Blogs

QuickBooks Online (QBO) Sales Tax Tools: The Basics

Are you paying the correct amount of sales tax to the proper agencies?

QuickBooks Online can handle the mechanics for you. Its sales tax tools are quite simple; they help set up both single and combined (up to five) rates. Then when you create invoices and other sales forms, you can select the appropriate rate(s). The tool does the necessary calculations and includes sales tax in the totals. It also keeps a running tally of how much you owe to taxing agencies.

Bear in mind, though, that absolute accuracy is required for this often-confusing process. States have their own individual requirements, and in some geographical areas, you’ll have to charge county and/or municipal sales tax. So before you start entering rates and charging customers, you  should sit down with your accountant and go over issues like:

  • Whether you need a sales tax permit,
  • How to handle sales in other states,
  • What transactions are exempt from sales tax, and
  • How often — and to whom — you submit the money you’ve collected from customers.
Sept 2015 QBO Fig. 1
Figure 1: QBO simplifies the mechanics of charging sales tax, but let us work with you before you start.
 
This element of accounting is so critical that QBO includes a special section devoted to it. To get to the Sales Tax Center, you’d click on Sales Tax in the site’s toolbar. The page that opens will eventually display information about the sales tax you owe for a specific period and recent payments you’ve made.
 
It’s the Related Tasks over to the right that we’ll address first. The Edit sales tax settings link opens a small window that asks whether you charge sales tax. It also wants to know whether you want to specify one rate as your default — the rate that fills in automatically when you enter a taxable item on a sales form — and whether all customers, products, and services should be considered taxable. 
 
Note: Even if you choose a default tax rate, you’ll be able to change it on individual forms as needed.
 Sept 2015 QBO Fig. 2
Figure 2: SBS will review review your site settings with you and ensure all are set up properly.
 
QuickBooks Online will now include a Tax column on sales forms like invoices. After you’ve entered all of your taxable items, you’d look below the line over to the right that says Taxable subtotal. Directly below that is a field where the sales tax rate should appear. 
 
If you’ve created rates and they aren’t showing, you’d click the up-and-down arrow to display the list. Either select the appropriate one or click +Add new. QBO would then multiply the taxable subtotal by your tax percentage and enter the result in the box to the right.
 Sept 2015 QBO Fig. 1

Figure 3: Once you’ve entered all of your items and/or services and you have a taxable subtotal, QBO will calculate the sales tax payable based on the rate selected.

When you want to see the balance of your sales tax obligation(s) to date, you can run three reports designed to display this information:

  • Taxable Sales Summary shows a summary of all of the sales to which you’ve assigned a tax rate in your sales forms
  • Sales Tax Liability Report tells you what you’ve collected in sales tax, as well as what you owe to taxing agencies.
  • Taxable Sales Detail is a more comprehensive version of the Taxable Sales Summary report. Its columns include Date, Transaction Type, Customer, Quantity, Rate,Amount,and Balance.

When sales taxes are due, you will pay them directly from the Sales Tax Center. Its Sales Tax Owed table will display the amounts you owe and to whom. If they’re recorded as a paid bill or a check, they won’t appear in the Recent Sales Tax Payments table.

We can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of correctly setting up your sales taxes from the start or of meeting the deadlines that your local taxing agencies enforce. Call us at 256-337-5200 when you want to start implementing this element of QuickBooks Online (QBO). We’re here to make all things QuickBooks easy for you.

 
The “QB Bob” Team
256-337-5200

Accelerating Customer Payments using QuickBooks

You’re meeting your sales goals. Keeping inventory balanced. Making sure that every billable hour gets invoiced. Taking advantage of vendor discounts. Basically, doing everything in your power to keep cash flow humming, but you can’t control how quickly your customers pay you.

Below are Three QuickBooks Tools to:

  • Make it easier for customers to remit their payments,
  • Remind customers about unpaid balances, and
  • Keep a close eye on unpaid invoices.
August 2015 QBC Fig. 1 Figure 1: QuickBooks lets you accept payments from customers in multiple forms. Accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to speed up your receivables.

 Tool Number 1 – Process Plastic

You can, of course, offer customers a discount for paying early. That may work in some cases, but accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to be more effective. It also has other positive impacts on your business, including:

A more professional image. What do you think when you purchase goods or services from a business that doesn’t accept credit cards? In 2015, this is unusual. It may make customers wonder why, and you work too hard to preserve your reputation to give anyone reason to question your standing.

Time savings for you. How much time do you spend logging checks and running to the bank with deposits? It’s must faster to simply record a credit card payment.

Convenience and goodwill for customers.  Your customers will appreciate the time that they’ll save, which translates to a feather in your cap.

There are extra costs associated with setting up what’s called a “merchant/payments account.” You’ll have to learn how to set up an account and process payments, but once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to invoice customers in QuickBooks and let them pay immediately by credit card. If you ever have occasion to accept payments out of the office, you’ll be able to use your smartphone or tablet to accept them.

We’d like to see you take this positive step for your business, so let us know when you’re ready. Call us at 256-337-5200 so we can get you a merchant account and help with setup and implementation.

Tool Number 2 – Send Statements

August 2015 QBC Fig. 2 Figure 2: You have a lot of options to choose from when you create statements in QuickBooks.

This may be an area of QuickBooks you’ve never explored. Statements are just what they sound like: detailed summaries of what each customer owes over a period of time that you email or print and send by U.S. Mail.

QuickBooks makes this very easy. Start by either clicking the Statements icon on the home page or by opening the Customers menu and selecting Create Statements. The window above appears, laying out the three steps required:

  1. SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS. Be sure that the Statement Date is correct. Then indicate whether you want your statements to include transactions within a specified date range or all transactions that are past due by more than a specified number of days.
  2. SELECT CUSTOMERS. You can generate statements for one customer, all customers, or a designated group in between.
  3. SELECT ADDITIONAL OPTIONS. You’ll have several decisions to make here about your statements’ content and appearance. Let us know if you have questions or need training–we’re here to teach you what you don’t know you don’t know–call us at 256-337-5200.

Tool Number 3 – Track Outstanding Receivables

August 2015 QBC Fig. 3
Figure 3: When you create the Open Invoices report, make sure that the Aging and Open Balance columns will display.

As a small business owner/manager, there are certain QuickBooks reports that you should be looking at frequently. One of them, Open Invoices, gives you an instant status update on your outstanding receivables. But it’s important that you set up the report to give you the exact information you need.

Open the Reports menu and select Customers & Receivables | Open Invoices. If you need to change the date range, click the down arrow to the right of the Dates field in the upper left to display your options and choose. Then click Customize Report above that. The window pictured above opens. Grab the scroll bar under COLUMNS and move it down until you see Aging and Open Balance. If there are no check marks in front of them, click in the column to create them.

There are other reports you’ll want to look at regularly as you try to accelerate incoming customer payments, like A/R Aging Summary and A/R Aging Detail. If we’re not already working with you on reports, creating and analyzing the critical financial reports that we should be generating monthly or quarterly, let’s set up a meeting. We can give your copy of QuickBooks a QB Bob Health Check at the same time to ensure that you can keep accepting those payments accurately.


The “QB Bob” Team
256-337-5200

QuickBooks Online (QBO) – Managing User Permissions

To get started, click on your company name in the upper right of the screen, and then click Manage Users. Click New to open the mini-interview.

August 2015 QBO Fig. 1
Figure 1: You have four access level options when you’re setting up a new user in QuickBooks Online.

The first screen of the mini-interview explains the four user types available. They are:

1.  Regular or custom user. You’d assign this to staff who will be working with accounts receivable and/or payable but don’t need access to anything else.

2.  Company administrator. This will be you or a trusted employee. The individual with this role has access to the entire site and all actions.

3.  Reports only. Just like the name says, users at this level can only view reports. They cannot, however, see payroll reports or any that contain contact information for customers, vendors, or employees.

4.  Time Tracking only. You can give employees and vendors access to timesheets only, so that they can complete and edit their own.

Note: The latter two designations do not count toward the user limit you chose when you signed up for QuickBooks Online. In addition, you can invite up to two accounting or bookkeeping firms.

Select Regular or custom user, then Next. This is the only access level that allows you to set limits. Other levels are already established.

August 2015 QBO Fig. 2
Figure 2: If you’ve selected Regular or custom user for an employee, you have some control over the areas he or she can access.
  • If you click the button in front of Limited, then put a check mark in front of Customers and Sales, the employee will be able to access all add, edit, and delete QuickBooks Online records. In addition, he or she can work with some transactions and forms, as well as view reports and registers. There are many restricted areas and functions at this level, including check-printing, inventory adjustments, and payroll data access.
  • Employees who will be working with Vendors & Purchases have a similar role on the vendor side.
  • If you want an employee or vendor to be able to access his or her own timesheet but no other areas of QuickBooks Online, you would choose None.
  • The All designation is reserved for users who have all of the access rights described above. They can also, for example, do some payroll tasks, make deposits and transfer funds, and work with budgets.

Click Next after you’ve selected an access level. The next window will display the user’s administrative rights, unless he or she is an employee or vendor who will only have access to timesheets. In those cases, there will be an additional window first that contains a drop-down list consisting of employee and vendor names. 

August 2015 QBO Fig. 3

Figure 3: Administrators should be very careful when assigning their users’ administrative rights. 

Once you’ve assigned administrative rights, click Next to “invite” the individual to QuickBooks Online (QBO) in the specified role. Enter the name and email, then click Next. The user will receive an email containing a link to a page where he or she can select a user ID (or enter an existing Intuit Business Services ID).

When your users have accepted the invitation and logged in, their status on your Manage Users page will change from Invited to Active.

 If you would like to discuss access levels with us, please call Small Business Solutions (SBS) at 256-337-5200. It’s one thing to see a list of permissions, but it’s quite another to determine whether a specific role can put you at risk for critical errors – or worse.


The “QB Bob” Team
256-337-5200

Receiving Payments in QuickBooks

QuickBooks comes with some helpful pre-defined payment types; however, you also have the flexibility to edit that list and add new types. To see your list, open the Lists menu and select Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window opens:

Figure 1: QuickBooks lets you accept payments from customers in a variety of ways.

To make changes to this list, click the down arrow to the right of Payment Method. By selecting items from this menu, you can add, edit, and delete payment methods. You can also make one temporarily inactive if for some reason you’re not going to support that option right now but don’t want to delete it, either. Click in the box next to Include Inactive if you want it to remain on the list (an X will appear next to it). When you want to reinstate it, open the Payment Method menu again and select Make Payment Method Active.

To search for every transaction that used a specific payment method, highlight it in the list and select Find in Transactions. QuickBooks will open the Find window with that filter already applied.

When you’re done working with that window, click the x in the upper right to close it.

Applying Funds

Ideally, you or a dedicated staff member will be working frequently with the Receive Payments screen. To get there, open the Customers menu and select Receive Payments, or click Receive Payments on the home page. This is the screen you will work with if you’re recording a payment that is to be applied to an invoice that you sent.

July 2015 News Fig 2

Figure 2: The Receive Payments screen in QuickBooks

First, select a customer by clicking on the down arrow in the field to the right of RECEIVED FROM. If there are outstanding invoices, they will appear in the table below. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT in the field below, and change the date if necessary. 

Click on the icon representing the payment method. If you don’t see it there, click the down arrow below MORE and add or select it. Your chosen icon will turn green. Then:

  • For cash or e-checks: Just enter any REFERENCE # needed.
  • For checks: Enter the CHECK #.
  • For credit/debit cards: If you’ve saved the customer’s preferred payment method in his or her record, the number will fill in automatically. If not, or if you need to change it, enter it manually. As you know, you need a merchant account in order to accept credit/debit cards and e-checks. If you haven’t set one up and want to, call us at 256-337-5200.

If the payment amount equals the total of all outstanding invoices, there will be a check mark in the first column of every line in the table. If the payment is for any less than the CUSTOMER BALANCE in the upper right, QuickBooks automatically pays the oldest invoice(s) first. You’ll also see an UNDERPAYMENT box in the lower left corner. Click the button in front of your preference here (leave as underpayment or write off the extra).

When you’re done, click one of the Save buttons.

Other Types of Payments

You’ll also use the Receive Payments window to record down payments and over payments. There may be situations where you’ll have to complete other forms to document the incoming money. For example, if a customer makes a partial payment for products or services that haven’t yet been invoiced, you’d use a Payment Item. A customer who pays for a product at the time it is received would get a Sales Receipt.

July 2015 News Fig 3Figure 3: Sales receipts go to customers who pay for products or services at the time they are received.

This may all sound a little confusing–it won’t be if you gain a thorough understanding of the right way to record different types of payments. We can go over all of this with you to ensure that your incoming money is documented correctly, which will take less time than trying to retrace your steps when a mistake has occurred.  Need more help? Call Small Business Solutions (SBS) LLC at 256-337-5200.  “We’re here to teach you what you don’t know you don’t know,” says ‘QB Bob.’ “


The “QB Bob” Team
256-337-5200

QBO – Creating Reports

Now that you’ve been using QBO for your company’s accounting, it’s probably unimaginable to think about going back to manual bookkeeping. The file folders, paper forms and scribbles on notepads have all have been replaced with a neatly organized, everything-in-its-place website.

If you’ve been in business long enough to remember the old ledger books, you’re probably especially glad to be able to rely on QBO to handle one critical accounting element in particular: reports. You know how important they are in your regular workflow, especially when it’s time to make critical business decisions.

Reports

There are other cloud-based accounting websites, but nothing comes close to QBO in terms of the report templates. Click Reports in the left vertical tab to see what’s available. The site’s generous collection of reports is divided into five areas to make access simpler. Individual reports may appear in more than one of these areas:

  • Recommended. These reports have been hand-picked. Their data changes every time you or one of your employees work with QuickBooks Online, and they contain some of the key information you need to be tracking. The Company SnapshotExpenses by Vendor Summary, A/R and A/P Aging Summaries should be consulted frequently by you and/or anyone else in financial management. Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet do not have to be generated as often. These are complex reports, and the information they provide needs to be analyzed for you to make sense of it. We can create these for you on a periodic basis.
  • Frequently Run. This list will be generated automatically, based on your own pattern of report activity.
  • My Custom Reports. QBO offers tremendous report customization options. When you have crafted a report that you think you’ll probably run again (with refreshed data, of course), you can save that format.
Figure 1: When you click on All Reports on this screen, you’ll see how QuickBooks Online (QBO) divides its reports into related activities.
  • Management Reports. These are somewhat complicated, and we hope you’ll let us work with you on them. QBO comes with three multi-part report templates that you can view and print as is:  Sales Performance, Expenses Performance, and Company Overview. You can also edit and copy these. Management Reports are more polished and comprehensive than other reports and could be used as part of a presentation.
  • All Reports. Click on this link to see everything, divided by type of activity.

Customize

Besides offering a generous number of report templates, QBO offers exceptional customization tools. This means that you can carve out the exact subset of data that you want to see.

To see this in action, click on the Reports tab in the left vertical pane, then All Reports | Manage Accounts Receivable | Customer Balance Detail. Click the Customize button in the upper left. You’ll see this screen:

Figure 2: Use QuickBooks Online’s customization tools to isolate and display the exact information that you need.

To the left is a list of navigation links that will take you to the section where you want to work. You can also just use the scroll bar on the right to browse through your options. Take some time to explore the possibilities so that when you need a specific subset of data in a report, you’ll know how you can use QBO’s customization tools to shape it correctly. 

Not every report in QBO is as simple and as self-explanatory as this one. In fact, there are some reports that your Accountant should be analyzing for you on a regular basis; these fall under the Accountant Report heading. We encourage you to master QBO’s customization tools for many reports, and we’re here to help. Call us today at 256-337-5200 to set up an appointment with one of our certified QBO ProAdvisors.

The “QB Bob” Team

QBO – Importing Bank Transactions

When you connect a bank account to QBO, it pulls in the past 90 days of activity. But what if you need to pull in more data? Or what if your bank isn’t one of the thousands that link with QBO? You’re in luck – if your bank will give you the data, you can upload it into QBO.

From Transactions > Banking screen
In the upper right of the screen and then click File Upload button
The “Upload bank file” window will slide down. Follow instructions to download the data from your bank’s website and save the file on your computer.
Then click the browse button to select the file to upload to QuickBooks Online
This will pull the data onto the Banking screen. From there, you use the Banking screen as you do on other downloaded bank data that is connected directly to a bank.

Mobile Apps for QuickBooks – Helpful Apps

Mobile Sales Using Intuit’s GoPayment

Benefit: Improved sales that aren’t dependent on location

Payment-processing on smartphones has become commonplace these days. You’ve probably seen merchants accepting credit cards on mobile phones in one of two ways: by swiping the card on a small card reader that attach to their device or by entering bank cards numbers directly.

 

Figure 1: One of the oldest apps that integrates with QuickBooks is GoPayment. You can process transactions on your smartphone or tablet from anywhere.
 

Intuit’s GoPayment lets you do both. You can download the free app and process a customer’s payment on your smartphone. However, you still have to download it into QuickBooks and either create a sales receipt or match it to an open invoice. This isn’t a difficult process once you understand it, but you must be sure to do it correctly from the start. We can help you with some practice runs.

Travel Expenses On the Go

Benefit: More accurate, policy-compliant expense reports

One of the smartest, most useful apps that has ever been created is the expense reporter — particularly when used by your road warriors for on-the-go expenses. There are a handful of these. Travelers can record expenses in two ways: they can either enter the information directly or snap a picture of a receipt with a smartphone. When your employees get back to the office, they’re able to prepare complete expense reports, whose approved data can be transferred into QuickBooks.

Concur is one of these apps. When you set it up, it imports Account Codes, Customers, Jobs and Classes, Vendor and Employee Records from QuickBooks so that these can be assigned for each expense entry. Credit card transactions can be imported directly. When an expense report is completed, it can be sent to a manager for approval, and reimbursement is then deposited in the employee’s bank account.

 

Figure 2: Intuit’s App Center is home to hundreds of add-on applications for QuickBooks.

Tallie works similarly. It can automatically categorize expenses and alert approvers to expense policy violations. Used in conjunction with Bill.com and SmartVault, it can accommodate a sophisticated, seamless accounting workflow. We’ll see more multi-app integration as cloud-based financial solutions mature, but if you’re going to attempt such a setup, let us help you with the initial mechanics.

Time-Tracking and Timesheets

Benefits: Employee accountability; recovery and correct classification of all billable hours; and less time required to create timesheets

If all of your employees walk through the office door every morning and stay there, you don’t need a mobile app for time-tracking. But for businesses whose cash flow depends on recovering and recording every minute of billable time, a smartphone time-tracker is ideal.

TSheets Time Tracker can help improve your bottom line in numerous ways. This particular app:

  • Accommodates real-time mobile data entry,
  • Tracks employee locations using GPS, and
  • Creates timesheets that can be synchronized with QuickBooks, tracking billable time by customer, job, employee, etc.

Moving Toward Integration

Given the size limitations of smartphones, some mobile apps contain only a subset of the features found in their desktop counterparts. But that subset is chosen based on the needs of mobile users.

Fewer features means that your learning time for the mobile apps that integrate with QuickBooks will be minimal. But the steps to sync with QuickBooks must be followed to the letter, and you may not be familiar with such a process. We want you to experience the benefits that these smartphone solutions can offer without compromising the integrity of your QuickBooks company file. Let us introduce you to these forward-looking, beneficial tools. Call the “QB Bob” team TODAY at 256-337-5200 to schedule a visit.


The “QB Bob” Team

QuickBooks Online (QBO) “Accounts”

The term “account” in QuickBooks Online (QBO) can have many meanings: checking account, savings account, Chart of Accounts, payment/merchant services account, a customer or vendor account and more.

Most likely you’ll work with all of these while working with QuickBooks Online (QBO), except perhaps one: the Chart of Accounts. Even though the site allows you to modify the Chart of Accounts by adding, deleting, or renaming accounts, please talk to us at Small Business Solutions (SBS) 256-337-5200 if you feel a change is in order. The Chart of Accounts forms the framework of your company, and altering it could have adverse effects on your entire accounting operation.

Set-Up

When you created your company, you probably created at least one bank account, checking. You can set this up without connecting to a bank site; however, that defeats the purpose of QBO, which is to have access to your web-based account. Setting up a connection to your online bank, credit card, or other online financial service like PayPal is easy.

June 2015 QBO Figure 1

Figure 1: QuickBooks Online’s home page displays balances for all of the accounts you’ve connected.

On the home page or the Transactions | Banking page, click the Add account button in the upper right. QuickBooks will display logos for some of the most popular financial institutions. If yours isn’t there, enter its name or URL in the box at the top.

QBO will then create a link between itself and your account, and it will download the most recent transactions (usually 90 days’ worth). Now when you click on Transactions | Banking, you’ll see all of your activity in table form with columns labeled Date, Description, Payee, Category or Match, Spent, Received and Action.

Most of these are self-explanatory; they just provide information about the transaction. You may be unfamiliar, though, with Category or Match and Action (Add). Call SBS at 256-337-5200 so we can guide you step-by-step the first time you launch and work with a transaction download. It’s very important that transactions are classified correctly.

Chart of Accounts Settings

The Chart of Accounts, which is a standard, required element of any double-entry accounting system, is a very different set of accounts. To display it, you’d click on your company name in the upper right corner, then Settings | Chart of Accounts. You’ll see a mini-spreadsheet that lists all of your accounts. QBO selected these based on the information you provided when you were first setting up your company on the site.

Each account is assigned a Type that describes its accounting function.

June 2015 QBO Figure 2

Figure 2: Every transaction that represents money you spend on Advertising/Promotional  activities should be assigned to this Expense in the Chart of Accounts.

Category Types are used by all businesses for classification purposes. There are only a few of them, such as:

  • Expenses (Bad Debts, Bank Charges, Insurance, Job Materials, etc.)
  • Income (Billable Expense Income, Gross Receipts, Markup, etc.)
  • Cost of Goods Sold (Cost of Labor, Freight & Delivery, etc.)

You don’t have to do anything with your Chart of Accounts. In fact, we suggest you don’t try. As we’ve said, if we see a reason in your bookkeeping to add, edit, or delete an account, we’ll be happy to do it for you.

But you will encounter these accounts in numerous QBO activities. Sometimes they’ll be pre-selected for you by the site, but other times you’ll need to make a choice. For example, when you create a Product or Service, there will be three account fields that will already be populated. They are:

  • Inventory Asset Account = Inventory Asset
  • Income Account = Sales of Product Income
  • Expense Account = Cost of Goods Sold

The word “account” is used in so many different ways that it can get confusing. For example, if you wrote a check at the UPS Store for some shipping charges, you’ll be asked for the Account when you enter this in QBO. It’s an Expense, but one of its more specific sub-categories.

June 2015 QBO Figure 3

Figure 3: QuickBooks Online provides the correct drop-down list in form and record fields.

QBO takes care of a lot of the background work of double-entry accounting, but it exposes you to the concept of accounts. We’re here to help if this causes confusion in your daily bookkeeping. Call SBS at 256-337-5200 to assist you or to inquire about moving your business to QuickBooks Online.

The “QB Bob” Team

 

QBO Recurring Payments Video

Click this link to see how to set up recurring payments in QuickBooks Online (QBO)

Preventing Data Theft in QuickBooks

Your small business may not have hundreds of thousands of customer information files, but you can still be targeted by external hackers and even your own employees. Are you taking measures to ensure the security of that data stored on your hard drive and/or in the cloud?

Your Inner Circle

The last thing you want to imagine is that one of your own employees has been tampering with your QuickBooks company data. It happens, though, and you need to protect yourself from potential internal attacks.  

One of your internal controls, then, should include the establishment of boundaries for every employee who has access to QuickBooks. You can restrict each staff member to specific areas of the program instead of sharing a master password and giving everyone free rein. Go to Company | Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users to do this.

Figure 1: If you click on Selective Access in this window, you can restrict your employees’ activities to specific areas and actions. 

The User List window opens, which will display all users who have been set up already, including you as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a name and password. Click the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license, then click Next. Click on the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks. Click Next.

The next 10 screens break QuickBooks down into separate activities and activity areas, like Sales and Accounts Receivable, Checking and Credit Cards, and Sensitive Accounting Activities. On each screen, click on the button in front of the correct option:

  • No Access
  • Full Access
  • Selective Access (lets you specify what areas and actions will be allowed for that employee)

Other Internal Controls

QuickBooks’ Audit Trail is your friend. It records everything that is entered or changed in the software, by whom, and precisely when. To view it, open the Reports menu, then click on Accountant & Taxes, then Audit Trail. Like all QuickBooks reports, it can be customized to display the entries you need to see.

Figure 2: QuickBooks’ Audit Trail provides a detailed history of all activity in the software.

There are other reports that you should review frequently, and some that we should create and analyze for you at least every quarter, if not monthly. We can suggest reports that would help you look for fraud, and tell you what to look for.

Common Sense Practices

  • It goes without saying that protecting your entire hardware/software/cloud configuration will help keep your QuickBooks company file safe from external marauders. You must employ state-of-the-art antivirus and anti-malware applications and keep them updated. Talk to us if you need recommendations and/or help implementing them.
  • If you’re a sole proprietor or you work from your home, restrict the computer where QuickBooks resides to business software and websites only. Never let anyone install applications, play interactive games, etc. on it.
  • Change your own QuickBooks password at least every 90 days, and do backups to secure drives or websites.
  • When you run into problems with QuickBooks’ functioning, please let us help. Even a computer troubleshooting specialist will not understand the program well enough to solve problems, and he or she may compromise your data file further.

As security software and systems get smarter, so do the hackers. Don’t let your company and its customers be victims of data theft.  Need help setting up internal controls/access? Contact Small Business Solutions at 256-337-5200.

The “QB Bob” Team

Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks Online (QBO)

While all of the work you do on the site needs to be thorough and accurate, you’re not just dealing with customers and vendors when you manage your payroll. Your employees count on you to compensate them for work completed, and external organizations like benefits providers and the IRS require absolute precision.

We don’t mean to scare you, but we do want you to understand that this is a particularly challenging process, no matter how you accomplish it (do-it-yourself, paper and Excel, software, or outsourcing). QBO provides a whole payroll setup area, which helps you understand what information is needed and provides countless screens for entering it. However, we strongly recommend that you let us help with setup.

Let’s take a quick look at how QBO helps you get ready to start paying your employees. Click on the wheel icon in the upper left and select Payroll Settings (you’ll be allowed to use the payroll features for 30 days for free; after that, you’ll pay monthly fees). WAIT–don’t click and sign up inside QBO–Call SBS at 256-337-5200–we can save you 20-30% off your annual payroll subscription.

Figure 1: This is your home base for payroll setup in QuickBooks Online.

As you can see, this will be a lengthy process. It’s not necessary to go through it in order, but the links that run horizontally across the top are a good starting place. Once you’ve completed those screens, you’ve made a good dent in your setup duties.

As you enter payrolls, QBO calculates your federal and state payroll tax obligations and maintains a running tally. When it’s time to submit a payment, you can do so electronically if you’ve made connections with your company’s bank account(s). The preparation for this process is done by clicking the Electronic Services and Tax Setup links.

You’ll also want to tell QBO about your Pay Policies. By filling in blanks and selecting from drop-down lists, you’ll define your:

  • Pay Schedule(s). How often are employees paid? What is the next payday, and what period does this cover? You can create multiple pay schedules if needed.
  • Vacation and Sick Leave Policies. Here, too, you can set up more than one of each type if employees have varying requirements for earning sick and vacation time.
Figure 2: If employees earn time off at varying rates, you can establish multiple policies in QuickBooks Online.

 Besides calculating payroll taxes, QBO will do additional withholding necessary to pay for benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. The site calculates what’s taken out for each employee (and from you) every pay period so that when you need to pay the benefits provider, you’ll know what’s owed. The actual process of setting up these Deductions, as well as Employee Garnishments, is similar to the one you used to define pay policies.

Some of the links displayed below this top row will take you to the same links you’ve already visited. Others let you define additional preferences in areas like Accounting,Paycheck Printing, and Time Sheets. One signals your next step, though: Overview | Employees.

Figure 3: Once you’ve set up variables like Pay Policies and Deductions, you can use that information in individual employee records.

QBO makes it easy for you to create records for each employee once you’ve set up the background information required. You can see in the image above that you can even edit withholding, frequency, and pay method; add additional pay types (like overtime and bonuses); and add, edit, and delete deductions by clicking the links next to each icon.

We’ve provided a very broad overview of QuickBooks Online’s Payroll Settings here. You’ll encounter a great deal of required details when you actually get in and start working with this element of the site. QBO makes the actual mechanics easier. We can help make setup easier and ensure system-wide accuracy.  Call SBS today at 256-337-5200–we’re here to make “all things QuickBooks” easier for you!

The “QB Bob” Team

QuickBooks: Creating Custom Fields for People and Items

In QuickBooks, you can define up to 12 total fields for use in customer, vendor, and/or employee records. QuickBooks treats these just as it treats your built-in fields. They appear in the records themselves, of course, and are included when you export a file containing them. You can also search for them in reports. There are separate processes for defining fields for your individual and company contacts and your items.  

Setting up Custom Fields for People (Customers, Vendors and Employees) Records

Go to your Customer Center and open a blank Customer record (in newer versions of QuickBooks, you’ll click on New Customer & Job in the upper left corner, and then click New Customer). Then click the Additional Info tab in the left vertical pane of the New Customer window, then click on the Define Fields button in the lower right. This window will open (with blank fields):

Figure 1: You can create up to 12 total custom fields that will be shared by customers, vendors, and employees.

It’s easy to create your custom field labels. Simply type a word or short phrase on a line under Label, and then click in the box(es) on the same line in the appropriate column(s). While it’s possible that you would want to include the same field in multiple record types, you’ll most likely have separate labels for each. 

Consider carefully before creating custom field labels. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I want to know about customers/vendors/employees that isn’t already covered in the pre-built record formats?
  • What kinds of information will I want to make available in report filters?
  • How will I want to separate out individuals for communications like emails, memos, special sale invitations, etc

Remember that you’ll have to go back into existing records and fill in these blanks in order to be consistent. You’re not required to complete them, but your searches, reports, etc. will not be comprehensive if you don’t.

Setting up Custom Fields for Item Records

The custom fields we just created are generally only used internally. That is, they won’t automatically appear on sales forms, purchase orders, etc.

You may decide that some custom fields in item records, on the other hand, do need to be available on some forms. For example, you might sell shirts in multiple sizes, colors, and styles.

To start creating them, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow on the Item menu in the lower left, then click New. Since you will be selling similar items that you’ll be keeping in stock, select Inventory Part under TYPE. Then click on the Custom Fields button over on the right and then Define Fields.

Figure 2: If you sell similar items that are available with different characteristics, you’ll want to create custom fields. 

As you did with the earlier custom fields, enter a word or phrase under Label, and then click in the Use column. After you’ve entered up to five fields, click OK.

A Complicated Process

This is where the simplicity of creating and using custom fields for items in reports and transaction forms ends. If you sell t-shirts in various sizes and colors, you’re going to need our help in order to see true inventory levels in reports and add those custom fields to sales and purchase transaction forms.

 

Figure 3: Adding custom fields to QuickBooks’ standard transaction forms is possible, but you’ll need our assistance to make sure inventory tracking is set up right.

You may more inventory-tracking tools than are offered in your version of QuickBooks. If that’s the case, we can help you either add an application that will meet your needs or suggest an upgrade.  Call us at (256) 337-5200–we’re here to help you customize and to make working with QuickBooks easy.

The “QB Bob” Team

256-337-5200

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