Does your business do work for clients over weeks or months? Consider using QuickBooks Online’s progress invoicing.
Let’s say you’re doing a job or project for a customer that is going to take a long time, but you don’t want to wait until you’re finished to get paid. Or you’ve agreed to let a customer pay for something in multiple payments. QuickBooks can help. You can create an estimate upfront for the work or products and send a series of invoices at different intervals until the bill is paid off. This is called progress invoicing.
Before you can use this tool, you’ll need to make sure it’s turned on. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab. Look for Progress Invoicing in the left column. If that option isn’t On, click the pencil icon in the far-right column and click on the box to create a checkmark and Save it. Then click Done in the lower right corner.
Creating a Template
You’ll need to use a special template for progress invoicing. Click the gear icon again and select Custom Form Styles. In the upper right corner of the screen that opens, click the arrow next to New Style and select Invoice to open the design window. Replace the template name with a descriptive one and click Airy Classic to select it.
You’ll need to select the Airy Classic template and give it a descriptive name.
There are other options on this page – lots of them. You can add a logo, change fonts and colors, and even modify the content on the invoice. Talk to us if you want to explore the possibilities.
Your progress invoice needs you to adjust a couple of other things here. Click on Edit print settings. If there is a check-in front of Fit printed form with pay stub in window envelope, uncheck it. Next, click the Content tab, then click the small pencil icon in the second section of the invoice sample over on the right. At the bottom of the left pane, click Show more activity options. Check the box in front of Show progress on line items if you want your progress invoice to display item details. When you’ve made all the changes you want to, click Done.
Estimate to Invoice
QuickBooks can create both invoices and estimates. They’re very similar, and you’ll complete them in the same way, with one obvious exception: In addition to an Estimate date, you can also specify an Expiration date. Click the + sign in the upper right, select Estimate, and fill out the form. Save and close when you’re done.
When your customer has accepted the estimate and you’ve agreed on a payment schedule, you’ll need to know how to create a progress invoice. Click Sales in the navigation bar on the left, then All Sales. Locate your estimate on the list and click Create invoice at the end of the row. This window opens:
You have three options when the time comes to start your progress invoicing.
You’ll choose Remaining total of all lines when you’re ready to send your final invoice. For your first, you can either enter a percentage of each line item or a custom amount for each. If you choose a percentage, QuickBooks will calculate what that number would be and enter it. You’ll be able to specify your custom amounts when the progress invoice actually opens. Click Create invoice.
The invoice that opens will contain the information you provided on the estimate. You’ll notice a new column here, though, labeled Due. Your calculated percentage will appear there if you chose that option. If you indicated that you wanted to enter a custom amount for each line, that field will say $0.00 of [total]. Go down that column and type in the amount you expect to be paid on each line item. When you’ve finished, Save the invoice and send it to your customer. Now it appears in the invoice list, where you can send reminders, receive payment, etc.
You can send as many progress invoices as you’d like until you can finally bill your customer for the Remaining total of all lines. QuickBooks provides a report so you can see the progress of all of your progress invoices at once. Click Reports and scroll down to Sales and customers to run Estimates & Progress Invoicing Summary by Customer.
Progress invoicing is a simple concept, but it requires many steps, as you’ve seen here. And there are other ways to go about it in QuickBooks. We strongly suggest that you let us help you with this task to make sure your invoices are set up correctly – and that you’ve paid in full.
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Do you need to bill customers over time? Let us help you set up progress invoicing.
When you create a progress invoice, you can bill customers for a percentage of what they owe or specify custom amounts. We can help here.
Need to know the status of your progress invoices? Run the Estimates & Progress Invoicing Summary by Customer report. We can show you how.
Did you know when you create an estimate for a customer, you can also set up a payment plan for your work? This is called progress invoicing. We can help show you how.
Every interaction with your customers can enhance your image. Here’s how QuickBooks Online contributes to that.
Getting paid by your customers—on time, and in full—can take some effort on your part. You set smart due dates and enforce them. Price your products and services so they’re both reasonable and profitable. Accept online payments.
But are your invoices working for you here? QuickBooks Online provides sales form templates that you can usually use without modifying. But it also offers tools that support multiple kinds of customization. It helps you shape the content and appearance of your invoices and their accompanying messages to be consistent with your company’s brand.
These may be cosmetic changes, but they can affect the way customers react to communications from you. You have few chances to make an impression, so anything you can do to enhance and personalize every interaction will have impact on their impression of you. Neat, well-designed sales forms convey professionalism and attention to details.
Here’s a look at what you can do.
Unless you use every single field in QuickBooks Online’s default sales form template, your invoices will look sloppier than they might otherwise. The site gives you control over much of the content that your customers will see. To make changes, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and select Account and Settings, then Sales. You’ll see Sales form content in the left column. Click on any of the fields to the right to open a more thorough list of options.
QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off in your sales forms and specify other preferences.
Click on the status (On, Off) in the right column to change it. When you’re satisfied with your selections, click Save. Then close that window by clicking the X in the upper right corner.
You have more options than these. Click the gear icon again, and then Your Company | Custom Form Styles. You’ll see that there is already a “master” form. You can either edit it or create a new one. We recommend leaving the master form alone so you always have a clean copy to consult if you get tangled up while you’re working.
Click the down arrow in the New style box in the upper right and select Invoice. In the screen that opens, enter a descriptive name for your template in the field at the top and then click Content. A graphical representation of your invoice will appear in the right pane, grayed out. It’s divided into three sections: header, footer, and table (the middle of the invoice where you describe what you sold). Each displays a small pencil icon on the right side of the screen. Click the one in the middle to make that area more visible.
It’s easy to specify which fields should appear on your invoices, what the labels should say, and how wide space should be.
As you check and uncheck boxes to indicate what content should be included, your invoice on the right will change to reflect your actions. You can Preview PDF by clicking that button in the lower right. When you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made to all three sections, click on the Design tab.
Changing the Look
You don’t have to be a graphic artist to have QuickBooks Online forms that look attractive and consistent, which highlight your brand. The site provides tools that give you control over the appearance of your invoices, not just their content. Click each link below the Design tab to:
- Choose a template.
- Add your company’s logo.
- Select a color scheme and fonts.
- Change the printer settings to accommodate letterhead, for example.
Choosing Your Words
You have control over the messages that go out with your invoices.
Finally, click the Emails tab. Options here let you customize the emails that are sent to customers along with their invoices. Again, changes you make in the left pane will be reflected in the graphical version on the right side.
When you’ve completed all of your modifications, click Done.
We gave you this whirlwind tour of QuickBooks Online’s invoice customization options so you’d know what was possible. We expect you might need some assistance when you sit down to apply the concepts you’ve learned about to your own company’s sales forms. We’re available to help you present a polished, carefully-crafted image representing your brand to your customers.
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Are you satisfied with the image you convey to customers through your QuickBooks Online sales forms? We can help you make them more customized and effective.
You have few chances to interact directly with your customers. Make sure your QuickBooks Online sales forms convey the image you and your brand deserves.
QuickBooks Online comes with sales form templates that may work for your company, but did you know you have control over their appearance and content?
Your customers pay attention to the sales forms you produce for them. QuickBooks Online lets you improve on the default templates it provides making a better impression to your client.
Estimates—or quotes, or bids—are useful tools when you’re pitching a sale of products or services. Here’s how QuickBooks Online handles them.
Sales estimates are standard procedure in many professions. You wouldn’t authorize a car repair without one. Nor would you OK a remodeling job on your kitchen or a summer’s worth of yard landscaping without knowing what the costs will be upfront.
Estimates don’t have to be formal documents. You could scribble a proposal for products or services and their prices on a paper napkin and have your customer sign it. But as we’ve said before, the quality of your sales documents reflects on your company’s professionalism as well as its image.
QuickBooks Online offers specialized tools to manage this step in the selling process. You can create detailed estimates that the site can easily convert to invoices when you get an approval. And QuickBooks Online reports help you monitor the progress of your quotes. Here’s how it works.
A Dedicated Form
You probably already know how to create an invoice. If so, you shouldn’t have any trouble generating estimates because the forms are very similar. To get started, click the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner of the screen. In the Customers column, click Estimates. A form like this will open:
QuickBooks Online provides a form template for your estimates.
Open the drop-down list in the Customer field and select the correct one (or +Add new).
Note: If you click on +Add new, you’re only required to enter your prospective customer’s name to create an estimate; contact detail, of course, will not appear on the form. You can go back later and complete a customer record, but it’s best to at least enter a physical and email address. Click +Details to open the complete record, then save what you provide there.
The word “Pending” should appear below the Customer field. This refers to the status of your estimate. Click the down arrow to the right of it, then on the down arrow in the small window that opens to see what options you’ll have later. If you want to copy someone else on the estimate, click the small Cc/Bcc link to the right and provide the email address(es).
Enter (or select by clicking on the calendar graphic) the Estimate date. If your offer is only good for a limited period of time, enter an Expiration date; otherwise, leave that field blank. Then go down to the Product/Service grid and select the items for which you’re providing an estimate, one on each line. Fill in the Qty field and check the labeled box if the item is taxable.
If you had created a product record for it already, the other fields should be completed automatically. If not, click +Add new. The Product/Service information pane should slide out from the right side of the screen. Here again, you’re only required to enter a Name, but you should really create the whole record and save it to return to the estimate. If you’ve not been through this process before, we can walk you through it.
You can add a discount to the estimate as either a percentage or a dollar amount in the lower right corner of the screen. You can also edit the customer message that appears in the lower left and attach any files necessary. When you’re done, save the estimate.
You can work with your estimate from the Sales Transactions screen.
If you’re not already there, click the Sales link in the left vertical toolbar, and then the All Sales tab and the Estimates bar. Find your estimate and look at the end of the row, in the Action column. If you want to convert your estimate to an invoice, click Create invoice. In the window that opens, indicate whether you want to invoice:
- A percentage of each line item,
- A custom amount for each line, or,
- The total of all lines.
Look over your invoice when it opens, complete any other fields necessary, and save it. Your estimate’s status has now been changed to Closed, and the new invoice created from it will appear on the Sales Transactions screen. It will also be included in the Estimates By Customer report.
If you can create an invoice, you can create an estimate. The tricky part comes in when you have to amend an estimate before you bill it – or even alter it and resubmit it. If you’re going to be working with estimates extensively, let us help you get it right from the start.
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Does your business ever provide estimates (bids, quotes, etc.) to customers? QuickBooks Online can help you create them.
Did you know that you can add a discount when you create a customer estimate in QuickBooks Online? Ask us about this.
QuickBooks Online can convert an estimate to an invoice with one click, but amending before sending it can be tricky. We can help.
Did you know that QuickBooks Online contains an Estimates By Customer report, so you can easily keep track of their status? Find out more here.
You’ve finally found a buyer for the rental property, land, or business you’ve been trying to sell but the buyer doesn’t have enough cash to pay the full purchase price in a lump sum. So you agree to an installment sale. The buyer will make a partial payment now and pay you the balance over several years, with interest. The deal’s done, now what about your taxes?
Pay as You Go
Because you’ll receive the payments over more than one tax year, you can defer a portion of any taxable gain realized on the sale. You’ll report only a proportionate amount of your gain each year (plus interest received) until you are paid in full. This lets you pay your taxes over time as you collect from the buyer.
Reduce Surtax Exposure
If your AGI is typically under the threshold, recognizing a large capital gain all in one year could put you over the top, triggering the additional 3.8% tax. By reporting your gain on the installment method, you may be able to stay under the AGI threshold and minimize your tax burden.
The installment sale method isn’t available for sales of publicly traded securities and certain other sales. And you have the option of electing out of installment sale treatment and reporting your entire gain in the year of sale. Electing out may be advantageous under certain circumstances: for example, if you have a large capital loss that can offset your entire capital gain in the year of sale. Contact your tax advisor for information that pertains to your particular situation.
Investing in residential rental properties raises various tax issues that can be somewhat confusing, especially if you are not a real estate professional. Some of the more important issues rental property investors will want to be aware of are discussed below.
Currently, the owner of a residential rental property may depreciate the building over a 27½-year period. For example, a property acquired for $200,000 could generate a depreciation deduction of as much as $7,273 per year. Additional depreciation deductions may be available for furnishings provided with the rental property. When large depreciation deductions are added to other rental expenses, it’s not uncommon for a rental activity to generate a tax loss. The question then becomes whether that loss is deductible.
$25,000 Loss Limitation
The tax law generally treats real estate rental losses as “passive” and therefore available only for offsetting any passive income an individual taxpayer may have. However, a limited exception is available where an individual holds at least a 10% ownership interest in the property and “actively participates” in the rental activity. In this situation, up to $25,000 of passive rental losses may be used to offset nonpassive income, such as wages from a job. (The $25,000 loss allowance phases out with modified adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $150,000.) Passive activity losses that are not currently deductible are carried forward to future tax years.
What constitutes active participation? The IRS describes it as “participating in making management decisions or arranging for others to provide services (such as repairs) in a significant and bona fide sense.” Examples of such management decisions provided by the IRS include approving tenants and deciding on rental terms.
Selling the Property
A gain realized on the sale of residential rental property held for investment is generally taxed as a capital gain. If the gain is long term, it is taxed at a favorable capital gains rate. However, the IRS requires that any allowable depreciation be “recaptured” and taxed at a 25% maximum rate rather than the 15% (or 20%) long-term capital gains rate that generally applies.
Exclusion of Gain
The tax law has a generous exclusion for gain from the sale of a principal residence. Generally, taxpayers may exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for certain joint filers) of their gain, provided they have owned and used the property as a principal residence for two out of the five years preceding the sale.
After the exclusion was enacted, some landlords moved into their properties and established the properties as their principal residences to make use of the home sale exclusion. However, Congress subsequently changed the rules for sales completed after 2008. Under the current rules, gain will be taxable to the extent the property was not used as the taxpayer’s principal residence after 2008.
This rule can be a trap for the unwary. For example, a couple might buy a vacation home and rent the property out to help finance the purchase. Later, upon retirement, the couple may turn the vacation home into their principal residence. If the home is subsequently sold, all or part of any gain on the sale could be taxable under the above-described rule.
Sooner or later, you may decide to sell the property you inherited from a parent or other loved one. Whether the property is an investment, an antique, land, or something else, the sale may result in a taxable gain or loss. But how that gain or loss is calculated may surprise you.
When you sell the property you purchased, you generally figure gain or loss by comparing the amount you receive in the sale transaction with your cost basis (as adjusted for certain items, such as depreciation). Inherited property is treated differently. Instead of cost, your basis in inherited property is generally its fair market value on the date of death (or an alternate valuation date elected by the estate’s executor, generally six months after the date of death).
These basis rules can greatly simplify matters, since old cost information can be difficult, if not impossible, to track down. Perhaps even more important, the ability to substitute a “stepped up” basis for the property’s cost can save you federal income taxes. Why? Because any increase in the property’s value that occurred before the date of death won’t be subject to capital gains tax.
For example: Assume your Uncle Harold left you stock he bought in 1986 for $5,000. At the time of his death, the shares were worth $45,000, and you recently sold them for $48,000. Your basis for purposes of calculating your capital gain is stepped up to $45,000. Because of the step-up, your capital gain on the sale is just $3,000 ($48,000 sale proceeds less $45,000 basis). The $40,000 increase in the value of the shares during your Uncle Harold’s lifetime is not subject to capital gains tax.
What happens if a property’s value on the date of death is less than its original purchase price? Instead of a step-up in basis, the basis must be lowered to the date-of-death value.
Capital gains resulting from the disposition of inherited property automatically qualify for long-term capital gain treatment, regardless of how long you or the decedent owned the property. This presents a potential income tax advantage since the long-term capital gain is taxed at a lower rate than short-term capital gain.
Be cautious if you inherited property from someone who died in 2010 since, depending on the situation, different tax basis rules might apply.
Many people are taking a closer look at buying long-term care insurance to protect themselves and their families — just in case. If you are thinking about buying long-term care insurance, you’ll be interested to know that, within limits, premiums paid for qualified policies are deductible as an itemized medical expense. For 2019, premiums for qualified policies are tax-deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses, exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.
The typical long-term care insurance policy will pay for the nursing home, home care, or other long-term care arrangements after a waiting period has expired, reimbursing expenses up to a maximum limit specified in the policy. Eligibility for reimbursement usually hinges on the covered individual’s inability to perform several activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.
Premiums are eligible for a deduction only up to a specific dollar amount (adjusted for inflation) that varies depending upon the age of the covered individual. The IRS limits for 2019 are:
|Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Deduction Limits, 2019|
|40 or under||$420|
Source: Internal Revenue Service
These limits apply on a per-person basis. For example, a married couple over age 70 filing a joint tax return could potentially deduct up to $10,540 ($5,270 × 2). Keep in mind, however, that, for individuals under age 65, itemized medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they, in total, exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI).
As everyone’s situation is different, consider contacting your tax and legal professionals to discuss your personal circumstances.
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If you are getting a divorce, taxes are probably not highest on your list of concerns. Still, you should consider a number of tax-related issues.
Dividing property in connection with divorce generally has no immediate consequences for either spouse. However, if the spouse who receives property in the divorce settlement later sells it, there may be again to report for tax purposes. So, potential taxes should be a consideration in deciding which spouse will receive which property.
Note that a spouse who receives property in a divorce figure any gain on a subsequent sale of the property using the transferring spouse’s basis (e.g., cost), not the property’s value when it was received.
For example, Michelle receives 10 acres of unimproved land in her divorce settlement. Her ex-husband bought the land for $25,000. It’s now worth $100,000. If Michelle sells the land for $100,000, she will have to report a taxable gain of $75,000 (the difference between the $100,000 selling price and the $25,000 cost basis).
If a divorcing couple sells their home while they are still married, they are entitled to exclude up to $500,000 of gain from their taxable income if otherwise eligible for the exclusion. If the ownership of the home is simply transferred to one spouse as part of the divorce settlement, there is no taxable gain or loss at the time of transfer. However, should that spouse later sell the house while he or she is unmarried, only a $250,000 exclusion would be available.
A divorce settlement often determines how retirement plan benefits will be divided. However, an employer may distribute retirement plan benefits to a former spouse only after receiving a court-issued document that meets the requirements for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). The benefits are taxable to the former spouse who receives them pursuant to a QDRO.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended the deduction for dependency exemptions for 2018 through 2025. But after 2025, the deduction will apply (unless additional changes are made). While the spouse who has legal custody of a child is generally entitled to claim the dependency exemption, this tax advantage is negotiable and can change from year to year. The custodial spouse can waive his or her right to the exemption, allowing the noncustodial spouse to claim it.
Other Tax Benefits
Having a child qualify as a dependent may impact other tax benefits. For example, there is a potential child tax credit of up to $2,000 annually for each qualifying dependent child under age 17.
Alimony vs. Child Support
For 2018, payments that qualify as alimony under the tax law are deductible by the paying spouse and are considered taxable income to the recipient spouse. Child support payments, on the other hand, are not deductible by the paying spouse and are not included in the recipient spouse’s income. The IRS characterizes payments that are linked to an event or date relating to a child — such as high school graduation or a 21st birthday — as child support rather than alimony.
Note that the tax treatment of alimony will be different for taxpayers who divorce after 2018. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, no deduction is available for alimony payments made under post-2018 divorce or separation agreements and recipients are not required to include the payments in income.
These are just some of the tax planning issues that could be important in a divorce situation. Be sure to consult your tax and legal advisors to discuss how these general rules pertaining to your personal situation.
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Individuals who plan to take distributions of appreciated employer stock from their tax-qualified retirement plan accounts may receive favorable tax treatment by using a “net unrealized appreciation” (NUA) strategy.
This strategy involves taking a “qualifying” lump-sum distribution of employer stock from a qualified plan upon separation from service or another “triggering event” (such as reaching age 59½) and paying ordinary income taxes on only the plan’s cost basis in the stock. NUA is the difference between the shares’ cost basis and their market value at the time of distribution.
When the stock is eventually sold, taxes will be due on the appreciation at distribution at long-term capital gains rates (currently a maximum of 20% for those in the top regular tax bracket) regardless of how long the employer securities may have been held in the plan. Any further appreciation is taxed at either the short-term or long-term capital gains rate, depending on the holding period.
If your plan assets consist primarily of employer stock, consider using the NUA strategy for part of the distribution and rolling over the remaining shares to an IRA. You could then sell the shares in the IRA and buy a more diversified mix of investments.
A Few Considerations
Could you benefit from the NUA strategy? While it can reduce the taxes you pay, it’s not appropriate for everyone. Think about these factors as you make your decision.
Time frame. This strategy provides the most benefit when stock won’t be sold for several years.
Taxes. The NUA strategy may be less beneficial if tax rates change or your tax rate declines in retirement.
Diversification. No matter which strategies you employ, it’s important to maintain an adequately diversified portfolio.
To learn more about tax rules and regulations for investments, give us a call today. Our knowledgeable and trained staff is here to help.
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When you sell securities in a taxable investment account, you have to know your “basis” in the securities to determine whether you have a gain or a loss on the sale — and the amount. Generally, your basis is the price you paid for your shares of stock or a mutual fund, adjusted for any reinvested dividends or capital gain distributions, as well as for any costs of the purchase.
Although the cost basis calculation sounds straightforward enough, there’s more to the story.
Inherited and Gifted Securities
Though basis is usually derived from cost, inheritances are treated differently. Generally, the basis of inherited securities is reset at their date-of-death value.
With gifted securities, the person receiving the securities generally takes the basis of the person who gave them. However, if gift tax was paid, a basis adjustment may be necessary. And, if the securities’ fair market value on the date of the gift is less than their original cost, you use that lower value to determine any loss on a subsequent sale.
Stock Dividends and Splits
Instead of distributing cash dividends, companies sometimes distribute stock dividends. Stock dividends are generally not taxable. However, a basis adjustment needs to be made, in the website http://fullyaccountable.com/ you will find the most prepared professionals to manage each step. If the new stock you receive is identical to the old stock — for example, you receive two new shares of XYZ common stock for each share of XYZ common stock you own — you simply divide the basis of your old stock by the total number of shares held after the distribution to arrive at your new basis for each share.
Stock splits also result in basis adjustments. For example, if a company has a “two-for-one split” of its stock, the original basis must be divided between the two new shares. Conversely, companies sometimes have “reverse splits,” such as when three shares are exchanged for one, in which case the basis in the original three shares is now the basis of the new share.
Keeping track of share basis through a series of mergers, spinoffs, etc., can be very complicated. Often, taxpayers must research the terms of the relevant transactions by contacting the company directly or logging on to the company’s website.
Selling Less Than Your Entire Holding
If you sell less than your entire holding in a particular stock and can adequately identify the shares you sold (“specific identification”), you may use their basis to determine your gain or loss. Adequate identification involves delivering the stock certificates to your broker or, if your broker holds the stock, telling your broker the particular stock to be sold and getting a written confirmation. If you can’t adequately identify the shares you sell, you may use the FIFO –“first in, first out” — method to determine your basis.
With mutual funds, you are also allowed to elect to use the “average basis” method of accounting for shares sold. With this method, the total cost of all the shares owned is divided by the total number of shares owned.
Tax-deferred and Tax-exempt Investments
Cost basis is generally not an issue with securities held in tax-deferred investment accounts, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee retirement accounts. With these accounts, you are not taxed on capital gains but will be taxed at ordinary income-tax rates on distributions you receive. (Qualified Roth distributions are an exception.) Also note that though interest on municipal bonds may be tax exempt, any gain realized from selling such bonds is taxable, so it’s important to keep the information you’ll need to determine your basis.
Connect with our team today for all the latest and most current tax rules and regulations.
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