7 Ways to Maximize QuickBooks for Next Tax Season

When it is set up and maintained properly, QuickBooks can be an incredibly helpful and powerful tool for business owners and managers. The software can provide up-to-date financial statements and cash flow data and create general efficiencies in your accounting. However, too often we see that QuickBooks is either underutilized or simply a burden to our clients.

With tax season behind us, we thought it would be helpful to share a few challenges that we encountered with our QuickBooks clients this year. These challenges added additional barriers and complications during tax season. By being proactive and taking action now, you can help make next tax season much easier to navigate.

The most common QuickBooks issues included:

1. Unorganized Chart of Accounts: Your financial statements are the framework that gives insight into your organization’s financial health. The financial statements are born from your Chart of Accounts. It’s easy to think more detail is better, but that’s not always the case. Having too many and/or an unorganized Chart of Accounts can hinder the amount of information provided by the financial statements.

For example, when analyzing financial statements, you often want to perform trend analysis (looking for increases, decreases or baseline for certain items). This can be extremely difficult if there are too many accounts. When this occurs, there is an increased chance of the same account appearing multiple times as a subaccount. Thus, creating confusion for those performing the data entry, resulting in errors in the financial statement reporting.

There are a number of different solutions to resolve this problem:

a. Use subaccounts when necessary to the financial reporting.
b. Merge accounts when you find too many accounts which are similar.
c. Mark the account inactive when you no longer need to use the account.

2. Disorderly Items List: QuickBooks defines the product(s) you sell as “items”. Over time, it’s easy to add inventory anywhere into the system and forget to keep amounts updated. This can sometimes create negative inventory amounts on your balance sheet. Here are a few quick steps to clean up your Items List:

a. Mark any items you no longer sell as inactive.
b. Ensure each item is correctly labeled inventory, non-inventory, etc.
c. Double-check the item exists with your physical inventory.
d. Make sure you keep the costs for each item updated.
e. Assign each item correctly with the proper revenue and cost accounts to ensure accuracy in your financial reporting.

3. Unreconciled Bank and/or Credit Card Accounts: Reconciling your bank and credit card accounts every month is very important. Why? Because it serves as a control to ensure that all cash and credit card transactions are accounted for properly. Performing this function monthly helps you identify problems before they get out of hand. Here are a few steps to take when reconciling your accounts:

a. Review uncleared transactions.
b. Make sure the transaction hit the right account.
c. Check to see if there are any duplicate entries.

4. Incorrectly Applying Deposits to Invoices: When customer balances appear on your accounts receivable aging as a ‘negative balance’, unless the customer has an overpaid balance, this is usually a pretty good indicator that something is wrong. In most cases, this is the result of invoices being applied incorrectly. Every time you get paid by a customer, you should be able to receive that payment against an open invoice. Take a second look to make sure this is happening in your QuickBooks account.

5. Not Applying Payments to a Vendor Bill: Sometimes vendors who have been paid still show amounts due on the AP Aging reports. This creates a situation where a company’s liabilities are being overstated. To correct this, you may need to void or delete the bill that has already been paid. We recommend contacting your accountant before deleting any entries as they may be linked to other transactions.

6. Misusing the Undeposited Funds Account: Are you receiving payments from customers but your cash account isn’t increasing on your financial reports? It’s likely that you’re using Undeposited Funds incorrectly. Undeposited Funds is an internal current asset account created by QuickBooks to hold funds until you are ready to deposit them in the system. When you receive a customer payment, open the deposit module, batch checks together that you’re taking to the bank, and record them as one single deposit in the software.

7. Forgetting to Lock a Closed Period: When you close out a month (or any period), make sure to lock it so that no one can go back and change the amounts that were used to file tax returns and financial statements. Please note that all entries should be made in the current period.

Following these few steps will allow management to make decisions using timely and reliable financial information. By taking the opportunity to implement these strategies now, next tax season will be less stressful and provide management greater opportunities throughout the rest of 2018. Our QuickBooks Pro Advisors team can provide you support in any of the above areas. Please contact Cray Kaiser today for more information.