Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Payroll Services: A Cautionary Tale

Lessons Learned From a Year of Bad Payroll with Paycom

Did you hire a payroll processor for your business?  It felt good, didn't it?  A burden lifted.  I bet you were so happy to have that off your plate and felt lighter knowing that all of those pesky taxes were now being handled by a professional.  You would have paid nearly anything never to see another notice from your state saying you made an error on a filing ever again.  But then it happens....the notices show up anyway.  Now you pay a professional service to take care of all of the FUTA, SUTA, FICA, IRA, WTF, EMAC, FEDWH, STATEWH, 401K, (add an acronym here) and STILL the notices arrive.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How to Start a Business: The First 14 Organizational Steps

     Now as anyone who has ever started a business knows there are a million steps to getting started.  You have a logo to design, colors to pick, leases to sign, office chairs to buy, staff to hire, marketing and branding to build out, product to test and the list goes on.  We are accountants so we can't help with that.  DON'T let me help pick font.  What we can help with is the brass tacks of getting going.  Here are the first steps for MOST people getting started.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Downloading and Importing Banking Data Without Connecting the Bank In Quickbooks Desktop

There are a variety of circumstances in which you cannot connect the online banking to the Quickbooks desktop file.  For any bookkeeper, or business owner, that has ever had to hand enter more than a handful of transactions into Quickbooks the pain is real.  Alas, there is a workaround to help you import your banking and credit card data into Quickbooks without connecting the two directly.

The answer is to download your data from the bank as Quickbooks download files (obx files) within your online banking interface and import those files into your Quickbooks desktop file.  Downloaded files can also be shared with your bookkeeper for importing when sharing your online banking access may not be appropriate.

So how do you do it?

Each and every bank and credit card is different so it may take a little navigation to find the download functions.  With some banks if your business account is set up under personal online banking it may not be an option e.g. Bank of America, but in the majority of cases the function is there somewhere.

Once you have the file(s) downloaded you need to import them into Quickbooks.  **If you are working with Quickbooks on a cloud hosted solution or remote host you will need to move your downloads to the server where your Quickbooks file is located.  Under the banking drop-down menu select bank feeds and import web connect file and then select your previously downloaded files.

The bank feeds window will then open automatically and allow you to allocate and post transactions.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Taking Your Accounting Digital In 3, 2, 1

Getting your accounting out of the shoebox and into the 21st century is not just a thing of fantasy.  You can do it for yourself in under 5 minutes.  The most important part is to start.  For the timid and unsure this is the best way to get going and start making changes that will save you time and money.

3. Decide you are going to use technology to streamline your accounting processes starting right now. 
This doesn't include "I think I might" and "I'll try that". Commit and do it!

2. Download an app and get started.
We love Receipt BankHubdoc, and Evernote.  Each has its own pros and cons but all are solid proven and secure.  They all also offer a phone app and are easy to use.  

1.  Use it now.
The minute you install it try it with at least three receipts or bills.  Then use it again tomorrow and the next day too. 

Look at you.  You're streamlining things and saving time already.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why We Require Certificates and Workers' Comp Coverage From Nearly EVERY Subcontractor

When working with contractors we deal with hundreds and thousands of subcontractors. Often we get push back when we request their certificates of insurance.  I think I've had this argument probably hundreds of times.  The subs like to pull out the old well I'm not required to be on the policy while standing one hand in the electrical panel on the job site.  My other favorite is the sub that says he is a sole proprietor with no employees so the state says he doesn't need to carry workers' compensation insurance.  To all these subs we say yes you need it and here is our canned email.  Feel free to use it.

Insurance has nothing to do with an entity type.  Our liability on a job site is the same if the independently contracted service provider is a C corp or a one man D.B.A. sole prop.  Liability and exposure are liability and exposure.  If the sole prop work alone guy falls off the roof and dies or the C-corp employee does the exposure to the homeowner and contractor are the same.  Where the difference in exposure comes is the kind of work that is being done.  For example, there is less exposure and risk for the surveyor on the job site before the project starts than for the roofer.  This is reflected in the insurance rates they themselves pay.  As the contractor, we want to have everyone covered.  With the high net worth of individuals for which our contractors build homes, we are often held to a higher standard by their advisors and lenders as they have more at risk financially.  Exposure and risk mitigation are what is at hand here.  If someone isn’t covered by our company payroll and workers’ compensation insurance as well as by the GL policy of the company we want to see them insured or else they are falling under our exposure. 

Some people get the state’s requirements and allowances for certain exemptions under labor laws confused with exposure and risk mitigation.  They are not one in the same.  The state of Massachusetts says that if the electrician is a sole prop or DBA with no employees he is not required to purchase workers comp insurance or that if he has employees he himself can opt out of coverage and only cover the employees.  The problem with this both in the eyes of our customers and in the eyes of our insurance company is that while that guy is allowed to do that by law it then shifts the risk and exposure to us.  If the owner of the electrical company never sets foot on the job site then great no worries, but if he is working alongside the guys or on his own on the job site we are just as exposed.  There is no magic bubble around him because he opted out and is self-employed. 

There are all kinds of other audit considerations and legalities but those are secondary.  

Why Do You Need My W-9 Form?

If you have been a bookkeeper for more than 10 minutes some service provider has probably dug their heels in and refused to give you a W-9 form or at least questioned the necessity of this information exchange.  Here is my canned answer:

W-9s by IRS statute are a tool to enable the official provision of one’s tax identification and business information to someone with which there will be a financial transaction.  It is a best practice to collect this from ALL service providers and anyone that MAY fall under 1099 guidelines because if you don’t you may find yourself up the creek.  It is the responsibility of the business to properly document and remit tax documentation regarding various forms of payment including payments to independently contracted service providers.  In order to do this properly, certain information is needed such as entity type and tax i.d. If a business fails to collect this information and therefore fail to properly or improperly 1099 an independent contractor they can be fined 10s of thousands of dollars.  SO, we make it a practice to collect this information at the beginning of the engagement.  If we find the entity to be an S or C corp it ends there.  If they are an LLC or DBA and they are paid more than $600 a 1099 is generated at year end.  That 1099 can include both services and materials or services only.  This should make no difference to the recipient as the 1099 income should be being declared by the business anyhow.  The IRS just compares 1098 remittances by business (yes not 1099) totals by tax ID and compares to declared gross income. If the recipient declares less gross income that the total of all 1098s they are reported on they could have trouble.  If they report their gross income properly it will likely meet or exceed the 1098 totals and they are good to go. As a business, if we fail to collect the W-9 because someone tells us that they are a corp so we don’t need one and later we find out that they were an LLC and we failed to 1099 them we have no defense.  Collecting the W-9 and being able to prove we acted in good faith is our responsibility with the IRS.

We always recommend collecting the W-9 before work begins and upon the first engagement with any individual or business that may fall under IRS 1099 rules.  W-8 forms should be used for international folks.  

Here are some helpful links:
W-9 Form from the IRS
W-8 Form