Accounting, Bookkeeping, and QuickBooks Tips for Small Businesses

Posts tagged Bookkeeper

Year-End Bookkeeping Checklist

Box of ReceiptsWow, can you believe the end of the year is quickly approaching? To help get your books in order and ready to send to your tax preparer here is a year-end bookkeeping checklist to help keep you organized. Keep in mind that every business is different. This list is meant to provide you with a general idea of items to take care of before December 31, 2010. When in doubt or if you have questions, seek guidance from a professional who knows your specific business situation.

End of Year Bookkeeping Checklist:

  1. Get Organized: Find all of the receipts for any deduction you are claiming on your tax return. For me, this involves looking in my purse, on my desk, in my car, on the kitchen counter, etc. Keep in mind that no receipt equals no deduction. The best way to stay organized during the year is to enter your transactions into an accounting software, like QuickBooks.

    After collecting all receipts, look over your personal bank statements for any business charges you paid for out of your personal account. Do the same with your business bank statement, but this time look for any personal expenses paid out of your business account. Make a list of these transactions to give to your tax preparer.

  2. Reconcile Your Bank Account(s): Bank Reconciliations are a great tool to verify all transactions have been posted into your accounting software. This ensures your general ledger bank balance (the bank balance in QuickBooks) matches your bank statement. If not, fix any mistakes you discover in the process.
  3. Invoice: Have you invoiced all of your customers for work you’ve done and products you’ve delivered/shipped for the year? If not, get caught up on those invoices.
  4. Collections: Follow up with any customers who owe you money. Send them a past due statement and/or give them a call to remind them they owe you money. Now’s a great time to collect your receivables.

    Look through your accounts receivables. Are there any receivables that you are unable to collect that need to be written off your books or sent to a collection agency?

  5. Inventory: Verify your inventory balance is correctly reported on your balance sheet. The best way to do this is to have an accurate count as of December 31st. You’ll also want to verify that your inventory is valued correctly – determine if any inventory items cost more than they’re worth and need to be written down. Remember, your tax preparer is going to need the following in order to prepare your tax return: 1. Inventory balance at the beginning of the year (January 1st); 2. The cost of inventory purchased throughout the year; 3. The amount of inventory that was sold during the year; 4. The ending inventory balance as of December 31st.
  6. Fixed Assets: These are the larger purchases you made throughout the year (i.e. equipment, automobiles, furniture, computers, etc.). Do you still have all of the fixed assets that are reported on your balance sheet? If not, record the sale or disposal of these fixed assets. Don’t forget to verify the depreciation on your fixed assets as well (if you don’t know how to do this, contact your CPA. They will be able to generate a depreciation schedule for you). Make any necessary adjustments.
  7. Expenses and Accounts Payable: Verify all of your accounts payables have been recorded in your accounting software, such as QuickBooks. Now’s a great time to make your 401(k), SEP IRA, and Simple IRA contributions, if you have not done so already.

    If you are a sole proprietor or a small business, did you know your cell phone charges and internet usage for your business is deductible on your tax return? Collect your cell phone bills & internet bills for the year and determine what percentage of your cell phone calls were for business purposes and what percentage of your internet was used for business. Make a list to give to your tax preparer.

  8. Notes Payable: Verify your notes payable (i.e. loans) amounts on your balance sheet match the statements from your banks. Are you missing any notes payables? Do you have any notes payables that you paid off during the year or debts that were forgiven? Make any necessary adjustments. Not sure how to make the adjustments? No worries, make a list to give to your tax provider or contact a CPA to help you make the necessary adjustments.
  9. Mileage: Great news, you can deduct $0.50 per mile for business miles driven in 2010. That means any trips to clients or for meetings are deductible. I keep a mini notebook in car to track all of my business mileage throughout the year (date, purpose of the trip, starting odometer reading and ending odometer reading) to ensure I have the necessary documentation to claim the mileage deduction. There are also a few apps out there that can track your mileage for you. Please note that your daily commute does not qualify for the deduction.

    The IRS also gives businesses the option to calculate the actual costs of using your vehicle (i.e. gas, maintenance, repairs, etc) rather than using the standard mileage rate. If you decide to go this route, you will need to determine the percentage of time you use your car for business and use this percentage to calculate your deduction.

  10. Collect W-9’s: If you have not collected W-9’s from your vendors and/or contractors you paid $600 or more to throughout the calendar year, now’s a good time to collect those. Don’t forget your 1099’s are due on January 31st. Speaking of 1099’s now’s a good time to order your 1099’s. They can be purchased at most office supply stores (Staples & Office Max) or you can order them for free from the IRS (irs.gov).
  11. Payroll Taxes: Verify your payroll tax liabilities match your quarterly payroll returns.
  12. Double Check your Profit & Loss: After making all of the adjustments listed above, double check your P&L Statement (aka Income Statement). Do your income and expense numbers make sense? Compare your profit and loss statement against prior years and against your budget. Think long and hard to make sure there is no additional income you are missing (i.e. advertising income from your blog, any contract work you did, etc.) and no additional expense items you are missing (i.e. those missing receipts you’ll find at the bottom of your purse or in your junk drawer). Make any necessary adjustments. Remember, no receipt equals no deduction.
  13. Create a Budget for Next Year: See our previous blog entries about creating budgets:
  14. Back Up: Back up your Quickbooks file to protect you from loss of data.

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Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and business solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.


CPA? Accountant? Bookkeeper? What’s the Difference???

CPAChoosing a financial advisor for your business is a big decision. I recommend finding an advisor who you are comfortable working with, a professional with at least 3-5 years of experience, has good references, and most importantly someone who is trustworthy. Sounds easy enough, but then you start looking and realize there are a lot of choices out there. What’s the difference between a Bookkeeper, an Accountant, and a CPA?

Bookkeeper
A bookkeeper is responsible for accurately recording and posting the daily transactions of your business. This usually includes accounts payable (entering and paying bills), accounts receivable (invoicing clients and collecting payments), and entering inventory. Occasionally bookkeepers also assist with payroll. A full-charge bookkeeper can handle the data entry as well as generate basic financial statements.

The education level of bookkeepers vary. Some have an Associates Degree while others only have on-the-job training. With their limited accounting knowledge, bookkeepers are typically the most affordable option. They are a good option for basic data entry needs. Buyer beware, since bookkeepers do not have education requirements, it is important to find one with at least 3-5 years of experience and someone that comes with good references.

Accountant
An Accountant is the next step up from a Bookkeeper. In addition to the bookkeeping tasks, an accountant should be able to set up a bookkeeping/accounting system, monitor it, generate financial statements, and interpret the financial data. Many accountants will also provide tax services to their clients. However, with the new IRS rules going into place, make sure your tax accountant and tax preparer are have are registered with the IRS and have an active Tax Preparer PIN.

Typically an accountant will have a college degree in accounting or business administration. Some will also have a Master’s Degree. Accountants will be educated in basic accounting concepts and will understand the company’s general ledger. For businesses with more complex entries and transactions, accountants make a good choice.

CPA
Certified Public Accountants, CPA for short, is the next level up from an accountant. CPA’s can they perform the duties of an accountant and have the ability to perform an audit. CPA’s are a great choice for your business because not only can they help with your bookkeeping but they also have the knowledge and skills to help take your business to the next level by calculating growth ratios, following growth trends, preparing a budget, tracking your progress against your projected income levels, etc. One of the best benefits to hiring a CPA is that CPA’s are required to complete continuing education courses every year, which helps to ensure they stay current on changing accounting trends and rules. CPA’s are a great resource to help you and your business with tax planning and tax preparation.

In order to become a CPA, the accountant must pass a set of rigorous tests to ensure their knowledge and understanding of the accounting laws and regulations. CPA’s are licensed by the state in which they practice. The state boards and the AICPA set professional and ethical standards that CPA’s agree to follow. Similar to an accountant, CPA’s will hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting or business administration. With new education requirements states have put in place, many CPA’s also poses a Master’s Degree. CPA’s hold the highest level of accounting knowledge, and in return they typically charge more for their services.

As you can see, there are several options available to help your business. Everyone’s situations and needs are different. Finding the right financial and accounting advisor takes time.  I recommend interviewing several advisors to ensure you’re making an informed and educated decision.  Asking friends, family, and neighbors for a recommendation is a great place to start.

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Michelle Edwards, CPA - QuickBooks Consultant Written by Michelle Edwards, CPA
Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Michelle is the owner of Trailhead Accounting Solutions CPA, LLC, an Erie, CO based CPA firm focused on providing small and mid-sized businesses with day-to-day accounting, bookkeeping, and business solutions. Michelle is a CFO turned consultant who loves working with small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she’s not crunching numbers, she can be found hiking, remote camping, gardening, quilting, and hanging out with her family.


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