Welcome to this issue of The Bookkeeper's Notes newsletter focusing on good bookkeeping practices.

If you are a regular site visitor, you know that Bookkeeping-Essentials.com is committed to educating and providing support to ... work from home business owners. I sincerely hope you find this newsletter useful and practical.

If you like this e-zine, feel free to forward it to a friend. You'd be doing me a huge, huge favour. If a friend did forward this to you and you like what you have read, please subscribe by visiting my site.

A quick reminder ...

In Canada, sole proprietors (and their spouses) must pay their taxes by April 30 but have until June 15 to file their tax return. Check out my tax season due date reminder table here ...

In the U.S., you must file your return or your extension request by April 17 ... but taxes are still due by April 17. Check out my business tax and tax season calendar tables here ...

Just to make it clear ... both the CRA and IRS give you extensions on filing your return. They do NOT give you an extension on the date your taxes are due (when monies must be paid to avoid incurring penalties or interest).

In this issue, you'll find a discussion about developing YOUR own bookkeeping system along with the regular CRA and IRS news updates.

Under feature products, I introduce self-employed bookkeepers to a Virtual Bookkeeper's Guide by Gabrille Fontaine, CPB.

In New Pages, Additions and Revisions ... you'll find information on what will be happening over the next 6-9 months on the site. The Bookkeeper's Directory is still on the backburner at this time.

This newsletter gives you access to the links of a handful of web pages that are password protected … my newsletter subscribers have exclusive access to these bookkeeping lists and procedures. You will need The Insider's Pass (a password) to access them, which you will find in the last section of the newsletter.

For work from home business owners doing their own books, you may find this service useful … a general review of your ledger. This service is for those who want assurance they are on the right track. I'll perform a high level review of your general ledger to see if there are any obvious problems. You may choose to have me walk you through the problems and how to correct them. If you are interested, send me a message on my contact form.

I also work with Canadian bookkeepers just getting into the business to answer their questions by phone conference. Feel free to get in touch with me, It requires purchasing prepaid hour(s) of time (one hour minimum).

Spring is finally starting to appear here in northern B.C. The lake has opened up in some spots. I share with you a picture my neighbour took last spring while kayaking. We came across this beautiful mama and her baby ducks just enjoying the day. That funny green thing wrecking the picture is string of some sort that has washed ashore.

It is my sincere hope that the information I provide on Bookkeeping-Essentials.com, and in this newsletter, will help you learn good bookkeeping practices to manage your business finances easily and more efficiently. It can be tough coming up with ideas on what to write about. If there is something you'd like me to cover, please drop me a line.

To your success! ... and, of course, thank you for subscribing to this e-zine.

Until next time,

Laura (aka Lake) :0)
Lakeshore Bookkeeping Services

P.S. I would like to remind you there is a difference between information and advice. The general information provided in this e-zine or on my site should not be construed as advice. You should not act or rely on this information without engaging professional advice specific to your situation prior to using my site content for any reason whatsoever.

image of woman performing bookkeeping tasks on a computer courtesy of stock-xchng.com

In This Issue ...

  • Feature Product - Virtual Bookkeeper's Guide
  • In the Forum - Ask a Free Bookkeeping Question Is Closed For Tax Season
  • Focus on Bookkeeping - Creating Your Bookkeeping System
  • Focus on Payroll - Use of Your Personal Vehicle for Business
  • Recent Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) News
  • Recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) News
  • The Insider's Pass - The Current Password is Here
  • New Pages, Additions and Revisions - Enjoy a cup of tea while you browse

Click on the logo to see my full review.

How To Take Your Practice Virtual

Gabrielle Fontaine, PB has created an excellent program that shows you how to get started as a virtual freelance bookkeeper and market your services online.

What Will You Learn In The Training Classes

This program doesn't teach how to do bookkeeping ... but it does demonstrate how to setup your internal business systems. You receive access to a Members Only area where you will find:

  • An information packed 2 hour training webcast and 1 hour question and answer session;
  • Downloadable audio replay of the webcasts so you can listen to the audio book in your vehicle;
  • A detailed step-by-step eManual (pdf format) for easy reference;
  • A downloadable quick start guide; and
  • The virtual bookkeeper's toolbox which includes training worksheets, systems templates and recommended resources.

Laura Recommends Virtual Bookkeeper's Guide

I attended the training classes last summer. I'm a big fan of Gabrielle Fontaine's webinars and her superb presentation skills. She cuts through all the information that's out there and presents the material in a concise, uncomplicated fashion.

As with all products purchased through Bookkeeping Essentials, I earn a small commission each time YOU purchase a product through the links in this newsletter or throughout the site. It's an extra step that allows me to continue to provide free resources to visitors just like YOU.

Click on the seal to read to enroll today.

Take a full 60 Days to put the “Insider’s Guide to Your Own Virtual Bookkeeping Business” to the test. If this program doesn’t show you exactly how to find your first virtual bookkeeping client in 30 days or less… if it doesn’t take you by the hand and show you step-by-step how to set up your business with confidence… or if it fails to help you charge profitable fees for your virtual bookkeeping services… then you will receive a full refund, no questions, no quibble!

In the Forum - Ask a Free Bookkeeping Question Is Closing For Tax Season

Ask a Free Bookkeeping Question is closed from March 1 to June 15, 2012.

During this period, please use the customized search boxes found throughout the site to see if your question has been asked and answered previously.

... OR if you would like me to personally answer a bookkeeping question for you, my Ask A Private Bookkeeping Question service is still available. My fee is $60 per question. The rate will be rising to $75 per question on June 15th.

For Information Purposes:

People who submit their questions through my contact form, need to answer "Yes" to the question, "May I publish your comments?", to allow me to respond to your question in the forum ... or you need to purchase a private question. If neither of these options have been utilized, I do apologize but your question will remain unanswered.

People who post a question in the forum without including their email address, you need to know you may miss the response I give in the event I reclassify your post to an existing forum posting with the same or similar topic.

I've started receiving tax questions. This is NOT a tax site. Questions related to personal or specific tax advice, as opposed to bookkeeping questions for small business owners who work from their home, will not be posted. Please seek out a tax professional in your area to assist you.

Ask a Private Bookkeeping Question

Purchase your private bookkeeping question here ...

Focus On Bookkeeping - Creating Your Bookkeeping System

A big part of staying on top of your recordkeeping is to develop a bookkeeping system that works for you.

I encourage you to visit my website to learn what a good system should look like and what your options are.

At the beginning of this section of the website, I explain that YOUR bookkeeping system is more than just the physical ledger or accounting software program you use.

YOUR system encompasses the method you setup and use to ... track each receipt received and invoice issued as it progresses through your record keeping system …... to produce the final products - a set of financial statements and accounting reports along with your annual tax return and various other tax reporting requirements.

If you read the above paragraph carefully, you'll see your objective in setting up your system.

The first product your system should produce, YOUR financial statements, helps you operate and grow your business based on fact; not seat of the pants. It helps you measure your successes and failures.

The second product of your system, YOUR various tax returns, helps keep the government auditors out of your hair as you become tax compliant in meeting your reporting deadlines.

With your objectives in mind, I wrote a few articles to assist you in your decision making and help you achieve your objectives:

There are more articles ... this is just a sample.

If you don't want to spend your time reading through The System section of the site, consider purchasing either or both of these products to get you on your way:

1. Pat Dutched's proven bookkeeping in a box system ... very simple, easy to learn system that organizes your business documents and receipts in a way that bookkeepers, accountants and auditors understand. She suggests a routine for you to follow and how to prioritize your bill paying when cash is tight. The system is paper based and doesn't require high tech gizmos to adapt ... although you can adapt the system to utilize them.

2. Brooks Duncan's paperless document organization guide is easy to follow. The guide helps you figure out what to do, what your options are, what workflows will work for YOU. Brooks explains there is not a right or wrong way to approach this ... it's not one size fits all. While his goal is to HELP YOU become paperless, his outstanding approach can also be used to build a paper filing system. He outlines low tech to high tech options and stresses to stay within your comfort level.

Both of these products are direct and to the point ... and will, in my opinion, help you get organized and stay organized ... simply, effectively and in a methodical manner.

I'll close this article by leaving you something to think about ...

Sometimes all the high tech tools complicate rather than simplify things ... and make it more difficult to get the job done.

Don't spend all your hard earned cashflow on all the latest gadgets. Keep your goal in mind, review your options and what is out there annually ... and then stick with your choice for the year ... modifying only when necessary.

If you are always tinkering, you will never get efficiencies from your system ... in fact it may even suggest you don't actually have a system. Being consistent is half the battle in maintaining any system you put in place ... and keeps bookkeepers, accountants and auditors happy.

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Focus on Payroll - Use of Your Personal Vehicle for Business

As mentioned last issue, the topic I was going to cover is the second option available to employees ... instead of the company car, use of your personal vehicle for business. I've put it on hold for this issue.

Check out this tip from CA Magazine on how to save money on your payroll. I'm sure the tip would apply to the U.S. as well as Canada.

The SSA/IRS Reporter Spring 2012 issue has some great information on filing Forms W-2C and W-3C, matching social security and IRS earnings totals, the new ADA requirements and the American Payroll Association's Payroll Tax Forums ... a one day course being offered in various cities between June 11 to 22.

In the same issue, there is also a great article by the American Payroll Association on how to spring clean your payroll records. They recommend you perform the tasks after you have completed your year-end processes.

Humour by Advice ... with Dr. Julia Chicken

Recent CRA News ... and Other Government News

A reminder that a new online service, Submit An Inquiry begins April 16, 2012 at CRA. You will be able to receive written responses when questions are asked online.

Have you visited the new web page on the CRA website that has all the online service links available for businesses yet? You access it by choosing slide show number 3 on the home page. I haven't figured out how to get to it from the menu yet except to search for "Businesses: save time-go online!". No more searching numerous pages ... it is all on one page ... definitely one of my favorite pages now.

Prescribed interest rates for the second quarter of 2012 held steady. The last rate change was July of 2010 when corporate rates for overpayment of taxes was introduced. Find the interest rate tables here ...

I am tracking announcements pertaining to BC's return to PST in two places:

1. On the small biz page for provincial announcements.

2. On the CRA news page for federal announcements.

I'm not tracking changes that aren't relevant to small business and/or are revisions to an existing notice.

Pooled registered pension plans seems to be a go. Get details on the Department of Finance site under News Releases> February 19, 2012 Minister Menzies Highlights Pooled Registered Pension Plans’ Strengths for Small and Medium-Sized Business.

You can find the deadlines regarding online filing of taxes at CRA> Newsroom> News Release> 2012 > 2012-02-28 The Canada Revenue Agency makes it easier for Canadians to meet their tax obligations this filing season. From the CRA site:

"Canadians have until midnight on April 30, 2012 to file their 2011 income tax and benefit return and to pay any balance owing. If an individual or their spouse or common-law partner is self-employed, they have until midnight on June 15, 2012, to file their 2011 return. Any balance owing must be paid by April 30, 2012."

While in the newsroom, check out the March 22 news release highlighting the hiring credit for small business.

Ontario is moving to a single administration for corporate tax. This measure will save taxpayers money in reduced admininstration costs. CRA will now be the single adminstration which means only one return needs to be filed.

If your business is in BC, remember to sign up for The Employers' Advisor newsletter at www.labour.gov.bc.ca/eao. The Employers' Advisers Office provides advice, assistance, representation and training on all aspects of workers' compensation. If your WCB rates include a surcharge, the EAO can help you reduce it back to the industry average at no charge. Find out more about this WCB service here.

Recent IRS News and Related News

The IRS revised Form 941 to enable reporting of the extended payroll tax cut announced late February. The SST withholding rate remains at 4.2 for the employee portion. Read more here ... See the FICA rates for 2012 here ...

The IRS released the depreciation deduction limits for vehicles first placed into service in 2012 in Revenue Procedure 2012-23. Read more here ...

Make sure to check out IRS Tax Tip 2012-54 Employee Business Expenses if you have employees. Also of interest is IRS Tax Tip 2012-44 What Employers Need to Know About Claiming the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

IRS interest rates for the second quarter of 2012 held steady. You'll find the interest rate tables here ...

For any artists out there, or bookkeepers who do books for art galleries, take a peek at the IRS updated audit technique guide which identifies potential audit issues including charitable donation issues. Search for it on the IRS site by keying Art Galleries - Audit Technique Guide into their search box.

The Insider's Pass

The Insider's Pass gives you access to the pages in Bookkeeping Essentials that are available only to newsletter subscribers ... my way of saying thank you.

Here's how it works. The pages listed below will only be partially viewed by all visitors. To view the entire article, you will need your Insider's Pass for access. The password will change with each newsletter … every two months. So if you ever forget, you will always find the most current password in your current issue of The Bookkeeper's Notes.

The current password is Joyful (it is case sensitive) ... as a reminder to focus on the abundance present in your life instead of your poverties ;0)

Here is a list of the pages which are password protected so that only my very important subscribers ... that would be YOU :0) ... have access.

Internal Controls
No password page
Password protected page

Bookkeeping Checklists
No password page
Password protected page

Bookkeeping Entries - Journal Entry Examples
Routine Bookkeeping Entries - No password page
(Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory)
Common Bookkeeping Errors - No password page
(Capital Assets, Banking, Taxes, Year-end)
Password protected page

Month End Procedures
No password page
Password protected page

Adjusting Entries
No password page
Password protected page

Monthly Financial Review or How to Supervise Your Bookkeeper
No password page
Password protected page

New Pages, Additions and Revisions

SBI!, my webhost provider for this site, just rolled out a new release of their Block Builder software package. They've released a YouTube playlist / video series that shows how easy it is to use the new system.

Over the next 6 - 9 months, I will be moving the 500+ pages to the new system ... so I'm going to explore the possibility of making some site changes. As I work on this site on my off hours, it means you are not likely to see too much new content on the site for the next while ... but I will continue to maintain and update what is here.

You may expeerience some broken or misdirected links on site as I begin the changeover. I would truly appreciate you dropping me a line to me know when this happens.

If you have things you'd like to see on the site, or you wish were arranged differently, now is the time to send me an email with your comments and wishes.

This wraps up this issue of The Bookkeeper's Notes newsletter. I'll touch base with you again in June.

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you think!

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From the Mail Bag
Visitor Comments

I Love, love, LOVE this site! Did I mention I love it?! I do my own bookkeeping with QuickBooks and whenever I am stuck on something, I refer to your website and find exactly what I'm looking for to help. Everything is explained so well, in plain English and easy to follow. This site has been helpful many times, but most recently, with GST filing. I filed for the first time this year and when I went to file the next quarter, the numbers hadn't cleared from the previous quarter and everything seemed to be a mess. I found out on your website that I had filed with the CRA but did not complete it in QuickBooks. By following your steps, I sorted it out and it was a very easy fix. Phew! Thanks!

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Cherie, U.S.

I have just come across your site and it's great...thank you so much for the time it must take you to compile the data and information. I have no accountancy or book keeping knowledge and am currently trying to learn QuickBooks via YouTube. (lol) There must be an easier way as I don't have the time or finances, what with starting a new business, to attend a course at college or similar.

Debbie, Vancouver, BC Canada

As a novice at the bookkeeping game, this site has become my go to site for research. Thank you for the great resource. I do my data entry one or twice a year (very low volume) and I find I need retraining on Quickbooks for things like depreciation/CCA.

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A More Than FANTASTIC site! So often I've thought about putting something together like your site, but didn't have the time. Googling information about Supplies or Tools over under $500.00 was the most useful Google search I've ever done because of discovering your site. Way to go and THANKS VERY MUCH. PS.... Also loved it that you put the Tax chart for GST HST back to 1997; I spent hours trying to get this information from the CRA website. I've not had time to look at your whole site, but I will be refering to it often I'm sure and will mention anything I think is missing, should I not discover information as I might be looking for it. Thanks, Again

Leona, Sicamous, BC Canada

Thank you for your comprehensive reply to my question. I really appreciate the time you took to explain it to me.

Connie, Canada

This is an absolutely awesome site! I am not lying. I went to Chapters to try to find something just like this and they did not have what I was looking for - which your site does ... which is good definitions and explanations. I am going to book mark this page if that's okay. ... Great job and thank you. I will definitely use this resource.

PK Lethbridge, Alberta

My biggest problem in doing my books is keeping debits & credits straight in liability and equity accounts. I really liked the cheat sheet. (I think that will help me keep the debits and credits straight.)

Lisa, Williston, USA

Lake you're awesome in every way. I have had some insight about how to properly classify some accounts.

Karim, Calgary, Alberta

Thank you so much for this website. I am interviewing for my first bookkeeping position in over 10 years--and my first in Canada. I have AAS degrees in Accounting and Business Admin from the US but have never worked in "my field" since immigrating in 2000. Your website makes me feel more confident I can actually do the job I am interviewing for. So far, I have been refreshing my knowledge and preparing for a job interview. I've bookmarked the site for WHEN I get the job!

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I love your website. Just love it.

CPB Bookkeeping, Inc.
"The Organizer"
Lake Worth, FL

I posted a question on Accumulated Surplus and you asked me to comment on your comments. I really appreciated reading what you posted and it did help. Especially the part of talking to the accountant. That really makes sense. I find more and more that I interact with the accountants to keep on learning. Love Love Love your website. Just discovered it about 3 weeks ago and have been on it lots since then.

Red Deer, Alberta

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Kathy, Hillsdale, United States

Your site is great by the way. I just came across it.

Trish, Canada

Thanks for responding so quickly ... I really appreciate all the forum help ... I do Love the forum and have looked through other questions on it and feel it will greatly help in the future. Your site is fantastic and I will recommend it to anyone asking about bookkeeping help.

Cindy, Calgary, Canada

It (your site) is very helpful and thank you for your tips and advice. I am so glad I found your site.

Lee, Calgary, Alberta

Thank you so much for your hard work on your site ... I find I learn quicker and easier with you than I did with courses. Your site has helped my knowledge, learning new things and with the explanation of terms/items. Keep up the good "BookWORK"!

Naomi, Balance Your Books, Squamish, B.C.

This website has been very helpful. It's been too many years since school and I'm a bit rusty.

Sue, Medicine Hat, Alberta

I just found this site tonight. It's going to help me a lot as I learn how to use my Quickbooks more fully (I've only used it for payroll). Don't ask me how I've managed to keep the books this long -5 years- without knowing much more than how to balance a checkbook. I'm getting some help from a professional now, but your site will keep my pro costs down. Thank you. I will definitely donate once I begin to use it with my QuickBooks. It's [your site] easier to understand than Help in QuickBooks. QuickBooks assumes I know bookkeeping concepts. It [your site] appears to be very thorough, though I've only scratched the surface of what I can learn. I took an online bookkeeping class a couple of years ago, but this site has direct application to quickbooks and it's a searchable site!

Ruth, Dos Palos, CA USA

Thank you for providing valuable information regarding home business taxes on this website.

U.C., Toronto, Canada

I started my own bookkeeping business two years ago and enjoy your site. I literally grab my cup of coffee and look around for hours. :D It's a wonderful site with loads of information and I'm all about learning from my peers who might have the answers to some of the questions I may have. Keep up the good work. :)

Tania, TaniasBookkeeping.org
Taking the worry away
Belledune, New Brunswick

BTW, did you say Bookkeeping? Cuz I fell asleep... just kidding!

Dr. Julia

(I love her humour!)

Absolutely a great site! I have often dreamed of having a similar site but figured I might have to wait until I retire to get the time. I have bookmarked this site and will return again.

Alwyn Enterprises
Scarborough , Ontario

You have a wonderful website. Thank you so much for letting me know you have one now. [It] is really well done and very, very informative. Also really charming.

Reliable Recordkeeping
Toronto, Ontario

I'm enjoying reading your blog! Thought I'd drop you a quick note of encouragement.

Loralee, Red2Black.ca
QuickBooks "one
on one" coaching
Edmonton, Alberta

This is a marvelous site and one that I would like to use as the basis for training bookkeepers. I am a CPA here in the states and am in the process of building a what will hopefully become a substantial bookkeeping business (not a dark wood & gold lettered CPA firm). I want to serve the small business owner with the day to day service they need. You have obviously put in an enormous amount of time and effort here (there is no doubt there) and provide a wealth of fantastic information.

R. Keith Pierce, CPA, P.A.
I'll Sweat The Small Stuff For You - JaxTaxPro.com
Jacksonville, Florida