Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Are You Using QuickBooks’ Reminders?

We can’t emphasize this enough: QuickBooks’ Reminders can prevent countless problems with your finances.
How do you know when it’s time to pay a bill or follow up on overdue customer payments or print payroll checks? If you’re still using a paper calendar and sticky notes and file folders, there’s a good chance you’re missing some important deadlines on occasion. Manual methods aren’t effective enough when you’re dealing with your business finances. You might experience:
  • Credit problems.
  • Overextended customers.
  • Unhappy vendors and employees.
If you’re missing the mark frequently, you won’t be able to get a true picture of your financial status, and your cash flow will suffer.
Use QuickBooks’ built-in reminders to avoid this unnecessary drama. Here’s how they work.
Totally Customizable
To start setting up Reminders, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click Reminders in the left vertical pane. With the My Preferences tab highlighted, click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file to create a checkmark. Then click on the Company Preferences tab to open this window:
When you’re setting up your Preferences for QuickBooks’ Reminders, you can customize each type in multiple ways.
As you can see in the above image, QuickBooks lets you create reminders for a wide variety of actions. For each, you can indicate whether the Reminders window will display a summary or a list, or whether that particular activity will not be included. For those that are time-sensitive, like Checks to Print, you’ll also be able to specify how much warning you’ll get – how many days in advance each item will appear in the Reminders list.
My Preferences vs Company Preferences
If you haven’t worked much with QuickBooks’ Preferences, you may not understand the difference between the two tabs that appear in each window. Only the QuickBooks Administrator can make changes on the Company Preferences page, since these affect company-wide settings. All users, though, can change any options that appear in the My Preferences window.
Here’s an example of a Preference (General) where all employees can indicate how they want QuickBooks to work for them specifically:
Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then General to open this window. Everyone who uses QuickBooks can set up their Preferences here, but only the administrator can modify Company Preferences.
Using Reminders
If you indicated in My Preferences that you want the Reminders window to open every time you open your company file in QuickBooks, it should appear on top of your desktop. If you didn’t, or if you need to see it after you’ve closed it, open the Company menu and select Reminders. A link should also be available in the toolbar.
Using the Reminders tool is like using any other interactive to-do list.
QuickBooks’ Reminders window displays the tasks you need to do today and in the near future. You can click the arrows to the left of each boldfaced category to expand or collapse the list.
The left pane of the window displays tasks that must be done today, while the right shows upcoming tasks. Small arrows to the left of each task category expand and collapse each section when you click on them. Double-click a task (not the category label), and the relevant form or other document opens. When you’ve completed the chore, it will disappear from the list.
There are two icons in the upper right of the window (not pictured here). Click the plus (+) sign, and the Add To Do window opens. You can create six types of to-do items here: call, fax, e-mail, meeting, appointment, and task. Each can be assigned to a customer, vendor, or employee, or earmarked as a lead. You can designate a priority (low, medium, high) and a status (active, inactive, done) to each. You can also assign a time and date due, and enter descriptive details. Each to-do then appears in the appropriate place in QuickBooks.
The other icon, a small gear, opens your Preferences for Reminders.
The mechanics of setting up your Reminders window are not difficult. What can be a challenge is watching your cash flow as all these transactions occur. If you’re struggling with that, let’s sit down together and develop a plan for keeping your cash flow positive while meeting your financial obligations.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Working with Downloaded Transactions in QuickBooks Online

Downloading transactions into QBO is the easy part. You still have work to do once they’re on board.
Its ability to download financial transactions is one of the five best things about QuickBooks Online. Without it, you’d spend a lot of time on tedious data entry, verifying which checks and deposits had cleared and entering new ones.
Instead, you can easily connect to your bank and bring in all your activity from the previous hours or day. QuickBooks Online stores this neatly in a register and provides tools for you to further describe and classify each transaction.
Setting Up the Connection
Haven’t connected your financial institution to QuickBooks Online yet? It’s easy. Click the Banking link in the toolbar, then Add Account in the upper right. The Find your bank window opens. Start entering the name of your bank, credit card company, or service like PayPal in the blank field. A list of potential matches will drop down; you simply select the one you want. A window like this will open:

All you need to do to start downloading transactions into QuickBooks Online is select your financial institution and enter the User ID and Password you use to connect directly to the site.

You will have to go through some security procedures, and then QuickBooks Online will download 90 days of transactions (you can shorten this if you’d like). You’ll also be asked which QBO account should receive the transactions. After a few minutes, the register for that account will appear, displaying the transactions you just downloaded.
Warning: The mechanics of connecting to your bank and downloading your first batch of transactions may sound easy, but if everything is not absolutely clear to you as you’re going through the process, please contact us sooner rather than later.
Working with Transactions
Once you’ve downloaded a set of transactions, you’ll want to look at them. Again, click the Banking link in the navigation toolbar. Your accounts will appear in small boxes at the top of the page, along with two balances: the one that came from the financial institution and the one in QuickBooks Online. Select the one you want by clicking on it, and its register will open.  
Tip: QuickBooks Online generally updates your accounts once daily. If you want to launch a manual update at any time, click on Update in the upper right corner.
Let’s look at one downloaded transaction to see what you can do with it. Make sure the For Review column is highlighted above the register. Select a transaction by clicking on it. A window like this will open below it:

QuickBooks Online does more than simply download financial transactions: It lets you define them in greater detail.

There are several options here, including:
  • Add to register. If you’re satisfied with the information as is, just click the Add button to the right (not pictured here).
  • Split. If you want to split the amount/category (Supplies, Tools, etc.)/class of a transaction, click Split (also off to the right and not pictured). A window will open to let you specify that.
  • Assign categories. QuickBooks Online may automatically make assignments to obvious categories, which you can change if incorrect. You can also click the down arrow to the right of that field and select your own from the list.
  • Bill an expense to a customer. Did you purchase something that needs to be billed to a customer? Click in the box under Billable and select the correct one from the drop-down list that opens.
  • Find matches. This can get complicated, and we recommend you let us work with you on it. Let’s say you entered an invoice in QuickBooks Online, and an income item for that exact amount gets downloaded from your bank. QBO will assume that those two “match,” and display them in the In QuickBooks column. You can click Undo if this is incorrect. But you can also click Find match in the transaction window, and QBO will open a list of possibilities.

As you can see from browsing the lists of downloaded transactions, there’s a lot to learn here. We’d be happy to get together and walk you through your first explorations of these powerful features.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Setting Up Sales Tax in QuickBooks Online

Sales tax is one of the more complicated concepts supported by QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online was designed for you, the small businessperson. You’ve probably discovered that many of its features are fairly easy to use from the start.

But just because QuickBooks Online can do something doesn’t mean you should attempt it on your own. Sales tax is one of those things. Depending on your geographical location, you may have to charge not only state sales tax, but also county and city/municipality taxes (and sometimes special taxes). If you’re selling products or services to customers in other states, your situation can get very complicated.
We’ll show you some of the mechanics involved, but we strongly recommend that you let us help you with this.
Setting Up Sales Tax
We’ll describe the process of setting up sales tax rates so you can see how it will work. Click the Taxes link in the toolbar. The new screen should open to the Sales Tax Center; if it doesn’t, click its link in the toolbar above. In the right vertical pane, under Related Tasks, click Add/edit tax rates and agencies. Then click New to open this window:

You can define either a Single tax rate or Combined tax rate in this window.

You’d enter the Tax name, Agency name, and Rate in the designated fields if you’re just creating a Single tax rate. In some cases, you may have to enter a Combined tax rate. If so, click the button in front of that label. The window that opens contains fields that are similar to the ones in the above image, except that Tax name is replaced by Component name. You’ll choose this option when you have to record individual elements of the tax separately. For example, Ft. Myers | Lee County| Florida State.
To muddy things up even more, some items in some situations are exempt from sales tax.

Questions about the Combined tax rate? Contact us.
When you’re done, click Save. You’ll see the tax you just created in a table in the window that opens. To define a New tax, Edit an existing one, or Deactivate one in the list, click the appropriate button. If you’ve entered all you’ll need for now, click Return to Sales Tax Owed and Recent Payments.
Your Responsibilities
Once you’ve set up all the sales tax rates required for you, QuickBooks Online will calculate them for you in transactions where they need to be collected. You can see the running tally in the Sales Tax Center, but it’s up to you to create and record payments on the prescribed schedule. You can also run related reports here.
The site bases its calculations on three things:
  • The state(s) where you have obtained a sales tax permit(s),
  • Your company’s physical location, and,
  • The customer address on the sales form.
But QuickBooks Online can’t know the exact tax situation for all its users. You have to do some detective work before you even approach us for help setting up sales taxes. You’ll need to know, for example, whether your state taxes the products or services you sell. Also, what’s the sales tax rate(s) for the affected states? What agency collects it? When are the payments you’ve collected from your customers due?
Your state government’s website should cover all of this.
Sales Tax Settings
Before you start working with sales tax, you’ll also need to make sure your settings are correct. Go back to the Sales Tax Center and click Edit tax settings on the right side of the screen to open this window:
To save time, QuickBooks Online lets you set some default sales tax actions.
Click the button in front of Yes after Do you charge sales tax? if it’s not already selected. If most of your transactions will use the same sales tax, you can set it as the default (but change it during transactions if necessary). If the majority of customers, products, and services will be subject to sales tax, you can check the boxes in front of the Mark all…statements (these designations, too can be edited in individual transactions).
You can see that using QuickBooks Online’s sales tax tools requires research, decisions, and extreme accuracy (state revenue departments run occasional audits). We have to stress again the importance of consulting with us if you need to take this on. It’s an exceptionally complex element of accounting, and we want to make it work for you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Working with QuickBooks’ Vendor Records

It’s important to maintain good relationships with your vendors and suppliers. QuickBooks helps you track your interaction with them.
QuickBooks never forgets. That’s one of the reasons you use it. You create a record or transaction, enter a note about a customer, or write a check, for example, and the information gets stored in your QuickBooks file. If you don’t remember exactly where it is, you can search for it. No more flipping through a card file or folder, or digging in drawers.
QuickBooks makes it possible—easy, even—to maintain thorough records of your vendors, the individuals and companies who provide you with office supplies, product parts, computer equipment – everything you need to keep your business operating. Once you’ve started building a vendor record, you’ll be able to use it in transactions and reports, and to simply refer to it when you need some information.
If you’re just starting to use QuickBooks, part of your setup will involve entering vendor details in the record template the software supplies. If you’ve been a QuickBooks user for a while but you’ve only suppled enough information about vendors to create transactions, consider fleshing out those elements of your accounting file as you have time.
Filling in Fields
To create a vendor record, open the Vendors menu and select Vendor Center. Above the tabbed table, there’s a small toolbar. Open the New Vendor menu and click on New Vendor. A window like this will open.:
You can store an enormous amount of detailed information about your vendors in these record templates.
At the top of the screen (not pictured here) is a box labeled Vendor Name. Enter it, then move on to the Opening Balance field and supply the amount and date. If you don’t understand the concept of opening balances, we can go over this with you.
Fill in as many of these fields as you can, then click on the Payment Settings tab in the toolbar on the left. The fields in this window—Payment Terms, Credit Limit, etc.—are optional, but complete what you’re able to. The more you can fill out now, the less work you’ll have to do later, since much of the information here automatically comes up when you create transactions.
The other tabs here open windows where you can specify:
  • Tax Settings. Vendor Tax ID and 1099 eligibility.
  • Account Settings. Here, you can select the default account that should be automatically selected when you enter a bill or expense for this vendor (for example, phone bills=Utilities:Telephone). Talk to us if you don’t understand this. It’s OK to leave it blank for now.
  • Additional Info. Vendor Type (subcontractors, for example) and Custom Fields (fields you can define for your own use).
When you’re done, click OK.
Viewing Your Records
Once you’ve created one or more vendor records, the Vendor Center will display a list of them in its left pane. Click on one to highlight it, and you’ll see something like this in the right pane:

The Vendor Information window displays contact information in the top pane (not pictured here), and additional details below.
Here’s where your conscientious work creating records starts to pay off. Click on any of the five tabs in the top toolbar to display that vendor’s Transactions, the Contacts from that company, any related To Do’s, Notes you’ve taken, and Sent Email. Once your lists grow unwieldy, you can search by a variety of filters.
Using Records in Transactions
There are numerous transaction types that require vendor information, like purchase orders, bills, checks, and sales tax payments. When you open one of these transaction forms and click the down arrow in the Vendor field, your list will drop down. Select one, and related details that you’ve already entered will automatically appear in the correct fields.
You can create vendor transactions from either the home page or the menus. You can also do so from the Vendor Center. With either the Vendors or Transactions tab active, you’d click on the New Transactions link in the upper toolbar and select the one you want to launch.
QuickBooks provides numerous paths to creating vendor-related transactions.

The mechanics of filling in the fields in vendor records and using that information in transactions are not overly complicated. But as we’ve noted here, you may run across unfamiliar concepts. We’d be happy to spend some time with you exploring this whole topic, to ensure that your relationships with vendors remain positive.