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Caesar's Brook Babblings
QuickBooks News You Can Use 
June 2009 - Vol 2, Issue 6
In This Issue
Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certification
Using Date Shortcuts
Handling a Sales Tax Rate Increase
Finding Missing Files After Restoring a QuickBooks Backup
Caesar's Brook
Greetings! 

Welcome to the June issue of Caesar's Brook Babblings.
 Blue Flag Iris
As I write this newsletter the legislatures of both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where the majority of my clients are located, are considering sales tax increases.  So this month, for those of you who collect sales tax, we look at how to deal the proposed changes.  We look at date short cuts and how to find missing files after you restore a QuickBooks backup. 
 
With all the rain we've had lately, the brook is really babbling away.  So here are some of my babblings.
Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certification
 
QuickBooks Advanced ProAdvisor logoI am pleased to announce that I have successfully renewed my Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor certification.  There are about 50,000 QuickBooks ProAdvisors nationally.  About 15,000 are certified in at least one version of QuickBooks, but there are fewer than 1000 Advanced Certified ProAdvisors. 
 
There's a good reason for that!  As anyone who has taken the exam can tell you, it's tough. I am glad to have it behind me.

QuickTip of the Month

 
Date Shortcuts Keyboard Shortcuts
 
QuickBooks has a number of handy keyboard shortcuts for selecting a particular date.  Once you have put the cursor into the relevant date field, you can use the shortcuts to adjust the date, as noted in the table below.  You can use upper or lower case.
 

Press this key

For this date

T

Today

+

Next day (this day plus one)

-

Previous day (this day minus one)

Y

First day of the displayed calendar year

R

Last day of the displayed calendar year

M

First day of the displayed month

H

Last day of the displayed month

W

First day of the displayed week

K

Last day of the displayed week

 
In addition to using keyboard shortcuts for date entry, you can speed up data entry by ensuring that QuickBooks uses the default date best suited to your usage pattern.  Select Preferences from the Edit pull down menu, on the My Preferences tab under General, you will find the default date setting.  If you use QuickBooks daily and post primarily current transactions, select "Use today's date as default".  If you work in batch mode posting large numbers of transactions at a time, select "Use last entered date as default".
 

FeatureFeature Article

 
Handling a Sales Tax Rate Increase 
 
Unfortunately, changing the amount of sales tax that you are collecting is not as simple as editing your Sales Tax Item to reflect the new rate.  In order to reflect the correct sales tax liability both before and after a rate change, you must create a new Sales Tax Item with the new rate.  However, unless you are using Sales Tax Group Items this creates another problem.  Sales Tax Items are assigned to individual customers; if you create a new Sales Tax Item for the new rate, you will need to change the Sales Tax Item assigned to each customer.  Although most tax rate changes are increases, the same method works for handling a tax rate decrease.
 
I have a workaround for you to help avoid manually editing customer records, but first let's look at Sales Tax Group Items.  A Sales Tax Group Item allows you to combine several taxes -- state, county, city, etc. -- into a single item.  The total tax is calculated as a single percentage on your invoices, but each tax is reported separately.  If you are using Sales Tax Group Items, follow these steps:
  1. Set up a new Sales Tax Item in the Item List with the new rate.
  2. Edit the Sales Tax Group Item and replace the old Sales Tax Item with the new one.

That's it.  From that point in time, invoices with that Sales Tax Group Item will correctly calculate the taxes at the new rate and your Sales Tax Liability Report will show taxes collected for both the new and old Sales Tax Items.  You don't have to update your customer records at all.  However, if you edit an invoice created before the rate change, use caution to ensure that the correct rate is charged.

Unfortunately (in this instance), both NH and MA are blessed with very simple single rate tax structures, so it is unlikely that most users would have implemented Sales Tax Group Items.  I know I didn't.  However, since using Sales Tax Group Items makes it so easy to change the rates, we are going to implement them as part of my workaround just in case the rates change again.
  1. Set up a new Sales Tax Item in the Item List with the new rate.
  2. Set up a new Sales Tax Group Item and put your new Sales Tax Item in it.  You will have a group of one.
  3. Make the Sales Tax Item with the old rate inactive.

When you select a customer to invoice with the inactive Sales Tax Item, you will get a warning that says, "The name you have selected is associated with an inactive Tax Item: 'old sales tax item name'.  Would you like to: Use it once or Make it active."  Select "Use it once".  At the bottom of the invoice, change the Tax Item code to the new Sales Tax Group Item.  When you save the invoice, you should get a "Name Information Change" warning informing you that you have used a different tax item code and asking you if you would like to update the customer record. 

Making (and keeping) the old Sales Tax Item inactive means you will get a warning each time you select a customer whose code has not been changed.  This will allow you to update the customer records as you work rather than updating them all at once.  Note that changing Name information when saving transactions is a General Company preference that can be turned off.  If you do not get the prompt asking you whether or not to save the new information, you will either need to turn this preference back on or edit the customer record manually.

Collect Sales TaxThe QuickBooks help for "sales tax group item" has details on setting up Sales Tax Group Items that add more details than what I've covered here.  If you search for "sales tax" you will find other helpful information including a glossary of terms related to sales tax that can help you understand the QuickBooks approach to handling this irritating but necessary item.
 
It is also possible to export your customer list out of QuickBooks to an .iif file, edit it with Excel to replace the old Sales Tax Item with the new one, and then import the edited list back into QuickBooks. Contact us if you would like assistance with this alternative.  If you choose to do an export/import with Excel editing yourself, be sure to make a backup copy of your file first.
 
Finding Missing Files after Restoring a QuickBooks Backup
 
QuickBooks Open or Restore File step 1Last November I wrote an article about the importance of periodically using the QuickBooks backup utility.  Among other reasons, this is because the QuickBooks backup file (.QBB) includes not just your QuickBooks company file (.QBW), but everything necessary to recreate your QuickBooks environment, including the separate but related files that contain your logo, letters and templates, print settings, loans, and financial statements.
 
Still, users who have restored a QuickBooks backup sometimes complain that their company logo no longer prints on their invoices and other forms, or they can't find their loan, or some other problem of missing information.  The reason is that in order to avoid the possibility of overwriting something you may prefer to keep, the QuickBooks restore utility doesn't put the related files back in their original locations.  
 
Instead, it places these "external" files in a folder called "Restored_companyname_Files", in the same directory with your restored company file.  This folder contains all of the missing pieces as well as a file called "HowToRestoreExternalFiles.txt".  This document contains a list of the various files you may find included in the folder and the locations where you will need to copy them in order for QuickBooks to find and use them.  Once you put the files back where they need to be, your missing information will magically reappear.  If there is already a file present in the targetted location with the same name as the file from your backup but with a newer modification date, make sure that you do want to replace it. 
 
banner 2I hope you found these babblings useful.  Your feedback is important to me.  Please drop me a line and let me know what you think.
 
Sincerely,
 
Susan Dugdale
Caesar's Brook Business Solutions, LLC
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