A great way to make a wonderful start to 2020 is to wrap up 2019 feeling organized and on top of the world. Here’s a checklist of items that you can start on now to make your year-end close go smoother than ever before. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to do some of these tasks – that’s what we’re here for.
- Catch up on your books, especially if you do them only once a year. By doing it now, you’ll be able to get into your accountant faster this time of year and they will appreciate getting the work done ahead of their crunch time.
- Catch up on bank reconciliations in case they are not up to date. Don’t forget your savings accounts, PayPal, and any other cash equivalents. Void any old uncleared checks if needed.
- Review unpaid invoices in accounts receivable and get aggressive about collecting them, especially if you are a cash basis tax payer. Clean up any items that are incorrect so that the account reconciles.
- Write off any invoices that are no longer collectible.
- Ask employees and vendors to update their addresses in your payroll system so that W-2s and 1099s will reflect the correct addresses.
- Collect any W-9s that you don’t already have on file for contractors that will receive a 1099 form from you.
- Collect workers compensation proof of insurance certificates from contractors so you won’t have to pay workers comp on payments you have made to them.
- Collect sales tax exemption certificates from any vendor who has not paid sales tax.
- Decide if you’ll pay employee bonuses prior to year-end. Reminder: This payroll is subject to withholding taxes.
- Review employee PTO and vacation time and reset or rollover the days in your payroll system.
- After the final payroll runs, contact your payroll software company to make any W-2 adjustments necessary for things like health insurance.
- Set the date to take inventory, and once you have, make adjustments to your books as necessary.
- Write off any inventory that is unsalable. If possible, sell scrap inventory or other waste components.
- Prepare a fixed assets register, calculate depreciation, and make book adjustments as needed. Leave the calculations and adjustments to us or your tax preparer.
- Record all bills due through year-end, and reconcile your accounts payable balance to these open bills.
- Make loan adjustments to reflect interest and principal allocations.
- Perform account analysis on all other balance sheet accounts to make sure all balances are correct and current.
- Make any additional accrual entries needed, or if you’re a cash basis taxpayer, make those adjustments as needed. You can leave these entries to your tax preparer.
- Get an idea of what your profit number will be. Choose whether you want to maximize deductions to save on taxes or whether to want to reflect more income. Decide what you can defer into 2020 or what you want to have as part of your 2019 results.
- Match all transactions with their corresponding documents – receipts, bills, packing slips, etc. – to make sure you have the paper trail you need. Go paperless – digitize these documents!
- Download your bank statements and store them in a safe place.
- Download any payroll reports and store them in a safe place.
- Scan in paper documents so that they’re stored electronically.
- File any important papers such as new leases, asset purchases, employee hiring contracts and other business contracts.
- Prepare a revenue and profit plan for 2020 and enter it into your accounting system.
- Take a look at the 2020 calendar to determine which holidays you’ll close and you’re your employees a copy of the schedule.
- Review your product and service prices if this is the time of year you do that and make any changes you decide on.
- Update your payroll system for any new unemployment insurance percentages received in a letter each year.
- Update the mileage deduction rate if that rate has changed at the beginning of the year.
- Set a time with your accountant to go over 2019 results and get ideas on how to meet your financial goals in 2020.
- Review the metrics you’ve been using in 2019 and decide on the list of metrics and corresponding values that will take you through 2020.
- Celebrate the new year; it’s a wonderful time to gain perspective and be hopeful about the upcoming year.
Start 2020 with a bang and this year-end checklist, and feel free to reach out if we can help with anything.
When you pay a bill in your business, are you 100 percent comfortable that the bill payment is correct and justified? Is there ever a chance that that bill is fake or fraudulent? What about duplicates? With so many fake bills being mailed to businesses these days, it makes sense to think about controls you can put into place to reduce the risk that you might write a check out of your hard-earned profits that should never be written.
Accounts Payable Controls
In the accounting profession, the term “internal controls” refers to processes, procedures, and automations you can put into place to reduce errors. In accounts payable, there is a specific subset of rules and controls you can put into place to reduce risk in this area. Here are just a few ideas.
All bills should be approved by the appropriate level of employee in your business. Sometimes a bill gets approved that is fake or shouldn’t be approved, especially in areas where the approver doesn’t have technical knowledge of what they are buying. Be sure to read the fine print on the bill and make sure you know what you are paying for. There are ways to streamline the approvals process.
2. Segregation of duties
The person who pays the bill should be different from the person who submitted the bill. These people should be different from the one who signs the check. This reduces employee fraud.
3. Receipt confirmation
A packing slip or other confirmation of receipt of the goods or services should be matched to the bill, line item by line item.
4. Math check
A prudent step is to check a bill’s math, at least for reasonableness.
5. Duplicate payments
If a vendor emails their bill as well as mails a hard copy, controls should be put in place (usually automated) to avoid duplicate payments on the same bill.
If there are a significant number of transactions between you and a vendor, an accounts payable reconciliation should be performed each month via a statement.
7. Missing check numbers
Most systems provide a missing check numbers report that you can use to make sure all checks are accounted for.
8. Bank reconciliation
A bank reconciliation is a sure way to see exactly what checks cleared your bank account.
Coding each transaction to the correct expense account, inventory, asset, or cost of goods sold account is an essential part of the process.
10. Income statement review
Each month, a review of the balances in your expense accounts as well as a disbursements ledger review for reasonableness can provide added peace of mind.
11. Purchase order
Requiring purchase orders is another control you can add to your process. Purchase orders should be matched to packing slips and bills before payment or approvals are made.
12. In-depth knowledge of your business’s numbers
The more you get to know the numbers in your business, the greater chance you’ll have of accurate accounts payable handling.
If you’d like to discuss your accounts payable function with us and how it can be improved and streamlined, we’re happy for you to reach out any time.
The account on your income statement called Cost of Goods Sold can be confusing to non-accountants. In this article, we’ll attempt to de-mystify it and explain how it works.
Cost of Goods Sold is an account in your Chart of Accounts that is a very special type of expense. It is the amount of direct costs of items that were sold by the company. It is related to inventory, and it helps to see the flow of transactions to understand the big picture.
When you purchase an inventory item for sale, it’s considered an asset (not an expense yet) in your company. When you sell an inventory item, the asset is reduced and the Cost of Goods Sold account is increased, moving the item from an asset to an expense. It’s no longer an asset once it’s sold, and the cost of the item sold reduces your profit and is expensed into the Cost of Goods Sold account.
Some accountants will abbreviate the Cost of Goods Sold account to COGS, and you might hear them call it that.
In the case of wholesale and retail businesses, the cost of goods sold is the amount that was paid for the inventory items to be sold. In the case of a manufacturer, the costs can include the cost of raw materials, labor to produce the item, and sometimes additional allocations of other related costs. Construction businesses may have a Cost of Construction account or Contract Costs instead of COGS. Service businesses will typically not have a balance in the Cost of Goods Sold account. If they do have direct costs, the costs are often coded to a Supplies account under expenses or they have direct labor costs.
At any point in time, the cost of items you purchase are in two different accounts:
- The unsold items are reflected in the asset account, Inventory, on your Balance Sheet report.
- The sold items are reflected in the Cost of Goods Sold account, on your Income Statement report.
It’s important that the Cost of Goods Sold balance is accurate, because there are many good things you can learn from it when you compare it with inventory. You can learn how fast your inventory is selling, and you can determine your gross profit margin.
If your inventory purchases have been coded correctly, you can take inventory and arrive at the correct cost of unsold items. If your physical inventory does not match your books, we can help you find out why and can make a correcting entry between Cost of Goods Sold and the Inventory account so that both of them are accurate.
If you have further questions about the Cost of Goods Sold account, feel free to reach out any time.
Each month, your accounting system yields actionable information for you to run your business better. Here are some key reports that all business owners should review every month.
A quick review of the balance sheet can tell you the balances of your current assets and current liabilities. Current assets should always be larger than current liabilities; if it’s not, you may have liquidity issues.
You can also take a look at these accounts: cash, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. They should look reasonable to you based on your business history.
Accounts Receivable Aging
Your aging report can alert you to who has not paid their invoice, so that you can take action to collect that money. Any balances over 30 days should trigger a collection process since the older the receivable gets, the less likely it is to collect.
Accounts Payable Aging
Hopefully, this report is clean and you are able to pay all of your bills on time. If you have an unusually large amount in this account, you’ll want to make sure you have the future cash to pay the bills.
The first number most entrepreneurs look at on the income statement is profit. It’s a good idea to review every account balance on this report to see if it is what you expected. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Did I generate the amount of revenue that I expected? If not, should I ramp up marketing for the next few months?
- Do all of my expenses look reasonable? Are there any numbers that look too high?
- Are my payroll expenses in line with what I was expecting?
- Which accounts caused me to generate more or less profit?
- What I can I do next month to improve performance and increase profit?
There are many excellent sales reports to dive deeper into your revenue so you can see what sold and what didn’t. Sales by Item and Sales by Customer are two good options for you to get more detail about your revenue balances. By analyzing your revenue, you can see what promotions worked and how you might take action to increase sales.
These five reports are very basic, but they are also very key to your business. To profit from these reports, it’s up to you to take action in your business to improve your success.
When you purchase a new vehicle, you get the fun of riding around in a new car with the new car smell! Our job has just begun – to get your new asset recorded properly on your books. We thought it’d be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at our part.
The first thing we’ll ask you for is the sales contract. It will give us the payment price of your car, and we’ll use that number to record your new asset on your balance sheet. If you paid cash with no trade-in, the journal entry we’ll make is:
|Debit: 2019 Toyota RAV4||$25,500|
Then we’ll decide on a depreciation method and book depreciation monthly or at year-end.
|Debit: Depreciation Expense||$5,100|
|Credit: Accumulated Depreciation||$5,100|
If you traded in a vehicle that is on your books, we’ll need to make an adjustment for that. Effectively, your old car will be eliminated from your balance sheet. If this asset had a book value and it was not fully depreciated, the net value would be compared to the trade-in value and a gain or loss on the asset sale would be recorded on your income statement.
Let’s say the balance sheet value of the three-year-old car you traded in was $10,000 ($25,000 original cost less $15,000 accumulated depreciation) and you got $8,000 on the trade-in. Here’s what we would record:
|Debit: 2019 Toyota RAV4||$25,500|
|Debit: Accumulated Depreciation||$15,000|
|Debit: Loss on Sale of 2016 Car||$ 2,000|
|Credit: Old 2016 Toyota RAV4||$25,000|
|Credit: Cash||$17,500 ($25,500 – $8,000 trade-in)|
We’d also start the depreciation for the new car.
New Car Loan
Most often, a new car purchase will be financed, so we have a new liability to record too. We’ll need to get a copy of the loan documents from you and an amortization schedule of the payments. Let’s say you made a ten percent down payment with no trade-in. Here’s how that would look:
|Debit: 2019 Toyota RAV4||$25,500|
|Credit: Toyota Loan||$22,950|
Then, each time you make a monthly payment, the amount will need to be split between principal and interest and those amounts will need to change each month according to the amortization schedule.
|Debit: Interest Expense||$390|
|Debit: Toyota Loan||$60|
We left out a few trade secrets just to keep it intriguing. There are a lot of other numbers on a car purchase: taxes, licenses, warranties, add-ons, fees, and more. Some of these can be directly expensed, while others need to be included in the value of the asset. So if you’re happy that we’ll take care of this for you, we’re happy to do so.
Let us know if you purchase an asset this summer so we can get it booked right for you.
Artificial intelligence or augmented intelligence or automated intelligence (AI) has arrived in the accounting profession in a big way. The good news is it’s streamlining accounting tasks, finding patterns in data you can take action on, and generally making things better. Here are just a few places we’re seeing AI and machine learning impact accounting.
Most systems have incorporated some form of machine learning into transaction coding. When bank feeds are imported, each transaction needs to be coded to add the account code in the chart of accounts. Class, tracking codes, and other custom data may need to be added as well. Rules can be set so that the accounting application can pre-code the transactions; in this case the accountant simply approves or corrects the entry.
It starts with a picture of a receipt. Invoice fetching applications can turn pixels into data using sophisticated OCR (optical character recognition). The data is then turned into a business transaction that can be imported into an accounting system.
The books of many government agencies, nonprofits, and large businesses need to be audited on a regular basis. Auditing is an expensive process. Smart programs can review a company’s data and assess where the risks and anomalies are so that the audit program can be modified to focus on the more important parts. This reduces risk and cost for everyone involved.
Automated intelligence can help to speed up the matching of purchase orders, packing slips, and invoices so that accounts payable tasks are streamlined. It can also automate approvals and look for duplicate invoices to avoid overpayments.
Accounting Tasks That Are Clerical
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a platform that allows users to create automation without involving the IT department. Think Excel macros or Zapier on steroids. Any workflow with a mind-numbing set of clerical steps is a candidate for RPA.
AI allows accountants to spend less time on routine tasks and more time on higher-level analysis work. As AI becomes more affordable for small businesses, everyone will benefit from this long-term trend.
In small business, accounting refers to a set of tasks that revolve around maintaining a general ledger – your books — and preparing financial statements. Beyond small business accounting, there are many more aspects to accounting. In this article, we’ve prepared a glossary of accounting terms so you can discover the larger world of accounting.
Cost accounting. This type of accounting looks at the cost of items for sale. It’s especially useful in manufacturing, construction, or even restaurants where dozens or even hundreds of components are purchased and assembled to make the items that are for sale. Cost accountants account for and evaluate these costs to determine when they are too high or low and need to be repriced or purchased in a different way.
Cost accounting can be applied to small businesses to help them with pricing, determining breakeven points, controlling costs, and budgeting.
Government accounting. Government accounting is simply accounting that’s done for government entities. Government accountants are concerned with maintaining government regulations as well as learning a different way of keeping books.
Nonprofit accounting. Nonprofit accounting is unique to nonprofit organizations in that they often need to track and mark specific donations, manage grants and meet reporting requirements, fulfill public disclosures and reporting, and maintain a fund accounting process.
Financial accounting. Financial accounting is the preparation of financial reports for external use and includes providing financial statements.
Attest. Attest accounting is where a CPA goes through a process of verifying financial reports of a business to interested third-parties, such as banks and the public. The three main services in this area include compilations, reviews, and audits. Only a CPA can perform these services.
Fraud or forensic accounting. A specialty role in accounting, forensic accountants can help a company that has been the victim of fraud. There are also services available to help reduce the possibility of fraud.
Tax accounting. Tax accounting can be many things: the preparation of federal and state income tax returns for businesses, individuals, and other entities like estates and trusts; state and local tax assistance with collection, filing, remittance, and compliance; franchise tax support; and payroll tax collection, filing, and payment. There are more, but these are the big ones.
Budgeting. Making a revenue and spending plan is an important accounting function and every business needs a plan, a road map.
Internal auditing. Large companies have internal audit departments that maintain checks and balances for the company. In small companies, having someone in charge of monitoring internal controls would be the equivalent function.
Accounting systems. Some accountants are technology-savvy, and this type of accountant can help solve technology issues, integrate accounting system modules, and streamline workflow.
Fiduciary accounting. A fiduciary is someone legally responsible for financial responsibilities in an organization. Fiduciary accounting typically refers to accounting for trusts, but can have a much broader meaning.
Public accounting. Public accounting is practiced by employees in a public accounting firm, which is one that serves many businesses with varying accounting needs. This is opposed to private or industry accounting where an accountant goes to work for one company in their accounting department. Public vs. industry accounting is really referring to an accountant’s career experience.
Managerial accounting. This type of accounting focuses on internal numbers and how the organization can reach its goals. It’s broader than cost accounting, but there is an overlap. Accountants who serve in an advisory capacity to businesses will focus on this area.
Did we get all of the terms you might be wondering about? If not, ask us, and we’ll add it here.
While “fetching” might be what some trained dogs can do, accounting systems are getting into the act too. This relatively new feature is called “receipt fetching,” and it’s when an app can retrieve documents directly from the vendors that you do business with so you don’t have to spend so much time on paperwork retrieval.
Apps that can perform receipt fetching can integrate with your accounts and pull invoices into their system. For example, if your business has an account with a utility or telecom company, the receipt fetching app can pull the electricity, water, or telephone bills into your receipt fetching app account and consolidate them.
The benefits are simple. You save time, certainly. But the bigger benefit is you no longer have a monthly deadline to get your documents to your accountant — at least for all the documents that can be automated in this way. This reduces stress and eliminates minutiae from your day.
Accountants benefit too. No accountant likes to spend their time asking clients for documents over and over again. We know you have better things to do with your time, and we know you probably hate doing the paperwork. Receipt fetching is an easy way to get the job done.
To take advantage of receipt fetching, the first step is to select a receipt-fetching app. A few of the apps to select from include LedgerDocs, ReceiptBank, HubDoc, and Greenback. Some of these apps do receipt fetching only, and others have many more functions.
The second step is to detemine which vendor accounts are supported, and to connect with them. Generally speaking, the connection is based on your account credentials, so if those change, the connection will need to be updated. When many of your documents can be pulled into one place, you don’t have to spend time logging into each vendor portal to pull receipts.
If you’re curious about how to benefit from receipt fetching in your business, please feel free to reach out.
Internal control is a very special phrase in the accounting profession. Tactically, it’s the set of processes that help a company produce accurate data throughout the organization, follow reporting requirements and laws, and maintain consistency and accuracy in its operations. Strategically, it’s an entirely new way of thinking and doing business.
Internal control helps to reduce organizational risk. A blunt way of putting it is internal control is what you put in place to avoid mistakes, intentional or accidental, and to control accuracy and quality. It impacts every aspect of an organization.
As a small business, you’ll want to be familiar with the concept because it can help you reduce risks you might not realize you have. Here are some practical examples of good ideas that support internal control:
- When data is private and secure, provide access only to employees who need to know the data and restrict access of others.
- Have someone check that your bank balance matches the reconciled amount in your books, and that someone should be different from the person who does the reconciliation. This is an example of what’s called segregation of duties.
- Lock up paper checks and use the missing check number report to make sure none of the stock could be used for nefarious purposes.
- Have employees sign in and out equipment that they take home. This is part of asset management.
- Write and enforce a hardware and software use policy that includes items like employees should make sure their anti-virus software is active at all times, they should not bring in disks or CDs, and they should not download games or other unauthorized programs. This protects from computer viruses and helps to avoid catastrophic network failures.
There are literally hundreds of internal control procedures that should be implemented in small businesses as they grow into larger businesses.
Internal control is typically a big part of an audit or an attest function in accounting; it determines how many additional procedures an auditor needs to do in order to provide assurances about the reliability of the financial reports. But it’s also just good plain common business sense to implement as many internal control processes as are cost-effective for your business to protect it at the level of risk you’re comfortable with.
If you’d like to discuss the idea of internal control further, please feel free to reach out any time.
The Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council
QuickBooks® Desktop Boot Camps
with Rhonda Rosand, CPA – Advanced Certified QuickBooks® ProAdvisor
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018, 9 AM -11 AM
Whether you are starting from scratch or starting over, there is a right way and several wrong ways to set up a QuickBooks® file. Learn how to do it right the first time.
Avoid some of the common mistakes we see people make.
Accounts and Items
Users and Permissions
Tuesday, October 16th, 2018, 9 AM – 11 AM
Learn how to customize forms and templates and create QuickBooks® reports that are useful management tools for your business. Understand the difference between profits and cash.
Customize Forms and Templates
Cash Flow Management
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018, 9 AM-NOON
This is a session designed exclusively for tax preparers, enrolled agents and accountants. We will cover advanced level topics to help you streamline the process and best practices for troubleshooting your client QuickBooks® file during this busy tax season.
What’s New in QuickBooks® 2019
In Product Demonstration of Features
Client Data Review and Accountant Toolbox
Common Issues and Troubleshooting
Courses are $35 each and held in the Community Room at Granite State College-Conway.
To register please call Susie at (603) 447-6622, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or register online.