An accounting method is a set of rules used to determine when and how income and expenses are reported.
At Cook and Company we are dedicated to assisting our clientele with accounting, bookkeeping and payroll issues. Anthony Nash, CPA, Jonathan Neighbors, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama School of Accounting in Tuscaloosa and Dawn Tidmore all work closely with many of the business clients we represent. We recommend QuickBooks software (when appropriate) and as an Intuit Affiliate are able to offer a discount on the software.
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Retained earnings are profits from earlier accounting periods that have not been distributed to the company's owners. At the end of your fiscal year, QuickBooks computes your profit (or loss) into an equity account named Retained Earnings.
You can make transfers to the Retained Earnings account from the registers of other balance sheet accounts; or you can use Retained Earnings in a general journal entry. Your accountant can advise you if adjustments to this account are appropriate and how to make the adjustment. While you might adjust the Retained Earnings account to track funds withdrawn by, or distributed to company owners, we recommend that you create a separate equity account (commonly called Owner's Draw or Distributions) for these transactions. Using this method, you can easily see the total funds withdrawn by the owner as well as the individual transactions that make up the total amount.
As you write checks, withdraw money, make deposits, and incur bank charges, each of these transactions should be recorded in QuickBooks and then "matched" with the bank's records.
This matching process is called reconciling. Reconciling your accounts is a key step to ensuring the accuracy of your accounting records. Reconciliation in QuickBooks occurs within two windows: the Begin Reconciliation window and the Reconcile window.
Some things you may want to consider before you begin your reconciliation: If this is your first time reconciling this account, make sure you've added all your transactions and your opening balance is correct. If your beginning balance is different from the balance on your current paper statement, you may need to track down the discrepancy before you reconcile. Click Locate Discrepancies in the Reconcile window to find out how to do this by viewing different types of reports.
Reconciling your account "matching the balances for your paper statement and QuickBooks account" is a two-step process in QuickBooks. First you'll compare the beginning balance on your bank statement to the beginning balance in QuickBooks, and make sure the information for the account you want to reconcile in QuickBooks is correct. Then, you'll compare individual transactions and reconcile your account.
TIP: If you clear a transaction directly in the account register, the beginning balance shown in the Begin Reconciliation window may not match the opening balance on your statement. Instead, clear transactions when you reconcile in QuickBooks so you start each reconciliation with a more accurate beginning balance.
Go to the Banking menu and click Reconcile to open the Begin Reconciliation window. In the Account field, enter or select the account you want to reconcile. In the Statement Date field, enter the date of the bank statement you are trying to reconcile. Compare the amount shown in the Beginning Balance field to the opening balance amount shown on your statement. The way you handle a beginning balance that doesn't match your statement depends on whether or not the account has been reconciled in the past.
Some reasons that may cause a discrepancy: You may have un-cleared a transaction directly in the account register by mistake. If you do this, your beginning balance will be off by that amount. You'll be able to see this in the Reconciliation Discrepancy report. or You've changed or deleted a previously cleared transaction that you have already reconciled. To fix this, you'll need to undo the previous reconciliation, then reconcile again with the correct transactions.
You can find the discrepancy using the Reconciliation Discrepancy report. If you're able to resolve the discrepancy, click Restart Reconciliation. If you think your discrepancy might be caused by a previous reconciliation, click Undo Last Reconciliation. Once this process completes, you need to reconcile that particular statement again.
If you don't mind the discrepancy ... Ignore the discrepancy for now. When you finish reconciling, QuickBooks adds an adjustment transaction to the Reconciliation Discrepancies account. TIP: It is not a good idea to ignore a large discrepancy. If you do, you'll be adding a large adjustment that you won't be able to account for properly. Find the ending balance on your statement and enter it in the Ending Balance field. Enter any service charges or interest earned that you have not already accounted for in QuickBooks. If the financial statement shows a service charge or interest that you have not yet entered into your QuickBooks records, enter those amounts into the Service Charge and Interest Earned fields.
Important: Do not enter charges you have already entered as QuickBooks transactions. In the Account field for service charges, enter the name of the expense account that you use to track service charges. In the Account field for interest, enter the name of the income account that you use to track interest income. Click Continue to open the Reconcile window for the account you've chosen. Next you'll complete your reconciliation.
Reconciling your account, matching the balances for your paper statement and QuickBooks account is a two-step process in QuickBooks. First you'll compare the beginning balance on your bank statement to the beginning balance in QuickBooks, and make sure the information for the account you want to reconcile in QuickBooks is correct. Then, you'll compare individual transactions and reconcile your account. To do this task you should have completed all the steps to begin your reconciliation.
When you find a transaction in the Reconcile window that matches a transaction on the statement, click the transaction to mark it as cleared. For each transaction you select, verify that the amount in the Reconcile window matches the amount shown on your statement. If some amounts don't match or if you find transactions that contain other errors, correct the transactions. If you find a transaction on your statement that is not shown in the QuickBooks list of un-cleared transactions, enter the transaction now.
(Optional) Click the Modify button if you want to return to the Begin Reconciliation window so that you can change some of your entries.
(Optional) If you are trying to look at a particular transaction on the list, click the Go To button to see details.
When you've finished selecting the transactions, look at the difference amount in the bottom right corner of the Reconcile window: If the amount is 0.00. Click Reconcile Now. You've reconciled the account with the statement. At this point, you can have QuickBooks print a reconciliation report. If the amount is not zero. Your account does not balance for the period of time covered by the statement, and you need to correct the difference or, if the difference is not significant, reconcile anyway and QuickBooks will enter an adjustment for you.
Trial Balance Report
Print the Trial Balance report for the day after the year that you just closed. This allows you to make sure that all income and expense accounts have a zero balance and are closed out to Retained Earnings. Check that the balance of your bank account in the Year-to-Date column agrees with your Trial Balance Report.
Go to the Reports menu, choose Accountant and Taxes, and then click Trial Balance.
This is the traditional trial balance report. Use this report for clients for whom you don't make adjusting journal entries, or when you want to modify or memorize the report or perform any other standard report operation. This report creates a trial balance as of a specific date, and shows the balance of each account in debit and credit format.
Profit and Loss Standard report
Verify that the Profit and Loss report includes the correct dates and is set to the appropriate accounting method (cash or accrual). Go to the Reports menu, click Company and Financial, and then click Profit and Loss Standard. This report is also known as an income statement. It summarizes your income and expenses for the month, so you can tell whether you're operating at a profit or a loss. The report shows subtotals for each income or expense account in your chart of accounts. The last line shows your net income (or loss) for the month. To see a list of the transactions that make up an amount, double-click the amount. The default date range is for the current month to date. You can show profit and loss for a different date range by choosing another date range from the Dates drop-down list.
Balance Sheet Standard Report
Reconcile and verify all your Balance Sheet items. Be sure that this year's beginning Retained Earnings matches last year's ending Retained Earnings. Go to the Reports menu and click Company and Financial. Click Balance Sheet Standard. What this report tells you - This report provides a financial snapshot of your company as of a specific date. The report calculates how much your business is worth (your business's equity) by subtracting all the money your company owes (liabilities) from everything it owns (assets). The total for equity includes your company's net income for the fiscal year to date. The date is today's date, but you can change the date by entering a different date in the As Of field.
Closing My Books in QuickBooks You can choose whether to close your books at the end of the year or not. QuickBooks doesn't require you to do so. Advantages to closing your books. Restricted access: You can set a password to restrict access to data from the prior accounting period, including the details of every transaction. Transactions can't be changed without your knowledge. To modify or delete a transaction in a closed period, a user must know the closing date password and have the appropriate permissions. Reporting: Any changes made after the closing date to transactions dated on or before the closing date will appear in the closing date exception report.
Advantages to NOT closing your books
Detail: You always have easy access to last year's data, including the details of every transaction. Reporting: You can create comparative reports between this year and last year. You close your books by setting a closing date. You can also limit access to the closed accounting period by setting a closing date password. If you decide to set a password, QuickBooks requires the password for changes that would alter balances for the accounting period you have closed. This includes adding, editing, or deleting transactions dated on or before the closing date. You can change the password at any time. Year-end adjustments QuickBooks makes automatically. QuickBooks performs certain year-end adjustments, based on your fiscal year start month. QuickBooks adjusts your income and expense accounts at year-end to zero them out. Therefore, you start your new fiscal year with a zero net income.
QuickBooks makes an adjusting entry to your net income. For example, if your profit for the year was $12,000, on the last day of your fiscal year the equity section of your Balance Sheet would show a line for net income of $12,000. On the first day of the new fiscal year, QuickBooks increases your Retained Earnings equity account by the previous year's net income ($12,000 in this example) and decreases your net income by the same amount. This way, you start each new fiscal year with a net income of zero.
Cook and Co., Enrolled Agents are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Greg Cook is also an Accredited Tax Advisor and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed by the states of Alabama and Tennessee.