The Shaw Atlas
Welcome to The Shaw Atlas, the monthly newsletter from Shaw & Associates, CPAs & Financial Advisors. We look forward to keeping you abreast of ever-changing tax codes, providing you with money saving accounting tips and illustrating proactive strategies to help you achieve the financial life you envision.
Did you know that more than 4 million small businesses worldwide use QuickBooks (QB) as their accounting software? If you are a small business owner, bookkeeper, or manager, you are most likely familiar with QB, and you possibly spend a significant amount of time staring at the various screens in QB. QB has many shortcuts and efficienies that can make your life easier. We thought we would share a few tips that we use to make our QB work faster, more efficient, and more accurate.
- Invoicing your customers & receiving payments: Did you know you can email your customer invoices to them directly from QB, and collect their payment online? The online payment can occur via credit card or an automatic withdrawal from their bank account, both for minimal fees.
- Ctrl+F: This “find” feature allows you to quickly search your entire company file for specific transactions. You can search by account, dollar amount, date, invoice number, check number, memo, as well as many other parameters. I find the dollar search especially helpful in trying to find a specific transaction. Notice when you click Ctrl+F, there are 2 different tabs at the top to help you search.
- Date change: If you want to enter a date on a transaction that is different than what QB has pre-filled, rather than typing in a whole new date or clicking on the calendar and selecting the correct date, try one of the following instead. Highlight the date field with your cursor and type:
+ or – to increase or decrease the date 1 day (or hit them multiple times to move by multiple dates),
T for today’s date,
M for the first day of the month,
H for the last day of the month,
Y for the first day of the year, or
R for the last day of the year
- You can do math in any amount field in QB. If you want to add $100 and $50 for example, in an amount field, just type 100+50, and hit the tab key. You can also subtract (-), multiply (*), and divide (/).
- Other keyboard shortcuts:
Ctrl+A – opens Chart of Accounts
Ctrl+W – opens Write Checks screen
Ctrl+I – opens Create Invoice screen
Ctrl+T – opens Memorized Transactions List
- Pre-fill accounts for vendors: You can set your QuickBooks file to default to information previously entered. If you use a vendor repeatedly, and want the software to prefill the expense account each time you record a bill or payment to that vendor, go to Edit/Preferences/General (My Preferences tab), and check the “Pre-fill accounts for vendor based on past entries” box.
- Transaction search: If you want to quickly look for a transaction linked to another transaction (in other words, you are looking at a customer invoice in QB and want to find out what date the payment was received), you can click on the History button to view the related transactions. In QB versions 2012 or older, click on the History icon at the top of the invoice. In version 2013, click on the Reports tab at the top of the invoice then Transaction History. You can also use this feature with bills/bill payments.
- Reconciliations: You hopefully reconcile your business checking account in QuickBooks, but did you know that you can also reconcile your credit card and loan accounts? This is done in the same window you use for bank account reconciliations. Remember to use the correct ending date from your monthly credit card or loan statement and to enter every transaction including finance charges and fees.
Have you found a QB shortcut or feature that you love? If so, share it with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kevinshawcpa
Remember, QB makes you upgrade your software every 3 years (version 2011 will no longer be supported starting in March 2014). As QuickBooks Certified Professional Advisors, we receive product discounts on software, and also on QB payroll subscription fees. We are happy to pass these discounts on to our clients, so check in with Cassy to find out the discounted price when you need to upgrade your software or renew your subscription.
Make a Difference to Children Month
July is National Make a Difference to Children Month. This is a great month to remind us of the many ways adults can make a positive difference in a child’s life such as spending more time with them or volunteering for a kids program in your area. Shaw & Associates is proud to partner with Realities for Children which is an organization that makes a difference to children every day.
It is the middle of the summer and the last thing anyone wants to think about is taxes! I certainly get that. However, the best way to minimize your 2013 taxes and to also make sure you do not have any surprises when you eventually file your return is to do a little tax planning now. Here are a few tips that may help you have a less stressful tax season:
1. Unexpected surprises generally occur due to changes in either your income or expenses.
Some of the more common ones are:
- Large Bonuses – When an employee receives a large bonus, the IRS mandates the minimum amount of taxes that must be withheld on the bonus. Many times this minimum amount is less than the actual tax rate the taxpayer pays on the bonus at the end of the year. Usually the minimum to withhold is 20%. However, you may be in the 25% to 35% tax bracket or higher. Thus the amount withheld could be anywhere from 5% to 15% less than the amount that will actually be paid at the end of the year.
- Self-employment taxes – Many people who start a business do not realize that the net profits of their business (sales minus business expenses) is subject to both income taxes and self-employment taxes. Self-employment taxes (Social Security and Medicare) are charged at 15.3% of the net profits and are paid even if the eventual taxable income of the taxpayer is reduced to zero, after non-business deductions are applied. You can see that this cost could add up in a hurry. Even small profits of say $20,000 can generate $3,000 of self-employment taxes.
- Dependents that are no longer dependents – When a child reaches the age of 19, they can no longer be claimed as a dependent unless they are a student attending classes at least half-time, or they live with you all year and make less than $3,800. Losing a dependency claim can cost a taxpayer $1,000 or more in additional taxes.
- Children that reach the age of 17 – Many people do not realize that the child tax credit ($1,000 for each child) is no longer available after the child reaches the age of 17. This will cost the taxpayer an additional $1,000 in taxes for each child that reaches the age of 17.
2. Potential solutions:
- Whenever unexpected changes to your tax circumstances occur you should analyze it to determine what the tax impact would be. If you get a bonus and determine the withholding is less than the actual tax, set aside the amount of additional tax in a savings account to only pay taxes. If you are not good at saving, you could actually make an estimated payment to the IRS.
- If you are self-employed, make at least your safe-harbor payments (minimum required to prevent penalties) to the IRS through estimated tax payments, then set the rest aside in a savings account. A good rule of thumb for small business owners is to set aside 20% of their gross sales. If you have trouble saving, make more estimated tax payments to the IRS so that you do not get caught short at the end of the year.
- Also for small business owners this would be a great time to consider a retirement plan for the business. A well-structured retirement plan (401(k) SEP, SIMPLE, etc.) can generate significant tax savings while accomplishing very important long-term goals by saving for your eventual retirement. This is a very powerful tool for the small business owner.
- For the small business owner who is making good profits, switching to an S-Corporation has the potential to save significant self-employment taxes based upon a reasonable salary structure for the owner.
I could go on and on, but you can see that it is important to think about these things before it is too late to do anything about them. Once December 31st rolls around most tax planning techniques cannot be implemented. If you would like to discuss your personal situation further, please contact Cassy and she will schedule the appointment.
The business leaders in Larimer County that have chosen to become Members of Realities For Children play an essential role in helping to better and even save the lives of abused and at-risk children locally. These businesses pay monthly membership dues, an advertising expense to the business, and receive marketing and promotion through virtually every media available, and benefit further from the positive name association that goes with being a business that is invested in bettering the lives of abused children in our community.
In addition to providing marketing, these dues underwrite all the administrative expenses of Realities For Children Charities. This is important because it allows Realities For Children Charities to be a sustainable 501(c)(3) non-profit that distributes 100% of every donation received to provide direct services for abused and neglected children within 60 minutes of a request, when all other resources are exhausted or unavailable. It is also beneficial because it provides a non-compete funding resource that helps to truly unite 22 area non-profits and create a collaborative network of services. This is why Realities For Children Charities was named the 2013 Colorado Charity of Choice.
Visit www.RealitiesForChildren.com to learn about the Affiliate Agencies working together to better the lives of abused children and support their valuable work; to make a tax deductible donation to Realities For Children Charities with the knowledge that 100% of your gift will serve local at-risk children in need; to become a Realities for Children business member; or choose to do business with the business members of Realities For Children when you need their services.
Realities For Children is Where Business, Community and Service Come Together