Lester Bahr CPA Accounting Blog
HomeAbout MeTestimonialsQuickBooksTaxesResourcesBlogContact MeOther Interests

Lester Bahr CPA, LLC
(484) 707-5934
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Enlightened solutions within your grasp

Lester Bahr CPA Accounting Blog

QuickBooks Online - Fixing Common Setup Mistakes

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 08/29/18

Over the past several years, I have been helping numerous businesses getting their books properly setup using the cloud based accounting solution QuickBooks Online. More often than not, the process begins when a business owner reaches out to me because they have already started the setup process, or been using QuickBooks Online and realized they have issues that they don't know how to correct.

I tend to see the same patterns emerging time and again as to the areas in QuickBooks Online where setup mistakes are being made. These typically involve problems in the chart of accounts setup, incorrect account types, issues with account numbering, incorrect opening account balances, and errors in not understanding how to properly setup and use the bank feed process for both bank accounts and credit card accounts, just to name a few.

Therefore, I just wrote and added a new page on my website devoted to this topic of QuickBooks Online - Fixing Common Setup Mistakes which will elaborate in more detail as to what these setup mistakes involve.

If you find yourself in this same situation and need to have your QuickBooks Online company setup reviewed and mistakes corrected, you can contact me here at this link.

You can also find additional information on my website at these links:
My QuickBooks Experience and 20 years of Certifications
QuickBooks Advanced Certifications
Why You Should Use QuickBooks Online

Lester R Bahr, CPA
QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor

The Postcard Tax Return - is not all it appears to be

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 08/18/18

Back in June the IRS showed us what the new postcard tax return will look like that was part of the overhaul of the federal tax system commonly referred to as the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act". Now, the idea was that this new postcard tax return would replace the existing forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ. 

The new postcard tax return has only 23 lines rather than the current 1040 form which has 79.  So that sounds simpler right?  Well, as they say, looks can be deceiving. That's because in order to "simplify" the tax form, they had to break off much of the existing details into their own separate schedules. Thus, there are now six newly created supplemental schedules that never existed before. So, when you factor in those six additional schedules, it actually increases the number of line items by over 50.

So, what are these six additional schedules? I list them here below:

Schedule 1 - will be used for the Additional Income and Adjustments to Income.

Schedule 2 - will be for Tax

Schedule 3 - will be for any Nonrefundable Credits.

Schedule 4 - will be for any Other Taxes that might apply

Schedule 5 - will be for Other Payments and Refundable Credits

Schedule 6 - will be for Foreign Address and Third Party Designee

Also, none of these new additional schedules eliminate the current supporting schedules such as Schedule C for business income, Schedule D for capital gains and losses, Schedule E for rental real estate or pass-through business interests, or any of the most other existing forms.

Therefore, in actuality, for most taxpayers, the 23 line postcard summary will certainly not be sufficient and they will also need to complete multiple supplemental schedules, in addition to the other applicable forms they normally have to file, anyway.

So, for the more involved client tax situations that as a CPA I typically am involved with, it would not appear that tax preparation process will in the end become any simpler. In fact, by breaking off detail into separate supporting schedules it might make the tax services process more involved and more time consuming instead.


199A “Qualified Business Income Deduction” tax break if you are self-employed

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 08/13/18

Also referred to as IRS code section 199A deduction. This was one of the most significant potential benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (officially P.L. 115-97) that went into effect for tax years after 2017.


Previously, back in January 2018 right after passage of this law, I’d written a summary of the provisions of the new tax law that pertain to individual taxes which I will link to here.  However, at that time I did not include a summary of the section 199A Qualified Business Income deduction (QBI). That was because many aspects of this QBI deduction were still unclear in many material respects and as tax professionals we needed to wait for IRS technical corrections, regulatory guidance and definitional guidance as to much of the terminology which was ambiguous. Now seven months later after passage of the new tax law, we are gradually getting more of these clarifications addressed.


In fact just today IRS issued further guidance on this that will serve to crack down on many manipulative schemes that were being hatched by some small business owners, along with some of their advisors, in attempts to make various restructuring changes to their businesses such that they could derive a larger tax benefit, which in some cases they might otherwise not qualify for at all.


Very early on, I along with many of my professional peers recognized the danger in making drastic recommendations to clients in order to attempt to exploit the QBI section 199A deduction. In fact, one news article I read today said: “if your accountant told you to hold off on taking big steps to qualify for the new business owner tax break, you should thank him or her.” Exactly!

This is why it is so important to work with a CPA in your business who can help you navigate what are often extremely complex issues related to taxation matters. See "how to get the most value from the services of your CPA" in your accounting and tax services.


During this past seven months I have attended multiple continuing education classes regarding the 199A deduction as well as done a lot of reading and working through the calculations under a broad number of client tax scenarios. While this deduction can certainly offer some significant tax savings for the self employed business owner, determining the potential tax savings is by no means a straight forward process as there are many twists and turns to be considered depending on each taxpayer’s situation. I plan to cover more details about this in future blog posts.

A virtual, online accountant for your business

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 08/05/18

will make your life as a small business owner easier and relieve you from many of the day to day worries and headaches about running that business. In fact, as an online accountant, I’m always as close as your internet connection and working behind the scenes to look out for your best interests. Here are seven examples of accounting problems I solve for businesses on a regular basis.

1. Keeping your financial reports up to date and accurate – which is made possible because I am logged into your company books the same as you are through QuickBooks Online and can see the same things that you see. So this allows me to monitor and make corrections in your data before it distorts your financials.

2. Frees the business owner from the hassle of hiring an in house bookkeeper or accountant.

3. Cleaning up all of those accumulated problems present in your books of account.

4. Providing you with specialized expertise on those one-time projects or other problems that crop up from time to time.

5. Making sure that your financial books are correct in the event of an IRS or other tax agency audit so that the accuracy of the information as reported on the tax returns can be trusted.

6. Helping the business owner to better understand concepts of cash flow, project job costing, how to interpret financials, and so on.

7. Explaining all the nuances related to payroll and independent contractors and how to manage these relationships from an accounting reporting perspective.


Tax Cuts and Jobs Act - A Summary of the New Tax Law

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 12/29/17

Here is a link to a page on my website that summarizes the provisions of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" as it pertains to individuals for tax years beginning after 2017.



Trends Shaping the Accounting Function For Entrepreneurs

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 11/05/17

I recently just returned from travel out to LA. One of the things I always enjoy about travel, whether it's domestic or international, is the opportunities it always provides to meet and talk with young entrepreneurs and hear their many different perspectives and ideas across cultures. Typically, our conversations revolve around some key technologies that are transforming how their businesses want to be able to function.

Cloud based applications - top the list. This is because internet-based solutions provide for ease of collaboration and sharing of ideas and information in real-time. Never before have businesses been able to connect their infrastructures to service providers such as myself, and in such a cost effective and efficient way.

Actionable Data - meaning that business owners want their accounting professionals to be providing them with value through the process of providing experienced insights and analysis of their business in a timely manner such that the information can readily be acted upon in the making of better decisions.

Mobile is King - because a new generation of younger business owners has emerged and they have never had to operate in a world that did not have widespread fast internet and smart phones. So naturally, they expect to be able to operate a business the same way. They want immediate information delivered to portable devices, while they are on the go. They also want their accounting professionals to be just a tech savvy in keeping up with their mobile expectations.

From my perspective all of these trends have helped to move the accounting service paradigm to one that is more client-centric where I am in a position to respond to their needs much sooner, and in a much more real-time interactive way - and that's definitely a good thing.

Lester R. Bahr
Certified Public Accountant
QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor - for over 18 years.

Tips for Starting a New Business: #3 Know Your Tax Obligations

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 10/19/17

Tax obligations and the manner in which they get assessed vary depending on the legal structure of your business. For example, while a C corporation will have federal and state tax liabilities determined and paid at the entity level, that won’t be the case if you are a pass-through entity such as an S corporation or LLC.

Similarly, if you are a sole proprietorship, all taxes will be determined as part of your individual tax return filing. Many times when someone starts their own business as a self employed person they feel a bit overwhelmed when they learn all of the different taxes they will be responsible for.

These include federal, state and local income taxes, self-employment tax (which is Social Security and Medicare). Then, depending on the nature of what the business is and where it is located, there may also be obligations to collect and remit sales taxes and pay business privilege taxes. Now, add into the mix any employees the business owner might have and there are all the various tax withholdings, quarterly and annual fillings associated with payroll too.

So,  before you get too far along in your business activity as a self employed person, make sure that you meet with your CPA to make sure that you are going to be compliant with all your tax filing obligations and that you are planning your cash reserves appropriately so that you are not paying any taxes late and thus incurring unnecessary penalties and interest on top of all those taxes. This may also necessitate needing to make estimated tax payments in advance each year.

In the event you have any questions, you can always contact me here to ask them.

In addition, here are some additional tax links for more information:
Tax Preparation Filing Services
Tax Services Lehigh Valley
Tax Planning

Lester R. Bahr, CPA

What you need to know about the Equifax data breach

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 09/16/17

As you've no doubt heard about in the news, Equifax has recently reported a data breach that may have affected as many as 143 million Americans. I am providing a link here that you can follow to a blog post on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.org) containing more information and recommendations to take to protect your security.
Surviving the Equifax Data Breach

In addition, I'm also including this link below to a previous blog post I'd written back on January 2, 2017 in regard to how to Protect your tax return information from identity theft

This is now the big question: Will we see even more tax return identity theft cases now beginning this year as a result of this latest data breach? Again, in order to do what you can to protect yourself, I suggest that you read through my blog post on this subject here.

Lester R Bahr, CPA



Tips for Starting a New Business: #2 Setup up a Bookkeeping System

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 09/14/17

In this second installment topic I discuss what you need to know in terms of setting up a proper bookkeeping system for your business. Sometimes business owners are not very attentive or interested in keeping the books. While they may have a special talent that makes them a great inventor, technician or salesperson, they may view the paperwork and bookkeeping as drudgery they would rather not have to bother with.

However, to remain in business there are certain basic bookkeeping standards that must be followed. These standards are necessary not only for determining taxable income, but also to monitor the financial and operating health of the business.

If you simply follow this link for how to setup an accounting system, it will take you to one of my prior articles I've written on this subject where I discuss the process of how to develop a chart of accounts structure for your business; how to decide which accounting method to choose - cash or accrual basis; who should maintain the accounting records; and using accounting software - which if you follow this link for QuickBooks will take you to my page with multiple articles I've written on the subject of using QuickBooks in your business.

In the event you have any questions, you can always contact me here to ask them.

Lester R Bahr, CPA
QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor since 1999

Tips for Starting a New Business: #1 Open a Separate Bank Account

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 09/09/17

In this series of blog posts I'm going to tackle some of the common situations that every new business needs to address. Running any business takes a lot of perseverance so don't make it any harder on yourself by not following some of the basic things you should be doing. With the start of your new business there will be a lot of accounting and tax compliance procedures you will need to get on top of from the beginning. If you don't do this, things can start to get out of hand pretty quickly as business activity ramps up before your record keeping structure is sufficiently organized to properly account for all these transactions.

After you have legally registered your business, but before you start to incur expenses and earn revenues, you should establish a separate bank account under the name of the business. This is important to keep your business records and transactions isolated from your personal bank accounts. In fact, if you are a corporation, partnership or LLC you are definitely required to have a seperately established bank account. While, having a seperate bank account for a sole proprietorship is not necessarily legally required, it is still definitely recommended. What you don't want to be doing as a regular practice is comingling a lot of personal and business related transactions in the same account - and then trying to parse them apart at tax filing time into what's business and what's personal. That's a disaster. Don't do it.

Obviously from an accounting system setup perspective, your task is going to be much easier if the bank account you are incorporating into the accounting software can be done at the point where the initial balance in the account is zero. Once you've already got a slew of transactions in a business account and then you are trying to incorporate that into the setup of your accounting software is often where a lot of erroneous transactions get posted. This is an especially tricky situation when you are using automatic bank feeds for example with QuickBooks Online since what you don't want to have happen is for the bank feed to automatically pull in a lot of bank transactions and incorrectly record them.

The same thing really applies to credit cards too. Make sure you get a separate credit card for your business and just use that card for business related purchases only. Also, just as for the bank account, I definitely recommend that you get a new card, as opposed to designating a card that already had transactions, just because it's going to be much easier to integrate that credit card into your overall accounting software system when the balance on the card starts at zero. Adding a credit card which is carrying a balance already into your accounting software can be a tricky situation and lends itself to erroneous reporting of expenses with a proper cutoff time frame. And just as with a bank account, if you are using accounting software such as QuickBooks Online and utilizing the automatic bank feed feature for your credit cards, you may inadvertently pull in a lot of transactions into your business accounting books that don't really belong there.

Do you have questions about how to properly setup bank and credit card accounts for your business? If so, you can ask me here.

Also you can check out some of my articles here as well as lots of information about setting up and using QuickBooks

Lester Bahr, CPA
Advanced Certified QuickBook ProAdvisor


Tax Returns Prepared from QuickBooks Online

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 09/02/17

So whether you are located in the Lehigh Valley or somewhere on the other end of the country, now that you've got your QuickBooks Online all setup correctly lets talk about those tax returns. (and you do have QuickBooks setup correctly - right? Because that step is most crucial before you get to the point where you need to prepare tax returns. You can read my other blog posts, articles and watch my videos for information about the QuickBooks setup process if you are not sure).

But come the end of your calendar or fiscal year, it will be time to file those tax returns for your business. Depending on your entity structure will determine whether the necessary tax returns to file are for a partnership, a C corporation, an S corporation, a non-profit, sole proprietorship, or a single-member LLC filing as a disregarded entity.

Regardless of whatever taxing entity type you are, the financial data to populate the line items on those tax returns will need to come from your QuickBooks Online company data. Hence the reason why it is so important that you've setup and reconciled the accuracy of all your Quickbooks account balances so that the financial data you will be reporting on all the federal, state and local tax returns will be accurate, which of course also means that the calculation of all tax liabilities will be accurate as well.

This is where I also do the integrated process for you in working with your QuickBooks Online data at the end of your year to determine what tax forms must be filed, including all the states where you have nexus filing compliance responsibilities - with final delivery of all those tax returns in electronic format followed by e-file submissions to the various tax agencies and monitoring for acceptance.

For further information, please feel free to contact me here.

Lester Bahr
Certified Public Accountant
QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor - since 1999


QuickBooks Online is Complemented by CFO Online Service

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 08/24/17

Often time as a new – or existing – business owner completes the initial steps of setting up their business accounting in QuickBooks Online, they realize they have lots of questions. This is typically where my phone rings or I get an email asking for help. This is an important part of the process – to know what you don’t know and to reach out for expert guidance that will save you a lot of pain and the associated costs in the future.

One of the challenges small business owners often face is they feel like they must go it alone because they are too small to afford the benefit of a CFO who is looking out for and guiding their financial pathway. But, that is not the case. You do have options. Just as you’ve discovered the efficiency of running your business accounting on the cloud, you can also have access to the expertise of a seasoned professional to fill in those knowledge gaps for you where you need some help.

As an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Advisor with Intuit since 1999 I can be added as an accountant user to your QuickBooks Online company. This will then give me the ability to:

1. Do a complete review of your accounting setup and system preferences.

2. Review your chart of accounts design structure to ensure that it’s appropriate for your business entity type and the industry you operate in.

3. Set up your bank and credit card feeds and map and reconcile the download of transactions into the proper accounts for accurate financial statement presentation.

4. Assist you in the integration of other apps with QBO.

5. Advise you on what all your various federal, state(s), local, sales & use, business privilege, payroll and other tax filing compliance requirements are and make sure that you have filed all the appropriate applications and tax forms.

6. Help you to create budgets, structure financing options, oversee your operations on a periodic basis, plus all those one-time projects that pop up from time to time where you need some expert financial guidance to make decisions.

Among the obvious advantages for a small business owner in having access to a Virtual CFO online is that you are not committing to a large fixed cost in salary and benefits to acquire a specialized skill set that you may only need access to on an initial basis and then only periodically thereafter as the needs arise.

Lester R. Bahr, CPA & Advanced Certfied QuickBooks Advisor
Read what my clients are saying

Use your accountant all year long, not just for tax filings

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 07/06/17

With the hectic pace of tax season now long past, it's just a matter of working through on all the tax returns still on extension. However, the Summer months are an especially ideal time to speak with your accountant about those special projects that have been pushed aside. This is the one time of the year when we as CPA's typically have more time to help and focus our attention on those client special projects.

As a business owner, you're trying to keep up with many different aspects of running the day to day operations of your business, doing the marketing, HR, etc. Often times I find the Summer months are an ideal time to review client's accounting systems to make improvements in efficiency, accuracy and one-source data entry, integration with apps, etc.

Improving your company bookkeeping procedures can certainly benefit your company with more useful reporting information, generated in much less time. These days more and more clients are using the cloud based QuickBooks Online. As such, much of my time is spent logged in to clients' online accounting working through these many improvements in their bookkeeping systems.

Working closely with your accountant throughout the year can improve your chances for business success simply because you have someone looking over your shoulder and alerting you to situations that you might not even have been aware of. Plus, by working with your accountant beyond just tax season, you can discover new growth opportunities, cost savings measures, budgeting analysis and cash flow improvements, plus many other benefits - all geared to help you prepare for the future and minimize inefficiencies.

Lester R. Bahr, CPA

How to Select a CPA to Work With You

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 01/14/17

There are many factors to consider when selecting a CPA to work with you. Remember, you are looking to establish a long term relationship with someone who is to be your trusted business advisor. For starters, make sure they are interested in your business and that they are comfortable working with your business size. Here are some questions to ask when selecting a CPA:


1. Does the CPA understand the type of business you operate?


2. Does the CPA have experience with your industry and serve other clients like you?


3. Does the CPA seem genuinely interested in helping your business be more successful and can they contribute to that success? Look for more than just a bookkeeper and tax preparer?

4. Is the CPA experienced with areas beyond core functions of accounting and taxes such as information systems, business forecasting, valuations. 

Will the CPA be readily available to provide you with answers by telephone or email? 


5. Does the personality of the CPA mesh with yours? You need to feel comfortable with this professional.


6. Do you feel confident that issues will be explained clearly so that you are able to make informed decisions? You don’t need a CPA who talks to you in technicalities. The last thing you want is to be left even more confused after a conversation with your accountant. Rather, you want someone who is a good communicator when it comes to explaining business matters that affect your growth and viability as a business.


7. Is the accountant technologically progressive? This is very important. Look for an accountant who fully uses technologies for paperless operations, secure client portals and other cloud based technologies. These tools will make your working relationship with the accountant much easier and efficient.


Remember, a good CPA can be a tremendous asset to your business. There will always be situations that arise from time to time where you need the experienced perspective of an accountant to assist you. This becomes even more critical to a smaller business. That’s because, unlike a larger business which can afford to have their own in-house accountant on the payroll, most smaller businesses do not have this luxury. Thus, finding and selecting a CPA you are comfortable working with is very important.


CPA's can be an invaluable source of knowledge in handling financial matters, funding, accounting systems, business records and taxation, etc. Also, it’s important to realize that CPA’s, because they work with many different businesses, really have their finger on the pulse of understanding all the issues that a business can face. After all, although you may think that your business situation is unique, you may be surprised to learn that it is not and that the CPA has already seen and solved problems just like yours for other businesses

Protect your tax return information from identity theft

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 01/02/17

This past November I attended my usual two full day tax conference in preparation for the upcoming tax filing season. As has frequently been a topic of top priority, the course instructor asked of the participants: “How many tax practitioners in the room have had clients who were victims of identity theft?”

Now, the first thing to mention about this is that probably more than five years ago, this topic just wasn’t even something that routinely came up in CPE classes. But now, it is a topic which has been elevated to top priority and routinely comes up for discussion within the professional practitioner group I am involved with.

Secondly, again going back over five years ago, I don’t imagine that hardly any hands in the room size of about 200 tax professionals would have gone up. But, in response to that question now, a very significant number of hands shot up which demonstrated just how pervasive the problem has become over the years.

IRS data too bears out just how much of a growing problem this has become having reported that total taxpayer identity theft cases have risen quite significantly over the past few years. However, that being said, IRS has also made significant progress in combating the problem through a number of initiatives which are beyond the scope of what I can cover here in this short blog post.

So, how exactly does a taxpayer first realize that their personal information may have been compromised? Well, there are six most common ways that a taxpayer becomes aware of it:

First, the taxpayer attempts to file a return electronically but the IRS rejects the return, indicating that someone else has filed a return using the same identification number of the filer or of a dependent.

Second, the taxpayer receives an IRS notice that indicates more than one return has been filed for a single account.

Third, the taxpayer receives an IRS bill for additional tax due, an unknown refund offset, or other collection action.

Fourth, the IRS asks for confirmation of information on a return that was not filed by the taxpayer. (Many tax refund fraud cases will initiate with this type of notice.)

Fifth, a notice is received that reflects wages earned from an employer the taxpayer has never worked for.

Sixth, some kind of compliance action has been taken against the taxpayer for a period for which the taxpayer never filed a return nor received a refund.

Once you as a taxpayer become aware of a suspected compromise of your information, there is a very specific sequence of events you must follow as recommended by IRS which can be found on their website. I will not go through them here as it is beyond the scope of what I can cover in this short blog post on the subject.

There are a number of ways how thieves can steal your information including looking through trash for confidential information; the outright theft of records; pretexting to impersonate a taxpayer or financial professional; hacking/DMS attacks on networks containing confidential client information; malvertising which by social engineering methods can trick the unsuspecting person to disclose confidential information; and scareware which is a malicious computer program designed to trick a user into buying and downloading unnecessary and potentially dangerous software, such as fake antivirus protection.

Every taxpayer needs to be diligent in protecting their confidential information as it exists in and among their home records and computer systems. Similarly, you should only work with tax professionals you can trust and you should inquire as to what their procedures are for the storage, protection and use of your personal tax information. For example, in my practice I make available to clients a detailed listing of my practices and technology procedures in place to safeguard my clients’ confidential information. I also monitor on a regular basis all of the IRS issued security alerts to be on watch for.

Tax Return Due Date Changes Starting This Year With 2016 Filings

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 12/29/16

Starting this year some filing due dates for business tax returns have changed:

The calendar year Tax Form 1065 (used for partnerships and multi-member LLC’s) will now be due on 03/15/17 whereas previously, these returns weren’t due until 4/15.

The calendar year Form 1120 (for C Corporations only) is now not due until 04/15/17 whereas previously it was due on 3/15.Form 1120S (for S Corporations) due date has not changed. It will remain due on 3/15/17.

Note however, that the due date for the extended returns of calendar year Forms 1120, 1120-S, and 1065 will continue to be 09/15/17.

As such, many practitioners are predicting higher levels of extensions for Form 1065. However, you should not assume there will be an increased risk of audit for a tax return just because it’s been extended.  There is no measurably increased risk of audit incurred from filing an extension. Conversely, nor is it
less likely that the return will be examined because it was extended. The bottom line is that we as accountants simply cannot be expected to complete every businesses tax return within two and half months following the close of the year – not even close!  There are many reasons why we even deliberately choose to extend the return. One such reason is to give the business a longer time period in which to fund a company retirement plan. But, there are many other reasons why filing a tax return extension is also preferable

Good news for Lehigh Valley residents who work in NJ

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 12/03/16

For those of your who live here in PA but work in NJ there was some good news a couple weeks ago when NJ Governor Chris Christie announced that he will not end the income tax reciprocity agreement between NJ and PA after all. With our region being so close to NJ I know there are a number of residents here in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton area who commute over into NJ for their employment.

This issue all started earlier this year when Governor Christie said that he would end the 38 year old agreement with PA that allowed PA residents to pay income taxes in the state in which they live, rather than where they work effective in 2017.

Under this reciprocity, New Jersey doesn't collect income taxes from people living in Pennsylvania who work in New Jersey. In return, Pennsylvania also doesn't collect income taxes from people living in New Jersey and working in Pennsylvania.Rather, PA residents report and pay tax on income earned in NJ on a PA tax return; similarly, NJ residents report and pay tax on income earned in PA on a NJ tax return.

Had this reciprocity agreement been terminated, higher income PA residents who work in NJ would have paid higher tax. That's because PA' income tax rate is a flat 3.07% while NJ has a graduated income tax which can go as high as 8.97% Conversely, lower to middle-income NJ residents who work in PA would also not have liked this either in that they would have paid more since tax rates in NJ start as low as 1.4%, or about half of the PA flat tax rate.

The tax agreement allows for either state to unilaterally withdraw by providing 120 days' written notice prior to January 1 of the tax year. That means Christie's initial decision did not require approval from the NJ legislature. But, for now anyhow, there won't be any discontinuance of the PA and NJ reciprocity agreement.

As a tax practitioner, I would also point out that had this reciprocity agreement been terminated means that any PA resident working in NJ would have had their tax preparation process complicated as well in that they would have needed to also have a NJ non-resident tax return prepared, and then claim credit for NJ taxes paid on their resident PA tax return. So anyway, that situation has now been avoided.

I hope everyone has a good upcoming week. As for me, I am off to Asia for a couple weeks, so I'll be writing next week's blog post from Singapore.

Lester R. Bahr, CPA 

Adding Apps to QuickBooks Online (QBO) to Build an Accounting Ecosystem

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 11/26/16

An "app" is simply short for an application. All apps run on an operating system such as Windows, Mac, IOS or Android. Each operating system has its own language and the app must be written using the specific language of the operating system. Apps that are built using the same operating system can interact with each other using "application programming interfaces" (or API's) These API's are sets of requirements that govern how one application can communicate and interact with another. The QuickBooks open API platform allows developers to connect their apps to QBO and seamlessly send data back and forth between them.

There are literally hundreds of different apps that will integrate with QuickBooks Online (QBO). But, how do you know when it's time to add an app and which apps do you need? Well, the simplest answer to that question is when I have a client who asks me about some particular data or management function they need to track that is not within the scope of their existing QBO, then it's time to investigate apps. Think of QBO as being your core foundational accounting platform upon which everything must filter in to. And so adding on additional apps is all about finding the right tool for the right job to automate a particular task.

Here's an example: Let's say your business is one that sells products online and uses Shopify as your ecommerce platform. Well, all the activity related to that online store must ultimately be integrated into your overall financial general ledger reporting system. Everything from purchasing your product, to inventory control, to customer order fulfillment and shipping ultimately generates financial transaction data that must be incorporated into you business' books. Suppose you also use Paypal in making purchases as well as in receiving customer payments. That is another level of activity that ultimately needs to get pushed through to your company's accounting books.

In the absence of any connectivity between Shopify, Paypal, and your company books, you would need to do a lot of manual data entry to bridge this gap in order to keep your company books up to date and accurate at all times. Trying to reconcile all this activity would be a monumental task. Thus, the purpose of using the QBO apps for Shopify and Paypal under this scenario is to be able to automatically synchronize transaction activity that affects both your ecommerce website as well as your company books.

Once you have identified a business need that goes outside the normal core accounting boundaries of QBO, it may be time to begin researching what apps are out there that already fulfill the function you need. But I cannot overemphasize the importance of looking at all the available apps thoroughly, including trying out a demo of the app. Remember, you don't want to connect an app with your QBO company file unless you fully understand the impact of the data flow sync between the app and QBO. In conjunction with this process it is essential that data fields are correctly mapped between the app and QBO during the onboarding integration process. Otherwise you could be posting entries erroneously to the wrong combinations of general ledger accounts, which of course means that your financial reports would all be wrong. Since the accuracy of your company's financial reports is the backbone of your business management and also required in your tax reporting compliance, accuracy here is clearly very important.

I am a CPA who works across the full spectrum of helping businesses optimize their accounting information workflow and procedures all the way through to the tax planning and preparation services, as well as special project consulting.

Lester R. Bahr, CPA
QuickBooks Advanced ProAdvisor for over 17 years. 




Businesses using QuickBooks Online: More design changes coming!

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 11/19/16

Intuit, developer of the widely popular QuickBooks Online accounting software for businesses announces more design changes that will start to roll out progressively to all existing users beginning around early to mid December 2016. In my communications with Intuit they indicated that "these design enhancements were developed to offer a better, consistent experience across our QuickBooks ecosystem with QuickBooks Self-Employed, Payroll, Payments and other products."

I'm sharing this link below that Intuit provides to me if you want to see what these enhancements will look like:


Lester R Bahr, CPA
Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor - since 1999


From data to decision making, providing high-touch via high-tech

by Lester Bahr, CPA on 10/15/16

Expect to see the rapid technology changes in the accounting industry continue to accelerate over the next few years. Cloud computing platforms and applications are combining with advanced analytical tools and larger sets of data sources while social and mobile computing continue to reshape our profession.

Notebooks, tablets and smartphones have become the main tools for managing the accounting professional's complex choreography of work and client service processes. These technologies continue to reinvent work and the workplace which means greater flexibility around when, where and how work gets done.

Those of us as progressive accountants interact virtually with clients under a model of "same data, same time" which has gone a long way in eliminating many of the bottlenecks previously associated with PC or server based financial data that was only accessible in one location.

All this high-tech ultimately translates into a much more personal, high-touch client experience in service delivery and satisfaction where trust continues to be the hallmark of the accounting profession.

Accounting, Tax, QuickBooks Discussions