Quickbooks Shortcuts

Did you know there are at least 60 keyboard shortcuts you can use to speed up your Quickbooks usage? For example,  If you press the “T” in the date field you get today’s date, press the + key and you get tomorrows date. .  And  any numeric field can be used as a calculator, just press the + button on the keyboard to start a calculation. Want to quickly write a check, hit Control W.  To get the complete list of Quickbooks shortcuts, download them here  Quickbooks keyboard shortcuts.

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Best Practices in 1099 Reporting

The 2016 1099 deadline is just slightly over a week away. This year, one major change affects 1099 issuers in the US. The due date for sending Form 1096 to the IRS has been moved up from February 28th to January 31. For many, this adds an additional time pressure to ensure all of the information is correct and ready to submit on time.

My clients frequently ask for guidance on best practices in keeping track of the requirements. One of the biggest headaches this time of year is trying to get W-9 information from vendors who slipped through the cracks.

The best practice, of course, is to request W-9 information before a check is issued. While this isn’t always the case, there are some other “hacks” to make this process go more smoothly.

1. You don’t necessarily need a formal W-9 if another form contains substantially the same information.You can develop your own form for purposes of collecting the same information if you include the certification requirements.   However, if you’ve received a “B” Notice for the recipient in the past, follow the instructions on that notice.

2. In Quickbooks, you can save a lot time by including the word INC or CORP in the vendor name if the company is a Corporation. Unless an exception applies (like Legal fees), corporations are generally not subject to 1099 reporting. Refer to the 1099 instructions for more information. LLC’s can be a source of confusion as an LLC can be taxed in several different ways. How the LLC is taxed determines whether or not a 1099 is issued. Partnerships, sole proprietors and individuals are not exempt from reporting.

3. If a payee won’t provide a Tax ID number, I usually send a final letter highlighting the “Refusal to provide TIN” section of the W-9 instructions. Failure to provide a TIN can trigger a $50 IRS penalty. If they still won’t comply, I file the 1099 with the words “REFUSED” in the TIN field. Keep proof of your diligence in trying to comply with the requirements.

4. If you are still regularly paying a vendor who will not provide a tax ID number, you may have to resort to back-up withholding. Refer to the link to the instructions below.

5. When requesting W-9 forms , provide the entire form (all 4 pages) there is a wealth of information in the instructions. Many B notices can be avoided simply by adhering to these instructions.

6. Use the notes field in the vendor screen in Quickbooks to keep track of 1099 issues. You can also scan and attach the W-9 for future reference.

7. Do a 1099 checkup quarterly to see which information is missing (which of course should be none if you get it before payment is issued). It can be difficult to track down vendors months after they are paid to obtain their information. Don’t wait until December or January to start tracking down missed information.

8. Save your blank forms for a few months in case you have to issue a corrected or missed form. I avoid using the IRS forms as they’ve always jammed my printers.

9. Last minute filing? There are many electronic filing providers who charge roughly $3-5 per form and take care of the 1096 filing and recipient copies as well. I’ve used Yearli and Intuit on line payroll in the past which both work well.

10. If your company handles a large number of vendors, develop a vendor on-boarding process to reduce 1099 headaches. I’ve seen a number of Quickbooks files that don’t utilize the vendor contact information fields which can be a good source of information.

11. Many times vendors are duplicated in Quickbooks. You’ll need to fix that before issuing 1099’s. The easiest way to correct duplicates is by merging the vendor names. Go to the Quickbooks vendor file, copy the vendor name of the vendor you want to keep, then open the vendor you want to merge. Rename that vendor exactly the same name, punctuation and all. A box will pop up asking if you want to merge (this cannot be undone).

12. When in doubt, read the instructions:

Form W-9

IRS 1099 Instructions

Quickbooks Reconciliations: Not Just for Banking

Most Quickbooks users are familiar with doing monthly bank reconciliations and the importance of doing so. Some reconcile credit cards on a regular basis as well (good job!). That’s where most reconciliations end, but don’t have to.  The bank reconciliation feature in Quickbooks (both Desktop and On-line) can be used to reconcile any balance sheet account, such as :

  1. Car and equipment loans
  2. Employee advances
  3. Customer deposits
  4. Retention
  5. Accrued expenses
  6. Prepaid expenses
  7. Fixed assets
  8. Prepaid revenue

Beginners/Moderate Users: I’d start using this for things like car or equipment loans (that you get a statement for or have an amortization schedule for. This way you can enter the interest at the same time.   After you master that, then I’d go to more complex accounts.

Advanced users: This can be used for the more complex reconciliations, for instance a prepaid expense account.  There are lots of entries and some of them have been amortized out, some haven’t and some are just errors. Finding what makes up that balance can take a day of spreadsheet work , but doesn’t have to if you regularly use this feature.

The most difficult part of the process will probably be finding a starting balance and clearing out any old transactions in there. After that, this can become part of your monthly close process and save all that scrambling at tax time.

To get started:

  1. Find a good starting balance. Let’s say you have one for 12/31/15.
  2. Go to the reconciliation screen and select the proper account .
  3. Enter the starting balance and the date (as our example) 12/31/15 as the account “ending” balance.
  4. Click “hide transactions after statement end date”.
  5. Clear all of the transactions to that date, the variance should be zero.
  6. Reconcile the account periodically just like a bank or credit card statement.

Using this feature on a regular basis can help save all of that spreadsheet work, hours of searching for errors and cumbersome tracking.


Top 7 Budgeting Pitfalls

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker


A lot of businesses are starting their 2017 budgeting process right now. A budget is a critical tool for all successful businesses. However, many budgets fall short of providing the financial guidance that managers and owners desperately need. Having prepared numerous budgets, I’ve discovered first hand the pitfalls and key requirements of creating a viable budget. The budgeting mistakes most commonly made include:

  1. Underestimating the cost of expansion. So you own one auto repair shop, opening another should be twice the cost, right? Wrong, expansion frequently means that overhead must increase to handle the additional workload. Don’t forget the additional managerial time and resources required. I recommend a cash flow cushion to help cover any unforeseen costs.
  2. Overestimating revenue. Just because we desperately hope revenue will increase by 20% doesn’t make it a viable budget number. Revenue projections should be based on a combination of historical figures adjusted for inflation and current market and industry conditions. Additionally, if the company has sustained a major change such as a merger or substantial downsizing, you have to consider the ability of the company to meet previous revenue levels. Generally I advise to remain conservative as much of the budget is typically revenue dependent.
  3. Overly optimistic expense budgeting. It’s easy to forget about those once a year expenses but also easy to be overly optimistic about cost cutting. You have to review historical trends here and watch out for that “miscellaneous” category. Also make sure that you have a cushion for those unexpected expenses or any known upcoming changes.
  4. Not having multiple budgets. There are multiple scenarios that can occur and you should be prepared for most of them. Create several budgets based on what the foreseeable future brings. That way you have a map if things take a rough turn down the road.
  5. Not asking for help. The employees know more about revenue and costs than you may think. You can gain valuable information by asking your employees how to cut costs and improve sales, they’ll even give you new ideas. Additionally, they’ll feel valued and will be on board for making any changes that otherwise may be difficult to implement.
  6. Not using the budget. After the budget is done, don’t file it away. Use it to analyze results and improve the process. Constant monitoring is critical to being successful in these economic times. The budget is the first step in creating a strong financial reporting system.
  7. Not sharing the results. If you’ve experienced positive results due to an employee’s or manager’s suggestion, make sure you give credit where credit is due. On the flip side if results are not favorable, be sure to inform but not blame. This information can serve as extra motivation to continue or change behaviors depending on the desired outcome.

What if you don’t have a budget or even know where to start? Most financial software offer tool (Quickbooks has a good budget tool). Budgeting is a key component in our Business PLUS Program, click here for more details.

Not Just the Numbers

I believe that every decision a business owner makes affects the bottom line. Therefore I employ a holistic approach to finance. Everything in an organization is interrelated. Accounting is just the method to report how well (or poorly) the business is performing.

Understanding the relationship between management decisions and financial results is key to improving overall performance.

Using  financial and business analysis tools, business owners need to review how each person and process directly or indirectly effects the finances of the company. If the end goal is to maximize profits, then each business process and employee has to work together toward that goal. If a bad process hinders employee performance or an employee doesn’t follow a critical business process, a breakdown is sure to follow and profitability can suffer (it often does).

Questions I often ask when working with clients:

  1. What’s your marketing strategy? Aren’t you my accountant, you know, the numbers person, what’s marketing have to do with it? Poor marketing efforts often results in inadequate revenue. Or buying too much advertising in what I like to call “spray and pray” marketing can be a huge waste of cash with little or no return. A good marketing plan with strong execution and perhaps most importantly, results monitoring, is critical.
  2. Do you have happy employees? And this relates to accounting how, exactly? High turnover increases your training costs, unemployment costs and results in lower productivity. Every time you have to re-train someone you lose time and money. Further, unhappy employees many not be as productive and take more sick days. Unhappy employees may reduce overall morale which could come out as poor customer service. Poor customer service may mean lost customers, therefore reducing revenue.
  3. Do you have good operations policies and strong execution? Aren’t you supposed to be crunching numbers in the back office? By operating your business efficiently, you reduce costs. Efficiencies are gained by establishing clear protocols on how operations are handled. Overhead is usually a key expenditure for most businesses. By managing your overhead correctly you can maximize profits. This doesn’t always mean cutting costs though. Growing companies have to be careful when planning overhead, which is where having good operations comes into play. With too little infrastructure, your company may not be able handle any more growth. Too much infrastructure may sink your ship. Good analysis and planning can help determine where you need to be.
  4. Do you know your break even point or profit drivers? Ok this sounds like your job. This is when “crunching numbers” is critical. Unfortunately, many financial professionals are too backward looking. I use historical data coupled with reasonable growth forecasts to help business owners determine the best strategy for moving forward.

By employing this “holistic” approach I believe business owners can dramatically improve their bottom line, have happier employees and a more rewarding business.

Stop the Money Leaks in Your Business

It’s almost winter time. That means you have to be careful about frozen pipes and water leaks. What about “money leaks”?  They can be just as detrimental to your business as a water leak can be to your home.

Examples of money leaks include:

  1. Overpayments in insurance due to incorrect classifications
  2. Vendor overpayments
  3. Employee time overpayments or wage disputes
  4. Unclaimed property
  5. Uncollected receivables
  6. Auto renewing contracts or fees
  7. Out of control bank fees
  8. Late fees and interest
  9. Bank errors
  10. Inventory loss
  11. Vendor cost increases
  12. Employee theft
  13. Disorganization
  14. Sales tax errors
  15. Under bidding, loss on jobs or projects
  16. Poor staff training
  17. Old computer systems

So how do you stop these money leaks from causing your business serious financial loss?  The problem is, you’re busy and your staff is busy and not everyone is familiar with the hundreds of ways your business can lose money.

For example, I listed “poor staff training” as a money leak. If you staff takes longer to do a job because they are untrained, you are paying more for that task. Worse, if they make a mistake that can affect your customers, it can cost you out of pocket.  Another example, if your computer systems are outdated and it takes more time to process transactions, that’s a money leak.

Unfortunately, most business owners don’t look for the money leaks until either they’ve found one by accident, ie. employee theft, or their business is no longer profitable.  In my experience, by implementing sound processes and  in your business by  hiring the right people, you can reduce your exposure to these losses. Also just by paying close attention you can reduce your risk of loss.

We offer a cash flow management service that can help find those leaks and keep your hard earned money from walking out the door. We’ve helped hundreds of business owners and individuals recover “lost money” and stop the leaks in their business.

If you want  more information on how to stop money leaks in your business, download our free report here. 

For a Free, no obligation consultation on our cash flow management services, contact us at 775-747-5833 or send an email to info@quickbooks-academy.com 






Are you STILL doing data entry?

Data entry is so time consuming and let’s face it downright boring. With all of the tools available are you still doing it (or paying someone to) ? I stopped several years ago. Keying in mountains of receipts, bank debits and credit card charges is time better spent doing other things. Imagine how much time and money you could save by significantly reducing time spent doing data entry. So what are your choices?

If you’re using the Quickbooks desktop version, there are several options that don’t cost anything extra. The requirement is that your version of Quickbooks has to be currently supported and you need internet access.

Bank account transactions and credit card transactions are the most common transactions that can be downloaded directly from most bank websites.  All you have to to is download it in a format that Quickbooks can read. This is usually a QBO format. This can be set up a couple of different ways. One method is free and requires that you download the transactions manually. The other method requires that you sign up through your bank for automatic download. There is usually a monthly fee for this. I’ve never paid for this service because quite frankly, manually downloading is very simple and easy once you get the hang of it.

In Quickbooks On Line,  you just follow the prompts to connect your bank or credit cards and they automatically update, every single day.

Once you connect your accounts you still have to categorized the transactions before they are posted to your company file. This is called “matching”. Once they are downloaded, the transactions go to a download screen where they attempt to match with transactions that are already posted. This keeps the system from automatically posting transactions you may have already keyed in. Any transactions not matched need to be categorized and posted. Over time the system “learns” what transactions go to which vendors and general ledger accounts. You can also set rules that re-name transactions and classify them automatically.  While you still need to categorize the transactions, you can spend more time analyzing your data rather than keying it in.

Other ways to reduce data entry

Do you have a separate point of sale system and then manually key in the data to Quickbooks? It’s very likely they have bridge software to eliminate data entry.

Some vendor invoices can be directly imported into Quickbooks from their websites once you log in.  Most payroll companies also  offer a Quickbooks download link to post all payroll transactions.

Pay-pal and Square have a Quickbooks integration as well. If you have an e-commerce site there are other solutions such as ECC Webgulity that provides a highly functional third party software bridge between Quickbooks and shopping carts.

Even if the above options are not available, if you can get the data into a spreadsheet, there are several programs that can import directly into Quickbooks from Excel. I’ve used Transaction Pro Importer, Big Red Consulting’s IIF creator and Dynamic Ventures. All of these programs cost extra and require some configuration. However, if you have large amounts of data to import, for example if you are converting accounting software or are doing a lot of back bookkeeping, the price and time to configure are well worth it. You can also create templates that can be used for recurring data imports.

What if you have a lot of receipts that are a mix of many different credit cards, debit cards  or cash? Linking the individual accounts may be difficult, however there is still an option to eliminate data entry. Shoeboxed will scan envelopes of random receipts and then provide you with a link directly to Quickbooks on-line or you can import using a spreadsheet importer. You send them a “magic envelope” full of all of your receipts and they scan them in creating a PDF copy of each receipt (completely accepted by the IRS ) and spreadsheet or direct link for Quickbooks Online.  Not only do you eliminate data entry but as an added bonus all those shoeboxes of receipts are nicely categorized, archived and gone. I would definitely call that magic!

I’ve emphasized the time saved by using data import methods but I would like to mention  what is gained. Traditional data entry can be plagued by errors but by using electronic methods, you reduce data entry errors as well. This in turn gives you better information to run your business. And it’s likely to be more timely, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t put off keying in receipts? Timely, more accurate data can be a huge benefit to your bottom line.

Need help or guidance? Please contact me, I’ve  performed many Quickbooks integrations from very basic to extremely complex including  E-commerce, EDI  and POS solutions.