It’s a gig economy. QuickBooks Online makes it easy to track and pay independent contractors.
In days past we used to call it “moonlighting” – taking on a second, part-time job for extra money. And we saw how prevalent this became was when millions of people had to resort to side gigs to keep afloat during the economic downturn of a decade ago. Some who had lost full-time employment even turned one or more of these part-time passions into a small business and became independent contractors for other companies.
If you’re thinking of hiring a freelancer to do some of your work, you’ll find that QuickBooks Online can accommodate your accounting needs for them nicely. Since they’re not W-2 workers, your paperwork needs are minimal. They’ll simply fill out an IRS Form W-9 and you’ll pay them for services provided, dispatching 1099-MISCs after the first of each year so they can pay their taxes.
Here’s how it works.
Creating Contractor Records
Warning: Be sure that any independent contractor you hire cannot be considered an actual employee. The IRS spells out the differences very clearly and takes this distinction very seriously. If you have any doubts, we can help you determine your new worker’s status.
You can either let a new contractor complete his or her own profile or do so yourself.
Like you would with anyone you employ, you’ll need to create records for contractors in QuickBooks Online. Click on Workers in the left navigation pane, then Contractors | Add a contractor. In the window that opens, enter the individual’s name and email address. If you want the contractor to complete his or her own profile, click in the box in front of Email this contractor…
Your contractor will receive an email with an invitation to create an Intuit account and enter W-9 information, which will be transmitted to your QuickBooks Online company account. This will make it easy to process 1099s when tax season arrives. He or she will also be able to use QuickBooks Self-Employed, an Intuit website designed for freelancers. We can walk you through how this works.
If you’d rather enter the worker’s contact details yourself, leave the box blank. A vertical panel containing fields for this information will slide out from the right.
Contractors are also considered vendors. So when you create a record for a contractor, it will also appear in your Vendors list in QuickBooks Online. In fact, you can complete a contractor profile by clicking Expenses in the left vertical pane, then Vendors. Click New Vendor in the upper right and fill in the relevant fields there. Be sure to check the box in front of Track payments for 1099. An abbreviated version of your new record will also be available on the Contractors screen as the two are synchronized.
When you create a Vendor record for an independent contractor, be sure to check the Track payments for 1099 box.
Working with Contractors
You’ll notice in the screen shot above that Brenda Cooper had an Opening balance of $2,450 when you created her record. That’s money you already owed her, and for which she had probably sent you an invoice. QuickBooks Online turned that into an Accounts Payable item that you could find in multiple reports and on both the Vendors and Expenses screens. It will be listed as a Bill in reports, though you haven’t actually created one yet.
You have three options here. You can create a Bill and fill in any missing details if you don’t plan to pay Brenda immediately. If you want to send her the money right away, you can either enter an Expense or write a Check. There are many places in QuickBooks Online where you can do the latter two. We think it’s easiest to return to the Contractors screen, since you can accomplish all three from there.
The Contractors screen contains links to the three ways you can handle compensation due to a contractor.
Whenever you receive an invoice from a contractor, you can visit this same screen and choose one of the three options.
You’ll have to select a Category for your payment from the list provided in each of these three types of transactions. The Chart of Accounts contains one called Subcontractors, which may or may not work for your purposes.
We strongly encourage you to consult with us as you begin the process of managing independent contractor compensation to deal with this issue as well as others. QuickBooks Online offers multiple ways to get to the same end result, and it can be confusing. Contact us, and we can schedule a consultation.
Hiring a new employee is a big accomplishment in any small business, and there are a lot of steps involved, too. Here’s a handy checklist to help you stay organized when you bring that new hire on board.
First things first, the legal and accounting items:
· Signed employment agreement, typically an offer letter. There may also be a supplemental agreement outlining employee policies.
· Payroll documents include:
o IRS form W-4
o Form I-9
o Copy of employee’s government-issued ID
· Most states require a new hire report to be filed; sometimes your payroll system vendor will automatically file this for you.
· Notify your workers comp insurance carrier.
Next, it’s time for employee benefits enrollment:
· Health insurance
· Any other benefits you provide
· Provide the employee with the holiday schedule
· Explain their PTO and vacation if not already explained in the offer letter
Set your new employee up for success with the right equipment:
· Coffee mug, Water bottle
· Locker space
· Facility access, parking assignment
· Desk space and computer access
· Office supplies
· Other supplies
Your new employee may need access to your computer software systems:
· Employee email address
· Any new user IDs and password for all the systems they will need to access
· Document access
How will your new employee learn the ropes?
· Set up training
· Assign a buddy
Hopefully, this list will give you a start toward making your employee onboarding process a little smoother. And if we can help with any additional questions, please contact us at any time.
In small business, accounting refers to a set of tasks that revolve around maintaining a general ledger – your books — and preparing financial statements. Beyond small business accounting, there are many more aspects to accounting. In this article, we’ve prepared a glossary of accounting terms so you can discover the larger world of accounting.
Cost accounting. This type of accounting looks at the cost of items for sale. It’s especially useful in manufacturing, construction, or even restaurants where dozens or even hundreds of components are purchased and assembled to make the items that are for sale. Cost accountants account for and evaluate these costs to determine when they are too high or low and need to be repriced or purchased in a different way.
Cost accounting can be applied to small businesses to help them with pricing, determining breakeven points, controlling costs, and budgeting.
Government accounting. Government accounting is simply accounting that’s done for government entities. Government accountants are concerned with maintaining government regulations as well as learning a different way of keeping books.
Nonprofit accounting. Nonprofit accounting is unique to nonprofit organizations in that they often need to track and mark specific donations, manage grants and meet reporting requirements, fulfill public disclosures and reporting, and maintain a fund accounting process.
Financial accounting. Financial accounting is the preparation of financial reports for external use and includes providing financial statements.
Attest. Attest accounting is where a CPA goes through a process of verifying financial reports of a business to interested third-parties, such as banks and the public. The three main services in this area include compilations, reviews, and audits. Only a CPA can perform these services.
Fraud or forensic accounting. A specialty role in accounting, forensic accountants can help a company that has been the victim of fraud. There are also services available to help reduce the possibility of fraud.
Tax accounting. Tax accounting can be many things: the preparation of federal and state income tax returns for businesses, individuals, and other entities like estates and trusts; state and local tax assistance with collection, filing, remittance, and compliance; franchise tax support; and payroll tax collection, filing, and payment. There are more, but these are the big ones.
Budgeting. Making a revenue and spending plan is an important accounting function.
Internal auditing. Large companies have internal audit departments that maintain checks and balances for the company. In small companies, having someone in charge of monitoring internal controls would be the equivalent function.
Accounting systems. Some accountants are technology-savvy, and this type of accountant can help solve technology issues, integrate accounting system modules, and streamline workflow.
Fiduciary accounting. A fiduciary is someone legally responsible for financial responsibilities in an organization. Fiduciary accounting typically refers to accounting for trusts, but can have a much broader meaning.
Public accounting. Public accounting is practiced by employees in a public accounting firm, which is one that serves many businesses with varying accounting needs. This is opposed to private or industry accounting where an accountant goes to work for one company in their accounting department. Public vs. industry accounting is really referring to an accountant’s career experience.
Managerial accounting. This type of accounting focuses on internal numbers and how the organization can reach its goals. It’s broader than cost accounting, but there is an overlap. Accountants who serve in an advisory capacity to businesses will focus on this area.
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is managing cash flow. There never seems to be enough cash to meet all of the obligations, so it makes sense to speed up cash flow when you can. Here are five tips you can use to get your cash faster or slow down the outflow.
1. Stay on top of cash account balances.
If you’re collecting money in more than one account, be sure to move your money on a regular basis when your balances get high. One example is your PayPal account. If money is coming in faster than you’re spending it, transfer the money to your main operating account so the money is not just sitting there.
2. Invoice faster or more frequently.
The best way to smooth cash flow is to make sure outflows are in sync with inflows. If you make payroll weekly but only invoice monthly, your cash flow is likely to dip more often than it rises. When possible, invoice more frequently or stagger your invoice due dates to smooth your cash balances.
Take a look at how long it takes you to invoice for your work after it’s been completed. If it’s longer than a few weeks, consider changing your invoicing process by shortening the time it takes to send out invoices. That way, you’ll get paid sooner.
3. Collect faster.
Got clients who drag their heels when it comes to paying you? Try to get a credit card on file or an ACH authorization so you’re in control of their payment.
Put a process in place the day the invoice becomes late. Perhaps the client has a question or misplaced the bill. Be aggressive about following up when the bill is 45, 60, and 90 days past due. Turn it over to collections quickly; the older the bill is, the less likely it is to get paid.
4. Pay off debt.
As your cash flow gets healthier, make a plan to pay off any business loans or credit cards that you have. The sooner you can do this, the less interest expense you’ll incur and the more profit you’ll have.
Interest expense can really add up. If you have loans at higher interest rates, you might try to get them refinanced at a lower rate, so you won’t have to pay as much interest expense.
5. Reduce spending.
You don’t always have to give up things to reduce spending. Look at your expenses from last year and ask yourself:
• What did you spend that was a really great investment for your business?
• What did you spend that was a colossal mistake?
• What do you take for granted that you can cut?
• Where could you re-negotiate contracts to save a little?
• Where could you tighten up if you need to?
Managing cash flow is always a challenge, and these tips will help give you a little cushion to make it easier. And if we can help with any additional questions, please contact us at any time.
Ready to MAXIMIZE Your Profits?
Learn how with a FREE Download of the first five chapters of Mike Michalowicz’s book, “Profit First”.