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Sample Fiscal Policies and Procedures

Using the breadth of our knowledge and experience, we developed the Sample Fiscal Policies and Procedures in the link below. Not only do we feel these guidelines work best across all of our clients, but we also use this document to expedite the onboarding process with new clients. If you have comments or edits, please feel free to let us know at info@remotecpa.com

Click here to view the Remote CPA Sample Policies and Procedures

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sample Expense Report Form

As employees, members, and stakeholders carry out work on behalf of your organization, you may find it necessary to ask these people to fill out forms giving us information as to what they spent money on. There may even be cases when they used personal funds if a corporate card was not available. Or, they may have driven their personal car, in which case they need to be reimbursed for mileage. Feel free to use the form below to collect all of this information on a monthly basis.

Click here to view the Remote CPA Sample Expense Report & Reimbursement Form

AR and AP Shortcuts for Remote CPA clients

You want to get paid: Here's how to create an invoice

You've completed the work and now it's time for you to get paid, but your client is requesting an invoice from you. How should you create the invoice and what elements should it have?

  • Unique identifier for each invoice

  • Date invoice is created and sent

  • Payment terms (net 10, net 15, net 30, etc.)

  • Due date

  • Description of work provided

  • Amount for each line item (especially when there were both goods and services provided)

  • Total amount due

  • Acceptable methods of payment (be sure to specify who to make the check payable to and include a mailing address, if you accept checks)

How to Create Invoices in QuickBooks Online

You want to pay someone: Here's a free W-9 Guide

One challenge of owning a small business is collecting W-9s and knowing when to send a 1099. As a general rule, if you pay anyone $600 or more by cash, check, or debit (but not credit card) you should collect a W-9 and evaluate whether or not you need to send a 1099. These would include payments for services, not goods.

To download the most recent Form W-9, visit this IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-w-9

To read more about when to file Form 1099, visit this IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/am-i-required-to-file-a-form-1099-or-other-information-return

In order to request W-9s from your vendors, feel free to copy/paste the free script below.

Dear [Vendor],

 

As a vendor who may earn $600 or more from [Your Organization Name] during [Current Year]. The IRS requires us to request a W-9 from you so we can evaluate the need to provide you with a 1099 before January 31. In order to protect our long-term business relationship, please complete the attached form and return to us no later than [seven days from now].

Instead of sending this form via email, please use this encrypted link to upload it securely. Email is not a secure method of communication for sensitive taxpayer ID numbers.

 

https://remotecpa.sharefile.com/share/getinfo/r0f5aeb9598849d5a

 

 

Many thanks,

Year-End Checklist

  • 1099s are due on the last business day of January (or first business day of February if January 31 falls on a weekend). However, it's almost impossible to complete all of these at the last minute, so you should be collecting W-9s throughout the year. In fact, it's best practice to collect a vendor's W-9 before you pay them. If you are a Remote CPA client, it's best to upload these sensitive documents using your encrypted Citrix ShareFile account.

  • Ensure accuracy for all payroll employees (name, DOB, address, email address). It would be a good time to get them setup to receive electronic communications so you can avoid the question, "When am I getting my W-2?"

  • Follow-up on any uncashed checks that are lingering on your reconciliations, so we can have a clean year-end close.

  • Be prepared to send donor receipt letters to anyone who requests one. QuickBooks is a great tool to run a Donor Summary Report so you can easily see who gave how much.

  • Be ready to compile all bank statements, credit card statements, and investment statements for a smooth year end.

  • Double check Undeposited Funds, Uncategorized Asset, and Uncategorized Expense accounts in QBO to make sure you won't have any unwelcome surprises when you go to reconcile.

  • Compile any data for in-kind donations. While they might not have any cash impact on your financials, they are legally required to be included on your annual form 990.

  • Consider capitalization on any fixed asset purchases in excess of $1,000.

  • Go ahead and get your books closed through November. Ideally, you will do this every month, but it's especially important to close November in December. This is because when you go to close the year, you will only have 1/12 the amount of work to do rather than trying to get all caught up in January. Not only will you feel more empowered with your finances, but you will also have so much less pressure when the deadlines are just around the corner.

Most Frustrating Elements of QuickBooks Online

Even though QuickBooks Online (“QBO”) is our favorite accounting software, nothing is perfect. As everyday users, we are well aware of some of its shortcomings. Especially at this time of year, when the needs of accounting guidance push us too long for something more. Often when discussing with our colleagues, we find that many of them loathe QBO and they wouldn’t even consider leaving the comfort of QuickBooks Desktop, but…

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide

 

Meals and Entertainment

By default, the Chart of Accounts combined Meals and Entertainment into one account on almost all of our clients. Now that the Congress has disallowed the entertainment deduction, this is a huge nightmare. Most new clients have always combined these categories even all throughout 2018, after the entertainment deduction was disallowed. It seems like an easy fix, right? Just run through the transactions in 2018 and reclass the different transactions. But what about a client who has been using QBO for years and they want to maintain comparability for their year-over-year accounts… year, it’s a big tedious mess. Our best solution: Split the two accounts under one parent account that can be collapsed to compare prior periods.

Bank Feeds

Adding transactions from the bank feed doesn’t always list them under the proper vendor/customer account. For example, when a client uses the bank feed to add deposits that were received from a customer and then we go to print a cumulative statement of activity for that customer… not all the payments show up. WHY?!

 

Reconciliations

Why can’t QuickBooks reconcile itself? After all, this is 2019 and we are on the brink of artificial intelligence? Despite how frustrating reconciliations can be, they have actually come a long way. Especially now that QBO automatically selects transactions that have been matched or added from the bank feed. More than ever before, my reconciliations are going to an unreconciled difference of $0 on the first try!

 

Payroll

Why is QuickBooks Payroll so glitchy? Many clients have attempted to perform payroll on their own because they see a slightly cheaper cost. Some of them figure it out, but most crash and burn when it comes time to pay monthly withholding… especially with State and Local Taxes. You could try QBO Full Service Payroll or even opt for a professional Payroll provider, I wouldn’t blame you either way.

 

App Integrations

It’s so easy to ask, “does this app integrate with QuickBooks?” Almost always, the answer is “yes”. But that’s never the complete answer. You need to ask *how* the app integrates with QuickBooks. Does it support classes, divisions, items, and other optional features (which could be uniquely used in your business)? It is so often that we come across a client who hastily integrated a new app only to find it duplicated entries, added new balance sheet accounts, or caused chaos that went undiscovered for months. The best practice is to fully research and understand an app before you process the integration. Furthermore, work with you QBO ProAdvisor to try the integration in the Sample Company.

 

Overall

Despite a few flaws, QBO is our favorite cloud-based accounting software (see why you should still choose QBO over outdated QuickBooks Desktop below). It’s the most user friendly, most integrated, and most powerful small enterprise accounting software. What’s best is that the staff at Intuit listens to our feedback and they are always striving to make the software better.

January is the best time to switch to QBO

Maybe you’ve been wondering about QuickBooks Online (“QBO”) for some time or maybe it hasn’t even crossed your mind. Either way, now is a great time to do your research and maybe even give it a try.

 

Why is January such a good time to switch to QuickBooks Online?

If you have a traditional January to December fiscal year, then you can start fresh with a clean QBO file. You can close out last year in your old accounting system and make peace with a complete set of records. Then, as you complete the year, you will have a new complete set of records in a system that is much more mobile and robust to meet your needs.

 

Do I need to close out my books in my old system before I start my new QuickBooks Online file?

Not necessarily, because you can go back and adjust your beginning balances once your prior year ending balances are finalized. However, if you want the cleanest possible records, it is best to reconcile in your old system so you can easily input your beginning balance sheet accounts.

 

The year is going to fly by.

It might seem daunting to start a new accounting system when you really won’t see major benefits until 12 months from now, but that time will fly by. You have to start somewhere, and if you don’t start now then you are seriously cheating your future self. You will feel so accomplished when you can run year-over-year reports easily and on the go, so you can always compare your current performance to what you’ve experienced in the past and adjust accordingly.

Even if you can’t get started on January 1, it’s never officially too late. If your organization has a high volume of transactions, it might be too difficult to rebuild records all the way back to the beginning of the year. Just be aware that this will take extra time for your accountant to consolidate reports out of two systems at year-end and you could be charged for the extra time.

How to use QuickBooks Online to Manage W-9s and file 1099s

One of the most daunting tasks I see small businesses struggle with at the end of the year is sending W-9s, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all! Our friends at QuickBooks have completely solved the W-9/1099 process and if you’re not using it yet, it’s a great time to start.

How can I do this in QuickBooks?

Whenever you’re about to pay a contractor it’s always best practice to require them to submit a W-9 to you before you remit payment. Once they receive their money from you, they really don’t have any incentive to give you their W-9 (especially if they are acting unethically and understating their taxable income). Once you have the W-9, I recommend attaching the file right in the Vendor Details record in the QuickBooks Online ("QBO") contact file.

 

After you attach the file, it’s also a best practice to enter the Taxpayer ID Number ("TIN") right in the vendor contact details and select the box that says “Track payments for 1099”. At the end of the year, you won’t have to re-type the TIN when you go to file 1099s (assuming you use the built-in filing feature within QuickBooks).

 

How Can I Make My Life Even Easier?

The ultimate best practice for ease, convenience, and security is to use QuickBooks built in Contractors feature. You can send an email invite directly from QBO to your contractor and it allows them to fill in their own TIN/SSN/EIN. What’s even more slick is that it also allows them to enter their routing/account numbers for direct deposit. How awesome is that?! You can require them to enter their own TIN and pay them all in one step. All you have to do is setup your bank account in “Payroll Settings”. Right now, there is a $2 fee every time you use this feature, but the price of a check is also about $2 and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of mailing it or hand delivering it.

 

What do I do when it’s time to file 1099s?

If you’ve followed these suggested setup procedures, all you have to do is head over to Expenses or Contractors and click the button that says “Prepare 1099s” in the upper right. QBO will ask you what accounts it should consider for 1099 payments and it won’t consider any accounts that you don’t select. This is why I always recommend running a payment summary report by vendor to cross-check the list of 1099s QBO generates for you.

What is "Undeposited Funds" in QBO?

Undeposited Funds is one of the most misunderstood features in QuickBooks. In fact, Intuit (the parent company of QuickBooks) even acknowledges that this is the most misunderstood feature in QuickBooks. Long story short, it allows you to receive multiple sources of income in one bank deposit but it adds an element of complexity that might not be apparent to the average user.

What’s an example of when I would use Undeposited Funds?

Think of a situation when two customers might pay you on the same day using two different checks. When you take the two checks to the bank, you can deposit them both into the bank account in one deposit. In order to streamline the process, you can use Undeposited Funds to ensure the deposit ties to the bank statement. This means you will receive a check from each customer and create both payments in QuickBooks choosing the “Undeposited Funds” account. Then, you choose the “+” in the upper right hand corner to select “Bank Deposit”. Listed in the Bank Deposit screen will be all the payments you have recently accepted. You can choose which bank account you’re depositing them into in the option at the top. Then, you can select which payments you are depositing together.

Why are there a bunch of transactions in Undeposited Funds that have already been deposited?

Unfortunately, this is the most common problem I see as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. It means the business owner has not received an incoming payment properly. There are a few different scenarios that can happen when Undeposited Funds is wrong. The business may have created invoices to charge its customers and then re-created Sales Receipts to deposit the funds. Or, maybe the business owner went straight to the “Bank Deposit” screen upon receiving the payment and neglected to receive the payment against prior outstanding invoices. Both of these situations would cause an over statement in Accounts Receivable (because the invoice never gets cleared out) and an overstatement in Undeposited Funds.

What’s the best practice for using Undeposited Funds?

You should create an invoice or a sales receipt every time a customer owes you money. When the customer pays, you can receive the funds against the outstanding invoice or you can create a new sales receipt from scratch. Both options allow you to choose which bank account to designate the funds for. If you choose Undeposited Funds, then you will be depositing multiple customer payments in one bank deposit. However, if you’re depositing one customer payment at a time then you can just choose the proper bank account the funds will be deposited to.

 

How can I enter credit card fees?

Often times, our customers will want to pay with credit card. This can be accomplished through QuickBooks payments or through another processor such as Square. If you use QuickBooks payments, then the gross income is recorded along with the processing fee. However, if you use another processor such as Square, then you can use Undeposited Funds to record the fee. You can record multiple incoming payments to Undeposited Funds and then batch them to deposit to your bank account at once At the bottom of the Bank Deposit screen, you can choose a vendor, expense/fee account, enter all the data, and then input a *negative* number in the amount of the fee. When you scroll to the bottom of the screen, you’ll notice the net amount equals the total income less processing fees. It’s a miracle and now reconciling is a breeze!

Why you should choose QuickBooks Online over the (outdated) QuickBooks Desktop

Whether you're starting a new organization or you've been operating for some time, the choice of which accounting software to use can be daunting. Every leader has different ways of operating, different goals, and different metrics on how they evaluate their business. That's the secret to running your own successful operation, right? Plus, there's the added task of record-keeping for the tax agency: Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") or the state Department of Revenue ("DOR").

 

Let's take a look at QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop to consider what options might be best for you.

QuickBooks Desktop seems to have more features, but does it? At first glance, it seems like Desktop has more built in right out of the box. The online version seems too basic and almost naked compared to the Desktop version. However, when you check out apps.com, there are so many internet-based apps that you can almost surely make up for whatever QBO lacks compared to QBD. Plus, the apps are constantly updated with new features whereas QBD is not updated as often, nor with as many improvements.

Price

Another compelling feature might be the fixed price (the idea of paying up front is better than paying small amounts over time). You buy it once and that's all you have to pay for two years, which seems like a good deal to a leader who's looking to control monthly costs. However, QBD is expected to go toward the same monthly or annual subscription model as QuickBooks Online. Plus, for 501c3 organizations, you can get QuickBooks Online for almost free through TechSoup!

But is it secure?

Is our data any safer than the cloud if it's on a desktop computer that could still be hacked from its internet connection? What about the lack of security from outdated versions of QBD for those businesses who haven't updated in more than two years? Maybe, the cloud is actually a better alternative. Data that's constantly backed up and continuously monitored for hacking attacks seems like a better bet than stagnant data exposed on old operating systems. Plus, you shouldn't be storing passwords or any other login credentials in QB anyway, so even if someone gets a hold of your data hopefully they wouldn't be able to take action with it.

Limited Access

Finally, let's talk about the elephant in the room, the biggest disadvantage of QBD is that you can only use it on one computer at a time. The advantage of mobile access is the clear winner because who doesn't want to generate invoices on the job site or access up-to-date bank balances when shopping for new equipment? For those organizations on the go, QBO is a must because you can access it from anywhere in the world and right from your mobile device.

Overall, QBO is still revolutionary and not everyone is onboard with Intuit's latest product. Some are hesitant on the new interface that's streamlined and possibly too simple. However, most businesses can embrace the future and (hopefully) get a leg up on their competition who is still stuck on the old desktop machines.

Fraud and Scams to Watch Out For

From IRS "Dirty Dozen" list, which can be found here

The IRS advises taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who set up fake organizations to take advantage of the public's generosity. They especially take advantage of tragedies and disasters, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Taxpayers should always check out a charity before they donate, and they should not feel pressured to give immediately.

Taxpayers who give money or goods to a charity may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return by reducing the amount of their taxable income. But taxpayers should remember that to receive a deduction, taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. (It's also important for taxpayers to remember that they can't deduct gifts to individuals or to political organizations and candidates.)

Here are some tips to remember about fake charity scams:

  • Individuals should never let any caller pressure them. A legitimate charity will be happy to get a donation at any time, so there's no rush. Donors are encouraged to take time to do the research.

  • Potential donors should ask the fundraiser for the charity's exact name, web address and mailing address, so it can be confirmed later. Some dishonest telemarketers use names that sound like large well-known charities to confuse people.

  • Be careful how a donation is paid. Donors should not work with charities that ask them to pay by giving numbers from a gift card or by wiring money. That's how scammers ask people to pay. It's safest to pay by credit card or check — and only after having done some research on the charity.

For more information about fake charities see the information on fake charity scams on the Federal Trade Commission web site