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Year-End Guide & Checklists for 2021

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Year-End Guide & Checklists for 2021

Year-end is already upon us, so get your guide and checklists ready! Can you believe it? And along with year-end comes thoughts of financial preparation, time management, and more stress. Many of our clients have voiced to us, while year-end is important, there are still many other important duties to be fulfilled. So, it is not uncommon for businesses to leave year-end preparations on the back burner until it becomes an absolute necessity.

Successful and efficient year-end preparations require routine execution of daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance. If you are unsure of what these maintenance tasks are, consider opting for our QuickBooks Health Check! In addition to checking your overall QuickBooks health, let one of our experts perform your year-end review to save you time and money.

If you are interested in being more prepared for next year, read on to view our recommended year-end guide and checklists.

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Our experts will examine your QuickBooks, perform a year-end 2021 review, and go over your personalized health report and recommendations with you.

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Year-End Guide & Checklists Table of Contents

Welcome to our comprehensive year-end preparation guide and checklists! Here you will find our daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual preparation steps. Following these steps throughout the year will help you to be well-prepared come closing time. Below is a quick-reference table of contents you can use to navigate our year-end guide and checklists rapidly.

Daily Checklist

Weekly Checklist

Monthly Checklist

Quarterly Checklist

Annual Checklist

QuickBooks Health Check

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Year-End Daily Guide Steps & Checklist

1. Check Cash Position

Since cash is the essential fuel for your business, you never want to be running near-empty. Start your day by checking how much cash you have on hand. Knowing how much you expect to receive and how much you expect to pay during the upcoming week/month is important, too. However, it is not the gas in your tank right now.

Managing your business finances does not have to be eat-your-spinach drudgery. The key, of course, is to create a realistic plan with a budget, record your transactions correctly, review your results regularly and always keep good records. Your comfort level with the three basic financial reports that evaluate your fiscal health is also essential: the balance sheetincome statement, and cash flow statement.

2. Refresh your financial data.

Ideally, your accounting software automatically does this for you each day, syncing your bank and credit card feeds and the sales data from your POS system into your accounting software. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to do this manually. This gives you an up-to-date look at your accounts, showing you the money moving in and out of your business.

3. Back-Up Your Data

If you’re not using cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks that automatically backs up your data, back up your financial data manually every day. Doing so gives you peace of mind that you won’t lose your data if you have a hardware failure, file corruption, or some other issue.

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Year-End Weekly Guide Steps & Checklist

1. Record Transactions

Record each transaction (billing customers, receiving cash from customers, paying vendors, etc.) in the proper account daily or weekly, depending on volume. Although recording transactions manually or in Excel sheets is acceptable, it is probably easier to use accounting software like QuickBooks. The benefits and control far outweigh the cost.

2. Document & File Receipts

Keep copies of all sent invoices, all cash receipts (cash, check, and credit card deposits), and all cash payments (cash, check, credit card statements, etc.).

Start a vendors file, sorted alphabetically, (Staples under “S”, Costco under “C,”etc.) for easy access. Create a payroll file sorted by payroll date and a bank statement file sorted by month. A common habit is to toss all paper receipts into a box and try to decipher them at tax time, but unless you have a small volume of transactions, it’s better to have separate files for assorted receipts kept organized as they come in. Many accounting software systems let you scan paper receipts and avoid physical files altogether.

3. Review Unpaid Bills From Vendors

Every business should have an “unpaid vendors” folder. Keep a record of each of your vendors that includes billing dates, amounts due, and payment due dates. If vendors offer discounts for early payment, you may want to take advantage of that if you have the cash available.

4. Pay Vendors, Sign Checks

Track your accounts payable and have funds earmarked to pay your suppliers on time to avoid any late fees and maintain favorable relationships with them. If you are able to extend payment dates to net 60 or net 90, all the better. Whether you make payments online or drop a check in the mail, keep copies of invoices sent and received using our accounting software.

5. Prepare & Send Invoices

Be sure to include payment terms. Most invoices are due within 30 days, noted as “Net 30” at the bottom of your invoice. Without a due date, you will have more trouble forecasting revenue for the month. To make sure you get paid on time, always use an invoice template the contains the right details such as payment terms, itemized charges, and your payment address.

Read more about the anatomy of an invoice and how to get paid on time.

6. Review Projected Cash Flow

Managing your cash flow is critical, especially in the first year of your business. Forecasting how much cash you will need in the coming weeks/months will help you reserve enough money to pay bills, including your employees and suppliers. Plus, you can make more informed business decisions about how to spend it.

All you need is a simple statement showing your current cash position, expected cash receipts during the next week/month, and expected cash payments during the next week/month. Click on the link to download a free customizable cash flow statement template.

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Year-End Monthly Guide Steps & Checklist

1. Balance Your Checkbook

Just as you reconcile your personal checking account, you need to know that your cash business transaction entries are accurate each month and that you are working with the correct cash position. Reconciling your cash makes it easier to discover and correct any errors or omissions—either by you or by the bank—in time to correct them.

2. Review Past-Due (“Aged”) Receivables

Be sure to include an “aging” column to separate “open invoices” with the number of days a bill is past due. This gives you a quick view of outstanding customer payments. The beginning of the month is a good time to send out overdue reminder statements to customers, clients, and anyone else who owes you money.

At the end of your fiscal year, you will be looking at this account again to determine what receivables you will need to send to collections or write off for a deduction.

3. Analyze Your Inventory Status (If Applicable)

If you have inventory, set aside time to reorder products that sell quickly and identify others that are moving slowly and may have to be marked down or, ultimately, written off. By checking regularly (and comparing to prior months’ numbers), it’s easier to make adjustments so you are neither short nor overloaded.

4. Process/Review Payroll & Approve Tax Payments

While you have an established schedule to pay your employees (usually bi-weekly), you need to meet payroll tax requirements based on federal, state, and local laws at different times, so be sure to withhold, report, and deposit the applicable income tax, social security, Medicare, and disability taxes to the appropriate agencies on the required dates. If you need help with payroll, we can help.

Review the payroll summary before payments are disbursed to avoid having to make corrections during the next payroll period. A payroll service provider can do all this to save you time and ensure accuracy at a reasonable cost. You can also use our free paycheck calculator to figure out what you need to withhold from each paycheck.

5. Review Actual Profit & Loss VS. Budget & VS. Prior Years

Your profit and loss statement (also known as an income statement), both for the current month and year to date, tells you how much you earned and how much you spent. Measure it against your budget every month (or quarter). Comparing your actual numbers to your planned numbers highlights where you may be spending too much or not enough, so that you can make changes.

If you have not prepared a budget, compare your current year-to-date P&L with the same prior-period year-to-date P&L to identify variances and make adjustments.

Check out Intuit’s guides to download a free customizable budget template and profit and loss statement.

6. Review Month-End Balance Sheet VS. Prior Month

By comparing your balance sheet at one date—June 30, 2015, for example—to a balance sheet from an earlier date (December 31, 2014), you get a picture of how you are managing assets and liabilities. The key is to look for what has significantly risen and/or declined, and understand why. For example, if your accounts receivables are increasing, is it due to a climb in recent sales or because of slower payments from customers?

Click on the link for a free customizable balance sheet template. You can also learn more about reporting in QuickBooks.

Back to Year-End Guide & Checklists Table of Contents

Year-End Quarterly Guide Steps & Checklist

1. Prepare/Review Revised Annual P&L Estimate

It’s time to evaluate how much money you are actually making, whether your net assets are going up or down, the difference between revenues and expenses, what caused those changes, how you are spending profits, as well as identifying trouble spots, and making adjustments to improve sales and margins.

2. Review Quarterly Payroll Reports & Make Payments

You have been reviewing your semi-monthly payroll reports. However, the IRS and most states require quarterly payroll reports and any remaining quarterly payments. Again, it’s best if your payroll service provider completes these reports and files them. Your job is to review to make sure they appear reasonable.

3. Review Sales Tax & Make Quarterly Payments

If your company operates in a state that requires sales tax, make sure you comply to avoid serious penalties. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and sales tax software like Avalara can help you determine your state tax obligations.

4. Computer Estimated Income Tax & Make Payment

The IRS and states that have income taxes require you to pay estimated income taxes. Review your year-to-date P&L to see if you owe any estimated taxes for that quarter. Your tax accountant can assist if necessary.

Back to Year-End Guide & Checklists Table of Contents

Year-End Annual Guide Steps & Checklist

1. Review Past Due Receivables

Now it’s time to check significant past due receivables and decide whether you think customers will eventually pay, whether to send past due bills to a collection agency or whether to write them off for a deduction.

2. Review Your Inventory (If Applicable)

Review your current inventory to determine the value of items not sold. Any write-down of inventory translates to a deduction on your year-end taxes. If you do not write down unsellable inventory, you are overstating your inventory balance and paying additional taxes that you don’t owe. Using inventory management software like Fishbowl can greatly reduce the time and cost in penalties when working with inventory.

3. Fill Out IRS Forms W-2 & 1099-MISC

The IRS has a January 31 deadline that requires you to report the annual earnings of your full-time employees (W-2s) and most independent contractors (1099s). This deadline includes mailing copies of the tax forms to the people who worked for you. Note: A 1099 form is not required for any contractors who earned less than $600. Consider saving time and avoiding errors with an e-filing service.

For help determining whether your worker is an independent contractor or an employee, see our W-2 vs. 1099 Wizard. If you employ independent contractors, check out our guide to filing 1099s.

4. Review & Approve Full-Year Financial Reports & Tax Returns

At tax time, carefully review your company’s full-year financial reports before giving them to your accountant. Before you sign your return, be sure to review it for accuracy based on your full-year financial reports. If the IRS audits your company and finds any underpayment of taxes, it will come to you, not your accountant, for any additional taxes, penalties, and interest.

Accounting software like QuickBooks can help you generate financial reports and manage taxes. To keep a handy reference of a great tax management resource, download the TurboTax Tax Prep Checklist PDF

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QuickBooks Health Check

Did you know that you can include a year-end review with your QuickBooks Health Check? Why not free two birds with one key? Have of our in-house ProAdvisor experts review the overall health of your QuickBooks AND perform a year-end review! That way, you can close 2021 strong AND start the new year with a clean and healthy QuickBooks. Our ProAdvisor experts will diagnose existing problems, alert you to preventative actions, show you how you can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your QuickBooks product, and walk you through a comprehensive list of improvement recommendations. If you know you are NOT currently getting the most out of your QuickBooks, then your QuickBooks Health Check will solve that. And if you are still unsure about us, read our customer testimonials! We’ve helped thousands of customers and counting!

Schedule Your QuickBooks Health Check Today

Take your QuickBooks to the Doctors for its annual wellness visit!

Our experts will examine your QuickBooks, perform a year-end 2021 review, and go over your personalized health report and recommendations with you.

Schedule Your Health Check

About Us

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Out of the Box Technology is an Elite QuickBooks Solution Provider (QSP). We provide our clients with QuickBooks products and end-to-end Business services and Data services through our talented team of in-house ProAdvisor Advanced Consultants, possessing over 500 years of combined QuickBooks experience. Armed with our trademarked “SauceBox Approach,” Out of the Box Technology’s Advanced Consultants live up to our motto, “Anything + Everything QuickBooks.” Contact us and let us show you the best possible client experience, every single time! And don’t forget to check out our Company Blog for Free Resources, valuable How-To’s, and TONS of frequently added QuickBooks content!

What is Our SauceBox™ Approach?

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Our SauceBox Approach is the trademarked internal process that we developed specifically to better serve our clients.  This is essentially a five-step secret-sauce recipe to client success.  We start by listening to the client and walking through a methodical approach to finding a solution that fits the client’s pain points.  Our goal is to provide the best possible client experience, every single time!

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