Creating Item Records in QuickBooks

Accurate, thorough item records inform your customers and help you track inventory levels correctly.

Whether you’re selling one-of-a-kind items or stocking dozens of the same kinds of products, you need to create records for each. When it comes time to create invoices or sales receipts, your careful work defining each type of item will:

  • Ensure that your customers receive correct descriptions and pricing,
  • Provide the information you must know about your inventory levels, and,
  • Help you make smart decisions about reordering.

You’ll start this process by making sure that your QuickBooks file is set up to track inventory. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory. Click the Company Preferences tab and click in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are activated if there isn’t a check in the box already. Here, too, you can ask that QuickBooks warn you when there isn’t enough inventory to sell. Click OK when you’re finished.

pic1Figure 1: You need to be sure that QuickBooks knows you’ll be tracking inventory before you start making sales.

To create your first item, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow next to Item in the lower left corner of the window that opens and select New. The New Item window opens.

Warning: You must be very precise when you’re creating item records in order to avoid confusing your customers and creating problems with your accounting down the road. Please call us if you want us to walk you through the first few items.

QuickBooks should display the list of options below TYPE. Since you’re going to be tracking inventory that you buy and sell, select Inventory Part. Enter a name and/or item number in the next field. This is not the text that will appear on transactions; it’s simply for you to be able to recognize each item in your own bookkeeping

pic2Figure 2: Let us work with you if you have any doubts about the data that needs to be entered in the New Item window. It must be 100 percent accurate.

In the example above, the box next to Subitem of has a check mark in it because “Light Pine” is only one of the cabinet types you sell (you can check this box and select <Add New> if you want to create a new “parent” item on the fly). Leave the next field blank if your item doesn’t have a Part Number, and disregard UNIT OF MEASURE unless you’re using QuickBooks Premier or above.

Fill in the PURCHASE INFORMATION and SALES INFORMATION fields (or select from the lists of options). Keep in mind that the descriptive text you enter here will appear on transaction forms, though customers will never see what you’ve actually paid for items, of course (your Cost, as opposed to the Sales Price).

QuickBooks should have automatically selected the COGS Account (Cost of Goods Sold), but you’ll need to specify an Income Account. Please ask us if you’re not sure, as this is a critical designation. The Preferred Vendor and Tax Code fields will display lists if you’ve already set these up.

QuickBooks should have pre-selected your Asset Account. If you want to be alerted when your inventory level for this item has fallen to a specific number (Min) so you can reorder up to the point you specify in the Max field, enter those numbers there (the Inventory to Reorder option must be turned on in Edit | Preferences | Reminders).

If you already have this item in stock, enter the number under On Hand. QuickBooks will automatically calculate Average Cost and On P.O. (Purchase Order).

Click OK when you’ve completed all of the fields. This item will now appear in your Item List, and will be available to use in transactions. When you want to create, edit, delete, etc. any of your items, simply open the same menu you opened in the first step here (Lists | Item List | Item).

pic3Figure 3: The Item menu, found in the lower left corner of the Item List.

Precisely created Inventory Part records are critical to accurate sales and purchase transactions. So use exceptional care in building them.

Visit www.bmcgiverncpa.com for more information.

The New Form 1095-A: Reporting Health Insurance Coverage

For the first time, all taxpayers must include information about their health care coverage to the IRS on their 2014 Form 1040.

Another year, another tax form or two.

2014 was the first tax year that the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision (SRP) of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect. That means all taxpayers were required by law to have had minimum essential coverage for all 12 months, which includes:

  • Government-sponsored programs like Medicare,
  • Employer-sponsored coverage,
  • Individual coverage purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace (either HealthCare.gov or your state’s exchange) or directly from an insurance company, or
  • Grandfathered health plans (some that existed before the ACA was passed and have not changed since).

If you have such health coverage, all you have to do is check the “Yes” box on the new line 61 on the 2014 Form 1040.

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Figure 1: The 2014 IRS Form 1040 now asks about your household’s health coverage.

A New Form

If you bought a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should have received an IRS Form 1095-A by January 31, 2015. If you have not received it by now, contact the marketplace where you signed up for coverage; don’t contact the IRS.

The Form 1095-A, which is issued by the marketplace, contains several types of information, including details about you, your policy, household individuals covered, your monthly premiums, and any advance credit payments you received (this would have occurred during enrollment).

Premium Tax Credits

The ACA built in provisions for individuals who could not afford even a lower-tier health insurance policy – Premium Tax Credits (PTC) — to ensure that all taxpayers would be able to buy coverage. This formula involves comparing your income to the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). Your marketplace should have notified you about your PTC status. However, if your household situation changed between the estimates made during the enrollment period and your IRS income tax preparation (due to divorce, income increase or decrease, etc.), you’ll need to see if you are still eligible. To do so, fill out a Form 8962.

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Figure 2: You’ll need to complete a Form 8962 to see if you can claim the Premium Tax Credit.

Basically, the IRS is trying to calculate the amount of tax credit you should receive. If there is a difference between any advance credit payment made and the new, calculated Premium Tax Credit, you may receive a refund – or be required to repay the excess.

Warning: The Form 8962 is a complicated new form, so there is bound to be some confusion. You may want our help with it.

Exemptions and Penalties

If you did not have health insurance in 2014, the IRS will assess what’s called an individual shared responsibility payment. In other words, a penalty. For tax year 2014, that payment would amount to whichever of these is greater:

  • 1 percent of the household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status, or
  • The family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (under age 18), limited to a family maximum of $285.

There are exceptions, though. For example, you may be granted an exemption if your household income is below the return filing threshold or if there was only a short coverage gap. If you have received an exemption, you’ll need to complete and file a Form 8965 with your 1040.

Note: The marketplace grants certain exemptions, while others are claimed on your tax returns. It depends on the exemption. If you think you are entitled to an exemption and have not been given one, please contact us right away.

Most taxpayers will simply be able to put a check in the Full-year coverage box on line 61 of the 2014 1040. But if you bought a policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace – either federal or state – for 2014, we strongly urge you to contact us. There will undoubtedly be many taxpayers puzzling over the ramifications of this new ACA provision. You don’t have to be one of them.

Stretching QuickBooks Online: What You Can Do With Apps

QuickBooks Online has worked well for countless businesses as is. But if you need more than it offers in some areas, there’s likely to be an app for that.

You’d be hard-pressed to find two small businesses in the U.S. that have exactly the same needs when it comes to financial management. Fortunately, QuickBooks Online is powerful and flexible enough to please hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

As companies grow, they often find that the core features, user interface, and navigational tools that QuickBooks Online offers still suit them just fine. Still, they need to move beyond the tools offered in one or more areas.

That’s why QuickBooks Online has dozens of add-on applications – apps – that focus on one specific area of QuickBooks Online and extend what’s offered there. Since they’re all cloud-based, you have access to them anywhere, anytime, on a PC or mobile device, once you’ve set up an account.

To see what’s available, just click on the Apps link in the left vertical toolbar.

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Figure 1: You can choose from dozens of integrated applications built specifically to add features and flexibility to individual areas of QuickBooks Online.

Take a look around this page, and click on any of them to get more information. All of the apps listed were designed to fit QuickBooks Online, but if you’re new to integrated applications or wondering whether a specific one would be a good match for your business, we can help you decide – and get started with it.

QuickBooks Online’s apps cover a lot of ground. Each falls into one of several categories, including billing and collections, expense management, time tracking, and customer relationship management. We’ll look at three of them here.

Bill.com automates your accounts payable and receivable. It began its life as a billing app (hence the name), adding receivables a few years ago. Though you could use it as a sole proprietor, its features are more fully utilized in a team setting. You email, fax, or upload incoming bills to your Bill.com account, where they can be entered, routed to the appropriate staff person, approved, and processed (transmitted directly to a vendor bank account or remitted via paper check). The ability to store all related documents in the cloud and maintain a strict audit trail add to the site’s security. Automated invoices, reminders, and payments simplify your receivables workflow. Bill.com also provides a close, real-time look at your current cash flow and also projects future scenarios.

Concur Travel and Expense has very tight integration with QuickBooks Online; it shares, for example, customer, vendor, and employee records, as well as job data and expense types. Your employees can either enter expense data manually or use a smartphone to take pictures of receipts, which can then be uploaded directly into Concur and automatically attached to their expense reports, along with any credit card charges (which can also be sent directly). Once you’ve approved an expense report, Concur handles the background bookkeeping and transfers funds into your employees’ bank accounts.

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Figure 2: Your mobile employees can create and submit expense reports on the road using the mobile Concur app. iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry are also supported.

Method CRM marries your QuickBooks Online data to your customer relationship management tasks. Lists of your customers, vendors, items, etc. and their associated records are available in the app, as are transactions like invoices, payments, and vendor bills. When prospects fill out forms on your website asking for product and/or service information, a new lead/sales opportunity is created in Method CRM. If a lead becomes a customer, that data is shared with QuickBooks. The app is exceptionally customizable, down to the actual design (should you decide to tackle this, though, let us work with you from the start).

There are many other types of apps that can be integrated with QuickBooks Online, including:

Constant Contact: Email marketing

TSheets Time Tracking: Timesheets and time tracking

Bigcommerce: Online shopping cart management

F|G Receivables Manager: Smart accounts receivable management

Shoeboxed: Scans and categorizes paper receipts

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Figure 3: You can upload or drag and drop files, forward emails, or send paper receipts through U.S. Mail in a prepaid envelope to Shoeboxed.

These apps are easy to use for the most part, but whenever you’re moving data in and out of QuickBooks Online, you need to have a clear understanding of the source and destination. We’ll be happy to assist as you move beyond the boundaries of QuickBooks Online.

Make Your Preferences Known in QuickBooks

QuickBooks is ready to use when you install it. But you can change its settings to make it work the way your company needs it to.

There are some features that all small businesses need in their accounting software. Everyone needs a Chart of Accounts and a good set of report templates. There must be tools to bill customers and to document income and expenses. Some companies need payroll management, and some need the ability to create purchase orders. These days, many businesses want to accept payments online.

But what does your company need? It’s unlikely that you would use absolutely every feature that QuickBooks offers, but you need to make sure that every tool you want to use is set up properly.

If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, you may have been directed to the Preferences window already (accessible by clicking on Edit | Preferences). If you’re just starting out with the software, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the most important elements contained there. Here are some of them.

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Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Preferences window. Some features are already turned on or off by default, but you can change their status.

Accounting

Click on the Accounting tab in the left vertical pane, then on the Company Preferences tab. Here, QuickBooks wants to know whether you plan to use account numbers. It also offers the option to turn on class tracking, which lets you define classes like company locations or divisions, or salespeople. Not sure what you should do here? Please ask us.

Desktop View

Options here involve usability and visibility issues. Getting them right can save you time and frustration. For example, under the My Preferences tab, you can choose between a VIEW that displays only One Window, or one that keeps Multiple Windows open. Click on the Company Preferences tab to turn specific features – like Payroll and Sales Tax — on and off.

Finance Charge

Should you decide to apply Finance Charges to late payments, for example, please let us go over this feature with you. We’ll explain how it is set up and how it works in day-to-day accounting.

Items & Inventory

This is critical: you must visit this screen if you will be buying and selling products. First, you need to make sure that the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active has a check mark in it. If not, click in the box. Also important here: QuickBooks can maintain a real-time inventory level for each item you sell so that you neither run short nor waste money by stockpiling. Check the box in front of Quantity on Sales Orders if you want the software to include items that appear on sales orders in the count. Also, do you want a warning when you don’t have enough inventory to sell (as you’re filling out an invoice, for example)? We can explain the difference between Quantity on Hand and Quantity Available; it’s rather complex.

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Figure 2: Some inventory concepts may be unfamiliar to you. If you’ll be buying and selling items, let us walk you through this section.

Payroll & Employees

Payroll is integrated with QuickBooks, but it’s so complex that it almost acts as another application. If you’re planning to take this on yourself, some training will be necessary.

Reminders

Unless you have a very simple business or an extraordinarily good memory, you’ll probably want Quickbooks to remind you when you need to complete certain tasks. Click Reminders | Company Preferences to see the lengthy list of events that QuickBooks supports, like Paychecks to Print, Inventory to Reorder, and Bills to Pay. You can have the software display either a summary or a list of what needs to be done, and you can specify how many days in advance you want to be alerted.

Sales & Customers, Sales Tax, and Time & Expenses

If your accounting workflow includes tasks in any of these areas, you’ll need to visit them to turn features on and make other preferences known.

You probably won’t need to have absolutely every feature turned on from the start. But as your business grows and changes – and we hope it does – you can always revisit the Preferences window to let QuickBooks know about your new needs. We hope you’ll let us know, too.

Contractor or Employee? How the Income Tax Obligations Differ

It’s a very important distinction, and one that can get you in hot water if you misclassify workers.

Full-time employees of companies often look at independent contractors with envy. They can generally work whatever hours they want. They can sit at a computer, make phone calls, and create products in their jammies if they’d like. They don’t have to make up an excuse to take a mental health day, and they can run errands at times when the stores aren’t as busy.

TaxPlan0315image1_zpsd68f951aIt is true that self-employed individuals have many freedoms not afforded to those who must show up at an office or warehouse or retail outlet at scheduled hours several times a week. But where income taxes are concerned, that envy goes the other direction. Besides not getting benefits like paid time off, health insurance, and retirement plans, independent contractors bear a much heavier load, as they must kick in the money that employers cover for their full-timers.

The differences in these two types of job status may seem obvious. But even major corporations who have teams of lawyers and compensation specialists and human resources professionals have been scrutinized – and in some cases, penalized – for misclassifying workers. Here’s what you need to know as an employer.TaxPlan0315image2_zpsef06b389

Contractors Contract

There’s a good reason why independent contractors are called contractors: they “contract” with companies to provide services. They work for an hourly or by-the-project rate that’s arrived at ahead of time by mutual agreement. There are numerous types of professions that count independent contractors among their ranks, including artists and writers, doctors and dentists, lawyers, accountants, and, well, contractors and subcontractors.

Contractors, according to the IRS, are part of a larger group called the “self-employed.” This larger classification can also include members of a partnership and individuals who are in business for themselves (including part-time businesses).

When you employ independent contractors, you owe them payment for services rendered. Nothing more. You do not contribute a penny to their income tax obligations. They are required to file an income tax return annually and submit estimated taxes quarterly. They must also pay the IRS self-employment tax (SE tax), which consists of the Social Security and Medicare taxes that are paid by the employer when one is an official employee.

Common-Law Employees

The Internal Revenue Service’s term for an individual who is an official employee of a company is common-law employee. The IRS has established a set of criteria to help employers determine the “degree of control and independence” that exists in the working relationship.

The factors to be considered are:

  • Behavioral. Can you, as an employer, control what the individual does and how he or she does it?
  • Financial. How is the worker paid? Are necessary expenses reimbursed? Do you supply the tools and supplies needed to carry out the prescribed tasks?
  • Type of Relationship. Is the individual entitled to benefits like health insurance, vacation pay, and/or a pension plan? Will your relationship be ongoing? Is the work that the individual will do a “key aspect of the business”?

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Figure 1: Need assistance determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor? Let us help you communicate with the IRS.

That seems fairly cut and dried, but believe it or not, it’s sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction. Some factors may point to an employer-employee relationship, while others may signal that the individual is an independent contractor.

The IRS has a very complicated form that you can fill out to determine the status of an individual. If you feel that you need direction in this process, let us help you. Doing this incorrectly can lead to problems that you shouldn’t have to face.

New to QuickBooks Online? Take a Tour Around the Home Page

Switching from QuickBooks desktop or starting fresh with QuickBooks Online? Here’s a quick overview of its home page.

Whether or not you’ve ever used accounting software, we think you’ll like using QuickBooks Online. It was designed for small businesses who have little or no accounting experience, and its user interface and navigation should be familiar to anyone who’s been around websites.

We do have to say, though, that if you’ve never used any accounting applications, some upfront training with us might be in order. Once you get used to how your Excel-and-paper accounting system translates to the web, you should do fine. But you’ll save a lot of time and avoid frustration if you learn the basics before you start entering your own company data. It’s easier to explain how things work before you attempt them than to try to untangle a tangled-up company file.

That said, let’s look at what you’ll see on the home page when you first sign into QuickBooks Online.

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Figure 1: QuickBooks Online presents a good overview of your company’s finances on its home page.

QuickBooks Online’s home page was designed to give you a quick look at what’s happening with your company’s money. By checking it first thing every morning, you’ll know whether something needs attention immediately. If it does, you can use the links provided here to take care of business.

Using graphs and numbers, the home page gives you the bottom line on your income, expenses, and profit and loss. You can click on practically anything here to see the detail behind the totals – and to do something about it if necessary.

The left vertical pane contains your main navigational toolbar. Click on any link here, and you’ll either go straight to that section – like Customers and Reports – or you’ll get to choose from a number of sub-pages (Taxes | Sales Tax or Payroll Tax, for example). Clicking on Home always takes you back to the home page.

In the upper right corner, you’ll find the Help icon, which gives you access to QuickBooks Online’s searchable help files. If you’re a new user and we haven’t done any training with you, you’re likely to find that these brief explanations don’t answer all of your questions or don’t answer them thoroughly enough. Let us help when that occurs.

Your company’s name appears to the left of Help. When you click on it, you’ll see this:

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Figure 2: Clicking on your business name in the upper right corner of QuickBooks Online opens a window containing numerous utilities and lists.

It’s a good idea to explore these options early in your QuickBooks Online life:

In Company Settings, you can make your preferences known about many aspects of the site. For example, you can establish the payment terms that will appear automatically on sales forms, and turn fields like Shipping and Discount on or off. You can set up an account with QuickBooks Payments so your company can accept credit cards, and you can choose whether or not to use Classes to categorize transactions (we can work with you on these in training).

Another important item here is Manage Users, which lets you set limits on what other staff can and can’t do in QuickBooks Online.

Directly below the two links in the upper right corner of the home page is a list of your bank accounts and their balances. Since QuickBooks Online can be connected to your online financial accounts, you may see two numbers here: your bank balance according to the bank and to QuickBooks Online.

The most recent Activities will be displayed below your account balances. You’ll see a list of all actions that have been taken by anyone with access to the site, like invoices created and/or sent, and bills paid.

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Figure 3: The Activities section of QuickBooks Online’s right vertical pane displays all actions take recently by you and your staff.

Finally, QuickBooks Online includes a handy navigational tool at the top of the screen that contains three icons. The magnifying glass gives you access to the site’s search tool. Clicking on the + sign opens shortcuts to transaction screens and other commonly-used features. And the third icon displays the most recent transactions processed.

That’s it. Your accounting workflow will make use of the countless other pages within the site, but QuickBooks Online’s home page does a good job of showing you the lay of the land.