Don’t Have a Budget? QuickBooks Online Can Help

The hardest part of creating a budget is getting started. QuickBooks Online provides tools that can jump-start the process.

You know you should have a budget. You’re aware that it can help you stay on track with your company’s income and expenses throughout the year. Maybe you’ve even tried to make one before, but you got discouraged by the mechanics or by the difficulty of estimating money in and out for the next 12 months.

June may not be the beginning of your fiscal year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a serious effort to start building a budget that can help you rein in expenses and set revenue goals.

Here’s a look at QuickBooks Online’s budgeting features.

Creating the Framework
Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that your fiscal year is set correctly in QuickBooks Online. Click the gear icon in the upper right, then click Your Company | Account and Settings | Advanced. If the First month of fiscal year isn’t correct, click the pencil icon over to the right and change it. Then click Save and exit out of this window.

Click the gear icon again and select Budgeting, then click Add budget in the upper right.

QuickBooks Online asks you the questions that need to be answered before you start filling in your budget grid.

The first thing you’ll do is give your budget a descriptive name by entering it in the Name field. Next, open the drop-down list under Fiscal year and select the correct 12-month period. You can create your budget in one of three intervals: Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly. If you want to populate your budget with numbers from this year or last, make that selection in the Pre-fill data? field.

There’s one more option at the top of the Budgets Grid screen that’s not shown in the image above. You can Subdivide by Customer, Class, or Location. This can be useful if you want to view budget data specific to a subset of entries in each of those categories. You could, for example, choose three customers and view only their numbers in the grid individually, one at a time.

Providing Your Numbers
Once you’re satisfied with the selections you’ve made, click Create Budget in the lower right. The screen will refresh and display a grid that you can edit.

Let’s say you’re working on a budget for the second half of 2018. QuickBooks Online brought in your numbers for January-May. You see that the numbers don’t vary much from month to month on one specific line item, so you’re going to assume that they will continue to be true (unless you know something that will affect it after May). You could enter a rough average of the first five months in the JUN field.

Hover your cursor over the arrow to the side of that field, and this sentence appears in a small bubble: Click to copy the value across on the row. QuickBooks Online will then enter that number in the JUL through DEC fields.

QuickBooks Online can save you some time as you enter data in your budget grid fields.

When you’re done entering data in all of the fields relevant to your business, click Save in the lower right and close the window. Your budget will now show up in the list.

Tip: If you have multiple blank rows and don’t want them to be displayed, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your budget page. Click in the box in front of Hide blank rows to create a checkmark.

The Hard Part
QuickBooks Online simplifies the mechanics of creating a budget, but it’s up to you to supply the numbers. There’s lots of common-sense advice that experts offer for this process, like:

  • Remember seasonal upswings and downswings.
  • Make your goals as realistic as possible. You might want to create separate budgets for “needs” and “wants.”
  • Track your expenses carefully for a period of time so you can estimate more confidently.
  • Create reports regularly that compare your budget vs actuals.

QuickBooks Online can help you with that last piece of advice; it offers a report called Budget vs. Actuals. You’ll find it in the Business Overview group.

We can help, too. Once we understand a little more about your business structure and goals, we can take a look at your income and expense history, make some personalized recommendations, and start you on the path to a more focused financial future.

QuickBooks Tip: Customizing QuickBooks’ Forms

The invoices and other forms you send to customers and vendors should reflect your company’s attention to detail, accuracy, and consistency.

Every opportunity you have to interact with your customers and vendors is critical. Whether it’s a phone call, an in-person connection, or an email, how you present yourself reveals a lot about you. Are you efficient? Friendly? Do you handle orders and problems and payment issues quickly and carefully?

Your accounting forms can also contribute to your image. They should always be:

  • Neat and attractive.
  • Easy to read, with the most important information displayed prominently.
  • Consistent with any graphics you use on other company materials.
  • Accurate, above all.

You might be able to use at least some of QuickBooks’ form templates as is, without any modifications. But couldn’t they be better? More visually appealing? Formatted to include only the fields that your business most often needs? QuickBooks contains the customization tools you need to make them so.

Improving What Exists

You can personalize your QuickBooks forms and make them consistent with any design themes your brand may use.

We’ll look at the modification options for an invoice, though, depending on what version of QuickBooks you’re using, you can also work with sales receipts, purchase orders, statements, estimates, sales orders, and credit memos. Start by opening the Lists menu and selecting Templates. Highlight Intuit Product Invoice in the list. Click the down arrow next to Templates in the lower left corner and choose Edit Template.

The above image displays part of the window that opens. Here, you can add a logo, change the color scheme, and change fonts for your company’s contact information and the labels that identify each field (like Bill To, Terms, and Quantity). The right pane of this window shows you what the form will look like as you make changes.

Nothing you’ve done so far will prevent you from using Intuit’s pre-printed forms. But when you click Additional Customization at the bottom of the screen, you’ll be warned that if you make modifications beyond this point, the forms may not print correctly. To be safe, click Make a Copy. You’ll be able to print this new version on plain paper.

Deeper Customization

The image below shows you part of the window that opens when you click on Additional Customization. The first two columns here are the most important; they let you specify the labeled fields that will appear on your invoices. When Header is the active column, you’ll be able to choose the content that will go at the top of your form, like Date, Invoice Number, and Terms.

Next to each default label, you’ll see boxes for Screen and Print. Click in these boxes to create or delete checkmarks; this will indicate whether each label will appear in the software itself and which will be printed for your customers to see. If you’d like to change the language QuickBooks uses to describe each, enter your preferred word or phrase in the Title column.

With the Header column highlighted, you can shape the appearance of the top section of your invoices.

 

Warning: As you’re checking and unchecking boxes, a dialog box may open telling you that your changes will cause some fields to overlap on your form. If you click the Default Layout button, QuickBooks will make automatic adjustments to fix this. Clicking Continue means you’ll have to use the software’s Layout Designer to make your own adjustments. This tool is not particularly intuitive, and it requires some design skills. If you must work with the Layout Designer, let us help.

When you click the Columns tab, you’ll see a list of the fields available for the main body of your invoices, like Description, Quantity, and Rate. This works similarly to how you just modified the Header, with one exception: You’ll be able to enter numbers in the Order column to specify the placement of each field. Here again, you’ll be able to watch a preview of your form change in the right pane.

If you want to start over, click the Default button to revert the form to its original state. When you’re done, click OK.

Neatness Counts

Whether you print and mail your forms or simply dispatch them electronically, we strongly encourage you to make them as professional and polished as you possibly can. Their appearance will enhance or detract from the image your customers and vendors have of your business. Let us know if we can help here. We’d be happy to help you learn about and implement the customization options that QuickBooks offers.

QuickBooks Tip: Get Paid Faster Using QuickBooks

Are your customers slow about paying their invoices? QuickBooks can help accelerate your receivables.

Your company’s cash flow depends largely on how quickly your customers pay the invoices you’ve sent. And if you’re like most small businesses, those checks tend to dribble in close to—and after—the due date. If you operate on a slim margin, this often means that you’re late at paying your own bills.

It’s essential, then, that you do what you can to get incoming revenue moving as quickly as possible. QuickBooks offers numerous ways to help you accomplish that critical goal.

Simplify the Payment Process
The single most effective step you can take to speed up customer remittances is to allow payment by credit card or electronic check. If you’re currently only accepting paper checks, you already know what problems that option can create, like mailing time, trips to the bank, and insufficient funds.

To establish this capability, you’ll have to sign up for a merchant account that will connect your bank to the financial institutions used by your customers. There are fees associated with this, and the initial setup will be unfamiliar to you. We can help with this.


Once you sign up for a merchant account, you’ll be able to accept payments from customers by credit card and bank transfer.

Having a merchant account will accelerate your receivables and improve your company’s cash flow, but it has other benefits, too. For example:

  • Your customers will appreciate the convenience, and may even be more likely to make a purchase.
  • In 2018, customers and prospects expect to be able to pay for items and services electronically. Not allowing this affects their perception of you as a forward-thinking, progressive business.
  • You’ll save time, which translates to money. Instead of chasing payments, you can be working on ways to meet your goals and help your company grow.

Always Know Where You Stand
If you’re conscientious about keeping your records and transactions updated, you’ll always have access to the most current data about your company’s financial status. You’ll be able to answer questions from customers and vendors quickly and accurately, and your daily accounting tasks will be much easier to accomplish.

There’s another benefit, though: reports. One of the five best things about QuickBooks is its ability to create dozens of reports using pre-formatted templates. You only have to choose the one you want to see, and the software will display it using your company’s data. You also have the option to customize these reports extensively, so they contain the exact cross section of data that you want to see.

QuickBooks contains dozens of templates for pre-formatted reports that you can customize and create very quickly.

You can see in the image above that several of QuickBooks’ reports are focused specifically on the status of your customers’ invoices and payments. We strongly recommend that you run these reports regularly. The more you know about who is behind and by how much, the more targeted your collections efforts will be.

You’ll also notice that there’s a category of reports called Accountant and Taxes. You can certainly create these yourself, but some, like Trial Balance, will be unfamiliar to you. There are others listed under Company & Financial that are quite complex, but quite important. We’d be happy to analyze these for you on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) and provide insight that will help you make better business decisions.

Remind Late Payers
There are all kinds of reasons why customers pay invoices late. Their bills may have been lost in the mail. They may have ordered so much that they’re confused about which invoices haven’t been paid. And they may just be low on funds.

You can’t do much about the latter reason, but QuickBooks provides a way for you to update customers about their past due payments: statements.


Sometimes, customers just need a full accounting of what they owe in the form of a statement.

It’s not difficult to follow QuickBooks’ customization options for statements, but we’re here to help if you run into difficulties. In fact, we’d be happy to sit down with you and talk about these as well as other options for improving your company’s cash flow. It’s a multi-faceted problem with many solutions; we can go over the options with you. Contact us now to work on making the rest of 2018 more profitable.

QuickBooks Tip: Using Time Tracking in QuickBooks

Previously, we learned about getting QuickBooks ready for time-tracking by activating it in Preferences. We also created a record for a service item. Now we’ll actually use that record in the two ways you’ll be using it in QuickBooks: to pay employees for their hourly work and to bill customers for services.

Recording Employee Hours
There are two ways to enter hours for your employees who provide services to customers and are paid by the hour. The first is to create a work ticket for a single activity. Click Enter Time on the home page, and then Time/Enter Single Activity to open this window:



Single-activity work tickets for employee hours are especially useful if you need to set a timer.

First, check the date to make sure it displays the day when the work was actually done, not recorded. Click the arrow in the field next to Name and select the employee’s name from the drop-down list that opens, then do the same in the Customer:Job field below. The Service Item field needs to display the name of the service performed by the employee.

If you want to time a period of activity, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons under Duration. You can also replace the 0:00 that appears by default with the number of hours and minutes that were worked.

In the middle column, you’ll select the correct Payroll Item from the drop-down list. You can add a new employee if necessary without completing his or her entire record, but be sure to go back and complete it before your next payroll.

Hidden behind the drop-down menu is a field titled WC Code, which stands for Workers’ Compensation Code. It will only appear if you’re using QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll and have that feature turned on.

Tip: If these two fields do not appear, you’ve selected an employee who isn’t timesheet-based.

In the upper right hand corner, you’ll see a field labeled Billable. Be sure you click in the box to create a checkmark if you’ll be invoicing a customer for the work done.

Save the activity record when you’ve completed it.

Using Timesheets



You can enter employees’ hours directly on a timesheet instead of creating a single activity record.

QuickBooks offers a second option for entering employee hours: timesheets. You’ll notice that there’s a Timesheet icon in the toolbar of the Time/Enter Single Activity window. If you click on it with a completed record open, a new window opens containing a graphical representation of a paper timesheet.

If you enter employee hours in a single activity record, they will appear on a timesheet, and vice versa. There are two advantages to entering hours directly on the timesheet, though. The first is that it’s faster. And secondly, you can click the Copy Last Sheet icon if you’re just going to duplicate an employee’s previous pay period’s hours. If you want to go there straight from the home page, click Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet.

Billing Customers for Time
QuickBooks makes it very easy to transfer billable hours worked by employees to the corresponding customers’ invoices. After you’ve entered blocks of time spent on services, open an invoice form and select the customer. This window will open:



Once you’ve entered billable hours worked by an employee, simply open an invoice form and select that customer to open this window.

By default, Select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice? is checked. When you click OK, a new window opens displaying a grid that contains all of that customer’s billable time. You can Select All or click in front of each entry you want to include. You’ll notice here that there are also tabs on the grid for Expenses, Mileage, and Items that can be billed back to the customer.

If you choose not to carry billable hours over to the invoice at the present time, you can always add them by clicking Add Time/Costs in the invoice’s toolbar.

Questions? We’re always available to help ensure that you’re billing customers for all costs they incur – and to talk about any other element of accounting that affects your cash flow.

QuickBooks Tip: Tracking Time in QuickBooks

When you sell a product to a customer, you know it. It goes away, and your inventory count in QuickBooks is reduced by one. This tracking helps you know what’s selling and what’s not, and it signals when a reorder is due.

If your business provides services to customers, though, you’re selling your employees’ time and skills. There’s no inventory count; you can sell as many hours as you have workers to fill them. Tracking time accurately and comprehensively, though, is as important as knowing how many hard drives or tote bags you’ve sold.

QuickBooks contains tools to help you record the hours employees spend doing work for customers, so you can bill them for services rendered. You can also use these same features to enter employee time for payroll purposes. The software offers two options here: single-activity records and timesheets.

Building the Foundation
We’ve discussed QuickBooks’ Preferences many times before. The software was designed to support small businesses with a wide variety of structures and needs, so it needs to be flexible. For that reason, we always recommend that you check in with your “Preference” options before you explore new features.

To get there, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left vertical pane, click on Time & Expenses, then on the Company Preferencestab at the top. Here is a look at the top part of the window that opens:


The Company Preferences window for Time & Expenses displays multiple options.

To make sure that QuickBooks’ time-tracking features are turned on before you start, click the button next to Yes under Do you track time? Specify the First Day of Work Week by opening that drop-down list. If you know that all your time entries will be billable, click in the box in front of that statement.

There are other options in that window; we’ll talk about them next month.

Creating Service Items
Before you can start tracking billable time, you have to create a record for each service offered – just like you would for a physical product. Click the Items & Services icon on the home page or open the Lists menu and select Item List. The window that opens will eventually display a table containing all the items and services you’ve created.

To define a service item, click Item in the lower left corner, then New, to open a window like this:


You can create numerous types of items in QuickBooks; Service is one of them.

Click the down arrow in the field under Type to see your options here. There are many, ranging from Service to Inventory Part to Sales Tax Group. Select Service. In the field under Item Name/Number, enter a word or phrase and/or number that describes the service, and that won’t get confused with another.

If you had already created an item like “New Construction Services” and you wanted “Carpet Installation” to appear as a subitem of it, you’d click in the box in front of Subitem of to create a checkmark, then open the drop-down list below it and select “New Construction Services.”

Ignore the Unit of Measure section. If this designation is important to your business, talk to us about upgrading your version of QuickBooks. Connect with us, too, if the service you’re defining is used in assemblies or is performed by a subcontractor or partner, as these are more advanced situations.

Enter a brief Description in that box and your hourly charge—to the customer—in the field to the right of Rate. Click the down arrow in the field next to Tax Code to select the item’s taxable status.

It’s very important that you get the next field right. QuickBooks wants to know which account in your company’s Chart of Accounts should be assigned to this item. In this case, it would be “Construction Income.” If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of assigning accounts, let’s set up a session to deal with this and other basic knowledge you should have.

When you’re done, click OK.

If you have any questions related to this article, please give us a call.

Five QuickBooks Reports You Need to Run in January

Does your accounting to-do list look like a clean slate, or are critical 2017 tasks still nagging?

Getting all of your accounting tasks done in December is always a challenge. In addition to the vacation time you and your employees may have taken over the holidays, there year-end projects.

How did you do last month? Were you ready to move forward when you got back to the office in January? Or did you run out of time and have to leave some accounting chores undone?

Besides paying bills and chasing payments, submitting taxes and counting inventory in December, there’s another item that should have been on your to-do list: creating end-of-year reports. If you didn’t get this done, it’s not too late. It’s important to have this information as you begin the New Year. QuickBooks can provide it.

A Report Dashboard
You may be using the Reports menu to access the pre-built frameworks that QuickBooks offers. Have you ever explored the Report Center, though? You can get there by clicking Reports in the navigation toolbar or Reports | Report Center on the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.

QuickBooks’ Report Center introduces you to all of the software’s report templates and helps you access them quickly.

As you can see in the image above, the Report Center divides QuickBooks’ reports into categories and displays samples of each. Click on one of the tabs at the top if you want to:
  • Memorize a report using any customization you applied.
  • Designate a report as a Favorite.
  • See a list of the most Recent reports you ran.
  • Explore reports beyond those included with QuickBooks, Contributed by Intuit or other parties.

Recommended Reports
Here are the reports we think you should run as soon as possible if you didn’t have a chance to in December:

Budget vs Actual
We hope that by now you’ve at least started to create a budget for 2018. If not, the best way to begin is by looking at how close you came to your numbers in 2017. QuickBooks actually offers four budget-related reports, but Budget vs Actual is the most important; it tells you how your actual income and expenses compare to what was budgeted.

Budget Overview is just what it sounds like: a comprehensive accounting of your budget for a given period. Profit & Loss Budget Performance is similar to Budget vs Actual. It compares actual to budget amounts for the month, fiscal year-to-date, and annual. Budget vs Actual Graph provides a visual representation of your income and expenses, giving you a quick look at whether you were over or under budget during specific periods.

Income & Expense Graph
You’ve probably been watching your income and expenses all year in one way or another. But you need to look at the whole year in total to see where you stand. This graph shows you both how income compares to expenses and what the largest sources of each are. It doesn’t have the wealth of customization options that other reports due, but you can view it by date, account, customer, and class.

A/R Aging Detail

QuickBooks’ report templates offer generous customization options.

Which customers still owe you money from 2017? How much? How far past the due date are they? This is a report you should be running frequently throughout the year. Right now, though, you want to clean up all of the open invoices from 2017. A/R Aging Detail will show you who is current and who is 31-60, 61-90, and 91+ days old. You might consider sending Statements to those customers who are way past due.

A/P Aging Detail
Are you current on all of your bills? If so, this report will tell you so. If some bills slipped through the cracks in December, contact your vendors to let them know you’re on it.

Sales by Item Detail
January is a good time to take a good look at what sold and what didn’t in 2017 before you start placing orders for 2018. We hope you’re watching this closely throughout the year, but looking at monthly and annual totals will help you identify trends – as well as winners and losers.

QuickBooks offers some reports in the Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes categories that you can create, but which really require expert analysis. These include Balance Sheet, Trial Balance, and Statement of Cash Flows. You need the insight they can offer on at least a quarterly basis, if not monthly. Connect with us, and we can set-up a schedule to look at these reports. If you have any QuickBooks questions, or would like any assistance, please contact us.

QuickBooks Tip — Working with Downloaded Transactions in QuickBooks Online

Downloading transactions into QBO is the easy part. You still have work to do once they’re on board.

Its ability to download financial transactions is one of the five best things about QuickBooks Online. Without it, you’d spend a lot of time on tedious data entry, verifying which checks and deposits had cleared and entering new ones.

Instead, you can easily connect to your bank and bring in all your activity from the previous hours or day. QuickBooks Online stores this neatly in a register and provides tools for you to further describe and classify each transaction.

Setting Up the Connection
Haven’t connected your financial institution to QuickBooks Online yet? It’s easy. Click the Banking link in the toolbar, then Add Account in the upper right. The Find your bank window opens. Start entering the name of your bank, credit card company, or service like PayPal in the blank field. A list of potential matches will drop down; you simply select the one you want. A window like this will open:

All you need to do to start downloading transactions into QuickBooks Online is select your financial institution and enter the User ID and Password you use to connect directly to the site.

You will have to go through some security procedures, and then QuickBooks Online will download 90 days of transactions (you can shorten this if you’d like). You’ll also be asked which QBO account should receive the transactions. After a few minutes, the register for that account will appear, displaying the transactions you just downloaded.

Warning: The mechanics of connecting to your bank and downloading your first batch of transactions may sound easy, but if everything is not absolutely clear to you as you’re going through the process, please contact us sooner rather than later.

Working with Transactions
Once you’ve downloaded a set of transactions, you’ll want to look at them. Again, click the Banking link in the navigation toolbar. Your accounts will appear in small boxes at the top of the page, along with two balances: the one that came from the financial institution and the one in QuickBooks Online. Select the one you want by clicking on it, and its register will open.
Tip: QuickBooks Online generally updates your accounts once daily. If you want to launch a manual update at any time, click on Update in the upper right corner.

Let’s look at one downloaded transaction to see what you can do with it. Make sure the For Review column is highlighted above the register. Select a transaction by clicking on it. A window like this will open below it:

QuickBooks Online does more than simply download financial transactions: It lets you define them in greater detail.

There are several options here, including:

  • Add to register. If you’re satisfied with the information as is, just click the Add button to the right (not pictured here).
  • Split. If you want to split the amount/category (Supplies, Tools, etc.)/class of a transaction, click Split (also off to the right and not pictured). A window will open to let you specify that.
  • Assign categories. QuickBooks Online may automatically make assignments to obvious categories, which you can change if incorrect. You can also click the down arrow to the right of that field and select your own from the list.
  • Bill an expense to a customer. Did you purchase something that needs to be billed to a customer? Click in the box under Billable and select the correct one from the drop-down list that opens.
  • Find matches. This can get complicated, and we recommend you let us work with you on it. Let’s say you entered an invoice in QuickBooks Online, and an income item for that exact amount gets downloaded from your bank. QBO will assume that those two “match,” and display them in the In QuickBooks column. You can click Undo if this is incorrect. But you can also click Find match in the transaction window, and QBO will open a list of possibilities.

As you can see from browsing the lists of downloaded transactions, there’s a lot to learn here. We’d be happy to get together and walk you through your first explorations of these powerful features.

QuickBooks Tip: Setting Up Sales Tax in QuickBooks Online

Sales tax is one of the more complicated concepts supported by QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online was designed for you, the small businessperson. You’ve probably discovered that many of its features are fairly easy to use from the start.

But just because QuickBooks Online can do something doesn’t mean you should attempt it on your own. Sales tax is one of those things. Depending on your geographical location, you may have to charge not only state sales tax, but also county and city/municipality taxes (and sometimes special taxes). If you’re selling products or services to customers in other states, your situation can get very complicated.

We’ll show you some of the mechanics involved, but we strongly recommend that you let us help you with this.

Setting Up Sales Tax
We’ll describe the process of setting up sales tax rates so you can see how it will work. Click the Taxes link in the toolbar. The new screen should open to the Sales Tax Center; if it doesn’t, click its link in the toolbar above. In the right vertical pane, under Related Tasks, click Add/edit tax rates and agencies. Then click New to open this window.

 

You can define either a Single tax rate or Combined tax rate in this window.

You’d enter the Tax name, Agency name, and Rate in the designated fields if you’re just creating a Single tax rate. In some cases, you may have to enter a Combined tax rate. If so, click the button in front of that label. The window that opens contains fields that are similar to the ones in the above image, except that Tax name is replaced by Component name. You’ll choose this option when you have to record individual elements of the tax separately. For example, Ft. Myers | Lee County| Florida State.To muddy things up even more, some items in some situations are exempt from sales tax.

Questions about the Combined tax rate? Contact us.

When you’re done, click Save. You’ll see the tax you just created in a table in the window that opens. To define a New tax, Edit an existing one, or Deactivate one in the list, click the appropriate button. If you’ve entered all you’ll need for now, click Return to Sales Tax Owed and Recent Payments.Your Responsibilities
Once you’ve set up all the sales tax rates required for you, QuickBooks Online will calculate them for you in transactions where they need to be collected. You can see the running tally in the Sales Tax Center, but it’s up to you to create and record payments on the prescribed schedule. You can also run related reports here.

The site bases its calculations on three things:

  • The state(s) where you have obtained a sales tax permit(s),
  • Your company’s physical location, and,
  • The customer address on the sales form.

But QuickBooks Online can’t know the exact tax situation for all its users. You have to do some detective work before you even approach us for help setting up sales taxes. You’ll need to know, for example, whether your state taxes the products or services you sell. Also, what’s the sales tax rate(s) for the affected states? What agency collects it? When are the payments you’ve collected from your customers due?

Your state government’s website should cover all of this.

Sales Tax Settings
Before you start working with sales tax, you’ll also need to make sure your settings are correct. Go back to the Sales Tax Center and click Edit tax settings on the right side of the screen to open this window.

To save time, QuickBooks Online lets you set some default sales tax actions.

Click the button in front of Yes after Do you charge sales tax? if it’s not already selected. If most of your transactions will use the same sales tax, you can set it as the default (but change it during transactions if necessary). If the majority of customers, products, and services will be subject to sales tax, you can check the boxes in front of the Mark all…statements (these designations, too can be edited in individual transactions).You can see that using QuickBooks Online’s sales tax tools requires research, decisions, and extreme accuracy (state revenue departments run occasional audits). We have to stress again the importance of consulting with us if you need to take this on. It’s an exceptionally complex element of accounting, and we want to make it work for you.

QuickBooks Tip: Creating Customer Statements in QuickBooks

Let’s say you have a regular customer who used to pay on time, but he’s been hit-and-miss lately. How do you get him caught up?

Or, one of your customers thinks she’s paid you more than she owes. How do you straighten out this account?

Both of these situations have a similar solution. QuickBooks’ statements provide an overview of every transaction that has occurred between you and individual customers during a specified period of time. They’re easy to create, easy to understand, and can be effective at resolving payment disputes.

A Simple Process
Here’s how they work. Click Statements on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Statements. A window like this will open:

QuickBooks provides multiple options on this screen so you create the statement(s) you need.

First, make sure the Statement Date is correct, so your statement captures the precise set of transactions you want. Next, you have to tell QuickBooks what that set is. Should the statement(s) include transactions only within a specific date range? If so, click the button in front of Statement Period From, and enter that period’s beginning and ending dates by clicking on the calendar graphic. If you’d rather, you can include all open transactions by clicking on the button in front of that option. As you can see in the screenshot above, you can choose to Include only transactions over a specified number of days past due date.

Choosing Customers
Now you have to tell QuickBooks which customers you want to include in this statement run. Your options here are:

  • All Customers. 
  • Multiple Customers. When you click on this choice, QuickBooks displays a Choose button. Click on it, and your customer list opens in a new window. Click on your selections there to create a check mark. Click OK to return to the previous window.
  • One Customer. QuickBooks displays a drop-down menu. Click the arrow on the right side of the box, and choose the correct one from the list that opens.
  • Customers of Type. Again, a drop-down list appears, but this one contains a list of the Customer Types you created to filter your customer list, like Commercial and Residential. You would have assigned one of these to customers when you were entering data in their QuickBooks records (click the Additional Info tab in a record to view).
  • Preferred Send Method. E-mail or Mail?

Miscellaneous Options
At the top of the right column, you can select a different Template if you’d like, or Customize an existing one. Not familiar with the options you have to change the layout and content of forms in QuickBooks? We can introduce you to the possibilities.

Below that, you can opt to Create One Statement either Per Customer or Per Job. The rest of the choices here are pretty self-explanatory – except for Assess Finance Charges. If you’ve never done this, we strongly recommend that you let us work with you on this complex process.

When you’re satisfied with the options you’ve selected in this window, click the Preview button in the lower left corner of the window (not pictured here). QuickBooks will prepare all the statements in the background, then display the first one. You can click Next to view them one by one. At the bottom of each, you’ll see a summary of how much is due in each aging period, like this:

It’s easy to see how much each customer is past due within each aging period. This summary appears at the bottom of statements.
After you’ve checked all the statements, click the Print or E-mail button at the bottom of the window.

Other Avenues
Your company’s cash flow depends on the timely payment of invoices. Sending statements is only one way to encourage your customers to catch up on their past due accounts. There are many others, like opening a merchant account so customers can pay you online with a bank card or electronic check. If poor cash flow is threatening the health of your business, give us a call. We can work together to identify the trouble spots and get you on the road to recovery.

QuickBooks Tip – Using QuickBooks’ Income Tracker

You can get an enormous amount of useful information from QuickBooks’ reports – especially if you customize them to isolate the precise data you want. Reports included with the software range from the very simple, like Open Invoices, to output that’s exceptionally complex, like Trial Balance and Profit & Loss.

Warning: Standard financial reports like Trial Balance are easy to run in QuickBooks, but very difficult to understand and analyze. You should, though, be aware of what they’re telling you at least once a quarter – even once a month in some cases. We can help with this.

Sometimes, especially first thing in the morning as you’re planning your day, you just want to cut to the chase and get a quick overview of your company’s finances. That’s where QuickBooks’ Income Tracker comes in. It not only provides that overview, but it also contains links to related screens where you can do the work that’s needed there.

A Simple Layout
Click the Income Tracker link in the toolbar to open the tool’s main screen. If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, you’ll see a framework like this with your own company’s data already filled in.

QuickBooks Income Tracker displays both summaries of income types and the specific transactions that contribute to those totals.

Look first at the top of the screen. You’ll see six horizontal bars, each of which represents groups of transactions that either require immediate attention or will at some point in the future. Besides identifying the type of transaction, each block displays the number of transactions involved and their total dollar amount. They are:
  • Estimates – estimates that have been created and shared with customers, but haven’t yet turned into sales
  • Sales Orders – orders that have been entered but have been neither fulfilled nor converted to invoices
  • Time & Expenses – hours that have been recorded for customers but not yet invoiced
  • Open Invoices – invoices that have been created and sent to customers, but no payments have been received
  • Overdue – open invoices that have passed their due dates
  • Paid Last 30 Days – payments that have been received within the last 30 days

Modifying the View
Click on any of the colored bars, and the list of transactions below will change to include only those that meet that particular criteria. To get back to the default display of all transactions, click the Clear/Show All link in the upper right of the screen.

QuickBooks also lets you display a user-defined subset of the transactions. Click on one of the four drop-down lists above the transaction grid itself to change the view of:

  • Customer: Job – choose just one from the complete list
  • TypeSales Orders, Invoices, Received Payments, etc.
  • StatusAll, Open, Overdue, or Paid
  • Date – multiple ranges available

You can also modify the toolbar if your company doesn’t use all the sales forms/transaction types supported. To do so, click the gear icon in the far upper right of the screen and click in the boxes in front of Estimates, Sales Orders and/or Time & Expenses to remove them.

Taking Action
QuickBooks’ Income Tracker provides a great way to get a quick look at your finances. But it also serves as a launching pad for related activities.

Click the down arrow in the Action column to take care of tasks related to that transaction.

Highlight a transaction by clicking in the row, then click the down arrow at the end of the row in the Action column. The options that appear there depend on the type of transaction you selected. Choose a Sales Order, for example, and you can Convert to Invoice, Print Row, or Email Row. Options for an invoice are Receive Payment, Print Row, or Email Row.

As we said before, QuickBooks offers numerous reports that can give you more insight about your accounts receivable. If you understand the software’s robust customization tools, you can create reports about your income that will answer questions you may have. If you don’t, let us know. We’ll be happy to work with you on pulling together just the data you need.