QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online

When choosing whether to invest in a desktop or online QuickBooks product, we would suggest you evaluate three differences in the products.

1. Accessibility

If you want the option to access your QuickBooks file from anywhere with internet connection, you will want QuickBooks Online (QBO). If you prefer to have your file on one laptop or computer in your office, you may want the desktop product.

  • If you use an Apple computer, you will want QBO since Intuit has discontinued the Mac product. If you are on a PC, you may want to use a desktop product.
  • If you need more than five users in the file at one time, you may want QuickBooks Online. If you need less than five users in the file at one time, you may prefer the desktop product.
  • If you want your accountant to have the ability to access your file to make changes or consult at any time throughout the year, you may prefer QBO. If you only need to get your accountant a file quarterly or annually, you may prefer the desktop product.

2. Appearance

The interface and processes of the two products are significantly different. They can both perform the same tasks, but the process of performing those tasks requires different procedures. Learning new processes can be a little difficult, so we suggest you stick with the product with which you are more comfortable.

3. Payment for Product

Last, there is a difference in the way you pay for your QuickBooks product. To purchase the QuickBooks desktop product is a one-time fee. We do suggest that every three years you upgrade your product because Intuit regularly sunsets old products. QBO is a monthly subscription that is continually updated and supported by Intuit.

Overall, both QuickBooks products are great to use. If you need help selecting which product better suits your needs, we would be happy to assist you in making the decision.

Summer Time Clean Up

Summer is the perfect time to get your QuickBooks cleaned up. MKR provides hands-on training and consultation services for QuickBooks during this time of year. It is our pleasure to conduct an on-site visit to assist with any questions or concerns you have in working with your QuickBooks file(s).

We provide consultation by using our accountants’ tools. These tools can help reconcile bank accounts, troubleshoot payroll and bank imports, correct accounts receivable and accounts payable, and update inventory. We provide full-service training if you are new to the QuickBooks software, or partial-service training if you have been using QuickBooks but need assistance with just one area.

Our training is customized to your needs and your business. We walk through what you need from your QuickBooks and customize the best way for you to achieve those goals with your software. With QuickBooks products constantly changing, we are here to keep you updated on the modifications for your software. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the assistance we provide, so that come tax time you are ready. Please do not hesitate to call!

We have three certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors. Learn more about what they can do.

QuickBooks Certifications

QuickBooks, created by intuit, is an accounting software that many businesses use to track their financial information including invoices, bills, paychecks, and inventory. To become a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, one must complete a series of comprehensive tests to show their knowledge and skills with the QuickBooks software. Here at MKR CPA’s we have three certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors: Jean Miller, Amanda O’Brien, and Tiffany Evans.

Jean Miller has been a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since 2006. She is the manager of the accountants in the office and she has worked in the accounting industry for 34 years. She is certified on QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. In our office she is our inventory and payroll specialist, and works on time consuming corrections, data reviews, and consultations. She just recently acquired her Advanced Desktop Certification.

Amanda O’Brien has been a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since 2011. She is a staff accountant and has worked in the accounting industry for 8 years. She is certified on QuickBooks Desktop and advance certified on QuickBooks Online. In our office she specializes in QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks for Mac. She works with, but not limited to, veterinary companies, nonprofits, and service-based companies. She also just recently acquired her Advanced Desktop Certification.

Tiffany Evans has been a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor since 2012. She is a staff accountant and has worked in the accounting industry for 5 years. She is certified on QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Enterprise. In our office she specializes in bookkeeping services and QuickBooks Enterprise. She works with, but not limited to, hardware companies, real estate investors, and product and inventory driven companies. She just recently acquired her Advanced Desktop Certification as well.

Is your QuickBooks ready for a cleaning? Learn about the tools to help you clean your QuickBooks.

343,020 Reasons CPAs Should Talk Up Their Tax Expertise Now

Nearly three years ago, the IRS launched the tax return preparer oversight program and seeds were planted in the landscape of tax return preparation services. Today, those seeds are starting to sprout.

In June, the IRS estimated there are 717,161 PTIN holders, many of which (212,975, or 29.7%) are CPAs, outnumbering Enrolled Agents (42,895) and attorneys (31,189) combined. While CPAs have dominated the regulated tax preparation arena, that landscape is about to change. More and more people are completing the final step to becoming a Registered Tax Return Preparer, or RTRP (they have until 12/31/13 to pass the competency exam). Currently, there are 4,893 RTRPs. That leaves an estimated 338,127 “provisional preparers” who may join the RTRP ranks.

That means more competition is coming and it will influence the public perception of tax return preparers. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t really understand the difference between a CPA and other tax return preparers. We have all seen the advertisements by the big box tax preparation and software chains that inflate the qualifications of their employees. They often compare them to CPAs or perhaps they feature a CPA in the ad, implying that every customer representative will have similar qualifications.

Some believe that RTRPs will leverage their new designation as some form of implied association with or endorsement by the IRS, thus giving them an advantage in the marketplace. While the IRS has put in restrictions on advertising that leverage the RTRP designation (thanks to AICPA advocacy), they cannot possibly enforce them completely. And they can’t police informal or non-commercial promotions. If CPAs wait to counter such marketing efforts, they may find themselves in the same position as a political candidate trying to counteract a negative ad: while the ad may be false, it is hard to change someone’s mind after the fact.

That’s why it is important for CPAs to start telling their stories better, more often and everywhere they can think of. And they need to start now. Clients need to hear messages about the value of a CPA directly from their CPA. They also need to understand how they are more than just a tax return, that their CPA is available year-round and can help them plan for life’s significant milestones such as buying a house, planning for retirement, saving for college and much, much more. If we don’t start tooting our own value horn louder and longer, who will?

When do you need to start building your new value proposition? Yesterday. And how do you do this? Start by developing a value-centric firm culture, then educating your staff on the importance of value based client communications.

The AICPA has developed the Tax Practitioner Toolkit (available free) to help members better define their value and communicate it to current and prospective clients. A Toolkit Implementation Checklist is included, so you can get started right away.

Once your firm masters its story so it is infused in every client contact, networking presentation, or prospective client meeting, it will become part of who you are and what your firm represents for its clients. Once you know your value and live it every day, clients will never have to guess. They’ll automatically know that their CPA is the premier provider of tax services and they would never trust their finances to anyone else.

Personal Financial Plans: Saving for the Future

Many American families are struggling to make ends meet and save for their future needs, according to a report from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), but those with a financial plan do better and are more confident about meeting their goals.

But only 36 percent of the 1,508 household financial decision makers who participated in the CFA/CFP Board 2012 Household Financial Planning Survey have ever prepared a comprehensive financial plan. Respondents with higher annual incomes and older respondents were more likely than middle-income families to have a financial plan.

Survey responses reflected the effects of the recession that began in 2008. Nearly 38 percent of households said they live paycheck to paycheck. Less than 30 percent indicated they felt comfortable financially, and only 34 percent think they can afford to retire by age 65. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI).

Regardless of income, decision makers with a financial plan, whether it is one they have prepared on their own or with a professional, are more likely to feel they are on pace to meet all of their financial goals by a margin of 50 percent to 32 percent. By an even larger margin (52 percent to 30 percent), and across all income brackets, families with a financial plan are more likely to feel “very confident” about managing money, savings and investments.

What Is a Comprehensive Financial Plan?
The survey assumes that a comprehensive financial plan will identify a family’s financial goals, and a plan for savings and investments that will help them meet those goals. For most families, those goals will be income in retirement, college education for children, insurance needs, emergencies, and other expenses (e.g., assisting parents). The plan should include paying off credit card debt.

Most Americans have spending plans, the report says, but few have savings plans except for employer-sponsored retirement plans. Many respondents say that they do not earn enough money to save. “Advances in technology have made accessing and analyzing financial information much easier, but a lack of understanding about savings and investment options and how to best manage household finances remains a serious obstacle to Americans’ financial preparedness,” the survey reported.

Comparison with 1997 Survey
The CFA/CFP Board survey utilized a number of questions asked by a 1997 CFA-NationsBank survey, also developed with and administered by PSRAI. This made possible a comparison of consumer attitudes and habits in the more optimistic, low unemployment year of 1997, with attitudes and habits in 2012, in the aftermath of the recent severe recession.

The number of Americans who reported living paycheck to paycheck rose from 31 percent to 38 percent from 1997 to 2012, and the percentage who indicated they felt comfortable financially fell from 38 percent in 1997 to 30 percent in 2012.

Other comparisons include:

  • In 1997, only 38 percent felt [they were] behind in saving for retirement compared to 51 percent this year.
  • In 1997, half (50 percent) said they thought they could retire by age 65 compared to only 34 percent this year.
  • In 1997, more families with college-bound children were saving for higher education (56 percent) compared to this year (48 percent).
  • However, the proportion of those who say they have a retirement investment plan in place is about the same (51 percent in 1997 and 49 percent this year).

Getting Help When Preparing a Financial Plan
The 2012 survey revealed that slightly more than half of respondents said “it’s hard for me to know who to trust for financial advice” (55 percent); “to me, investing seems complicated” (52 percent); and “I’m worried about losing my money if I invest it” (55 percent), a significant increase from the 45 percent who expressed this worry in 1997.

Kevin R. Keller, CEO of CFP Board said, “Consumers understandably are more nervous about investing their money given recent revelations about financial fraud, manipulation, and abuse of clients. This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t create a financial plan and be prepared. We encourage consumers to do their homework and find a financial professional who always puts the clients’ best interests first and abides by a fiduciary standard of care.”

Both the CFA and CFP Board recommend that consumers begin by assessing their own financial condition and develop a plan. One useful tool is the website LetsMakeaPlan.org, where interested consumers can learn more about preparing a financial plan. The site also lists questions an individual might ask of a financial planner and some red flags.

CFA executive director Stephen Brobeck said that financial planning is an important component of financial literacy. Financial planners need to get the message out.

Full Article: http://www.accountingweb.com/article/personal-financial-plans-saving-future/219569