Tuesday, December 29, 2015

IRS Announced 2016 Standard Mileage Rates and They’re DOWN from 2015!!

The IRS announced on December 17, 2015 the new 2016 tax-deduction rates for using your vehicle for business, charity, medical and moving…

These rates tend to change from year to year, usually going up. This will not be the case for 2016!  Vehicle-Use tax-deduction rates will decrease in 2016:

• Business:  54¢ per mile (57.5¢ in 2015, decrease of 3.5¢)
• Charity:     14¢ per mile ( 14¢ 2015, No change)
• Medical:    19¢ per mile (23¢ in 2015, decrease of 4¢)
• Moving:    19¢ per mile (23¢ in 2015, decrease of 4¢)

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

Stay up to date with the latest tax news and information at LAE Business Services.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Speed Up Opening Your QuickBooks® File

Does your QuickBooks® file seem to take forever to open? Did you remember to close those cumbersome reports before closing the company file?

The "Open Window List" is a great feature and one of the first things I make sure if open when I'm using a new file for the first time.

 With the Open Windows list so you can:
  • See each and every window currently open in QuickBooks®
  • Navigate between these windows quickly and easily
Activating the Open Windows list is a snap. 

  • Click View, then click Open Window List
Once that is done, a window box shows on the left hand side of your QuickBooks® - that screen will show all the open windows like the picture below:

 In the example picture above, there are 9 windows currently open - you can jump to any of them instantly by clicking on the desired window in the list. The open window list will also be a reminder of what you need to close before existing the program, so the next time you open your file it will open much faster without all those reports bogging it down.

Want more information on this or another QuickBooks® topic send an email to info@laebusiness.com

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thought for the Day #89

If you allow people

to make more withdrawals

than deposits in your life,

You will be out of balance

And in the Negative

Know when

to close the Account!

Monday, October 5, 2015

IRS Audit..How Far Back Can They Go?

This is an all to familiar question... How far back can the IRS audit me? or how long should I keep my tax returns after they've been files?

As unnerving as an audit may be, you can take comfort in the laws that set time limits on IRS audits. Under the Internal Revenue Code, Section 6501 provides a three-year statute of limitations on tax audits. It's important to know that filing a tax return on extension has the downside of also extending the time your return is subject to an audit. For example, if you filed your 2011 tax return on April 15, 2012, the IRS had until April 15, 2015, to audit it. However, if you had requested an automatic extension and filed Oct. 15, 2012, the IRS still has until Oct. 15, 2015, to audit your return and assess any additional tax and penalties due. Section 6501 also sets forth a second statute of limitations. The three-year limit is doubled to six years if the IRS finds that a taxpayer omits from gross income an amount that exceeds 25 percent of the stated gross income. In that case, the IRS could audit your 2011 as late as 2017. Under reported income can happen for a variety of legitimate reasons; overestimating your cost basis for calculating the gain on the sale of property or securities held for a long time is very common. It's worth noting that the IRS doesn't consider any amount as omitted from gross income if you disclose it in the tax return, or in a statement attached to it, and you do it in a manner that's adequate for the IRS to apprise the nature and amount of the item. If you used an estimated cost basis to reduce the capital gains income on the sale of property, but you disclosed this and the possible lower cost basis on a written statement, the IRS would have only three years to audit that tax return. 

Lastly, know about the third statute of limitations: The IRS has no time limit when an audit pertains to assessment of tax if a return is false or fraudulent, reflects a willful attempt to evade taxation or when no tax return at all is filed.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Be Positive in Any Situation

The power of remaining positive, whatever the situation, can never be underestimated. We are all here for a limited period of time, is it worth it to spend any of that time in a dismal mood? Being negative?
The true test of an individual to remain positive is when challenges become difficult. Remaining positive keeps one’s mind in the right state of balance and often opens resolutions to the problems at hand. Negativity is contagious; not only does it affect the individual, but it spreads to anyone they interact with. When only the negative perspective is in focus, the resolution process is impeded. Eliminating negativity and being positive is a mindset that can be turned into a welcome lifestyle.
  • Shift Your Thoughts – Be aware of your thoughts; especially when life just isn’t going your way. The moment you see that you are spiraling into frustration, agony, sorrow and low self-esteem – hit the brakes and shift your thoughts, by thinking about something completely unrelated. This breaks the pattern of self-pity, mind-created stories, and the negative dive downward. What makes us different from other mammals is our ability to control our thoughts and think for ourselves.
  • Discover the Lesson – There is a valuable lesson to be learned from every situation. No matter how unfortunate the situation may seem, recognize the lessons waiting to be uncovered. Sometimes lessons are expensive, but every problem is a learning opportunity in disguise. So you've made a mistake, now you can accept it and move on, knowing that you will make a different decision in the future. Understand this and be appreciative for the experience.
  • Attitude of Gratitude – You cannot be both angry and grateful at the same time. Start counting the blessings in your life, once you start looking for them, you'll find more. What’s not to be grateful for? You are alive and breathing! Realize how lucky you are and all the abundance in your life.
  • Positive Affirmations & Visualization – Practice seeing yourself in a positive and confident light. Do this whenever you have a few minutes (examples; Waiting for a friend, sitting on the train, riding an elevator.) Self-affirmations (list of positive statements about yourself and your self-image) are another simple and powerful tool to train your subconscious to see yourself in a positive light. This is important, as many of us can be so hard on ourselves through social conditioning. but over time you'll learn to recognize your gifts rather than finding false and self-imposed inadequacies.
  • Reservoir of Memories – Keep a reservoir of memories that will instantly make you smile. Those occasions where you felt happy, appreciative and loved; when you were at peace with yourself and those around you. Whenever you are in a negative frame of mind, consciously and deliberately pick up any nugget out of this reservoir and reminisce. Remembering those happy moments gives a balanced perspective to your situation. You realize that what appears negative today will change tomorrow. Nothing stays the same.
  • Criticizing Detox Diet – Change your approach and attitude. Don't criticizing others and situations. You don't know what their situation is. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.
Whether you are positive or negative, the situation around you does not change. So, we might as well be positive. And as with any habit, the habit of remaining positive in situations takes practice and a commitment to yourself to take control. Start small, pay attention to your emotions. Keep it going, and you will steadily become a positive source of energy that others will want around them! Won't that be empowering?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Thought for the day #37

in the dividing line
the life you have
and the life you want to have.
breaks down this wall.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Is Communication A Lost Art?

Technology that has been developed over the past decade is unbelievable. Our society had become mesmerized with such intriguing applications. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, we all remember the Angry Bird craze... and the list goes on and on. We can't get enough, but what's so enticing in the long run may be hindering our society.
While these apps are entertaining and amusing, they are taking away from our relationships and overall social skills.
Studies show that the average age of children getting their first cell phones is 8-years-old. In fact, more than 35 percent of children in second and third grade own cell phones. Thirty-nine percent of children ages 2- to 4-years-old and 52% of kids ages 5 to 8 have used an iPad, iPhone or similar touch-screen device to play games, watch videos or use other apps, according to a survey by Common Sense Media. The irony is that these kids are becoming more versed in texting lingo than they are in proper English and face-to-face conversations.

People are beginning to agonize with the thought of in-person conversations of any kind, or even talking on the phone. Social media and texting are replacing the telephone and face-to-face conversations. It’s less intimidating to text someone or drop a line via Facebook or LinkedIn messaging, than it is to actually hear a voice or, heaven forbid, look someone in the eye. If someone is shy or doesn’t want to sound awkward over the phone, they can send a text and have a similar conversation in written form, where answers don’t have to be “on the spot.” I agree, texting provides a level of convenience, but the fact is much of today’s new technology is threatening to make extinct what used to be innate social interaction skills.
Texting lacks personality and emotion. We all have used the little smiley faces to imply happiness but at the same time we are not emoting over the phone. We are digressing from what makes our personality unique. We’re losing cherished opportunities to practice in-person interactions that might help us to become more comfortable in meeting new people or interviewing for jobs. Saying “whatever” through text can mean everything from “I’m cool with that” to “I'm upset with you, don't talk to me.” It’s repugnant that fights even occur over emotionless text conversations when, in fact, the entire problem was probably a misunderstanding.

When I think of all the forms of communication at my disposal, I can’t help but believe that the key is in “balance”. Each communication tool has a unique benefit, and when applied appropriately can provide significant value.  However, remember to make an effort to ensure that the tools are being used properly and not being abused.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Your future is in Your Hands

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t
A driven person will only try harder…


Friday, August 7, 2015

Maximizing Productivity

Productivity depends on several factors: motivation, training, talent, work environment, support from others, time management and luck... It's almost too much to think about. But when everything lines up, things get done.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Accountant vs Bookkeeper

Accountant vs Bookkeeper

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant? A bookkeeper handles the day-in day-out financial record keeping and reporting. An accountant specializes in the preparation and filing of taxes. Having a good bookkeeper is just as important to the growing business as having a good accountant.
Cost is another significant difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper. For this reason it is very important that you allocate your resources accordingly. You do not want to be paying your accountant to perform bookkeeping functions, this will eat up most of your financial services budget.
 Accountants do not have the time to handle day-in day-out financial record keeping and reporting, that's why they hire bookkeepers.
Bookkeepers perform a critical function for the firms and organizations they serve. Regularly challenged to maintain precise and accurate records, bookkeepers produce the vital reports that keep management up to date on the financial condition of their company.
Bookkeepers are responsible for maintaining the business checkbook. They record routine money transactions like customer payments into a cash receipts journal and checks to vendors into a cash disbursement journal. They also process payroll. At month end they transfer or post the journal totals to the general ledger in preparation for financial statements prepared by the accountant. They prepare monthly quarterly and year end financial statements.
Accountants are responsible for the design and management of the financial systems that bookkeepers use. They prepare tax returns at year end. Accountants may also prepare budgets for management and loan proposals for bankers; they may perform cost analysis for the company’s products or services.
Hiring a bookkeeping service may often be a good solution for the small business owner. A good service will communicate well with your accountant so when tax time rolls around, the accountant will need to spend as little time as possible on your tax return keeping your accountant’s fee to a minimum. Make sure you understand the reports you get back from your service. You want to make the most of the information to make productive decisions for your business.
Both bookkeepers and accountants are important to your business. Knowing the difference between them will not only assure you of receiving the best information on which to base your financial decisions, but will also save you hundreds of dollars per year in fees.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Customer List Out of Control? One Word - MERGE

Do you have customer names listed two or more times with only slightly different variations, when they're actually the same company? This often occurs when another QuickBooks user in your office can't find a customer who's already in the system and creates a new record with a slightly different spelling. Good news, you can merge them. Merging customers will combine the sales history of the duplicate records into a single record. QuickBooks then deletes the other records.

Before you begin you will need to switch to single-user mode. To do this, all of the QuickBooks users except you must log out of the data file. Go to "File" and select- "Switch to Single-User Mode". 

To merge customers complete the following steps:

Click Customer on the menu bar, then click Customer Center, you may also click the Customer Icon on the icon bar.

Select the customer that was mistakenly created. 

Double-click the customer you don’t want to use. This is the customer that cannot have any jobs attached to it. The “Edit” window will open.

In the Customer Name field, you must type the name of the customer that you want to merge with. The name must be spelled exactly like it is in the customer list. In this example, I am going to merge the companies Southside with South Side. I will type South Side exactly like it is spelled in the customer list.         

After you type the name, click OK at the bottom and then click OK to confirm that you want to merge the two customers.

More than two "same" customer names? Repeat the above steps for each of the remaining "same" names until you have the one correct customer name.
Need to merge vendor names? Follow the same procedure as you did for customers, just use the vendor list.

Tips and Warnings:
  • Only two customers can be combined at a time.
  • Only one customer can have jobs attached to it. If the other customer has jobs attached as well, then the jobs must be deleted or moved
  • Once two customers’ names are merged, the process cannot be reversed.
  • Merging two customers may affect previous financial reports.
  • When merging two customers, the data that was associated with the customer will be deleted. This includes all contact information.
  • You cannot merge a customer with a vendor
  • The data associated with the merged customer or vendor, such as address, phone number, Email, etc., is removed from your records along with the name.

Need further assistance please contact us at info@laebusiness.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Speak Up Before You're In Too Deep

One of my favorite scenes from the movie The Replacements is when the Quarterback Shane Falco, played by Keanu Reeves, during a team meeting speaks of his greatest fear.  "You're playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand."

In my business I see a variety of companies and all sorts of office situations. I find that far too many employees have a tough time speaking up when they are in over their head with tasks given them; whether it's they can't handle the extra work or in some instances they're not as qualified as they said they were. Speak up, don't wait until you're in "quicksand" and have no way out. Not only are you hurting yourself and damaging your business reputation; you're potentially costing your company a lot of money, as they will need to bring in qualified people to correct your errors and to get caught up with the work you were not able to do. 

Bottom line: It is better to fess up and admit you're in over your head and need help than to cost yourself a job.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

4 Tips for Successfully Managing Accounts Payable

4 Tips for Successfully Managing Accounts Payable

Laura A. Ehle | June 3, 2015| LAE Business Services, Inc.
APNo what matter what size your business is, paying bills will always be part of it. Whether it’s the monthly operating expenses, an occasional order to pay or a fully staffed accounts payable department managing hundreds or thousands of invoices.  By implementing best business practices you can streamline your accounts payable process and be prepared for future growth.

Below are 4 tips to help you successfully manage your accounts payable:
1. Simplify Your Accounts Payable Process
  • Reduce the number of check runs to every other week.
  • When the accounting staff prepares check runs, they should have the invoice, any backup (packing slips, pod’s, etc.) ready and invoices approved by the appropriate department heads before coming to you for signatures.
  • Make Accounts Payable aware of any cash disbursement ceilings for each check run so they can then select the most important invoices to pay if cash is tight during that payment cycle.
  • Empower your staff with decisions that will make your life easier and are not dangerous for them to make. The decision to make partial payments on larger balances, or delaying payments to vendors who have a higher tolerance on due dates are a couple of examples.
2. Use Technology
  • Analyze and reduce errors such as paying incorrect amounts, incorrectly entering check numbers used to pay vendors, and paying too early or too late.
  • Make sure your accounts payable module is set up correctly so that transactions flow properly. You may need to use a consultant to make sure your accounting software and accounts payable module are correctly configured, or you could cause more problems than you solve.
  • Have Accounts Payable staff enter terms for each vendor in which the system can default to, such as Net 30, Net 60, etc. Terms are often provided by the vendor, and are usually printed on the face of their invoice.
  • If they don’t send them already, require your vendors to send monthly statements to ensure you’re not missing any invoices.
  • Run aging reports so you know what is in the pipeline.  You may have a small check run this period, but could have a large one coming up that you didn’t know about until looking at these reports.
  • Use laser printed checks, which will update the system automatically, marking which invoices have been paid and with what check numbers.
3. Vendor Terms May Be Negotiable
  • Usually invoices will come with set terms-Net 30, Net 60, 2%10 Net 30, etc.
  • Give you vendors a schedule of when your check runs are so they know when to expect payments.
  • Regardless of the terms given, you can call your vendors and negotiate terms for your own company.
  • Vendors will often give discounts or special terms to customers that purchase large volumes and on a regular basis.
  • Even if the normal terms can’t be changed, if you run into an issue and must pay late, it’s best to call and discuss it with your vendor rather than avoiding them. Follow the phone call up with an email with what was discussed to there is no miscommunication.
4. Reduce CFO Impact to Verification & Signature
  • Typically the CFO signs checks or in the case of small companies, an owner will often sign the checks, but should not be assembling the check run.
  • Accounts Payable should run the aging, choose which invoices to pay, assemble the invoices, print the checks, and verify that all invoices are approved before bringing them to the appropriate party for signature.
Regardless of the size of your company, start managing your accounts payable process more efficiently to save time and money.