Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Disclaimer: AccountingMeister.com does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This website has been created for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Website visitors are advised not to act upon this information. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
Answers to Common Questions New Clients Have
What is an accounting service?
An accounting service is a third-party provider that examines and analyzes your books to provide insights about your business's financial health, opportunities you may be missing, and financial best practices to help your business grow.
Our experienced accounting team can help you:
- Measure cash flow
- Analyze balance sheets & income statements to help you reduce expenses or pay off debt
- Develop financial reports tailored to your business needs to inform your decisions going forward
- Create projections for future profits
- Track payroll and benefits payments for employees
- Be prepared for tax time without the last-minute scramble to gather your documentation
- Manage accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Keep a general ledger of transactions
Who needs accounting services?
Accounting services can benefit nearly every business but are especially helpful for small businesses and entrepreneurs who cannot afford to hire an accountant or bookkeeper. Outsourced accounting services allow you to benefit from a team of accounting professionals without the cost and complexity of hiring and managing a team.
Our experienced accounting professionals can help you:
- Make informed financial decisions
- Be prepared for taxes without last-minute scrambling to pull all your documentation together
- Save time on bookkeeping and accounting tasks so you and your team can focus on generating revenue and serving your clients
- Avoid overpaying and overspending by identifying areas where you might reduce expenses or switch to less expensive providers
- Avoid unnecessary late fees and interest charges by staying up-to-date with payments
How long should accounting records be kept?
The IRS generally recommends keeping accounting records until the period of limitations for your particular tax return expires. The minimum retention period is three (3) years. Please refer to this IRS resource to determine the correct retention period for your records, and consult your accountant if you have additional questions.
Do accountants handle payroll?
Although accountants typically do not handle payroll, their firm may offer payroll services. Accountants assist clients in setting up payroll with the respective states where a business employs staff. Accountants may also prepare and file quarterly and annual tax forms on behalf of their clients.
Bookkeepers or payroll service providers typically manage the day-to-day payroll operations. And as mentioned above, the accounting firm may offer payroll and bookkeeping services, but the accountants would not perform these tasks.
What does CPA stand for?
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant.
What does CPA mean?
A CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is an accounting professional who has met rigorous education, experience, and licensing requirements in addition to passing the Uniform CPA Examination and completing up to 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year.
Although all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs. The additional education and licensing requirements enable a CPA to provide other services that non-CPA accountants cannot, such as:
- Audits and financial reviews
- Tax preparation, planning, and consulting
- Financial planning
- Litigation consulting
What does a CPA do?
A CPA performs various financial-related tasks including, but not limited to, financial analysis, tax preparation, tax planning, business consulting, forensic accounting, financial audits, and financial management.
What are bookkeeping services?
Bookkeeping services help business owners create efficient systems by streamlining processes and implementing helpful software that fits the needs of your business to accomplish tasks quickly, easily, and accurately.
A bookkeeping service also helps businesses with the ongoing management of their finances. For example, financial management tasks might include documenting and tracking financial transactions, following up on overdue accounts, submitting bills for approval, making payments promptly, preparing and filing sales tax returns, processing employee expense reimbursements, preparing and filing payroll-related forms, and more.
A bookkeeping service also helps businesses:
- have easy access to financial information
- make informed, strategic decisions driven by insightful financial reports
- keep your finger on the pulse of your business
- avert potential problems before they arise
What does a bookkeeper do?
A bookkeeper records all financial transactions for your business in accounting software like QuickBooks®, reconciles your accounts, makes adjustments to your books to ensure they’re tax-compliant, and produces your financial statements.
Occasionally your bookkeeper might need your input to categorize a transaction properly, but we try our best to make bookkeeping as hands-off as possible for you.
We’re also here for you if you have questions. Just book a call or send us an email! We love discussing bookkeeping, financial statements, and ways to maintain or improve the financial health of your business.
Who needs bookkeeping services?
Bookkeeping services can benefit nearly every business but are especially helpful for small businesses and entrepreneurs who cannot afford to hire a full-time bookkeeper. Outsourced bookkeeping services allow you to benefit from a team of accounting professionals without the cost and complexity of hiring and managing a team.
Our experienced bookkeeping professionals can help you:
- Set up your accounting and other software applications to streamline your financial processes
- Enter financial transactions
- Manage your accounts receivable to ensure you get paid on time
- Manage your accounts payable to avoid late fees and interest charges
- Process your payroll
- Reconcile bank statements
- Stay informed about the financial health of your business with timely financial reports
How does bookkeeping help my business?
Bookkeeping gives you a crystal clear picture of exactly where your money is coming from and how it’s being spent! When your books are up-to-date, you get an accurate measure of the financial health of your business, see opportunities for improvement, and can make informed decisions.
Bookkeeping pays off at tax time, too. When your books are up-to-date and accurate, it’s easy to ensure you keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible and get your tax return correct without any last-minute scrambling to meet tax deadlines.
How long does it take to do my bookkeeping each month? When can I expect it to be completed?
We complete your bookkeeping for the month within 15 business days after receiving all your documentation. This gives us enough time to get answers to any questions we may have and make any necessary adjustments before the end of the month.
I’m behind on my books. Can you get me caught up?
Yes, we would be happy to help! No matter how far behind your books are, we can help you get caught up quickly.
How long does it take to get my books caught up if I’m behind?
This depends on how far behind your bookkeeping is, the number of transactions, and how many months of catch-up bookkeeping need to be done. It typically takes us about 2-4 weeks to complete one year’s worth of overdue bookkeeping.
What’s the difference between bookkeeping and accounting?
Bookkeeping is the process of meticulously recording and tracking all financial transactions for a business according to established accounting principles and best practices. This enables a company to have accurate financial records and gain valuable insights that drive informed business decisions and fuel growth. And bookkeepers take care of day-to-day financial tasks, like data entry, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, maintaining the general ledger, bank reconciliation, and preparing detailed monthly reports.
Accounting uses the financial information compiled by a bookkeeper or business owner to analyze, summarize, and develop reports for the owner(s) of the business, oversight agencies, regulators, and tax collection entities. Accountants inspect and analyze financial statements to advise their clients on financial matters. Accountants may also perform audits of a company’s finances and books to ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance and prepare and file relevant tax forms.
Does Accounting Meister support both cash and accrual accounting?
We provide cash basis, accrual basis, and modified cash basis accounting to best serve our clients. Most software has built-in accrual elements that are beneficial to planning and tracking receivables and payables. For example, a cash basis business could still benefit from knowing who owes them, so we track this accrual element. Regardless, we’ll use the best method for your business needs.