being in the bowels of tax season, for now I’m just going to encourage you to attend this CCH webinar on the topic, coming up on Feb 28, 2017 at noon Central-time:

Learn how the IRS determines “reasonable” compensation for S corp shareholder-employees: in this two-hour CPE webinar, business taxation expert Eric Wallace, CPA, will look at the latest developments in this hot area of dispute between taxpayers and the IRS.Mr. Wallace will review the latest legal and regulatory developments and provide practical guidance.

Spread the word to your S-Corp clients and colleagues who work with them.

Source: CCH® Webinars: February 28, 2017 – S Corp Reasonable Compensation for Shareholder-Employees

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.


2016 Tax Software Survey

Great article, as it is every year, from The Tax Adviser on the pros and cons of the top professional tax software packages.  Definitely worth a read if you are in the industry!  Check it out here.

Personally, I use ATX (the “MAX” package) and would have to say that the survey results are yet again spot-on.  It wins points for price and ease-of-use, but loses them for accuracy and support.

Let me know your thoughts about your own software package in the comments.

CPAs rated the tax preparation software they used in 2016 and how it handled common tasks.

Source: 2016 Tax Software Survey

IRS — Making Quarterly Tax Payments Easier

My clients and colleagues are always amazed by my attitude about the IRS — fact is, I really think they do an incredible job, given the nature of their work and the constant budget constraints dealt them by Congress.

I’m sharing a couple examples today that relate to upcoming quarterly estimated tax payments.

The IRS manages to stay fairly up-to-date with technology, compared to most federal and state government agencies, at least.  It used to be such a pain to sign up for EFTPS and make payments, but now they offer “Direct Pay,” where you can both make and look up payments.

They also offer a mobile app, known as the “IRS2Go Mobile App,” which you can use to look up refund status, as well as to access the Direct Pay feature I just mentioned.

Considering the challenges the IRS is always up against, I think they do a great job, on the whole; and I, for one, am pretty jazzed about these new technological features.  Way to go, IRS!

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: