Boost productivity by offering feedback

A research study by a staffing agency reveals that younger workers want to know how the work they do affects the company they work for. If you’re a manager, taking time to communicate the ways an employee’s work benefits the company can lead to a more involved staff. Looking for additional management tips? We’re here with suggestions.

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What Are Payroll Items in QuickBooks?

If you plan to process your own payroll using QuickBooks, you need to understand how payroll items work.

Considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.

If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you let us help you get started. QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, but there’s still a lot you need to know.

It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they’ll receive. Federal, state, and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse.

A Look Around Payroll Items

That said, we’ll give you a brief preview of how QuickBooks Payroll Items work. You must first make sure that payroll is turned on. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences, then click Payroll & Employees | Company Preferences.

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The Company Preferences screen in Payroll & Employees Preferences

Under QUICKBOOKS PAYROLL FEATURES, make sure the button in front of Full Payroll is filled in by clicking on it. If you’re interested in exploring Intuit’s online payroll service, we can tell you about that, as well as advise you on the other options displayed here.

This element of your accounting is complicated enough that QuickBooks has a separate setup tool to guide you through the myriad details you’ll need to provide. You find this tool by going to Employees | Payroll Setup. This is a multi-screen, wizard-like tool that walks you through the process of providing information about employees, compensation, benefits and other additions/deductions, and taxes. Each page poses questions, and you provide answers by entering data and selecting options from drop-down lists. In doing so, you’re creating Payroll Items.

This is a time- and labor-intensive process, one that will send you scrambling for all of the minutiae that make up your payroll system. Once you have your payroll framework established, though, as we said earlier, everything will be in one place and easily accessible.

A Useful List

The information you entered in Payroll Setup is likely to change and need modification. Maybe you forgot to account for something while you were working in the wizard, or perhaps you just want to look up a bit of payroll data. To do any of these, open the Lists menu and click on Payroll Item List.

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You can access this menu from the bottom of the Payroll Item List screen.

The window that opens contains a list of the Payroll Items you created. It looks like a checkbook register, with one line devoted to each item. You’ll be able to view, for example, its Type, any Limit imposed, the Payable To name, and Tax Tracking designations. At the bottom of this list, you’ll see three drop-down menus: Payroll Item, Activities, and Reports. When you click on the down arrow next to Payroll Item, you’ll see the menu displayed in the above image.

Warning: There are many options in this menu for altering Payroll Item definitions. QuickBooks allows you to do this, but we would caution you here. If it involves an action that we have not gone over with you, please ask us about it.

This is fairly self-explanatory. To Edit or Delete a Payroll Item or make it Inactive, highlight it in the list and click on the correct option. You can also Customize Columns in the table and perform other related tasks. When you click on New Item and select EZ Setup on the next page, this window opens:

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You can add Payroll Items by working your way through this wizard-like progression of screens.

QuickBooks will help you here by asking questions and building a Payroll Item based on your responses.

There’s much more to know about working with Payroll Items and assigning them to employees. We’re ready to help introduce you to payroll processing in QuickBooks – once you’re ready to take it on.

 

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New relief for 60-day rollover errors

One of the pitfalls of receiving a distribution from your IRA with the intention of “rolling it over,” or depositing it into another IRA or retirement plan, is the 60-day rule. Under the rule, you’re required to complete the rollover within 60 days of receiving the distribution. If you miss the deadline, you have to include the distribution in your income and perhaps pay a penalty. In the past, you generally had to request a special statement from the IRS to avoid that outcome. Now the IRS says you may qualify for a waiver if you meet one of eleven allowable reasons. Contact us for details.

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College students: Be aware of phone scams

As you settle into your fall semester routine, both the FBI and the IRS want you to be alert for calls from scammers. The calls may spoof a legitimate number on your caller ID, and appear to come from an actual government agency, including the FBI or IRS. The caller will demand immediate payment of delinquent taxes, such as the non-existent “Federal Student Tax,” or student loans, dues, or parking tickets. If you receive one of these calls, disconnect. Legitimate government agencies will not ask you for immediate payment, nor request credit or debit card information over the telephone.

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Louisiana storm victims get tax relief

Victims of the August storms and floods in Louisiana have until January 17, 2017, to file individual and business tax returns with due dates on or after August 11, 2016. Taxpayers in the federally declared disaster area may qualify for loan or hardship distributions from retirement accounts, and can also choose to claim casualty losses on a federal income tax return for the current or prior year. Contact us for details.

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Can’t Keep Up with Bills? QuickBooks Online Can Help

There are more pleasant accounting tasks than paying bills, but QuickBooks Online organizes and simplifies this critical chore.

How does your company keep track of its bills now? If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you’re still dealing with a lot of paper. You may have a paper or electronic calendar where you enter all of the due dates as bills come in. When you see one approaching, you either take out your checkbook or schedule an online payment. Then you store all of your paid paper bills in file folders in case you have to look back at them.

It’s probably pretty clear to you that this isn’t the best system. You occasionally miss payments because a bill was lost in transit or for some other reason didn’t make its way to you. Or you were out of the office for a few days and didn’t look back on deadlines you missed.

QuickBooks Online can help keep bill-payment running smoothly and your relationships with vendors on the up-and-up.

Two-Step Process

Before you can start paying bills, you have to enter them into QuickBooks Online. This will entail a bit of extra work the first time you deal with a particular vendor, but there are numerous benefits to handling your accounts payable in this fashion, like:

  • Speed. Once you’ve created a framework (template) for a bill, it will take minimal time to pay it in the future.
  • Documentation. All of your bill payments will be recorded in QuickBooks Online, so you won’t have to hunt through checkbook registers or file folders to see if a bill was paid.
  • Timeliness. QuickBooks Online will always remind you when a bill must be paid (if you’ve set it up correctly).

To enter a bill, click the plus (+) sign at the top of the screen and click on Vendors and then Bill. This screen opens:qbo-0916-image-1_zpsncgowctt

You’ll enter information about each bill on a screen like this. There are fields not pictured here that you’ll sometimes have to complete. So let’s start a conversation about the whole process.

Looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is – if you have a simple bill like the one you receive for gas and electric. You select the vendor by clicking on the arrow next to the blank field in the upper left and choosing from the list that opens. The Mailing Address and Terms should fill in automatically if you’ve done all of your initial QuickBooks Online setup. If not, you can add and edit this information.

Bill date refers to the date of the bill itself, not the day payment is due to the vendor. That goes in the Due date field. Select your Account from the list that opens when you click in that field, and enter a Description and Amount. If that’s all that’s required for that bill, you can save it and proceed to the next. It’s now recorded as a bill that needs to be paid.

Recurring Payments

Some of your bills are just one-offs,but others arrive on a regular basis. So QuickBooks Online has tools that will minimize the time required to process them after you’ve entered the basic information once. After you’ve completed a bill, click Make recurring at the bottom of the page to see this screen:

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QuickBooks Online lets you create templates for bills to use in future payments.

This screen is self-explanatory. You simply tell QuickBooks Online how much notice you want before a bill’s due date so you can process the payment. Take care with this screen to avoid paying bills too early, which affects your cash flow unnecessarily, or too late.

You have three options when you’re creating a Recurring Bill template. You’ll choose one from the list that opens when you click the arrow in the Type field:

  • Scheduled. This is best used when the details of a transaction don’t change, like rent or a loan payment. You don’t have to do anything for the payment to be dispatched; it’s done automatically for you at the interval you set. You can, however, ask to be notified every time this occurs.
  • Reminder. You could use this for periodic payments that will require editing before they’re sent. For example, you’ll probably need to change the amount on your utility bills every month. QuickBooks Online will place a reminder in your Activities list on the home page.
  • Unscheduled. If you have bills that contain a great deal of detail but aren’t due on a set schedule, you can save the template and call it up when you need it by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Recurring Transactions.

Next month, we’ll talk about the process of actually paying bills. If in the meantime you start entering bills and find that you’re having trouble completing the fields required for more complex bills, call us to schedule a session or two.

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