Which Quickbooks Is Best for Your Business? Here's How to Find Out

QuickBooks is an incredible tool for small businesses.

It’s a bookkeeping and accounting program that lets you track your expenses and income and run valuable reports that give you insight into how your business is doing.

As QuickBooks Pro Advisors, we help small businesses choose the right version of QuickBooks for them and help them learn how to use QuickBooks every day.

When you get started with QuickBooks, one of the first things you have to decide is whether you want to use the QuickBooks Desktop version or the QuickBooks Online version (there is also QuickBooks Enterprise for large firms, or companies with large list of  inventory items, we can talk one on one if you fall in that category).

Each option has its pros and cons. 

So which QuickBooks is right for you? Let's find out.


QuickBooks is a GREAT tool for small business owners to get their bookkeeping and accounting under control. There are so many different options though, like QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, that it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you. Here's how! | Accounting Plus, Inc.

QuickBooks Desktop:

The desktop version of QuickBooks is a traditional software program you load onto your computer, just like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. It houses all of your data and files on your computer instead of syncing them to the cloud.

The benefits of QuickBooks Desktop:

QuickBooks Desktop is ever evolving and improving, but still has the same basic features and functionality since the early 90s. This is great for people who have been using QuickBooks and want to continue with the software that they have already learned how to use on their PC or MAC.

Another reason you might want to choose QuickBooks Desktop is if you are in a certain industry you may find the premier version of Quickbooks Desktop best as the premier software is tailored to your specific industry.

This applies to industries like construction or retail that have unique costs or transactions. If you’re in one of these industries, the premier version of Quickbooks Desktop can help give you a leg up on your bookkeeping.

Another benefit to QuickBooks Desktop is that it has more robust features, like more in-depth reporting than QuickBooks Online. If you're really into analyzing your business on an in-depth level, QuickBooks Desktop might be the right version for you.

Have multiple companies? You can create multiple company files within the Desktop software with the one-time software purchase, whereas online you would have to pay for a subscription for each company. 

Finally, QuickBooks Desktop comes out cheaper in the long run. You pay a one-time fee to purchase the software, and you might have to update every 2 to 4 years. In the online version, you pay a monthly fee instead, and that adds up to being more expensive than the desktop software.

And now the drawbacks of QuickBooks Desktop:

The biggest drawback to QuickBooks Desktop is that you'll have to send files back-and-forth, just like you would Word documents or PowerPoint slideshows.

Because your QuickBooks files live on your computer, if you're working with an accountant they won't be able to access your files remotely. You’ll actually have to send them the file via email or bring it to their office on a flash drive.

Another drawback to using QuickBooks Desktop is that the versions aren't always compatible with both PCs and Macs. So if you're collaborating with people who have different types of computers, there's a good chance that their Mac won't be able to process your data in the same way your PC does.

And lastly, you have to backup your QuickBooks file on your own. You will have to create a routine for backing up or pay an offsite company to backup your computer or network for you. 


QuickBooks Online:

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based version of QuickBooks. This means, unlike QuickBooks Desktop, all of your files are stored within your online account (instead of locally on your computer).

The benefits of QuickBooks Online:

QuickBooks Online might be the right choice for you if you like working with cloud-based programs. With QuickBooks Online, all of your data will be housed virtually, not on your computer. This means as long as you're connected to the internet, you have access to your QuickBooks.

This is perfect for collaborating with other people on your QuickBooks. There's no issue with Mac and PC compatibility when you use online QuickBooks, and multiple people can log in to access your data.

If you're collaborating with an accountant, all they have to do is sign in to take a look at your QuickBooks – no passing files back and forth. When you avoid sending files to each other (by collaborating virtually instead), you minimize the risk of data entry issues, file corruption, and human error.

QuickBooks Online now has apps for your mobile device or tablet, so bookkeeping can be done on the go, including creating invoices and snapping pictures of receipts for expenses that will store in QuickBooks Online as you put them in. 

Additionally, since QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based application, your data will be backed up automatically and updated automatically when you use the program online. You don't have to worry about saving your files or backing up to an external hard drive in case your computer crashes. 

The drawbacks to QuickBooks Online:

The biggest drawback to QuickBooks Online is probably the cost.

To use QuickBooks Online, you pay a monthly fee, just like other online subscription services (Netflix, anyone?). This means QuickBooks Online ends up being more expensive than QuickBooks Desktop because every month you use your QuickBooks you have to pay a fee.

Another drawback to QuickBooks Online is that you must have an internet connection to use your QuickBooks. If you have an inconsistent internet connection at home (or use internet at public computers only), QuickBooks Online is probably not the best choice for you.


If you want help figuring out which QuickBooks software is right for you, schedule a free consultation with us at Accounting Plus.

We’ll help you figure out if QuickBooks is right for you and get you started using it for your small business. 

Plus, if you ever have questions, we are here to help. Our QuickBooks experts are certified with QuickBooks training courses and are up-to-date on everything from technical issues to new software features.

Call to schedule an appointment today!

When Is It Time for Payroll Services?

There’s one thing about hiring employees: As soon as you hire, you have to start paying them.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? One employee, one paycheck per pay period. 

And that’s the thing: it is simple – on the surface.

But something many business owners don’t anticipate is the amount of detail-oriented admin work that payroll requires.

Ready? Let's dive in!


Employee payroll services in Columbia, MO | Accounting Plus Inc.

When you start to think about it, there’s actually a lot of things going on behind the scenes when it comes to payroll.

In addition to keeping track of employees’ hours and pay rates, you’ve got to sort out pay stubs, physically write checks (or put in orders for direct deposits), consider any paid leave or bonuses, handle all taxes, quarterly reporting and w-2 forms.

And beyond those things? There’s the issue of keeping your records in order. Keeping detailed records is essential to running a tight ship and being able to provide records of payment if you were ever served an audit.

There are software programs and strategies that can really help with keeping payroll up to date. For some business owners, just getting these systems in place is enough.

But for many business owners, payroll turns out to be an annoying task that sucks up time that could be better spent making sales, growing the company, or doing pretty much anything else. 

Let’s say that managing payroll takes about two hours a week.

That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but if you calculate what your time is worth (whether you’re landing contracts, meeting clients, or wrapping up a big project), those two hours can turn out to be pretty expensive when they all add up. That’s 8 hours every month – or an entire work day!

The good news is that payroll services are some of the most affordable services many accounting firms offer.

That’s definitely true for us. As an example, we have a business owner who pays $20 to run payroll every two weeks, plus the $3.50 charge per paycheck. This business owner has two employees. That totals only $27 every two weeks, which ends up being much less than the 2 hours per week the owner’s time and brainpower are worth.

After one of our payroll clients gives us the number of hours each employee has worked (or, if an employee is paid a set amount at each paycheck, info on any changes in their pay), we send employees their paychecks, handle all taxes, all reporting, records, and all w-2 forms.

Additionally, we handle reporting in the case that the Department of Labor did randomly audit you. We also keep all pay stubs available if an employee would ever request one from a previous pay period.

And, finally, one more big benefit of hiring your payroll out to a small accounting firm is the level of personal service you receive.

Each business has an accountant or tax preparer assigned to them in addition to an assigned payroll specialist. You’ll be working with a person who understands how your business’s payroll works month to month instead of a program or algorithm that responds to the numbers you punch in.


If you have employees, it's time to start looking at payroll services.

The time, brainpower, and money hiring out your payroll saves is likely well worth it. If you have questions, hit up your local accounting firm and find out their rates.

And if you're in the mid-Missouri area, come in to talk to an Accounting Plus payroll specialist. We'll help you find the smartest way to handle your payroll services. Give us a call today to set up a consultation.

Should My Business Become an S-Corp?

What’s an s-corp? And why would a business become one? Will becoming an s-corp be a good fit for my business?

We get LOTS of questions about this topic. Let's dive in today.

So, should your business become an s-corp?

Read on!


Should my business become an S-Corp?

Right off the bat, let's cover some basics:

An s-corp is simply the way your biz entity is set up, especially for payroll and tax purposes.

There are two ways to become an s-corp:

You can either file as an s-corp when you first file with the secretary of state, or you can start as an LLC and later elect s-corp status for taxes. 

Now let's get a little more in-depth:


What’s the difference between an LLC and an s-corp? 

As far as running your business on a day to day basis, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two. Where the major difference comes in is in how the business owner is paid.

In an LLC, a business owner is not on payroll. But an s-corp is different: the owner actually puts himself or herself payroll – and then pays themselves as if they were their own employee.

Taxes are a big difference 

If a business has a net profit of over 30,000, we recommend the business set up as an s-corp. Why? Setting up as an s-corp will allow you, the business owner, to put yourself on payroll – and thus pay less in taxes.

That pay is deducted from the business’s net profit, and the total amount the business will need to pay in taxes will decrease.

In an LLC, on the other hand, owners often pay themselves in “owner draws” – just taking money out of the business to pay themselves. Formally putting yourself on payroll allows you to write off that money.


Investment income

Another key difference is that in an LLC, all remaining income after deductions is subject to a self-employment tax. But in an s-corp, your profit is taxed as investment income. Any money left over is treated as an investment in the business, rather than personal income.


Are you considering filing as an s-corp?

Then it’s time to start planning out your business tax returns!

Coming in to talk to an Accounting Plus tax specialist can help you find the smartest way to round out your year and go into tax season fully prepared for what’s ahead. Give us a call today to set up a consultation.

What Does Depreciation Mean for My Small Business?

At its core, depreciation is a pretty simple concept: Spreading your tax deduction for big-ticket business purchases over the item’s lifespan or useful life

But what does that look like in practice for small businesses?

Here's a quick guide!


What does depreciation mean for my small business?

Depreciation basics:

Here’s how it works: The IRS classifies the “life” of different types of business purchases into categories like auto/trucks and computers (5 year life), farm buildings (20 year life), land improvements (15 year life), office equipment (5 year life) or residential rental property (27.5 year life) to name a few.

When you make those business purchases, you can choose to take a full deduction that year (that’s a section 179 depreciation) or spread your deduction out.

Why would you want to depreciate a purchase?

Choosing to spread your deduction out over a few years can give businesses a little more stability if they know they can count on a deduction of a certain amount at the end of the year. 

For example, if a veterinarian purchases a $30,000 x-ray machine, that could be a huge deduction to take in just a single year. Choosing to spread that deduction out over the machine’s “lifespan” lets the veterinarian count on a deduction year after year.


What can be depreciated?

Until 2016, items over $500 were supposed to be depreciated. However, the IRS recently changed the threshold to $2,500.

That means if you make a business purchase over $2,500, it’s time to depreciate this large investment.

When is the right time to make big purchases?

Depreciation can play a major factor in when you should consider making big purchases for your business.

Oftentimes, big-ticket items that represent a significant investment into the business are end-of-the-year buys for small businesses in order to lower their net profit and save on their tax return.

Depreciation can play into this: Do you want to take a deduction all at once, or spread it out more slowly?


Is it the right time for you to make a big-ticket purchase?

Should you depreciate a recent investment over time or take a section 179 and take all your deduction at once? 

We can help you figure out your best options!

Come speak with an Accounting Plus tax specialist to weigh your options and find the smartest route for your business. Call today to set up a free consultation!

Additional resources: To learn more about section 179 visit the IRS webpage here: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p946/ch02.html.

3 Major Small Business Deductions You Might Be Missing Out On

Every small business owner should be on the lookout for deductions.

But there are a few common ones that lots of owners overlook. Here are three you might be missing out on:


Three major small business deductions you might be missing out on.

1. Automobile expenses

Often, small business owners just think of tracking their gas receipts and using the actual expense method as a deduction on taxes.

But by only tracking your gas receipts you could be missing out on one huge deduction: Mileage.

This is a second way to deduct your automobile expenses, in which you take a deduction for each mile you've driven.

Tracking and deducting the miles you drive for business can get you a significant deduction. For example, in 2015, businesses were able to deduct 57.5 cents per each mile driven. That can really add up quickly!

As an important note, every business owner should track their mileage, regardless of the deduction method they choose to use. Why? Because knowing miles driven on the vehicle substantiates business use of the vehicle.

So which automobile expenses method should you use?

There can be advantages to either method! Come give us a call or visit to find out how to make the most of your automobile expense deduction.


2. Office in home deduction

If you have a dedicated space in your home you regularly use for business, you could potentially take a deduction on that space. 

There are two ways to calculate a home office deduction:

The first is called the Safe Harbor method, where you measure your square footage and multiply it by $5 per sq ft, capping at 300 sq ft or $1500. This deduction is based on how large the space is that you’re working out of and is the simplest method. 

The second way is to calculate the square footage of your dedicated work space as a percentage of your home’s total square footage, then take the deduction for the corresponding percentage of home costs like utilities, rent, repairs, etc. 

Depending on your situation, one of these methods will likely end up being more beneficial than the other. To help you look at all of your options, speak with a tax expert.

As an additional note: There’s an old superstition that still floats around here and there that including an office-in-home deduction is an automatic red flag for IRS audits. But we’ve never seen any evidence to support that fear. Taking a home office deduction is a great small business deduction that many owners miss out on.


Startup costs

There are a LOT of expenses that go into getting a business started.

Purchasing equipment, buying software, or getting a website up and running are all common costs incurred before your business launches.

But all too often small business owners neglect to consider those startup costs for a tax deduction.

Even if you don’t have a bank account for your business and are purchasing everything from a personal account, keep track of those receipts!

Make a spreadsheet, start using QuickBooks, or find another method that works for you. Keeping track of those expenses will let you take them as a business deduction when tax season rolls around.


Are you missing out on major deductions? 

There’s always a chance you could be overlooking important small business deductions. Come talk to one of our seasoned tax experts at Accounting Plus to talk about what deductions make sense for your small business. Call today to set up a free consultation.

Employees or contractors: Which is best for you to hire?

Anyone who owns a small business knows that one of the most stressful management tasks is hiring.

Especially when you’re just starting out, the demands that come with finding great hires and managing employees – while juggling all other aspects of keeping your business afloat! – can be absolutely daunting.

And it doesn’t help that technical lingo can keep getting in the way.

One of the biggest mix-ups business owners face when making hires is which type of worker they need to bring on board: an employee or a contractor?

Though employee is often used as a catch-all phrase in everyday conversation, employees and contractors are actually very different workers when it comes to your business reporting.

So should you be hiring employees or contractors? And what’s the difference?


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What’s the difference between employees and contractors?

The biggest difference between employees and contractors is how workers are paid.


Employees

What does employee mean in the technical sense? It's all about payment and tax structure:

Employees are put on your business’s payroll and get a W2 tax form at the end of the year.

This means that when employees are paid, taxes are already coming out of their paycheck: Each time an employee gets a paycheck, one-half of their Social Security and Medicare taxes are being paid by the employer. Additionally, employees often have access to better benefits than contractors do.


Contractors

Think of a contractor as someone getting “straight pay.” What does that mean?

Contractors are “paid straight” instead of put on a typical payroll. Contractors receive a 1099 Miscellaneous Pay form instead of a W2 at the end of the year.

This means that when a contractor is paid, no taxes are taken out by their employer. Each time they're faced with tax season, a contractor will be paying all of their Social Security and Medicare taxes by themselves under a personal income tax.


What it means for your business: Should you hire employees or contractors?

Whether a worker should be considered a contractor or employee comes down to how they work. 

If a worker is doing tasks assigned to them by a boss, showing up at hours set by their boss, and provided with the tools or equipment to do their job, that worker is an employee.

However, if a worker sets their own schedule, guides their own tasks, and uses their own equipment when working, they are a contractor.

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re hiring someone because they specialize in something that you can't do or manage, that’s a good indication that they’re a contractor instead of an employee.

If you need a bit more guidance on employees vs. contractors, the IRS offers a 20-factor checklist to help you determine if you should hire an independent contractor or an employee. Find the handy checklist here.

Or, need to talk it over with a specialist?

Give us a call to set up an appointment today!


If you're ready to talk about your payroll needs, small business accounting, or taxes, we're here for you. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us today and together we can figure out what's best for your business.