QuickBooks Year-End Guide

As I write this blog, it is November 2015 and we are in the middle of the 4th quarter of 2015 (at least for the majority of businesses we deal with). With this in mind, now is the time to get your QuickBooks financial house in order. You do NOT want to wait until January (or worse September) of next year to make this happen. NOW is the time!
If you’ve been tracking your financials throughout the year (like all good business owners should do), then the amount of energy which needs to be expended will be minimal for this task. If, however, you have been procrastinating then STOP-IT! It's time to get your financial accounting house in order. No excuses!
What follows are some very specific things you can do now to get ready. Of course, this only applies if you like having accurate financial information and saving money on your tax return.
NOTE: As you read through the below list, if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, it's OK. Simply, pick up the phone and call QuickTrainer (910-338-0488) or send us an email at info@quicktrainer.biz. We are here to help YOU! 

  1. Account Reconciliations – Make sure all bank and credit card accounts are reconciled to the penny as of month-end. Business bank statements typically end on the last day of the month. Credit card statements have varying closing dates. If you find, when reconciling, that your opening balance does not match the statements opening balance, STOP and give us a call.
  2. Speaking of reconciliations, when reconciling transactions, pay attention to transactions posted in prior months that have not cleared the bank. Ask yourself, "is this transaction likely to clear or there some reason this transaction may never clear. For example, does a vendor have a check and perhaps they are just slow to deposit that check but will eventually get around to depositing the check? Or, Did you perhaps post a transaction twice by accident and while one of them cleared in a prior month, the duplicate transaction will never clear? In this case, this subject transaction needs to be deleted or voided.
  3. Make a Copy – Once January rolls around, and you do the December reconciliations, take the time to make a copy of the front page of each bank and credit card statement. Your CPA will want this just to verify these accounts have been properly reconciled. Also, if you have made any major capital purchases, say greater than $1K, make a copy of the sales receipt or invoice for your CPA. This does not include purchases of product for resale.
  4. Want to know one of the best things you can do for yourself, your CPA and anyone whom you desire to review your books? Really pay attention to this advice! It will save you thousands of dollars during the duration of your business. Are you ready? ALWAYS, always, AlWaYs… put a brief and succinct memo in EVERY transaction you record. Checks, bills, deposits, etc., should always contain a brief memo which describes, “What is this expense?”, “What is the source of this revenue?”. Do NOT cheat in this area. It will help you when you are looking at a transaction months from now. It helps your CPA (or us at QuickTrainer) when you have a memo, to understand what the purpose of the transaction is for. It tells us if the transaction has been recorded to the proper G/L account. If not, we can correct the transaction quickly. Assuming the transaction is in the correct G/L account, we can move on with confidence. When accountants encounter transactions we don't understand, we have to ask questions. Questions cost you money. MEMO, MEMO, MEMO.
  5. As you review each General Ledger (G/L) account found on your Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss statement, look for accounts which have, “ – Other” in them. This is a typical indicator that transactions have been recorded to a parent G/L account. The rule for QuickBooks is, whenever you have sub-accounts (a.k.a., child accounts), you never post ANY transaction to the parent account. The parent account serves as a means to SUM the transactions within the sub-accounts.
  6. W-2/W-3 – If you have employees (personnel in which you withhold federal, state, social security and Medicare taxes on; a.k.a., payroll taxes), and you are responsible for providing them with a W-2, make sure you are prepared to do this sooner rather than later. Do you have a current Form W-4 and I-9 on file for each employee? Do you have all employees social security numbers recorded in their QuickBooks employee profile? Do you have current addresses for each employee? Are you confident your payroll items are setup properly?

    When printing W-2's for your employees and your records, don’t forget to include a W-3. The W-3 is a summary of all W-2’s. It gets filed along with Copy A of your W-2’s and is to be mailed to the Social Security Administration. NOTE: DO NOT FOLD OR TEAR COPY A OF YOUR W-2’S. SAME THING APPLIES TO THE W-3. When you are ready to send Copy A and the W-3, place them in an 8-1/2 x 11 envelope.

    There is no need to purchase your W-2’s/W-3. It is now acceptable (and has been for years now) to print these forms on plain paper. Don’t forget to sign, title and date your W-3. You need to mail (or personally hand-out) your W-2’s on or before February 1, 2016. Encourage your employees to compare their final dated paycheck to their W-2. It is important to correct any errors prior to February 29, 2016. The W-3, along with Copy A of your W-2’s need to be mailed on or before February 29, 2016.
  7. 1099’s/1096 – If you have subcontractors who performed work for you during the year, then you are obligated to provide each subcontractor a 1099 reflecting the compensation they were paid. However, this need only apply to persons or businesses in which you know they are not incorporated, or whom you have any doubt as to if they are actually incorporated.

    To help with this decision, and to make sure you have the proper paper work on-hand, you should have (actually, should already have) a signed Form W-9 on file. The Form W-9 is a form whereby the subcontractor provides you with their proper name, address, tax id number and indicates they are exempt from your withholding any federal taxes. If a subcontractor uses their social security number, then you know they are not incorporated. However, you can be a sole proprietor, yet still have a federal tax id. Again, if you are not certain about the legitimacy of any subcontractor being legally incorporated, err on the side of caution and send them a 1099.

    In QuickBooks, your subcontractors must be setup and paid as “Vendors” (NOT Employees). Additionally, you must have each subcontractors address, tax id and the box checked in QuickBooks which reads, “Vendor eligible for a 1099”. Also, you must tell QuickBooks the specific G/L accounts to look in for 1099 subcontractor vendors. The only accounts which should be considered are those which relate to “Compensation”; not reimbursed expenses.

    Finally, if a subcontractor was paid more $600 or more in compensation, then QuickBooks knows to produce a 1099. If a subcontractor was paid less than $600, QuickBooks will not create a 1099. This is how it should be, as $600 is the threshold.
  8. With regards to #6 and #7 above, be sure to make a copy of your employees W-2’s, your W-3, your subcontractors 1099’s and your 1096. Your CPA will want a copy to verify your numbers.
  9. The next several topics deal with a review of your Balance Sheet for the year. You should ensure you are looking at the Balance Sheet on an accrual basis (yes, even if you file your return on a Cash basis).
  10. Accounts Receivable (A/R) – If you create invoices, and any invoices are unpaid, you will see “Accounts Receivable” on your Balance Sheet. Check this balance against the balance on an A/R Aging Report. Do they agree? If not, I will share with you, one of the most common reasons for these reports to not agree has to do with Unapplied Payments (i.e., payments received but not posted to an invoice). Call us for help with this issue.
  11. Undeposited Funds – As of 12/31, there should be no ($0) undeposited funds on the Balance Sheet. If you do have undeposited funds showing, it is typically the result of deposits made, but post-dated for the next year. If you have checks you have received in late December, but simply have not gone to the bank yet to deposit these funds, and do not plan on going to the bank until early January, you still need to record the deposit as of 12/31. The IRS takes the position of the fact that you had access to these funds in the current year. Just because you did not make it to the bank, does not excuse one for not recognizing the revenue in the year in which the checks were received. Of course, this would only be an issue for Cash Basis accounting.
  12. Fixed Assets – If you have made purchases this year, greater than “X” (where “X” is to be determined by your CPA, or otherwise use a guideline of $250) which have a durable life, then these purchases should be found in a Fixed Asset account. This includes, most commonly, purchases such as land, building, leasehold improvements, furniture, fixtures, equipment or tools, computer hardware, computer software, office equipment and vehicles. You should NOT include product for resale (as this would be found in an Inventory Asset account or a Cost of Goods Sold account), or if you purchased a large amount of a consumable (e.g., Office Depot had a great deal on paper, so you purchased $700 worth).

    Finally, unless you record the depreciation of assets yourself on, say, a monthly or quarterly basis, you should not have anything posted to Fixed Asset accounts utilized to reflect depreciation. e.g., 1900 - (< Less Accumulated Depreciation>).
  13. Accounts Payable (A/P) – If you enter bills and have bills which are still unpaid, you will see “Accounts Payable” on your Balance Sheet. Check this balance against the balance on an A/P Aging Report. Do they agree? If not, much like the A/R notes mentioned prior, I will share with you, one of the most common reasons for these reports to not agree has to do with Bill Payment Checks created to pay a bill but then the amount of payment on the check does not match the original bill (because it was later changed for some unknown reason – don’t do this), or the bill was deleted (again, don’t do this) for some unknown reason. Again, call us for help with this issue.
  14. Credit Cards – We have already discussed the reconciling of credit card accounts in #1 above. While looking at your Balance Sheet, you should not have ANY credit card accounts reflecting a credit balance, unless you really did overpay a credit card total balance.
  15. Sales Tax – This is one of the areas most often abused by people who don’t know better. The bottom line is this… whenever a taxable item is used on an invoice or sales receipt, sales tax is accrued in the Sales Tax Payment liability account. When it’s time to pay your sales tax, you should create a Sales Tax Payment check, not a regular check. Therefore, drill down into the Sales Tax Payment account. The only transactions you should find are invoices, sales receipts, credit memos, an occasional sales tax adjustment entry and sales tax payment checks. Call us for help with this if you find other transaction types.
  16. Payroll Taxes – Much like sales tax above, this is another area frequently misunderstood. Paychecks create the payroll tax liability. Liability checks are used to pay these liabilities. Any other transactions amongst your payroll tax liability accounts, with the exception of an infrequent payroll liability adjustment, is unacceptable and going to cause you issues with proper balances.

    Personally, I like to separate the various payroll liabilities into their own separate G/L account. This allows me to look at a glance to see if; (a) are the company social security and employee social security in balance with each other? (b) are the company Medicare and employee Medicare in balance with each other? (c) are there any payroll liability accounts showing a credit balance? If so, do I understand why?

    Finally, your CPA will want to have copies of your payroll forms filed throughout the year. These include: 941’s, 940, NC-5 (for North Carolina), NCU101 (for North Carolina).
  17. Business Loans – This includes business loans from banks, car loans, mortgage loans, a line of credit, a loan from Uncle Tiger or a loan from Shareholder (think S-Corp), Member (LLC) or Owner (Sole Proprietor). Most of these loans provide you with a monthly statement reflecting interest and principal balance. While these type loans can be reconciled monthly, just like a bank or credit card account, it is most often acceptable to conduct an annual reconciliation only utilizing the last statement of the year. Assuming your prior year's opening balance was correct, simply enter your year-ending principle balance, make sure the date reflects the statement date and then continue by clearing all principle payments. Any remaining difference is likely going to be the result of principle and interest payments not being recorded properly. A simple journal entry can be made to correct this difference, whereby (most often) the loan account reflecting the principle balance is credited for the difference and an interest expense account is debited. NOTE: Let me caution you to say the above is a typical or common scenario. These could be other issues causing a discrepancy. Call us for help if you have any doubts about this topic.

    When it comes to loans from a shareholder, member or sole proprietor, simply make sure the balance outstanding is correct. I too frequently find these loans have a credit balance. This can be where payments have been made for the repayment of a loan, but the actual original principle balance was never recorded.

    Finally, if you have made a personal loan of your funds to your business (which is very common), ensure you repay yourself for this loan before taking Profit Distributions or Draws. This way, you avoid any federal and state taxes being paid on these distributions or draws.
  18. Equity – Within the equity section of your Balance Sheet, you will most commonly find balances for Capital Stock, Additional Paid in Capital, Distributions or Draws and Retained Earnings. These accounts seldom have transactions posted against them, with the exception of distributions or draws. Capital Stock would only see a change if something happened to the business such as a partner coming in or leaving. It would TRULY be an exception to have ANYTHING posted to Retained Earnings.
  19. This concludes the Balance Sheet review. Next, we move on to a review of your Profit & Loss Statement for the year. You should ensure you are looking at the Profit & Loss Statement on an accrual basis (again, even if you file your return on a Cash basis).
  20. Income – Within the income section of your P&L, you will typically find Invoices, Sales Receipts, Credit Memos, and an occasional Payment (perhaps reflecting where a discount was given through the Receive Payment functionality). However, I realize some people bypass invoicing and sales receipts, etc. and simply record Deposits. If this is you, then you would certainly have “Deposits” recorded within your income section. Checks would be more of an exception than the rule. The exception most frequently occurs when the business writes a refund check to a customer or client. There are some other unique scenarios whereby checks might appear, but these are considered beyond the scope of this blog.
  21. COGS (Cost of Goods Sold, a.k.a., Cost of Sales) – Within these accounts you will find products you resell, subcontractors who generate revenue for your business, wages of employees who generate revenue and perhaps Merchant Service Fees along with shipping, postage and materials related to shipping and postage. When reviewing the details of these numbers, if you spot transactions that don’t fall within the above, it likely means the transactions has been recorded to the wrong account and should be moved. In other words, you only wish to have those transactions which are directly associated with a direct expense relationship incurred in order to generate revenue for your business.
  22. Expenses – While reviewing the details within your various expense accounts, you are simply making a determination; do each of these transactions residing in the proper G/L account. Remember #3 regarding memos? These memos are going to go along ways towards helping you make this decision. If you see a check in Office Supplies for $777.77 and the memo says, “Laura’s new laptop”, you know this check has been recorded to the wrong G/L account. It should be recorded to a Fixed Asset account (e.g., 1840 - Computer H/W). If you find a bill to Progress Energy sitting in the G/L account, “6710 – Books & Publications” you know this transaction is likely in the wrong account.
  23. Last Year’s Tax Return – Another area often overlooked is ensuring your last year’s QuickBooks financials (in which a tax return has already been filed) ties to the actual tax return. This is sometimes done by your CPA. QuickTrainer frequently provides this service for our clients. Why is this important? Your CPA cannot conduct an accurate tax return if this is not done. Again, call us if you have questions regarding this matter.

    I will say setting a Closing Date and a Closing Date Password in QuickBooks is a GREAT way to make sure no prior year transactions change once your business data has been submitted for a tax return. This is imperative to your success and saving yourself money.
While this blog posting certainly does not include every conceivable scenario, I have attempted to layout for you, the reader, some very common areas to review. I hope you find the above information helpful this year and in years to come.