Make QuickBooks Yours: Customize the Desktop

Make QuickBooks work faster for you by changing a few settings.

Whether your business has been locked down because of the pandemic, or you’re scrambling to hold things together with fewer employees or diminishing sales, you’re probably leaning on QuickBooks more than ever. You may be watching dwindling inventory items closely or monitoring your daily cash flow or trying to collect on invoices that aren’t being paid because your customers are short on money.

QuickBooks can help with all these accounting tasks. But you certainly don’t want to waste time now just dealing with the software’s mechanics.

As always, we’re available to help as you deal with the toll that COVID-19 is taking on your company. We’d also like to suggest that you spend a little time customizing QuickBooks. Streamlining its operations will take some of the unnecessary frustration out of your work life.

Getting Around Quickly

QuickBooks tries to accommodate different work styles and preferences by providing multiple navigation methods. These are:
• The old, standard Windows menus.
• The home page’s icons.
• The Icon Bar that appears in the left vertical pane by default (you change its position by opening the View menu).

If you’re going to use the Icon Bar, we recommend that you set it up to make your most often-used tools prominent. Right-click in the toolbar and click on Customize Shortcuts to open the Customize Icon Bar window. In the upper left corner, you’ll see a list of your icons as they’re currently arranged. You can rearrange them by grabbing the small diamonds to their left with your mouse and dragging them to their new positions. You can change their labels by clicking Edit, or Delete them.

You can add almost any window in QuickBooks to your fast-access Icon Bar.

You’re not limited to the items in the list. Click Add, and the Add Icon Bar Item opens, as pictured above. Click on any of the ones you want to include in the Icon Bar, then click OK. QuickBooks allows you to add almost any screen to your Icon Bar. Navigate to the window you want to add, then open the View menu and select Add…to Icon Bar. If you never use the Icon Bar, you can collapse it by clicking the small arrow to the right of the Search box at the top of the pane. You can also close the home page by clicking the lower of the two small X’s in the upper right.

Tile Your Windows
If you regularly work with the same handful of screens, there’s a faster way to access them. Open them all, then open the Window menu and select Tile Vertically. All the windows will be displayed on the same screen, arranged vertically. If there are enough of them, they will overlap. To activate one, just click on it. You can open it to full screen by clicking the small rectangle in the upper right and return to your vertical arrangement by clicking the double rectangle in the upper right.

If you’d prefer, you can Tile Horizontally. Or, you can click Cascade to display them stacked on top of each other with only each window’s title label showing, as shown below. If you want to go back to a blank screen and start over, click Window | Close All. The Window menu also displays a list of open windows that can be used for navigation.

If you click Window | Cascade with multiple windows open, QuickBooks will stack them, with only the bottom screen showing. Click on a title label to open a different window.

The Desktop View

There are other ways you can make QuickBooks work the way you want it to. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Desktop View. Click on the My Preferences tab if it’s not already highlighted. There are several preferences here. Look under the Desktop heading. You can have QuickBooks open to the configuration of windows you want. Your options are:

• Save [the windows that are already open] when closing company.
• Save current desktop (a specific set of windows).
• Don’t save the desktop (always open to just the home page).

Click the Company Preferences tab to add or remove icons from the home page. This is also where you turn features on and off.

We’re Still Here

All these suggestions may seem minor to you. But they will save time. More important, they will give you a better sense of control over the hours you spend on accounting tasks. And with so many things out of our control right now, creating a software environment that is tailored to your workflow can benefit you.

We know that you may be struggling right now to maintain your financial health, as well as your physical health. More than ever, we hope you’ll contact us if you have a QuickBooks or general accounting problem that we could solve. We’ll be happy to do what we can to help you through during this very challenging period.

Start 2020 Right: Get into the Report Habit

It’s a good time to start new habits – or refresh old ones. Running reports regularly will help you make better business decisions.

Whether or not you made New Year’s resolutions, you probably look at January as a fresh start in personal and professional matters. Unfortunately, we can’t help you join a gym or organize your closets or meet your monthly sales goals.

What we can do, though, is encourage you to start a new habit that may actually leave you more time for those activities and even improve your company’s financial bottom line. We’re talking about committing to using the reporting tools QuickBooks offers.

You can’t possibly know how your business is doing unless you take advantage of this critical feature. It’s the payoff for all the hard work you do keeping up with your daily accounting workflow. Here are five things you should try.

Visit QuickBooks’ Report Center: 

As you know. QuickBooks devotes an entire menu to reports, dividing them into types (Sales, Purchases, Inventory, etc.). When you hover your mouse over one of these categories after opening the Reports menu, you’ll see a list of all related reports. 

Click on Report Center, though, and you’ll see a kind of home page for reports. They’re categorized by type, just like in the main Reports menu, but there’s much more you can do here.

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Click on a report name in the Report Center and you’ll have numerous options.

When you click on the graphic representing a report, you’ll first be able to change the date range by clicking on the down arrow. Then you can Run the report, see a brief explanation by clicking Info, click on Fave to add it to your list of Favorites, or open Help. The tabs at the top of the screen allow you to toggle between these Standard views, reports you’ve Memorized, Favorites, Recent, and Contributed (report templates created by individuals outside of Intuit). 

If you know exactly what reports you want to run it’s probably easier to just use the Reports menu, but the Report Center is a great place to learn about and organize your content.

Customize Your Reports:

You’re probably used to changing the date range on your reports, but have you ever explored any of QuickBooks’ other customization tools? You can use them on any report. Click the Customize Report button in the upper left. Click on the Display tab, and you can change the report’s columns by checking or unchecking entries in the list. Filters are more complex, and you may need our help setting up very specific, multi-filter reports. They offer a way to pare down your report to contain just the data you want. You could, for example, prepare a report that only includes one or more Transaction Types or customers who live in a specified state.

Memorize Your Reports:

Once you’ve changed columns and filters in a report you’ll run frequently, you can save those settings so you don’t have to go through all of that again. Open any report and click the Memorize button in the upper toolbar. The window that opens will ask if you want to save that customized report to a Memorized Report Group, which you can do by clicking the box and opening the list of groups. Either way, you can find your report by opening the Reports menu and selecting Memorized Reports.

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If you want to create a new Memorized Report Group, open the Reports menu and click Memorized Reports | Memorized Report List. Open the Memorized Report drop-down menu and select New Group.

Schedule Your Reports:

The best way to get your report habit started is by creating a schedule of reports you need to see regularly. You can do this by setting up Reminders (Company | Reminders). Click the gear icon in the upper right corner to specify your Preferences and the + (plus) sign to add a reminder. QuickBooks 2017 and later versions offer a scheduling tool that allows you to share reports with others, but please don’t try this on your own. It’s a complicated procedure with many rules.

You’ve probably noticed that there is a report category called Accountant & Taxes. Some of these should be created monthly or quarterly, but you’ll need our help analyzing them as well. 

In the coming year, we strongly encourage you to expand your skills at generating reports. You can’t make realistic, effective plans for the future of your company without knowing its current financial state and its history. So start the year off right in 2020, and let us know how we can help.

Still Dealing with 2019 in QBO? Clearing the Way for 2020

If you have a nagging feeling this month that you’re not caught up with your accounting tasks, it’s time to clean up your unfinished 2019 work.

It would be great if you could have closed out 2019 knowing that you were all caught up with your accounting work. You sent all your invoices, paid all your bills, and wrapped everything up with a series of reports and a proverbial bow.

Unfortunately, December rarely goes that way. You’re making last-minute adjustments for your taxes. Dealing with the holiday rush if you’re a retailer. Handling end-of-year employee issues, trying to make your monthly sales quotas, and doing something special to make your customers feel appreciated at this time of year.

On top of your daily accounting work, you’re feeling pressure in December to get a clear picture of your finances for the entire year. Then the holidays hit, and suddenly you’re ringing in the New Year without having had time for that.

Here are five things you can do clean up 2019 and make way for 2020.

1. Create two critical A/R reports: Accounts Receivable Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

This may make you feel both better and worse. On the bright side, you’ll know where you stand in terms of who owes you what and how big the problem is. On the other hand, you may find it disheartening to see how many payments are past due. These reports are easy to find. Click Reports in the left vertical pane and scroll down to Who owes you.

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The Open Invoices report can show you quickly who’s past due.

Now would be an excellent time, too, to develop some strategies to be proactive and keep your accounts receivable more up to date in 2020. We’d be happy to sit down with you and help you with this difficult task.

2. Create two critical A/P reports: Accounts Payable Aging Summary and Unpaid Bills.

Add “Stay Current with Bills” to your list of 2020 goals. But first, you have to see where you stand right now. Click Reports again and scroll down to What you owe.

Who is responsible for paying bills? If it’s you, maybe it’s time to hand over that task to someone without your managerial responsibilities who can make it a priority.

3. Create statements for all customers who are past due.

Things slip for your customers toward the end of the year, too. Give them a chance to catch up. Their invoices might have gotten lost in the year-end confusion, but you need to get current with your accounts receivable. So, send statements to those in arrears.

Click +New at the top of the left vertical pane, then go to Other | Statement

4. Clean up your customer and vendor lists.

Customers and vendors come and go, but their QuickBooks records are forever unless you do something about them. You can easily make them inactive – after confirming they have no open activity. Click Sales | Customers in the left vertical pane. Click the box in front of customers you want to make inactive and then click Batch actions | Make inactive.

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Cleaning up your customer and vendor lists will save you time in the future.

5. Always look carefully at your dashboard when you log in.

The block in the upper left corner is the most important here. You can see at a glance how much money you have tied up in unpaid invoices and how much money needs to be deposited. This will help you keep QuickBooks Online cleaned up.

More to Do

There are certainly other things you can do to clean up QuickBooks. For example, if you carry inventory, January is a good time to run the Physical Inventory Worksheet report and make some decisions about where your purchasing emphasis should be in 2020. Need help interpreting your product movement and sales priorities? We can help with that.

Finally, sometime this month—certainly in the first quarter of 2020—let us create the critical standard financial reports (under For my accountant in Reports) that you could actually generate in QuickBooks Online, but which would be difficult for you to analyze. These are the reports you would need if you were going to apply for a loan, for example, or request a business valuation. But the insight they provide can give you a sophisticated overview of your finances.

How to Clean Up QuickBooks for 2020

We know December is a busy month. However, take some time now to make sure QuickBooks is ready for 2020.

Yes, it’s here again: the end of the year. You probably have a lengthy to-do list full of tasks that must be done before December 31. There’s one task—or rather, a series of tasks—that you should definitely add to that list: year-end QuickBooks cleanup. Following the guidelines provided here will do three things. It will:

  • Ensure that you’ve processed every 2019 transaction (or that you know why you can’t).
  • Give you a sense of closure, knowing that you’ve dealt with all your 2019 financial data.
  • Allow you to start your 2020 QuickBooks activities with as clean of a slate as possible.

First Things First

Before you start looking at transactions and running reports, check to make sure that your fiscal year is recorded correctly in QuickBooks. Open the Company menu and select My Company. Click the pencil icon in the upper right to open the Company Information window, then click Report Information in the tabs to the left. This window opens:

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Is your company’s fiscal year recorded correctly in QuickBooks? If not, please contact us. Don’t try to fix this on your own.

Account For All Of Your Income

You certainly want to have received all the money owed to you by December 31 if at all possible. So, run a report to see which customers have outstanding, overdue balances. Open the Reports menu and select Customers & Receivables | A/R Aging Summary

The first column here will read Current. You don’t have to worry about these customers. It’s the next four columns that will require follow-up. If your default payment terms are 30 days, you’ll see columns for 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, and >90. Customers with dollar amounts in those columns have not met their obligations and are past due by those date ranges. 

Note: If your default terms are different (like 15 days), you’ll need to customize the report. In the toolbar at the top, you’ll see a field labeled Interval (days). Change it to reflect your own default terms and click Refresh in the upper right corner. 

If your report contains only a sea of zeroes in those four columns, everyone is paid up. If not, you can send statements to anyone who is at least one day past due to remind them of what they owe. Open the Customers menu and select Create Statements to see this window:

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Partial view of the Create Statements window

Make sure the Statement Date is correct since QuickBooks will use this to calculate aging. Then you can either enter a specific Statement Period or request All open transactions as of Statement Date. If you choose the latter, you’ll most likely want to limit the statements to customers whose payments are overdue. So, you’d click in the box in front of Include only transactions over [your number here] days past due date.

Below these options, you’ll be able to indicate which customers should receive statements. The most common choice is All Customers (who fall into the group you just defined), but you can also send to one or multiple customers, for example. QuickBooks will display a list if you select one of these. The right pane of this window contains several additional options that you can check or uncheck. When you’re satisfied, you can Preview, Print, or E-mail the statements.

Pay Outstanding Bills

You should also try to settle your Accounts Payable before the end of the year. Open the Reports menu and select Vendors & Payables | A/P Aging Summary. Look for dollar amounts in the columns that show aging beyond the first column. You can also run the Unpaid Bills Detail report and look at the Aging column, as pictured here:

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Look in the aging column of this report to see which bills are past due and by how many days.

Note: QuickBooks has multiple Preferences that relate to reports and aging. We can go over these with you if you haven’t explored them.

There are other tasks you should complete before December 31, some of which may require our assistance. These include reconciling all accounts, running year-end reports, and clearing any deposits that remain in the Undeposited Funds account. We’re here if you need us now, otherwise we can connect in the New Year.

Have You Explored QuickBooks Online’s New 2019 Features?

Intuit keeps innovating. Here are some of the changes the company introduced for QuickBooks Online in 2019.

Whether you can see them now or not, Intuit added and enhanced a ton of new features in 2019. Some of you may not see all of them until 2020, since the company typically rolls them out slowly.

So, if you’re not in one of the first waves of users, we want you to know what’s coming. It may also be that your version of QuickBooks Online has incorporated the changes, but you just haven’t noticed them. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store for everyone on the horizon.

A new location for the Create button

Previously, you clicked on the +(plus) sign in the upper right corner to open the Create window (invoice, sales receipt, bill, single time activity, etc.). Now, you’ll see a button marked +New in the upper left corner.

Instant Deposits

If you use QuickBooks Online Payments, you’ll be able to have available credit card and bank transfer payments from customers deposited in your bank account within 30 minutes for a 1 percent fee. The funds will be directed to your U.S.-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card.

Mileage Tracker

This is a tool previously found only in QuickBooks Self-Employed, but QuickBooks Online users will now have access to it. It does just what it sounds like: allows you to track business-related mileage so you’ll have a numerical total to enter when you come to that deduction on your income tax return. You can record trips manually by entering starting and ending addresses (or the total miles). Or, if you’re using the QuickBooks Mobile app, you’ll be able to turn on GPS and let your smartphone record the mileage automatically.

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QuickBooks Online’s Mileage Tracker allows you to record business miles driven manually or automatically and calculates your tax deduction.

New navigation tools in QuickBooks Mobile app

You’ve probably gotten used to navigating from a list of features in the QuickBooks Mobile app. You should soon see an entirely different look for navigation that uses icons representing common tasks (Transactions, Expenses, Mileage, etc.). These will appear when you click on the Shortcuts tab. You’ll find the remaining tools under the All tab.

Health benefit management

QuickBooks Online now allows you to compare, buy, and manage employee health, dental, and vision coverage.

Receipt Capture

Receipts can be the bane of a business owner’s existence. Many still use the “shoebox” method, tossing receipts in a box and entering them when tax time rolls around. Not a particularly elegant solution. Now, you can snap photos of receipts and move them into QuickBooks Online in one of three ways, by:

  • Scanning through the mobile app.
  • Uploading, then dragging and dropping.
  • Forwarding through email.

Receipts are automatically categorized and matched to transactions; if there’s no match, you can create a new transaction. Your receipts appear in the Receipts dashboard under the Banking tab.

Multilingual invoicing

Do you have international customers? If so, you may be able to send them invoices in their native languages. Besides English, QuickBooks Online now supports French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), and Chinese (traditional).

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You can now send invoices to customers in any of six languages.

One-step contractor payments

You can now select trackable details like class, project, and location by making selections from drop-down lists in the contractor payments window.

Next-day deposits

If you’re a QuickBooks Online Payments subscriber, you’ll be able to get next-day access to payments customers have made to you via credit card or ACH. You’ll have to sign up for this service, and fees apply to ACH payments (1 percent of the total deposit, up to $10).

Auto-calculated sales tax

QuickBooks Online has streamlined the process of adding sales tax to sales forms – even if you’re a cash-basis business. After you’ve done some initial setup work, QuickBooks Sales Tax will do the necessary calculations and add sales tax automatically.

Hello, 2020

We hope that 2019 has been a good year for your business, and we wish you the best in 2020. If you’re still struggling to use QuickBooks Online to maximize productivity and make better business decisions, remember that we’re here to help. We can also advise you on any of the new features Intuit has introduced. Contact us anytime to set up a consultation.

Setting Up Sales Taxes in QuickBooks, Part 1

If your business is required to collect and pay sales taxes, you can use QuickBooks’ tools to help you meet those obligations.

Next to payroll, state sales taxes represent probably the most complex element of your accounting tasks. QuickBooks can help with the mechanics, but there’s a lot you need to learn before you can start charging and paying them. For example:

  • Is your company located in a destination-based or origin-based state where taxes are concerned (do you charge sales tax based on where your customers are or where you are)?
  • Certain types of items and services are exempt from sales tax. Are yours?
  • What local taxes (city, county, etc.) must you collect, if any?
  • How often must you submit what you owe, and to what agency?

If you don’t know your state’s rules, search for your Department of Revenue (sometimes called the Department of Taxation) on Google. Or talk to us about this whole complicated process. You can’t begin to work with sales taxes in QuickBooks until you know the answers to many questions.

First Steps

Once you know what your state’s rules are, you can start setting up the sales taxes you’re required to collect and pay. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click on Sales Tax, then Company Preferences. Make sure the Yes button is highlighted next to Do you charge sales tax?, then click on Add sales tax item. You’ll see this window:

In states where it’s required, you may have to at least set up a state sales tax item in QuickBooks. You may also be responsible for local (city, county, etc.) taxes.

TYPE should already be set to Sales Tax Item. Enter a name for your tax in the Sales Tax Name field; the Description should automatically appear as Sales Tax. Type in the Tax Rate (%) and the name of the Tax Agency that will collect it (select <Add New> if it’s not there already). Click OK to return to Company Preferences and continue to define additional tax rates. If there is a sales tax item you use frequently, you can select it from the Your most common sales tax item field.

Tip: Each sales tax rate is considered an Item in QuickBooks. When you have to edit or delete one, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Type sales tax in the Look for box, then Search. Right-click on your target and select your desired action from the local menu that appears.

Sales Tax Groups

When you want to combine multiple sales taxes as one item (state, county, etc.), click Add sales tax item again in Company Preferences and choose Sales Tax Group. Enter a Group Name/Number and Description. In the table below, click the down arrow in the field in the TAX ITEM column. Keep selecting individual tax rates until you’re finished, then click OK. When you use one of these groups in a transaction, the customer will only see the total tax, but reports will break them down into their individual parts.

Completing Your Preferences

The bottom half of the Company Preferences screen needs more information.

It’s important that all the entries at the bottom of the Company Preferences screen are correct before you start working with sales taxes in QuickBooks.

The first two items here are simply field labels that will appear in transactions to indicate whether or not a line item should be taxed. You should leave them as is; they’re automatically created by QuickBooks. If you want to Identify taxable amounts as “T” for Taxable when printing, click in that box to make a checkmark.

Is your QuickBooks company file set up on a cash or accrual basis? Click on the button in front of the correct choice. WHEN DO YOU PAY SALES TAX is a question that will be answered as you’re learning about your state’s sales tax requirements. When you’ve completed this section, click OK.

Assigning Tax Codes

As you create item and service records in QuickBooks, you’ll be asked to indicate whether or not they’re taxable. The Tax Code field appears at the bottom of the window, like in the image below.

You’ll need to designate every item or service you sell as taxable or non-taxable.

There’s much more you need to know about collecting and submitting sales taxes, like how to work with transactions and reports. We’ll cover those topics next month. In the meantime, let us know if we can help you set up your QuickBooks company file for this complex task.

5 Things You Should Know About the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online doesn’t require deep knowledge of accounting principles. Still, there are concepts you should understand.

You probably didn’t expect you’d have to become an accounting expert when you started your business. You knew you’d have to deal with recording income and expenses – maybe track your inventory and process a payroll. But you may not have understood just how complex financial bookkeeping could be.

That’s why you decided to use QuickBooks Online, or are at least considering it. The service is an expert on accounting, and it simplifies the process. It knows exactly how you have to document transactions to stay compliant with the rules that accountants and other businesses follow. This is good practice, and it’s absolutely necessary if, for example, you ever have to apply for financing.

One of the features of accounting systems you should understand is the Chart of Accounts. You won’t have to alter it in any way—in fact, we strongly advise against it—but you’ll encounter it when you work with transactions. Here are five things you should know about it.

What is it?

These three columns from QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts display account Names, Types, and Detail Types.

QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts is a list of financial categories that are used to classify your company’s transactions when you record them. If you were doing your accounting manually, you would have to create your own Chart of Accounts. But QuickBooks Online builds one for you based on the company type and industry you choose when you’re setting up the site.

Why is the Chart of Accounts important?

Some people refer to the Chart of Accounts as the “backbone” of your company file. All transactions flow to it. Its primary importance can be summed up in one word: reports. Your reports will not be accurate if your Chart of Accounts is poorly constructed or if you categorize transactions incorrectly. This becomes as issue when you want to:

  • Prepare taxes. Your income tax return will not reflect your reportable income and deductible expenses if transactions are not assigned to the right classifications.
  • Apply for financing, take on an investor, sell your company, etc.
  • Monitor your finances. You won’t get a true picture of your income and expenses, which makes it difficult to analyze your company’s fiscal health and plan for the future.

What’s in the Chart of Accounts?

There are two types of accounts. One contains information that’s used in the Balance Sheet report. These accounts will have a number in the QuickBooks Balance column that’s based on all transactions up to the current date. They include Assets (bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, etc.), Liabilities (unpaid bills, credit cards, payroll and sales taxes, loans, etc.), and Equity.

The remainder of the accounts are used in the Profit and Loss report, otherwise known as the Income Statement. They’re divided into Income (sales, discounts given, etc.), Cost of Goods Sold (labor, shipping, materials and supplies, etc.), Expenses (advertising, insurance, payroll, etc.), Other Income, and Other Expense. You won’t see a number in the QuickBooks Balance column for these accounts because the Profit and Loss report changes based on the date range selected.

Should I ever make any modifications to my Chart of Accounts?

You can set up bank and credit card accounts in QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts.

As we stated earlier, we strongly recommend that you never modify your Chart of Accounts without consulting us. However, there are two exceptions to this. You’ll want to create entries for your bank and credit card accounts. To do this, first open the Chart of Accounts by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Chart of Accounts under Your Company. When it opens, click New in the upper right corner. Choose Bank or Credit Card and fill in the blanks.

Do I need to use account numbers in the Chart of Accounts?

Generally, the smaller the business, the less need there is for this. If your business is big enough that you have dedicated A/P and A/R individuals, you may want to post transactions to account numbers.

Understanding Reports

QuickBooks Online makes it possible for you to view the Chart of Accounts and those two critical reports, Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss. Customizing and analyzing them, though, is something you should do under professional supervision. We’re happy to help here and in other advanced areas of the site. Contact us for a consultation.