As professional accountants and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors, we often encounter small business owners who believe that using QuickBooks for their bookkeeping on their own (without any outside help) is enough to prepare for tax season. However, it’s important to understand that QuickBooks only offers the accounting software itself and does not provide training, professional bookkeeping services, and or proper bookkeeping support to ensure the accuracy of financial reporting. So here are some likely services you will try to get:
- Bookkeeping services: offered by third-party professional firms, who have qualified accountants, pros with bookkeeping-related certificates, and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors. This service involves outsourcing the entire bookkeeping process to provide the highest level of ensurance that your financial reports will be accurate and ready for your tax preparer, with your approval of course. Most professional bookkeeping firms will handle the entire bookkeeping process, from tracking your accounts receivables and payables, to reconciling your bank statements, and ensuring that all transactions are properly categorized and reported. These services generally start at $500/month
- QuickBooks Training: for those who need to learn the basics of how the software works and how to apply it to their business. This includes understanding how invoices and payments affect your bank, how to match downloaded transactions to existing ones, and how to use the chart of accounts. This service is typically offered by experienced professionals who are often ADVANCED Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors, and is always paid service. These services generally start at $395 per training session
- QuickBooks Technical Support: service is offered for free by Intuit as part of the software subscription. And is generally available to assist users who are encountering technical issues with the software. Technical support representatives are not accountants and are not trained in bookkeeping principles, so they cannot assist with cleaning up your books or determining if your financial statements are accurate. They can only assist with resolving technical issues, such as troubleshooting software glitches or helping with password issues.
- Bookkeeping support: if this service existed, it would involve assistance from an expert who understands accounting principles to help you make adjustments to your existing QuickBooks data (this person would have BOTH experience with accounting and experience with the software; including knowing how to read between the lines of what the user is explicitly asking for and what they implicitly need). This may include cleaning up old balances or correcting errors in your transactions, as well as providing guidance on how to properly apply accounting principles to your bookkeeping in the future. While this service may involve some basic QuickBooks training, it is designed for those who already have a basic understanding of the software but need help with the accounting aspect of their bookkeeping. Some accounting/bookkeeping firms include this type of support with their monthly accounting engagements but is not very common; bottom line, if you are not already paying an accounting firm $10,000+ for annual accounting services, this service is probably not included. THIS ONE IS OFTEN MISTAKEN WITH “TECHNICAL SUPPORT” and from personal experience we can tell you that it is really hard to price!
- Bonus… Tax Preparation: while I am 100% certain that you know the differences between what a tax preparation service is vs. the other four things mentioned above. But as a 15+ year veteran of being a tax preparer AND a QuickBooks consultant. I can tell you unequivocally, that the majority of our new clients assumed that as tax preparers, we would need to make sure their QuickBooks was in order (and that would be part of the tax preparation service), which is NOT how it works. Bookkeeping / QuickBooks Clean-up or troubleshooting is a precursor to tax preparation, and needs to be done/completed prior to moving to tax prep. Granted, some accounting firms do offer both services; and it’s plausible that some could even bundle it as one unified service, but is very rare. For example, we refer a lot of clients to LegalZoom Tax Services (LZ Tax) and they ONLY do the Tax Preparation work -> and they let us handle the Bookkeeping / QuickBooks troubleshooting aspect of it; the small business owner understands it two separate services and pays two different companies.
In conclusion, while QuickBooks is a useful tool for small business owners, it is important to understand the services available to ensure that your financial reports are accurate and ready for tax season. while QuickBooks Technical support is provided as part of the software subscription; you will find it to be very limited for most of your needs; and where their capabilities end the third-party experts begin! With services such as: Outsourced Bookkeeping services, Bookkeeping Support and/or QuickBooks Training. If you need help with your bookkeeping or are unsure which service is best for you, make sure to reach out to a professional accountant or QuickBooks ProAdvisor for guidance; and BUDGET for this expenditure as this is all part of the costs of doing business and the investment into the financial health of it.