Intuit’s QuickBooks family of small business accounting services has won many Editors’ Choice awards over the years for its simplicity and ease of use. Despite this user friendliness, some accounting activities take time and knowledge a busy business owner just may not have. When QuickBooks Online can’t deliver the comprehensive picture you need of your finances, QuickBooks Live, with its direct access to a team of bookkeeping experts, can help you stay on top of your finances.
You’re still responsible for the daily work of accounting using QuickBooks Online Plus (such as creating records and entering transactions), and the service does not cover payroll setup or support. Your bookkeepers maintain, update, fix, reconcile, and categorize your transactions. They review and close your books at month’s end and provide you with critical financial reports. It’s not cheap, but the peace of mind it provides will be well worth the cost for many business owners.
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How Much Does QuickBooks Online Cost?
There are three levels of service for QuickBooks Live, all of which include the subscription fee for QuickBooks Plus, which is regularly priced at $70 per month. Low-Volume Bookkeeping is designed for businesses with up to $25,000 in monthly expenses. It costs $270 per month. Businesses with $25,001 to $150,000 in monthly expenses would be charged $470 per month for the Medium-Volume Bookkeeping plan. High-Level Bookkeeping ($670 per month) serves businesses with $150,001 or more in monthly expenses. There is no contract involved; you can cancel at any time.
Some competitors offer similar add-on bookkeeping services. Two come from double-entry accounting services that have no monthly subscription fee. Sunrise’s bookkeepers reconcile up to 120 transactions per month and provide support (text and email), month-end closings, and cash flow reports for $149 monthly. For $299 monthly, the Growing level reconciles up to 200 transactions and adds phone support. The Corporate level supports up to 500 transactions monthly and costs $499 per month.
Wave also offers three add-on support tiers. Wave Advisors offers a bookkeeping service that starts at $129 per month (annual price; month-to-month pricing is also available). Your bookkeeper categorizes transactions and reconciles accounts; organizes statements and collaborates with your accountant; and helps with planning. Wave’s tax service starts at the same price and provides year-round tax planning in addition to quarterly reviews, IRS representation if needed, and federal and state income tax preparation. Accounting Coaching has a one-time fee of $199 and is designed for new users. It includes an hour of live coaching and 30 days of email support. Advisors also help you migrate your current system to Wave and review and fix your existing account.
Xero doesn’t have an add-on support program, but like QuickBooks Plus, it has a large network of advisors that you can hire for one-on-one work. Zoho Books’ advisor network is growing but is not as well-developed.
QuickBooks Online Plus Features
QuickBooks Online Plus—which what you use on your end when you subscribe to QuickBooks Live—follows best practices for double-entry bookkeeping (the procedures that accountants adhere to), but you don’t have to understand debits and credits and journal entries to use it. The site does all of the complicated work in the background. What you see is understandable language, like “sales” and “expenses” and “transactions.”
Your accounting tasks will be much easier if you connect your online financial accounts (like credit cards and checking accounts) to QuickBooks Online Plus, so you can track your income and expenses. In fact, if you don’t do this and enter transactions manually, you’ll be duplicating your efforts. The site imports your cleared transactions daily and displays them in registers. You assign categories to expenses (such as supplies, shipping and delivery expense, and utilities) so you get all of the deductions you can on your income taxes.
You can easily keep track of the tasks both you and your bookkeeper must complete in your QuickBooks Live Hub. You can also schedule appointments and send messages.
An exceptional user experience helps you understand how to quickly find what you’re looking for. Sometimes you enter data in fields, such as Customer Addresses and Phone Numbers. Other times, you click buttons or select options from drop-down lists. When you need to enter a transaction like an invoice or estimate or expense or bill, you complete online forms that resemble their real-life counterparts.
QuickBooks Online Plus has many other capabilities. If you want to accept payments electronically, which usually helps you get paid faster, you can sign up for a payment service and let your customers pay you using a credit card or bank withdrawal. The site also allows you to enter and track bill payments and record your tax-deductible business mileage. If you sell time-based services, you can enter your hours and bill customers for those services and for any expenses you’ve incurred on their behalf.
You can track projects and related transactions, and the site will keep a running tally of each project’s profitability. Based on the product and service records you create, the site can tell you how much of a given item you have left in inventory. You can also assign sales taxes to transactions, run reports, and process payroll (additional cost).
QuickBooks Online Plus has two other features that extend its usefulness to small business. Android and iOS apps make it possible to do some of your work remotely—and we’re all working from home much more these days! And, if the site doesn’t provide enough tools in a particular area, there’s probably an integrated add-on that can expand on the site’s own abilities.
For more details on QuickBooks Online, please read our complete review.
QuickBooks Live takes on the tasks that are more advanced than these core capabilities. Here’s how it works. Once you’ve created an account, you’re assigned a primary bookkeeper based on your company’s composition and needs. This individual will be your main contact, though other bookkeepers on his or her team will be doing work for you, too. These Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors (some of whom are CPAs) have experience working with small businesses, and they’ve received extensive training in accounting, finance, and bookkeeping. And, of course, they’re QuickBooks Online Plus experts.
Your bookkeepers will help you set up your Chart of Accounts, connect your online banks, and go over the basics of QuickBooks Online Plus. If you’re already using it and have entered data, they’ll help create a plan to clean it up—for a $500 charge if you have more than two months of historical data.
When you subscribe to QuickBooks Live, you’re assigned a primary bookkeeper, but you may interact with other members of the team at times.
You meet with your bookkeepers via one-way video chat (they can’t see you) and by sharing your screen. Once your contact learns enough about your business, he or she will set up QuickBooks Online Plus to meet your needs and explain how the process works. Then you continue to do your daily accounting work on the site while your bookkeepers step in and do what’s required of them. Your team members are available to chat during regular business hours, though you can email them anytime and consult their schedules to set up a meeting. And there’s no contract. You can cancel anytime.
What QuickBooks Live’s Bookkeepers Do for You
Your bookkeepers will work to ensure that your QuickBooks Plus data is accurate, up-to-date, and ready for tax time. They accomplish this by interacting with your QuickBooks Online Plus account in three primary ways.
Transaction Maintenance. You probably spend the bulk of your time in QuickBooks Online Plus entering transactions like invoices and sales receipts and recording payments. If these transactions aren’t entered and categorized correctly, your reports and taxes will not be accurate. You could lose revenue and damage customer goodwill in numerous ways. For example, if you don’t categorize income and expense transactions correctly, you could miss income tax deductions and pay more than you should. If you fail to match a payment to the right invoice, you risk annoying customers by requesting payments that have already been made.
Your bookkeepers avoid such problems by monitoring your transactions and looking for potential problems. They also reconcile your accounts, a process that many small businesspeople avoid because it can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Month End Review. At the end of each month, your bookkeepers review and close your books. QuickBooks Online Plus has this capability built in, but it’s not required, so many businesses don’t do it. After reviewing all of the month’s transactions and fixing anything that needs fixing, your bookkeepers set a closing date and lock everything that was entered before then. This helps prevent accidental changes that could impede accurate reporting. Your bookkeepers tell you before they close out a month so you can enter any transactions that might be missing.
Financial Reports. There are dozens of reports in QuickBooks Online Plus that you can easily create yourself. For example, you should be running aging reports so you can see which customers are past due on payments. But there are some more complex reports, like Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows, that QuickBooks Online Plus can generate, but which you might have a hard time understanding. These reports provide a broader overview of your company’s financial status. Your bookkeepers will explain what they mean at the end of each month and send you PDF copies of reports like your Profit and Loss statement.
A Solid Guarantee From Intuit
Intuit guarantees its bookkeepers’ work. If you’re at all concerned about the accuracy of your books, you can request an audit by QuickBooks specialists. They look for errors like:
Transactions that have been categorized to the wrong account.
Account balances in QuickBooks that don’t match the actual account balances.
Improper transactions that aren’t supported by documentation.
If they discover an error that requires re-opening your books for any month, they’ll correct it at no charge to you.
There are many things that QuickBooks Live bookkeepers won’t do. They don’t give tax advice, and they don’t serve as business advisors. They don’t take on daily accounting tasks like invoicing or paying bills. They won’t work with companies that use the accrual method of accounting or that haven’t filed 2019 income taxes. And they won’t work back farther than five years.
Our Experience With QuickBooks Live
We were able to do a test drive of QuickBooks Live to see firsthand how it worked and were pleased by three of its key attributes. First, it’s very structured, thanks to the QuickBooks Live Hub, which is available 24/7. This is your own personal, secure space on the site. You can check on your bookkeepers’ progress there and see their schedules to make an appointment for a video chat. Related documents are also stored here.
Bookkeepers maintain step-by-step task lists here, too, so you always know what’s been done and what’s still left to do. Like all Intuit websites, the QuickBooks Live user experience is exceptional. There’s no fumbling around for the information you need, and the site looks great.
Second, Intuit has automated as much of the process as it can. For example, you don’t have to worry about importing your bank statements, since they’re brought in automatically. Everything in your accounts gets touched by your bookkeepers, so nothing falls through the cracks—as long as you’re keeping up with your transactions.
QuickBooks Live allows you to interact with your bookkeepers via live video chat. You can see them, but they can only see your screen.
Third, QuickBooks Live is very personal. It is reassuring to see a friendly face on the screen without having to set up an online meeting on another platform. The video chat is imbedded in your personal screen area, and it worked very well in our sessions. Because you’re assigned to a primary bookkeeper and his or her team, you know that they’re up to speed on your financial situation.
You may know what it’s like to try and correct accounting discrepancies. If you’re not reconciling your accounts and running reports every month (which many people don’t), straightening out your finances could cost you numerous hours and many hundreds of dollars working with a bookkeeping service that doesn’t know anything about you. Subscribing to QuickBooks Live would be a good way to avoid that nightmare.
Excellent For Complex Businesses
At $270 per month, even QuickBooks Live’s low-volume option would probably not be a cost-effective accounting service for freelancers or other independent contractors. Those businesses wouldn’t necessarily even need to use the Plus version of QuickBooks Online. There are two more junior versions (Simple Start and Self-Employed) that are much less expensive and better suited to the smallest of businesses.
But if you’re a larger business and you process a lot of transactions and need your financial books to be as clean and organized and comprehensive as possible, QuickBooks Live may make sense for you. Certainly, if you’re planning to get a loan or take on investors or make other major business changes sometime in the future, you need a pristine accounting file. Even if none of those things are in the offing, you may simply want a greater sense of your control over your finances and the knowledge that your books are as clean as they can be and ready for income tax preparation and filing.
QuickBooks Plus is so popular that many accountants in private practice support it. It’s possible some of them may charge a little less than what Intuit is charging. But Intuit’s prices for QuickBooks Live are reasonable considering the work involved and the support provided. And it makes some sense to deal with the company directly for this critical work. It’s a good deal for companies that need it, and it’s a clear Editors’ Choice winner.
The Bottom Line
QuickBooks Live pairs you with experienced bookkeepers who can reconcile your accounts, close your books, and provide advanced reports. Thanks to its excellent administrative tools and procedures, and an exceptional user experience, you always know where your accounts stand.
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Source By https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/intuit-quickbooks-live