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Customers paying late? How to create statements.

08.11.21

Read this if you use QuickBooks Online.

There are many ways to encourage delinquent customers to pay. QuickBooks Online’s statements may be effective for you.

After the year-plus you’ve just experienced, the last thing your small business needs is customers who are behind on their payments to you. You may have been giving them a break because you know that they’re struggling, too, but things have been looking up for many companies in the past few months. It’s time for you to be more proactive about calling customers who owe you money.

There are numerous ways you can accomplish this. One of the best is to send statements in QuickBooks Online, which are detailed reminder forms that contain multiple transactions. These can be especially helpful if you’ve sent multiple invoices with no response. There are three different types you can send, depending on your needs. Here’s how you create them.

Before you start

QuickBooks Online offers a couple of options for formatting your statements. To see these, click the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Your Company | Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab and scroll down to the Statements section. Click the pencil icon over to the far right to make any changes needed. You can:

  • List each transaction as a single line or include all of the detail lines.
  • Display an aging table at the bottom of each statement.

Click the buttons to specify your preference and then click Save and Done.

QuickBooks Online gives you control over some elements of your statements.

Three statement types

You can choose from among three different types of statements in QuickBooks Online: Balance Forward includes invoices with outstanding balances for a specified range of dates. Open Item statements contain information about all unpaid (open) invoices from the last 365 days. Transaction Statements show every transaction in a date range that you specify. We’ll describe how to create them so you can decide which makes the most sense for a particular situation.

One way to create statements

Like it does for many other actions, QuickBooks Online offers two ways to create statements. The first is easier. Click the New button in the upper left and select Statement (under Other). Click the down arrow in the field under Statement Type to see the three options there.

If you select Balance Forward, you’ll need to define three criteria (there will be similar options for the other two types):

  • Statement Date
  • Customer Balance Status (Open, Overdue, or All)
  • Start Date and End Date

QuickBooks Online makes it easy to create any of three types of customer statements.

When you’re satisfied with your statement parameters, click Apply. QuickBooks Online will display a list of the transactions that meet your criteria, along with the number of them that will be generated. Each row in the list will display the recipient’s name, email address, and balance. In the upper right corner, you’ll see the number of statements again and the total balance these customers represent. 

If you want to exclude any of these customers, click in the box in front of each to unselect them and delete the checkmark. When you’re satisfied with your list, click Save, Save and send, or Save and close. If you click Save and send, a window will open containing a preview of your statements. Thumbnails of each will appear in the left pane. Click on any to see their previews. When you’re ready, you can download, print, or send them.

If you click Save or Save and close, you’ll still be able to see the statements you’ve just generated. Click the Sales tab in the toolbar, then All Sales. Click the down arrow next to Filter and open the drop-down list under Type. Select Statements, and your list will appear. You can print or send one by selecting the correct option in the Action column. If you want to dispatch multiple statements, click in the box in front of each, and then click the down arrow next to Batch actions.

Another method

There’s an alternate way to create statements. Click the Sales tab in the toolbar, then Customers. Select any or all of the customers in the list, then click the down arrow next to Batch actions and select Create statements. QuickBooks Online will open the Create Statements window again so you can select the type and process your statements like you did using the previous method.

We don’t expect that you’ll have much trouble working with statements, though you may want to consult with us on when they’re appropriate. We can also suggest other ways to bring your accounts receivable up to date. As always, we’re available to help you maximize and streamline your use of QuickBooks Online. Keeping your financial books current and organized is one way to ensure that you don’t fall too far behind with customer payments. Contact our outsourced accounting team if you have any questions.

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Read this if you use QuickBooks. 

Want to break up an estimate into multiple invoices? QuickBooks Online supports progress invoicing.

If you do large, multi-part projects for customers, you may not want to wait until absolutely everything is done before you send an invoice. This can be especially problematic when you have to purchase a lot of materials for a job that will eventually be billed to the customers.

QuickBooks Online has a solution for this: progress invoicing. Once you’ve had an estimate approved, you can split it into as many pieces as you need, sending partial invoices to your customer for products and services as you provide them, rather than waiting until the project is complete. If cash flow is a problem for you, this can be a very effective solution. You might be able to take on work that you otherwise couldn’t because you’ll be getting paid periodically.

Setup Required

Progress invoicing requires some special setup steps. First, you’ll need to see whether QuickBooks Online is prepared for the task. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and settings under Your Company. Click the Sales tab and scroll down to Progress Invoicing. It may just say On to the right of Create multiple partial invoices from a single estimate. If it doesn’t, click the pencil icon to the right and turn it on. Then click Save and Done.

You’ll also have to choose a different template than the one you use for standard invoices. Click the gear icon and select Custom form styles. Click New style in the upper right and then click Invoice. Enter a new name for the template to replace My INVOICE Template, like Progress Invoice. Then click Dive in with a template or Change up the template under the Design tab. Select Airy new by clicking on it. This is the only template you can use for progress invoicing.

When you’re creating a template for your progress invoices, you’ll have to select Airy new.

Now, click on Edit print settings (or When in doubt, print it out). Make sure there’s no checkmark in the box in front of Fit printed form with pay stub in window envelope or Fit to window envelope. Then click on the Content tab. You’ll see a preview of the template (grayed out) to the right. Click the pencil icon in the middle section. Select the Show more activity options link at the bottom of the screen.

If you want to Group activity by (Day, Week, Month, or Type), check that box and select your preference. Go through the other options here and check or uncheck the boxes to meet your needs. Then click Done. You’ll see your new template in the list of Custom form styles.

QuickBooks Online allows you to designate one form style as the default. This is the form that will open when you create a new invoice or estimate template. If you plan to send a lot of progress invoices, you might want to make that the default. To do this, find your new template in the list on this page and click the down arrow next to Edit in the Action column. Click Make default. If you leave your standard invoice as the default, you can always switch when you’re creating an invoice by clicking the Customize button at the bottom of the screen.

Creating a Progress Invoice


You can see what your options are for your progress invoice.

Invoice and estimate forms in QuickBooks Online are very similar. The only major difference is that estimates contain a field for Expiration date. To start the process of progress invoicing, select an estimate that you want to bill that way. Click the Sales tab and select All Sales. Find your estimate and click on Create invoice in the Action column. A window like the one in the above image will appear.

You can bill a percentage of each line item or enter a custom amount for each line.  If you choose the latter, the invoice that opens will have zeroes in the Due column. You can alter the amount due for any of these by either a percentage or an amount and/or leave them at zero if you don’t want to bill a particular product or service. Either way, the Balance due will reflect your changes. When you’ve come to the last invoice for the project, you’ll check Remaining total of all lines.

Once you’ve chosen one of these options, click Create invoice. Double-check the form and then save it. You can now treat it as any other invoice. To see a list of your progress invoices, run the Estimates & Progress Invoicing Summary by Customer report.

As you can see, there are numerous steps involved in creating progress invoices. Each has to be done with precision, so the customer is billed the exact total amount due at the end. We can help you accomplish this. We’re also available to help with any other QuickBooks Online issues you have. Contact our Outsourced Accounting team to set up a consultation.

Article
How does progress invoicing work in QuickBooks Online?

Read this is you use QuickBooks Online.

Whether you sell products or services, you may need to create estimates in QuickBooks Online. Here’s how it’s done.

It would be nice if you could just instantly invoice every sale. But sometimes your customers need to know what a particular purchase will cost before they make the decision to buy. So you need to know how to create an estimate. If the sale goes through, you’ll of course want to send an invoice.

QuickBooks Online automates this entire process. It even helps you track the progress of your estimates by providing a special report. Here’s how it works.

Just like an invoice, almost

The process of creating an estimate in QuickBooks Online is almost identical to creating an invoice. You click the New button in the upper left and select Estimate


Creating an estimate in QuickBooks Online is like creating an invoice, with a few differences.

When the form opens, you’ll notice one difference right away. Directly below the Customer field, you’ll see the word Pending next to a small down arrow. Click it to see what your options are here. You’ll be able to update its status later. Select a Customer to get started. If this is a new customer, click + Add New and enter at least the name. If you want to build a more complete profile at this point, click Details and complete the fields in the window that opens. To send a carbon copy or blind copy of the estimate to someone else, click the Cc/Bcc link.

Next to the Estimate date, there’s a field for Expiration date. Enter that and continue on to add the products and/or services that will be included, just as you would on an invoice. If you’re generating an estimate for a new product or service, click + Add new in the drop-down list. A panel will slide out from the right that allows you to create one. 

You’ll see more options for your estimate at the bottom of the page. You can add a message in the message box (or leave the default message if there is one). You can also Customize it, Make recurring, or Print or Preview it. When you’re satisfied, Save it, and send it to the customer. 


You can preview your estimate to see what the customer will see before saving it.

Updating the status

Your estimate will not be considered a transaction until you accept it. To do this, click the Sales link in the toolbar, then All Sales. Find your estimate in the list by looking in the Type column. Click the down arow next to Create invoice to see your other options there. You’ll see that you can Print or Send it or save a Copy

Click Update status. In the window that opens, click the down arrow next to Pending. From the list that drops down, select Accepted. You can also mark it Closed or Rejected. If you choose any of the last three options, another window opens that allows you to enter the name of the individual who authorized the action and the date it was done.

Click Create invoice if your estimate was accepted. You’ll have three options here. You can invoice your customer for:
•    The estimate total.
•    A percentage of each line item.
•    A custom amount for each line.


When you locate your estimate on the Sales Transactions page, you’ll have several options for managing it.

After you’ve made your selection, click Create invoice to open the form with the amounts filled in based on your preference. Complete anything that’s unfinished but do not change any of the product or service line items. Save it, and your invoice is ready to go. You can always check the status of your estimates by running the Estimates by Customer report.

Creating and tracking estimates is as easy as working with invoices. You may run into difficulties, though, if you need to do anything beyond that point with estimates, such as modifying it and re-submitting them. We’re here to answer any questions you might have about this. It’s important that you get your estimates and their subsequent invoices exactly right, so you don’t lose money or sales. Contact our outsourced accounting team if you want to go over these concepts.

Article
How to create estimates in QuickBooks online

Read this is you use QuickBooks Online.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, but many small businesses are on the upswing. How QuickBooks Online can help if yours isn’t.

Intuit recently did a survey documenting the financial losses that many small businesses had experienced since March 2020. Not surprisingly, the report, Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Recovery, found that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the financial health of U.S. small businesses.

But many of the companies surveyed have proved to be resilient. As of March 31, 2021, 61 percent of them saw an annual revenue increase compared to pre-COVID days.

How would you have answered the survey? If indeed you did suffer financial and personnel losses because of the pandemic, has your business started to rebound yet? If not, there are actions you can take in QuickBooks Online to help in your recovery. Here are some of them.

Transactions: Watch your income and expenses like a hawk.

QuickBooks Online provides excellent transaction-tracking tools that help you document income and expenses.

How much time do you spend working with your downloaded transactions? If you take advantage of the excellent tools QuickBooks Online provides, you may notice patterns that you’ll want to explore and modify. For example, are you spending too much in one or more particular areas? When and where is your income dipping?

It’s critical that you connect to as many online financial institutions as possible, so you get a complete picture of your income and expenses. Once you have, click on Transactions in the toolbar, which should open to the Banking page. If you’re only going there to make sure there are no unrecognized entries, you’re missing out on some of QuickBooks Online’s transaction-tracking tools. In the image above, we’ve specified a vendor and chosen a Category and Tags. This will make your reports more meaningful and actionable.

If you don’t know what it means to Find Match, we can show you how that works. It’s a real time saver. 

Sales: The easy way to make it easier for customers to pay you.

We’ve written about accepting online payments in this column before. It’s especially important if you’re struggling. You may actually be losing sales if you don’t let potential customers pay online through a credit card or bank account transfer, and existing customers may pay faster if they can do business with you in that way.

QuickBooks Payments makes this possible. There are some nominal fees involved, but the potential increase in your income should more than cover them. Let us know if you want us to help you set up a merchant account.

When you set up a merchant account through QuickBooks Payments, you may find that your customer base will grow, and existing customers will pay faster.

Expenses: Categorize expenses with tax time in mind.

You’ve probably already filed your 2020 income taxes, but we’re well into 2021, and it’s not too early to start thinking about your current tax situation. QuickBooks Online helps you track your income carefully, but it’s equally important to make sure you know what your tax-related expenses are. You want to get every deduction and credit you can. So when you’re looking at transactions, like we described above, make very certain that you’re assigning the correct categories to each of them.

We can help you run reports on a quarterly basis that should be of help when you make estimated tax payments. That way, you may be able to reduce your quarterly obligation during the 2021 tax year and won’t have to wait until you file in 2022 to see savings.

Time: Make sure your billable hours are billed.

Unless you have an organized, easy-to-use method for tracking billable time, some hours are likely to fall between the cracks. QuickBooks Online provides effective tools in this area. As you go through your downloaded transactions, you may see expenses that can be billed to a customer. Select the Customer/project and check the Billable box so you’ll be able to include it on their next invoice.

You can mark expenses as billable to customers in your Transactions register.

As you create time entries for you and/or your employees, you can also mark those hours as billable.

Reports: Run basic, critical reports regularly.

You can’t know how your business is doing financially unless you create reports. Besides the quarterly and standard financial reports we can run and analyze for you, you can—and should—be generating reports yourself through QuickBooks Online. Here are some of the ones we suggest:

  • Budget vs. Actuals. If you’ve put the time and effort into creating a budget, it’s critical that you gauge your progress regularly and make adjustments as needed.B
  • Open Invoices. Who have you billed that hasn’t paid?
  • Accounts Receivable Aging Detail. Who owes you, and how far behind are they?
  • Sales by Product/Service Detail. What is selling well and what isn’t? You can make decisions about your product and service lines by viewing this report. This is especially important when your sales are sluggish.
  • Business Snapshot. This is a series of charts and lists that provides a quick visual overview of key data.

QuickBooks Online can’t, of course, revive your business if the pandemic has created conditions that are out of your control. But that shouldn’t stop you from controlling what you can, no matter what your situation is. It was designed not only to automate and streamline your daily accounting work, but also to provide the information you need as you evaluate your present situation and plan for the future. Contact our outsourced accounting team if you’d like help with this. We're here to help.

Article
Some small businesses are recovering. Is yours?

Read this if you use QuickBooks Online.

Downloading them is the easy part. QuickBooks Online lets you work with downloaded transactions in numerous ways.

QuickBooks Online was built to import transactions from your online financial institutions. You can enter them manually but downloading them saves an enormous amount of time and minimizes errors. It also makes reconciliation much easier, since you can see which transactions have cleared without calling the bank or waiting for a printed statement.

Once they’re in QuickBooks Online, your transactions are stored in a list, waiting for you to further define and categorize each one. Let’s look at how you can work with them to make sure your records are as thorough as possible.

Getting connected to your bank and credit card accounts

As long as you have online access to your bank and credit card accounts, you can set up QuickBooks Online to import cleared transactions. Click the Transactions tab in the toolbar, then click Banking. On the next screen, click Connect account. You’ll see links to popular financial institutions on the next page. If yours isn’t listed, enter its name in the search box at the top of the screen. Follow the onscreen instructions to make your initial connection and start downloading transactions. 

When you’ve completed the connection, you can click Link account in the upper right to add more.

Dealing with transactions

After you set up a connection to a bank or credit card account, its account information will appear in a box on the Banking page.

Once you’ve finished adding accounts, you’ll still be on the Banking page. Each of your connected accounts will appear in a box that includes the balance and the number of transactions that need to be reviewed. There will probably be quite a few, dozens or hundreds, the first time you download, since most financial institutions send you 90 days’ worth the first time. Every time your accounts are updated after that, you’ll only get new ones that have cleared since your last connection.

Tip: QuickBooks Online generally updates once every day. If you want to see your new cleared transactions at any time, click Update in the upper right corner.

Click on any of the account boxes, and its list of downloaded transactions will appear below. Make sure that For review is highlighted. You’ll notice that each row has one of two icons at the far right. Review means that QuickBooks Online has not assigned a category to the transaction. Confirm means it has, and it wants you to either approve it or change it. Check these carefully. Sometimes QuickBooks Online gets it right, but not always.

Click on a transaction in the register to open its action box. Here’s a partial view:

QuickBooks Online allows you to add a great deal of information about each individual transaction in the register.

Categorize is checked by default, since this is the most common action you’ll take in the list. Click Find match if, for example, you received a payment on an outstanding invoice, or Record as transfer. We can help you work with the latter two options.

Select a Vendor/Customer and a Category (if QuickBooks Online hasn’t assigned one or it’s not the best one for that transaction). Click in the Billable box if you want to bill this transaction to a Customer/project. You can also Split transaction if you need to divide it between multiple categories and/or billing statuses.

There are several other options below the section pictured above that allow you to:

  • Add Tags.
  • Attach a file.
  • Create a Rule for how similar transactions should be recorded.
  • Exclude the transaction if you have, for example, a duplicate one or a personal expense.

Before you take either of the latter two actions, talk to us. We don’t want you to do anything that might adversely affect your bookkeeping.

When you’ve finished, click Confirm. The transaction will move from the For review list to the Categorized one. It will now appear in the register for that account.

Once you’ve confirmed a transaction, it moves into the Categorized list.

As you might imagine, it’s a good idea to keep up with your downloaded transactions so you have time to give each the attention it needs. We recommend you review them daily. Your transactions, of course, flow into your reports and taxes, so you want to be sure you’re categorizing them correctly. Contact our outsourced accounting team if you’d like help with this. We're here to help.

Article
Managing downloaded transactions in QuickBooks Online

Read this if your company uses QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online offers numerous ways to help you track your sales, expenses, and profitability. If you’re using QuickBooks Online Plus or Advanced, you can create and assign Classes to transactions to differentiate between, for example, store departments or product lines. Some of the site’s reports are designed specifically for these tools, like sales by class and profit and loss by class. 
 
You can assign categories to products and services to gain insight into your sales and inventory. There’s a different set of categories that you’ll use when you record bills and expenses. These are important for reporting and tax purposes. You can also add a location field to sales transactions so you can track sales by stores, sales regions, or counties, for example.

What are tags and how do you use them?

Tags are fairly new to QuickBooks Online. They are customizable labels you can assign to transactions (invoices, expenses, and bills). They’re more flexible than the tools we’ve already mentioned—they allow you to track your money any way you want. They don’t affect your books, and they’re not included in the customization criteria for reports. But there are two reports specifically designed for them: profit and loss by tag group and transaction list by tag group.

Creating your own tags

Before you create a tag, you need to create a group. Groups consist of related tags that share a common theme. For example, say you do some event planning. You might have a group titled events. Individual events might read, for example, Grayson Wedding, Spring Art Show, and Hillman Conference.

To get started, click the gear icon in the upper right. Under lists, click tags to get to the tool’s home page. (You can also click on the transactions link in the toolbar, then click the tags tab.) Click new, then tag group. A vertical panel slides out from the right. Enter a name in the group name field. Click the down arrow to select a color, then click save. 

Enter your tags one by one in the fields labeled tag name. Click add after each one until your list is complete. Click the edit button to make any changes. When you’re finished, click done. The main tags page will open again, and you’ll see your new group under tags and tag groups. Repeat to add as many as you’d like, up to 300 tags.

Making the most of the tags in QuickBooks Online

 

You can add tags to any transaction that contains a field for them

Let’s look at how you’d use tags in an expense. Click the expenses link in the toolbar, then new transaction | expense in the upper right. Click the down arrow in the payee field in the upper left and select + add new. Enter Billy’s Bridal in the name field. Leave the type as vendor and click save. Back on the expense screen, select the payment account, payment date, and payment method for the expense (reference number is optional).

Directly below those fields, you’ll see the tags field. Click manage tags if you need to add or edit one; the right vertical pane you saw before will slide out. Otherwise, click in the field below tags. Your list of tags will drop down. Select Grayson Wedding to move it into the field. You can assign as many tags as you’d like to transactions, but you can only select one tag from each group. Finish the expense and save it. 

Go back to the tags home page, and you’ll see that there’s a link to one transaction in the events row. At the end of each row is the action column, where you can run a report, add a tag, and enter or delete a group. Your expense total appears in the money out (by tag) box above it. 

Tags are a great addition to the tools QuickBooks Online provides to help you track incoming and outgoing funds. If you’re not familiar with the others mentioned at the beginning of this column and want to learn how to explore them, let us know. We're here to help.

Article
Tag, you're it: Making the most out of QuickBooks Online tags

Read this is you are a new renewable energy company looking for accounting solutions.

Setting up a new company in QuickBooks can be challenging enough, but if you are a renewable energy company there are a few additional items to think about. You face unique reporting and tracking requirements for a number of reasons, including tax reporting requirements, potential and existing investors, debt requirements, and grant requirements. Renewable energy companies should take special care in setting up their QuickBooks file. Below is a top 10 list of items to consider when setting up a new company file.

  1. Equity—Have you recorded your initial equity activity?
    Do you have individual capital accounts setup by owner?
    Did some owners contribute items other than cash? Expertise or property? Have you accounted for those properly?
  2. Debt—Do you have all debt financing recorded on the books?
    Debt financing needs to be recorded even if the bank pays some construction vendors directly as part of the agreement.
    Do you have an amortization or payment schedule to assist with recording loan payments properly?
    Does your debt have financial statement reporting requirements or covenant requirements that you must meet annually?
  3. Accounting Basis—Generally Accept Accounting Principles (GAAP) or Tax basis how will you keep your books?
    More and more companies are being required by banks and investors to keep their books on GAAP basis, you should consider future planned investors or financing from the get go as there are some clear distinctions between the two and it may be easier to start with GAAP from the beginning.
    GAAP and tax basis call for some pretty drastic distinctions when it comes to treatment of grant income if they directly relate to a project under development so it’s good to get a handle on this up front.
  4. Construction Costs—Are you capitalizing all construction costs related to your project?
    All costs related to your project must be capitalized on the balance sheet until the project is placed in service at which point you can begin depreciating the value of the project over a period of years.
    Generally, we recommend tracking site work in a separate account as tax and GAAP requirements can call for different treatment of these costs depending on their nature.
    Are you applying for any special grants related to your project? There are a number of federal and state grants available to renewable energy companies which may require breaking your project into cost categories to determine what costs qualify for the grant and what do not? Do you have a mechanism for tracking these costs?
  5. Soft costs―Are you properly capitalizing or expensing soft costs related to your project?  Engineering fees, project management fees and consulting fees if directly related to the project are generally included as part of the capitalized project costs rather than expensed.
    Legal and accounting fees. even if directly related to the project accounting or structuring your project, are generally expensed.
  6. Multiple projects―How are you keeping track of your multiple projects?
    With multiple projects underway at any given time, it is imperative to track these costs by project in QuickBooks and to work with vendors to specify on invoices to what projects costs are related. This is imperative to a lot of grant applications to be able to provide this sort of detail easily and on a consistent basis.
  7. Project details/Contracts details―How are you keeping track of all those details?
    More detail is always good.  In our experience the more detail you have in your files as to cost breakdowns of EPC contracts, etc. the better. Investors and grant evaluators are going to request all this detail and it’s better to have on file than track it down months or even years later.  Vendors are much more cooperative when requesting this documentation up front.
  8. Grant fine print―Have you read the fine print of the grants you’ve received?
    Pay close attention to these green energy grants fine print. Many of the grants have repayment requirements were the project taken out of service within a certain timeframe or have repayment requirements under other circumstances. These are items that may be required to be disclosed in financial statements and are just good business to be aware of.
  9. Organizational costs―Do you know what these are and are you tracking?
    Organization costs are legal, accounting and any other costs related to the actual formation and entity structuring of a company.  In our experience, these costs can be significant with the complex equity structures of many renewable energy companies. Make sure you are tracking these costs as amounts in excess of $5,000 are required to be amortized over 15 years for tax purposes.
  10. Project budgets and overall budgets―Do you have a realistic budget?
    Use QuickBooks budgeting features to track both project budgets as well as your Company’s overall budgets. Projects can go over budget quickly and it’s critical to keep on top of it to ensure the overall mission and sustainability of the company.

Once you have looked at these questions, you will be able to to create an effective budget and financials. If you have questions about your financial operations, QuickBooks, or setting up budgets, please contact the team. We’re here to help. 
 

Article
Top 10 QuickBooks considerations when setting up a new renewable energy company

Read this if you are a small business owner. 

We are living in an age of information overload. A quick Google search produces millions of results and a scroll through social media offers hundreds of views. We are able to access this endless data around the clock using these tiny devices, which we spend more time in our hands than not on most days. Unending technological advancements increase the ability of business stakeholders to consume data, and that amplified ability fuels a bigger demand for more data. It is widely claimed that financial reporting has become far too burdensome and often provides more confusion than information to end-users. While each item in the reporting package may very well help users to better appreciate the financial statements, the worth is being lost due to the volume of data in its entirety. 

Financial statement simplification

So, what does this information overload mean to business owners today, and can you really achieve financial statement simplification while still providing effective and relevant information to your stakeholders? Our answer is ‘YES!’ You can add immediate value to an entity’s financial statements, without a substantial investment of time, money, and resources. By creating a month-end checklist, defining stakeholders' needs, considering materiality, and automating the reporting process, your organization can not only simplify its financial reporting, but also add immense value.

When it comes to month-end close, your team may have a very clear understanding of what needs to be done and who is responsible for each task. However, documenting the process is crucial to provide clarity and simplification. Your month-end checklist can be used as a tool to keep everyone organized, outline due dates, and define roles and responsibilities. A month-end checklist would include tasks such as reviewing outstanding accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP), booking depreciation, adjusting prepaids and accruals, bank reconciliations and posting loan interest. This outline should serve as a forecasting guide to quantify resources needed for the month-end close.

Relevant and specific financial reporting

Whether it is your banking institution, investors, auditors, or management, it is important to identify which reports (and what targeted and specific information) each set of users will need and in what frequency they want it. Your organization may be producing excellent financial reporting that is too extensive and too frequent for your stakeholders' needs. Once you gather what each audience requires, it makes the process more efficient and the information for each audience more valuable.

The methods of accounting your company uses can have a material effect on the financial statements and their usefulness to end users. Materiality refers to the impact that a misstatement or omission of information can have on a company’s financial statements. Materiality varies based on the size of an entity; therefore, it is crucial that every member of your accounting team is aware of the materiality your organization has decided on using. It is important to note that when the cost of a method of accounting outweighs the benefit of doing so, you are able to depart from this accounting principle. Your company should revisit materiality on a regular basis, since eliminating some transactions can significantly reduce the amount of time required to issue financial statements.

Automation options for improved accuracy

Lastly, there are countless options available for not only automating your reporting process but minimizing time spent during the month on various accounting functions. These tools are not only effective in reducing labor and administrative costs but also improving accuracy by mitigating human error. Accounts payable tools like Bill.com and Expensify streamline your payments and approvals process and can save an average of 50% of time spent on AP, this is nearly 36 business days per year. 

Our team at BerryDunn is available to discuss your specific needs and help to recommend the best tools, processes, and procedures to simplify your financial reporting and month-end close process. 

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Simplify financial reporting with an expert at your doorstep

Read this if you are interested in tax policy and infrastructure.

The Biden Administration has made tax policy a legislative priority, and the Treasury Department’s Green Book released in May provides additional details on these tax policy proposals. Congressional Democrats have also indicated their interest in tax legislation. The question is: Will we see federal tax legislation in the near future? To answer this question, we need to look at the Administration’s and Congress’ infrastructure legislative plans.

Infrastructure one

President Biden has been negotiating an infrastructure package with members of both parties. Although a bipartisan agreement fizzled in July, new life seems to have been breathed into a new agreement. During the week of July 26, 2021, the Senate reached bipartisan agreement on a $1 trillion package that includes roads, bridges, rail, airports, electric vehicles, clean water, and broadband internet, with revenue offsets such as new cryptocurrency information reporting requirements and an excise tax on chemicals. On August 10, 2021, the Senate voted 69 to 30 to pass the bill.

House consideration of the package is expected in coming weeks. Some progressive Democratic members of the House, however, have indicated that they may not vote in favor of this package unless a far larger second infrastructure package is ultimately approved.

This first infrastructure package is reportedly “paid for” outside income tax increases, which means that this infrastructure bill generally would not include the Administration’s tax proposals. There would likely be little to no Republican support for the package if the Administration’s tax priorities were included.

There does, however, continue to be strong interest by the Administration in moving forward with its tax policy priorities. That’s where a second infrastructure package comes in.

Infrastructure two

A second infrastructure package, referred to in the press as “human infrastructure,” is intended to address more intangible priorities, such as extension of the child care tax credit, healthcare, immigration and climate change. It is expected that the Administration’s and Congress’ tax policy priorities would be included in this bill. At this time, this estimated $3.5 trillion package does not enjoy bipartisan support. The package would be expected to pass the House, as House rules require only a simple majority for passage. Its path through the Senate, however, remains unclear.

In general, legislation needs only a simple majority to pass the Senate. Under current Senate rules, any senator may filibuster a piece of legislation, which amounts to unlimited speech and debate and, if unstopped, can effectively derail legislation. However, if 60 senators agree, they may vote to invoke “cloture,” which will end the filibuster and move the legislation to a substantive vote. (Cloture was invoked for Infrastructure One by a 67-33 vote.) It is expected that a second infrastructure bill would not pick up any Republican Senate votes, and there likely would be a Republican filibuster. Without any Republican support, cloture would be virtually impossible. 

There is, though, a procedural option available in the Senate to bypass the filibuster/cloture rules. Under the “budget reconciliation” process, legislation can pass the Senate with a simple majority without the threat of filibuster. While the budget reconciliation process also applies in the House, because there is no filibuster threat, the House does not need the procedure to advance legislation to a simple majority vote. 

Reconciliation bills must involve spending, revenue, or debt. There is a limit to the number of bills that may pass the Senate under budget reconciliation each year. The American Rescue Plan enacted in March 2021 utilized the budget reconciliation process to pass the Senate. The Senate parliamentarian has indicated that additional reconciliation bills may pass the Senate this year. Despite further availability of the budget reconciliation process in the Senate this year, passage of Infrastructure two is not a foregone conclusion. 

For a bill to pass the Senate under the budget reconciliation process, it needs only to garner a simple majority of votes, which, with the current Senate makeup, means 50 Democrats voting in favor, plus a 51st vote cast by Vice President Harris. There are, however, moderate Democratic senators who have indicated in recent weeks that they may not be willing to use the budget reconciliation process to advance any further legislation, at least in the short term.  

Nonetheless, on August 11, 2021, the Senate approved a budget resolution on party lines; this budget resolution will serve as the framework with which Infrastructure two will be considered on its merits. House Speaker Pelosi previously indicated that the House will not vote on a first infrastructure bill until the Senate takes procedural steps regarding Infrastructure two, so this crucial step makes the future of both packages brighter in both chambers of Congress.

Likelihood of a 2021 tax bill?

Infrastructure two is expected to be the vehicle in which tax policy priorities are included. With passage of the budget resolution in the Senate, this step certainly makes the prospects of ultimate passage much better. What remains unclear is what the underlying provisions will look like, as there remains some discomfort on the part of some moderate senators with its $3.5 trillion price tag.

All eyes are focused on two moderate Democratic senators: Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. While Sinema has been instrumental in helping to reach a bipartisan deal on Infrastructure one, she indicated the week of July 26, 2021 that she does not currently support the price tag of the second bill. Manchin has also indicated displeasure with the bill’s cost. Without the support of both senators, a second bill would likely stall.

There is still plenty of time on the legislative calendar for negotiation and minds to change. Some issues members of Congress will consider are the price tag of any second infrastructure bill, whether they want to be the sole detractor within their party and whether there may be opportunity to address the policy issues in future legislation. 

Timing of a possible tax bill?

Although Congress is expected to take up consideration of Infrastructure two in the fall, whether it ultimately passes and what provisions it will contain is unclear. Senators Sinema and Manchin are two to watch over the coming weeks. 

What would be included?

The Green Book is a good starting point to understand the Administration’s tax policy priorities. Congress will have its priorities as well. If we do see tax legislation, some major provisions that can be expected to be included in a bill include increases in the corporate tax rate, individual tax rates, and capital gains rates, as well as estate tax changes and changes to international tax policy.

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2021 federal tax legislation? A review of the state of play