R&D Tax Credit Changes In Effect

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R&D Tax Credit Changes In Effect

Good news for many small businesses. Changes to the R&D Tax Credit rules allow businesses to apply the credit against their Social Security payroll tax liability.

Here’s a quick run down on what to look out for. Overall, check in with your accountants and make sure your tax preparer properly claimed this benefit on your 2016 tax return!

  • Q2 2017 is the first eligible quarter to apply the credit against. If you are using Gusto, you need to input the credit amount by July 15, 2017!
  • Your company must not have generated revenue prior to 2012.
  • Your 2016 revenue must be less than $5 million.
  • You must perform qualified R&D activities that are technical in nature, experimental with uncertain outcomes, and with a purpose of improving a product or process.

The maximum benefit for an eligible company is $250,000 per year. More information can be found on the IRS website.

The above is a quick summary of the tax credit but as you would expect with any law, there are more complicated calculations and thresholds to determine the actual credit amount. Contact your accountant, bookkeeper or tax professional to see if your company qualifies.

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Why Xero is our Outsourced Accounting and Bookkeeping Software Application

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Why Xero is our Outsourced Accounting and Bookkeeping Software Application

We are asked “why we chose Xero for our customers’ outsourced accounting and bookkeeping” almost daily. In fact, we made a decision when we founded Basis 365 back in 2012 to utilize Xero as the core accounting platform for all of our customers.

Our decision surprised and confounded our accounting peers. They’d never heard of Xero and wondered why we didn’t just use the accounting application everyone else uses … Quickbooks. I must admit, we were a little hesitant in our decision. Could Xero handle full accrual accounting for multi-million dollar businesses? The answer, of course, is an absolute yes! We’re a 100% Xero shop and have never looked back.

We thought it would be useful to business owners for us to document some of our favorite features and benefits of Xero. We’ve polled our accounting team, who live in Xero every day, and our implementation specialist, who helps establish accounting workflows which often times requires integration between multiple online applications (e.g. Bill.com, Gusto, WorkflowMax, Harvest, FUTRLI, Spotlight Reporting and Dear Inventory). We hope this will help others feel comfortable in selecting Xero as their accounting software application.

Here’s a list of many of the features or benefits our team has found with Xero:

  • Ease of Use – The UI is pleasing to look at and easy to figure out. For non-accountants, that’s key. Do you want to have to figure out how to use a complicated accounting application or intuitively jump in and start processing your transactions. For our team of accountants, getting up to speed is super quick. Most have never used Xero but have experience with SAP, Oracle or Quickbooks. Everyone comments immediately how easy and fast Xero is to use.
  • Bank account and credit card feeds – Xero will automatically feed in account activity directly into the accounting system so you don’t have to manually create transactions for all your income and expenses. That’s huge! Only online applications tend to have this feature.
  • Auto-populating and rules – Not only will the activity feed in, Xero will remember how you coded transactions in the past and auto-populate the fields to save you time. Getting even more advanced, you can setup simple and complex rules to code transactions based on conditions. Amazing!
  • Support – Although Xero has a simple interface, something will come up where you need help. Xero has a responsive email support team which is critical for any SaaS company. Their help database is also quite extensive and, more importantly, useful. Most SaaS companies help systems rarely ever have what I need. Xero’s help system answers most of our questions before having to even reach out to their support team.
  • Integrations and Add-Ons - The Xero Marketplace has a massive amount of software applications that integrate with Xero. This is one of the primary reasons we choose Xero as our core accounting platform. No matter what a customer throws at us for their business needs, we can find an application that gets us most, if not all, of the way there to an automated solution. This speeds up our reporting capabilities and reduces the chance of error from our accounting team
  • Find & Recode – One of the most amazing features is the one you hope you don’t need to use. This tool allows you to mass edit transactions and keeps a history of what you changed, allowing you to undo it. Well thought out by the development team.
  • Save Receipts – Xero files allows you to attach receipts to transactions so you can refer back to the detail when you need to. Paperless is the way to go!
  • Xero is Mobile mobile apps for on-the-go accounting allows you to keep things organized no matter where you are.
  • Lots of Reports – Data isn’t of much use to your business if you can’t slice and dice it as needed. Xero has a ton of reports which you can customize and export to Excel, Google Sheets or PDF. Income by Contact or Expense by Contact are some of the unsung heroes in the reports section. The Cash Summary is another great one. Be sure to dig around to find what works best for you.

We created a high-level page about our Xero experience. We’ve spent a lot of time with the Xero team over these years to provide feedback and find out what’s coming next. They’re at the forefront of machine learning and AI research to automate even more for their customers. We look forward to what’s to come.

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Tips & Tricks to Working Remotely

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Tips & Tricks to Working Remotely

"Woohoo, I get to work from home!"

Home-based offices are becoming the norm (unless you work at Yahoo!®), but like with anything else in life, there needs to be a balance.

I’ve worked in the traditional professional services and corporate office environment and was fortunate enough to work for a company that transitioned a large portion of its workforce to work from home. I was able to manage a team of over 30 professionals who lived all over the country for over 10+ years. Some of my team excelled in this environment and I’ve seen some fail. I even fell into some of the bad habits as well.

Our current team at Basis 365 works out of their home offices, most of them for the first time in their professional career. We like to spend a little time instructing them on what works well so that they enjoy the benefits while still delivering an exceptional product for our customers.

Things to Love

Overall, I believe it provides major benefits to a company and to your employees. So let’s start out talking about some of the benefits of working from home, for the employee and a business.

  • No commute

    Less driving risk, less money on gas, less emissions, and most of all … no road rage! More time with the family and your hobbies.
     
  • Less distraction

    No game of round robin distraction where someone swings by your office to chat, you’re now distracted and grab a coffee and go distract someone else. It’s an endless cycle.
     

  • Tax deduction

    There are many rules to comply with but if you have a dedicated office space you have the opportunity to write off a portion of your mortgage/rent, utilities, etc. used to run your business or work from home.

  • Access to talent

    As a business owner, a distributed workforce allows you to find talent you would not otherwise have access to if you are stuck within driving distance of an office. Cost of living is different from state to state and many people are willing to trade off in order to have a better work-life balance.  

  • Lower overhead

    Business owners should have some cash freed up from the lack of traditional overhead expenditures needed to sustain an office. That capital can be reinvested in the business and help you grow.

Things to Watch Out For

With many benefits to choose from, there are temptations. Things that lead to bad habits and can creep up on you over time or take hold right away. These things all require discipline to overcome. The danger is to underestimate these issues. The most happy and successful remote workers have discipline, hands down!

  • Attendance

    Business owners and managers will have a fear that you are not really working. Don’t let them justify that fear by getting to your workspace late or cutting out hours and delivering just enough work to get by. This is the #1 area of concern for your company and should be for you as well.

  • Loneliness

    Humans are social creatures. Being in a quiet room for 8 hours, alone, can be torture. You’ll need human interaction.

  • Attire

    It’s easy to roll out of bed, grab a coffee and check your email. That rolls into a conference call and now it’s lunch. You realize you’re still in your pajamas.

  • Family

    It’s almost impossible for family members and children understand you are working and to keep boundaries. Enforce this at all costs.

  • Costs

    As a business owner, although you no longer have much of the overhead an office-based business would have, if you are taking advantage of talent in various states you will need to set up shop in those states. This legal and tax compliance requirement can be a bit of a challenge as each state is different. This commonly creates accounting requirements to track revenue by state in your accounting application to ease in meeting compliance filings. It can also trigger sales tax nexus in states you didn’t have before.

Tips for Success

I hope the dangers don’t scare anyone away. Many businesses are going this way and for most entrepreneurs, it’s a must. Here are some suggestions to mitigate those risks and come out on the positive side of working remotely and managing distributed teams.  

  • Deliver on time and be responsive

    Overcome the fear of your manager that you’re not working by delivering on-time, every time. Stay in contact with your team at the start, middle and end of your day. If you are late on projects, don’t respond timely to an IM, and don’t answer a colleague’s phone call during work hours on a regular basis then they will assume you are not working as you should. Are you?

  • Build team interactions

    As uncomfortable as it may be for many, use webcams as much as possible. I’m still working on this one :) It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why but it’s hard to build a collaborative team without seeing faces and expressions. People open up when they’re live. They’ll also dress up too.

    Take it to the next level by improving the visual as most people will be poorly lit and staring down. You won’t like how you look and you’ll look unhappy. Don’t have any back lighting and use windows or a lamp to brighten your face. Try to have it hit your face at a slight angle versus head on.

  • Separation

    Separate your work space that you can enter and leave. Physical boundaries are the best, like a specific room you only use for work that has a door and a window. Set boundaries for you and family. Mentally clock in and clock out. Shower when you’d normally shower and dress like you would if you were in an office.

    The first issue people run into is that they feel like they are at work 24/7. If your boss IMs you after you “clock out” because they are on a different time zone, don’t answer. Make sure you do get to it first thing in the morning though. If you’re the boss, don’t expect your team to answer either. Set an emergency protocol for something that is truly urgent and use that sparingly.

  • Get out

    Go out to eat lunch or take your lunch out of the house. Fight loneliness by working a couple hours at a coffee shop. Find a nearby coworking space that let’s you work in open areas like WeWork or Real Office Centers. My cofounder and I have an office to meet face to face but we are only there 3 days a week to mix things up.

    When you’re at home, and if you’re like me and can’t work in complete silence, use white noise apps like Noisli or watch movies that you’ve already seen 10 times (do not watch a new movie or channels that play commercials).

  • Take Breaks

    My biggest regret is having sat at my desk for hours on end, for years, with my feet up on the desk sitting at an angle. My tailbone will never forgive me. I would just sit and work, nonstop. That’s not good for your body or your mind. With less distractions than we had in office life you need to remember to take breaks.

    Use a pomodoro type app like Tomato Timer to set periods of focus. Then take a small break and do a quick set of push-ups, air squats or burpees. Take your dog for a 5 minute walk. Get some sun!

  • Work in the cloud

    You’ll need to be in the cloud and paperless to make this work. I spent over 10 years helping CPA firms go paperless and many of them didn’t go willingly. If an industry known for doing things the way they’ve always done it can do it, so can you.

Conclusion

I love the freedom working remotely brings. I can literally work from anywhere in the world … assuming they have internet :) We have wonderful employees that’d we would never have met if we had to hire locally. We’re are able to offer our team the flexibility they need to raise a family or travel while not letting their accounting knowledge go to waste. It’s a win-win.

Remember to mix things up, be professional, and never sacrifice delivering a quality product.

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My Contract Bookkeeper Didn’t Show Up Today. Help!

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My Contract Bookkeeper Didn’t Show Up Today. Help!

 
Bookkeeper Seeking Permanent Part Time or Project Work

Full-charge bookkeeper and Office Manager with 25+ years of experience seeking project-based work or a part-time position. I am a QuickBooks (TM) ProAdvisor certified in QuickBooks Desktop and Online versions. Advanced A/P, A/R background. Ability to accurately process a high volume of vendor invoices.

- University of Phoenix - Bachelor’s of Science in Management (2003)
- Saddleback College - Associates of Arts in Interior Design (1998)
— Example applicant profile
 

When it comes to accounting, the typical small business narrative is this: The business owner has outgrown the ability for them to handle the books themselves and needs help. They launch their browser, go to a website like Craigslist.org and post the job. The type of responses they see will be similar to the above (fictitious) applicant resume excerpt.

Business growth is great for business, but poses challenges. It’s great to see when business owners come to the realization that they need help. The problem lies with the default solution for most business owners when they try to hire an accountant.

Amazing, part-time accountants aren’t easy to find. You need to find someone who can work the small number of hours you need, be reliable, be a quick learner, and have the right level of education.

As your business continues to grow, the hours may need to increase. The complexity of the work may increase. These are all changes in your needs that may no longer fit the part-time accountant’s abilities.

On top of the business’s changing needs, it’s quite common for people looking for part-time work to have restrictive schedules that may impact their ability to step up when your business needs it or suddenly need full-time work and take a job giving you little or no notice. Is two-weeks’ notice ever enough time to find a solid replacement and get them up to speed?

Challenges our customers have faced using contract bookkeepers:

  • No Show – this is the most common pain point. The contractor just stopped showing up and never even called the owner to say they’re not coming in.
  • Can’t Keep Up – the limited number of hours make it challenging to stay caught up on the daily tasks and providing timely monthly financials. The business owner is flying blind as they have not seen a set of financials for many months.
  • Outgrowing – the business owner isn’t really getting any insight out of their numbers. They know accountants should be able to provide guidance and their bookkeeper isn’t able to. In order to continue growing, a higher level of capability is needed to start budgeting, ensure the financials are full-accrual, and measure the right performance metrics.

There are obviously exceptions to the norm. The question is: Do you want to have to spend the time and energy continually replacing part-time help? Will you be able to identify a qualified accountant that can help you grow?

The Basis 365 Difference

Basis 365 was created to offer a qualified, reliable and scalable solution to growing businesses so they can successfully navigate from $1 million - $20 million in revenue.

Many of our customers were thrilled to discover outsourced accounting even existed.  They have already been burned by a part-time bookkeeper leaving them high and dry or unable to help them grow and didn’t want to have to go through that again.

Here are some of the top reasons why our customers choose to us:

Qualified

Our teams come with a formal education in accounting including previous work experience in corporate or public accounting. We instill a focus of constant improvement and consistency in our delivery with all employees. Our teams work with many customers exposing them to more experience than you’d get at one company alone. With access to our company’s entire pool of knowledge, we are able to provide a much different experience than hiring a single, part-time worker.   

Although many of our customers are small businesses, their accounting can get complex quite fast. We pride ourselves on our ability to handle all sorts of accrual accounting scenarios that your typical bookkeeper would not be able to identify, let alone develop effective procedures around.

Reliable

This is what we do. We’ve established processes that work great for small but rapidly growing businesses and utilize the most streamlined, cloud-based solutions available. We are working away, day-by-day so your accounting information is always as up-to-date as possible. We pride ourselves on a quick response time and consistency in delivering your monthly financial statements. If someone is out on vacation, the other team member can step in to assist.

Scalable

Working with Basis 365 provides your business with an accounting team. That’s a powerful advantage over bringing on a single part-timer. It’s easy for us to ramp a team up or down depending on customer needs, including adding on valued-added services such as budgeting or performance reporting.

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Sales Tax Settings Tips from SimekScott

Sales Tax Settings Tips from SimekScott

Our preferred sales tax partner, SimekScott, posted this relevant piece about the risks of incorrect settings in Amazon Seller Central.

Many of our eCommerce customers utilize the Amazon Seller Central platform. Sales tax, at a high level can seem simple but it goes deeper and noncompliance can be expensive.

Check out some common errors they see when consulting businesses in this post on Taxify's blog.

We recommend consulting with a sales tax expert regardless of what you sell to ensure you do not trigger unexpected taxes. Internet-based sales tax law is changing as we speak as noted in this CNN article. Check in regularly to make sure your compliant. 

What to Do When a Client Refuses Payment

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What to Do When a Client Refuses Payment

For businesses that rely heavily on client satisfaction and timely payments, not getting paid on time can be incredibly frustrating. The dilemma is this: You are owed money for the service you provided, yet you can’t push the client too hard or you’ll lose their business forever. 

So what do you do?

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My CPA is MIA!

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My CPA is MIA!

Is your CPA not only driving you crazy but also MIA? Here are a few reasons why that may be and how Basis 365 Accounting might be the solution to your accounting problems.

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