Cover Your Assets
QuickBooks for Mac: To Sierra or Not to Sierra?

Hamlet hardly had QuickBooks or operating systems in mind, but don't you think Shakespeare was a Mac guy!

While there are nice improvements in the Sierra update, you'll have to upgrade to QuickBooks for Mac 2016, and that will cost you about $180 to $190. The Sierra update itself is free.

A client recently had her new MacBook stolen. In helping her recover her QuickBooks for Mac installation, we discovered her existing QuickBooks for Mac 2015 program would not work with her spanking new, replacement MacBook. Why? The new MacBook had the most recent Mac version, Sierra.

So, what do you get with QuickBooks for Mac 2016 compared to 2015? Here's what Intuit says: click here

  1. Experience faster launch time and better performance.
  2. Resize columns on invoices, payments, sales receipts, and other forms.
  3. Print directly on envelopes.
  4. Fill out time sheets more easily.
  5. Get an overview of your orders, what you owe and have paid in one place with Expense Tracker.

How about with OSX Sierra?
Actually it's now macOS instead of OSX. "A rose by any other name..," right? Oops, wrong play. Here's Apple: click here

Siri makes its debut on Mac, with new capabilities designed just for the desktop. And that’s not the only way your Mac is smarter. macOS Sierra helps you rediscover your best photos, shop faster and more conveniently online, and work more seamlessly between devices. It can also help free up valuable storage space. Now your Mac does even more for you, so you can do more with your Mac.

So, will you..."bear those ills we have" with your current Mac rig to avoid the mandatory QuickBooks upgrade, or "fly to others that we know not of," updating to Sierra and paying the $180+ for the QuickBooks upgrade? You'll also need to check with Apple to make sure your machine will support Sierra, and if you have other Apple toys, you'll want to be sure they will also play well with Sierra.

Of course, you can forever and completely "shuffle off this mortal coil" of considering QuickBooks versions when upgrading or buying a Mac: You can migrate to QuickBooks Online, a cloud-based option instead. It will run on some of those other Apple toys, too.

So don't "grunt and sweat under a weary life." While we cannot help you with ALL "the Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune," we can help you with ANY choice you make with QuickBooks for Mac, QuickBooks for Windows, or QuickBooks Online!

You can reach Mark at the Contact Us click here link to your left. We're happy to take your feedback on this article there as well. And we promise not to write an article that references any French Enlightenment philosophers.

Peace be with you and your books!

Saving time in FreshBooks expense entry

Yee-haw! Downloading is certainly the fastest way to get expenses in your accounting system. But what do you do to herd 'em to the right categories.

Well, every system has a few hangups, and I could not figure out why FreshBooks would not change the vendor for a group of entries I selected to mass-edit from the list of uncategorized expenses. I called Gabriel at FreshBooks and between the happy barks of the FreshBooks kennel, we worked on what was happening.

At this point, FreshBooks will not allow you to add or change vendors on a transaction without entering a category as well. It's pretty obvious when you try it in one transaction line (category field turns red,) but it's not at all obvious when you try to change vendors for a group of transaction lines.

But it can be done. The steps must be done in a particular order:

First pull up a tab with the uncategorized expenses, then sort them by notes, which probably is close to the vendor name you want to use.

In a second browser tab, search by notes to retrieve a group with the same notes contents. Go to the bottom and press the link to view all pages of the transactions, then quick-select at top left of the list to pick all the lines. Use the edit button at the top of the list and change the category first.

Then in that same second browser tab, go to the bottom and press the link to view all pages of the transactions, then quick-select at top left the entire list to pick all the lines. Use the edit button at the top of the list and now change the vendor.

So, if you do this vendor by vendor, using two browser tabs, and using the notes field as your search field to pull up all the lines for a vendor, you can make shorter work of categorizing expenses in FreshBooks.

For more help on FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Xero, bookkeeping, or not losing your sanity as a small business owner who hates math, please be in touch. I'm happy to help.

54 cents per mile for 2016

Reminder, if you reimburse employees and contractors or plan on taking mileage deductions yourself in 2016 the IRS Standard Mileage Rate is now 54 cents/mile. That's down from 57.5 for last year. Medical and moving mileage is also down to 19 cents.

So, as of the beginning of this year, 2016, the standard mileage rates for using a car, vans, pickup, or panel truck:

  • 54 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

This information is provided by your friendly IRS website:

Of course, there are always more rules and regs when the IRS is concerned, so talk with your CPA about making reimbursements under an "accountable" plan and that if you are deducting business use of your own vehicle, you are not going to be deducting your vehicle expenses in another way.

They're not an ice-cream shop; they're the IRS, so no double dipping!

Need a better way to create donor statements from QuickBooks?

Most not-for-profits I work with have graduated to a donor management system, but a few who are just starting or on a tight budget rely on QuickBooks for tracking donor contributions and answering all those pesky Form 990 questions.

So I was astounded when I could not find a way to get a donor history statement out of QuickBooks using, well... Customer Statements?!

A little research turned me on to Big Red Consulting (Big Red Consulting) in Sunnyvale, CA. All of their products are downloadable and available for a trial. So I gave Donor Statements for QuickBooks Desktop (Donor Statements) a test run, and it did what it said for the sample statements I produced. It also provided enough of a trial for me to tweak QuickBooks and Donor Statements to get the exact results I was looking for before purchasing.

Donor Statements requires Excel and operates as an Add-In. This means you run Donor Statements from the menu in Excel. It will pull data from the currently open QuickBooks file.

A couple of tips:
1) Donor Statements looks at the chart of accounts instead of the items list for the kinds of data you want in your statements. That can be helpful especially if you are using simple deposit transactions instead of using the Pledge/Invoice and Donation/Sales Receipt forms. However, if you have items that you don't want showing in the statements, they need a different income account than the other items you want on your statement. Probably not a problem for you.
2) Clean up your address information for your donors in QuickBooks so that you don't have to do it on each statement.
3) "Find and Replace" can be used in Excel to change the description of items or make other edits that apply to most or all statements.

I'm happy and available to help:
If you don't have time to purchase, learn, and use Donor Statements yourself, I'm happy to run it onsite for you or work remotely with you to do so. Click on the Contact Us (Contact Us) link here or to the left of the page.

Wondering about Windows 8 tablets?

Executive Summary: Considering a new Windows 8 tablet? Look into a Window 8 full version rather than Windows 8 RT version. You will want the full Windows experience, and RT will not run all Windows programs. Considering buying a new tablet in general, right now? Buy an Apple iPad if you have an iPhone; buy an Android tablet if you have an Android phone. If you can wait awhile longer, you will be able to get better feedback from more users regarding Windows 8 tablets.


First, my "credentials." I have been a user of Google Apps for Business, MobileMe (aka iCloud), CPAASP cloud hosted QuickBooks & MSOffice, and Microsoft Office 365, the latter of which I now call my home. I own an Android OS 4 phone, Android OS 3 tablet, and an iPad 2 just upgraded to iOS 6. I also own a desktop PC running Windows 7 and an Apple MacBook (also running Windows 7 most of the time!) I won't speak tech – not so much to avoid losing you in this discussion -- but to not get lost myself. I am not a tech geek, just a tech user, and my goal here is to share my experience while it is fresh in my mind.


Today, I sat down at my local Microcenter and looked at the Asus Vivo tablet running Windows 8 RT. I have been hot to get a newWindows 8 tablet. Why? Well, first of all, why not? Second of all, and more justifiable, is that it seems like week to week I am turning from my Android tablet to my iPad to my Android phone to my PC to watch any given movie or PBS video or some other content because for those operating systems and that kind of content, there have been changes to Flash being supported or not. The iPad (and iPhone) have not supported Adobe Flash Player ever. Android 3 did. Android 4 does not.


Most online content is developed for delivery to a web browser on a PC and is kept most current there, so why not have the tools to view that content on your tablet? The Windows 8 RT tablet delivers this concept in a tablet form. Flash is supported, so I could watch my PBS Newshour program in the full daily version of the show rather than in chopped up pieces in YouTube linked from the PBS site. It's like having the power of a PC in your hands.


My next test was to see if I could use my daily bread and butter cloud based QuickBooks program. This requires portal software to make that connection. Well, at this moment no Windows 8 version of the portal software exists at my cloud services vendor. They are working on it, no doubt. So I tried the Java version of the portal, which I can use with the Mac and other devices. Oops! According to the Oracle site I visited to download Java, it is not supported for Windows 8 as of yet. For that matter, neither is Microsoft Silverlight, at least for Windows 8 RT. That is pretty ironic considering Silverlight is Microsoft's own product and what appears to me to be their iteration of Adobe Flash.


Then I looked to see what my Microsoft Office 365 cloud based service would look like in Windows 8 RT. Since Internet Explorer is standard with Windows 8 and 8 RT, it looked just like when I run it at home on my browser.


This brings up a good point. One of the great things about the iPad/iPhone and the Android devices is that they are operating systems that are designed for a touch experience. I can't imagine MacOS (Apple's full sized computer operating system) running on an iPad/iPhone and having the same kind of user friendly, even fun, experience. On the flip side, an Apple laptop or desktop running iOS (Apple's iPhone and iPad operating system) would not have the capability of the full MacOS.


Microsoft keeps wanting to make handheld devices that run versions of its primary operating system. In the past these have been watered down versions. Having used some of these products I can say they were not a great experience – not even a good one. Will the new Windows tablets and phones have the success or usefulness of Apple or Android devices? Processors, memory, and storage are now powerful enough to successfully bring the full Windows OS to a tablet. The experience I had was quite satisfying exactly because everything looked or could be made to look and operate like my home PC.


That is a conundrum Apple, Google, and Microsoft face. Do you create one way, one look and feel to put on all your devices, or do you create different ways and different looks and feels to put on a small handheld device versus a larger tablet versus a laptop versus a desktop? How helpful is the touch screen? My desktop monitor is out of reach deliberately so that I can see its full width without turning my head to find things and so that I have physical workspace in front of me, but I don't put my phone at arm's length (ok, except for when I forget my reading glasses.)


So what about that desktop/laptop operating system on a tablet? What's it like? It will take some adjustment to tiles (Windows 8 program icons,) but they are not too different from Apple or Android icons. Luckily, you can go switch to a desktop look that is like your PC's desktop. At this point everything acts like your PC. That was liberating in a way because I know what to expect, and I am used to working in that environment. I can be more efficient right away.


However, there are some limitations to Windows 8 RT. It is a somewhat watered down version of Windows 8. For me, I can't run QuickBooks on Windows 8 RT. You are limited to the apps available in the Windows 8 RT store. That's why I recommend for tablet seekers to get a tablet that runs the full Windows 8 operating system. You will probably pay about 50% more. That means while you can get a Windows 8 RT tablet for less than a new iPad, you will pay a little more than an iPad for a Windows 8 non RT tablet. You may want to think of this purchase as a replacement for your laptop that can also be used as a tablet. A number of these designs have removable keyboards and are remarkably lighter than your laptop.


How about voice recognition? Wow, that is one thing that I absolutely love about my Android phone and tablet, especially when it comes to sending a text on the phone. The iPad 2 I own did not have voice recognition in iOS 5. Guess what, it still doesn't with iOS 6. Was I ever bummed after the upgrade. Meanwhile, I have loaded the Dragon Naturally Speaking app for the iPad, but I have to cut and paste the results into the app I am using. The most recent iPhones and new iPad have voice recognition. How about on Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT? Well, there is no microphone icon on any of the onscreen keyboards. When I searched for voice recognition, I found the voice recognition that has come with Windows since XP, Vista, and 7. It has to be turned both on and off, which can itself be done by voice. It also hangs around on screen even when you are not using it. I was disappointed. This is a case where the desktop operating system's approach does not translate well to the tablet experience. My understanding from a passerby was that the Windows phone voice recognition works more like the Android or the new iPad/iPhone.


Finally, where is the Start button? OMG! I had to ask that, didn't I? It now brings up the new Windows 8 tiles interface for the tablet. For Windows 7 and earlier, the Start button could get you anywhere fast. On a Windows 8 laptop I saw, it toggled between the regular desktop view and the new tiles view, but the programs you want to launch are only on the tiles view. A fellow checking out the desktop machine next to me found a way to create a custom toolbar in the desktop view that would point to the programs you would typically see when pressing the Start button in earlier versions. The kids these days, what will they think of next!? He guided me through the same process to do it on the tablet. I suppose your could create shortcuts for each program and put them on your old school desktop space. We were still disappointed that the Start button does not work like it used to work.


So that brings me to the points I made in the executive summary at the start. Instead of restating them, I will add some other thoughts. I don't think that I would buy a new laptop or possibly desktop either without it having touch screen capability. While you can navigate with the mouse in Windows 8 just fine, the touch interface is a good part of the reason for Windows 8 being so much different than Windows 7. I am excited about the newest iPad's features such as the high definition display and the voice recognition services that iPad 2 lacks. I have enjoyed my Android phone and tablet experience, too. As much as my money is burning a hole in my pocket, I am going to wait. I have not been a fan of Apple's paternal approach to its customer base. They often force you into software upgrades and even the purchase of new hardware to get the benefit of new features. As for Google, who is behind Android, I don't trust them with my personal data anymore, and that's why I left Google Apps for Business and signed up for Windows Office in the cloud (MS Office365.) I'm less interested in committing more resources to Android products. I will likely wait until the middle of next year and buy a tablet with removable keyboard running the full version of Windows 8 to replace my aging laptop. Hopefull there will also be some great apps available for Window 8, too.


The success of Windows 8 on the desk, in the lap, and in the hands is now in yours. Thanks for your time reading this article. I hope it was helpful.

Why am I paying so much in Payroll Taxes?



A client recently called me to ask if something was wrong with her payroll tax setup in QuickBooks. She could not understand why she was writing such big checks each month to the U.S. Treasury for payroll taxes. Surely, this could not be what the company owed in payroll taxes!


She was right.


Most of the taxes that you are paying as an employer are actually amounts that are withheld from your employees:


  1. EE's Social Security, 4.2% (formerly 6.2%) of taxable pay
  2. EE's Medicare, 1.45% of taxable pay
  3. EE's Income tax withholding (the biggest portion by far as it may be 15% of their taxable pay or greater)


You, the employer, hold the amounts above in trust for your employees and then pay to the U.S. Treasury on a monthly or even more frequent basis.


By comparison, the portion as an employer that you are paying is:


  1. ER's Social Security contribution, 6.2% of taxable pay
  2. ER's Medicare contribution, 1.45% of taxable pay


A good way to see what your actual payroll tax expenses are is to look at your Profit & Loss Statement on a Cash Basis. The line for company's payroll taxes will be smaller than what your check to the Treasury is each month. Again, that is because you are holding the employees' money in trust, and you are writing a check mostly for their taxes rather than yours.


Based on the reports you submit quarterly (the 941) the government knows how much money is destined to each purpose. They are most interested in the social security and medicare portions at that time. At the end of the year, the W-2 form is what they use to verify each employee has withheld the correct amount when they file their 1040.


You also have some small tax amounts that are paid to your state for state unemployment taxes and some to the Fed for federal unemployment taxes. These are paid separately (probably quarterly or annually) from your 941 payments. Depending on where you work, other tax authorities may have their hand out, too, but you will be paying them by a process that is also separate from the Federal 941.


So, you ARE paying a lot in employment taxes, but most of it is your employees' money. That is why it is very, very important to pay your employment taxes on time. Cash strapped organizations may accidentally dip into this trust amount because it is held in the regular checking account. It may be helpful for some to have a separate bank account that is funded just for payroll and payroll taxes.


Mark Madeley


Cover Your Assets



QuickBooks and Your Houston Business: Are you kicking your bookkeeping to the curb?

You didn't get into business for yourself because you love doing your own bookkeeping. I'm pretty sure that invoicing your clients, reconciling your bank account, and reading your financial statements are not on the top of your list of jollies either. You may even have trouble remembering your QuickBooks password!

You are in business for yourself because you love the services or products you provide and the clients you provide them to. If you're really blessed, you enjoy finding new clients, too.

Finding new customers (sales) and taking care of your existing ones (operations) are the two most important things you can do each day. But what happens if you leave your bookkeeping and accounting behind?

At some point you have to stop everything (sales and operations) and go back to where you left your bookkeeping and accounting at the side of the road. It's an extremely painful process, and it can be costly to keeping the flow of new and existing business rolling.

In short, you can't kick your bookkeeping and accounting to the curb. Bookkeeping and accounting must move in lock-step with your sales and operations to keep you and your business from stumbling and from the stress you feel when that happens.

I created Cover Your Assets because I know exactly what it is like to carry the load of a small business owner. It can be a real burden on your time, energy, and emotions. What you really want is to be able to shift part of that load to a trustworthy professional who will be along with you on your journey.

With your specific business in mind, I will adapt QuickBooks or a system of your choice to work for you with as much or as little involvement in day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month transactions as you like.

We must be realistic, though. You must be committed to what I call knowing and growing. I'll cover that with more detail in another blog soon. In short, you must truly want to know your business's financial performance at least monthly and be ready to take the easy but persistent steps that allow you to track this progress.

You are your greatest asset. Your business is your greatest financial asset. I'll help you cover them.

Mark Madeley
Cover Your Assets