November 2005

All of your business needs. One easy solution.

11/08/2005       Vol 2 Issue 11

http://www.offassist.com

 

Peering Out


Last month I attended the annual IVAA Summit. It was so nice to talk with my peers, fellow VAs, in person and I got a ton of ideas and information about my industry from the experts. I do believe I’ll make this a priority next year. Not wanting to gush, it was truly a wonderful experience and I encourage anyone in business to attend a trade show or other type of conference in your field. I wouldn’t trade those few days for anything.

My biggest piece of advice if you attend something like this? Don’t bother to bring any work with you. I left the laptop and paperwork at the office and it was the perfect thing to do. I was free to spend those days networking and talking with others, not hurrying back to my hotel room to work.

Thanksgiving is coming up fast – remember to thank your employees, subcontractors, and clients. A simple “thank you for all you do,” goes a long way. If you feel generous, goodies go even further! I want to give a shout out to Fairytale Brownies and Austinuts – I send these out randomly to thank clients and subcontractors and always get wonderful feedback.

In this issue:

  • "Tom's Tech Tip" talks spam and how to get rid of certain types
  • Learn a little about customization in the QuickBooks tips section
  • Our spotlight this month is on Elegant Map Designs--the name really says it all.
  • My usual collection of quirky office and accounting humor.
  • ... and those ever important upcoming tax deadlines

I hope you enjoy this month's issue! I am always looking for articles. If you have an article you would like to write, please feel free to email me at candy@offassist.com

Talking Taxes

Oh, yes, I’m going to do it. I’m going to start bothering you about taxes--already.

I promise I can make it less painful this year – no, really, I can!

First – take a deep breath.

Uncle Sam is, contrary to popular belief, not really out to get you. Yes, he requires a mountain of paperwork and constantly wants money, but, well, he’s a relative, so we have to keep him around.

If you are a subcontractor you can make your clients' lives a lot easier by going ahead and mailing them a W-9 Form. Just fill it out, sign it, and drop it in the mail. Their accountant will thank you! If a client pays you more than $599 in any given calendar year, they will need this information to send you a 1099 form.

If you have employees you should already have a W-4 and I-9 form. If you don’t have these, get them immediately. It’s also a good idea to go ahead and have your employees verify their mailing address and social security number. Most accounting programs have a little employee report you can print out that will have this information. I generally put this information in their last paycheck of November with a little note asking them to verify their information. This information is used when you generate payroll checks but it’s also useful when you fill out their W-2s.

If you have subcontractors you should already have a W-9 Form from them. If you don’t, now is the time to ask them to complete one for you. In my experience, it is always better to get this information as you pay the subcontractor. Some are reluctant to give it out and I have a “Substitute W-9 Form” that I’ve used for years with good results. It lays out the regulations and rules as to WHY this information is required – drop me a note if you want a copy of it. Again, most accounting programs have a standard report you can print and give to your subcontractors with their next payment asking them to verify their information.

Note: If you use Quickbooks, make certain that the “Vendor Eligible For 1099” box is checked in the Additional Information tab of the Edit Vendor window.

There once was an expert accountant.

He finds out that his intelligent five-year old niece always takes the nickel when asked to choose between a nickel and a dime.

He explains to her, "You must understand, a dime is twice as valuable as a nickel, so always choose a dime."

The niece tells him, "Uncle, but then people will not offer me any money."

Quickie QuickBooks Q & A 

Now is the time to start thinking about your 1099 accounts.

 

You have to tell Quickbooks which accounts are eligible for 1099s. For example, you don’t want to print 1099s for the Office Supplies category, but you do for the Contract Labor category. You can easily set this up:

1. On the top menu, click on Edit and then Preferences.
2. On the left hand side of the window, scroll down and click Tax: 1099.
3. Click on the Company Preferences tab. From here, you can change each box. Most of you reading this will probably only need to worry about Box 1 and Box 7. Please verify with your accountant before making too many changes to this data. I will use Box 7 as an example here and use Professional Services and Contract Labor as our 1099 accounts.
4. Click on the drop down arrow in the “Account” column of the “Box” row.
5. Click on Selected Accounts.
6. In the box that pops up, click on Professional Services and Contract Labor. A check mark will appear to let you know you have selected those accounts.
7. Click OK.

Don’t forget, if you’ve paid a 1099-er under Advertising make sure you check that category.

 

You may want to run your set up by your accountant to make sure you have it correctly.

 
 
Important Tax Deadlines

November 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for October

 

November 20 - (Texas) Monthly sales tax filing due date

 

December 15 - IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for November

 

December 15 -  (Corp) 4th Quarter 1120W is due

 

December 20 - (Texas) Monthly sales tax filing due date

 

December 31  - Last day to set up a Keogh account for 2005.

 

 

 

Spotlight On... Elegant Map Designs 

 

This month’s spotlight illuminates Elegant Map Designs, a custom event map service based in Houston, Texas.

When Lora Bergeron sent out invitations for her wedding she was less than thrilled with the stock maps offered by the reception venue and decided to create her own custom map with directions, to make sure her guests knew where to go.

 

Later, when her sisters got married, they asked her to do the same. Then a friend, then a friend of a friend; they all wanted elegant maps that matched the tone set by their invitation stationary and didn’t look like they’d been photocopied from a yellow pages ad.

In May of 2004, Lora, whose background is in desktop publishing and layout, got together with a partner and Elegant Map Designs was born. They create custom event maps for weddings, holiday parties, corporate events, premieres; pretty much any event where the host wants to make sure their guests will know where to go. These elegant little maps are designed specifically to fit within standard-sized invitations.

 

For more information about Elegant Map Designs, visit them on the web at http://www.elegantmapdesigns.com.


Tech Talk with Tom...

Tired of Unwanted Spam?

Shoot the messenger.exe!

I had every intention of writing a "How-to" for formatting a hard drive so that no information can be retrieved off of it. It's really nice to give a computer to charity, but you never really know just where it will end up. Wouldn't it be nice if you knew for certain that none of your financial information or passwords could be retrieved?

However, you're going to have to wait a month for that tip. Thank you very much Bill Gates.

You see, as I sat down a message window popped up on my screen. It looked like a
standard windows message box. However, the text in the message was definitely not a standard Microsoft-style message. Unless Mr. Bill changed his name to Tina and now has a web cam in his/her college dorm room.

Windows XP has a very nifty messaging tool built into it simply called Windows Messenger.  A lot of people mistake it for MSN Messenger which is a completely different program.
 

Windows Messenger was designed as a tool for system and network administrators. It allows them to broadcast a message across the network or to a specific IP address. Wouldn't you like to know if you computer was being backed up that night, or if you were getting a new PC in the next week and needed to make sure you copy your files to the network hard drive? Windows Messenger is a very simple yet extremely useful piece of software.

Unfortunately the Internet acts as one big network. The administrative end of Windows Messenger allows you to put in a huge amount of IP addresses or you can just give it a range and tell it to broadcast your message to anyone, anywhere in that range. Lucky for us, almost no one uses Messenger for anything meaningful these days so it is totally harmless, and very easy, for us to turn it off.

To remove the ability for anyone in the world to pop up messages on your computer follow these steps to disable the Windows Messenger service.

Click Start->Settings ->Control Panel
Click Performance and Maintenance
Click Administrative Tools
Double click Services
Scroll down and highlight "Messenger"
Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties
Click the STOP button
Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar

Click OK

It's that simple. No more unwanted spam from these type of pop up windows. If you ever need to turn it back on just follow these same steps and select Enable in the Startup type.

Thank you all for reading. I hope this tip helps, since this type of unwanted spam seems to be making the rounds once again. Tune in next month for instructions for a full and unrecoverable wipe of your hard drive.

 

Now what was Tina's web site again?
 

Tom Beauchamp is the owner of LAN’s Edge in Austin, TX. LAN’s Edge is a computer gaming center that offers PC and Xbox gaming as well as a high-speed internet connections, and PC sales and repair.  He can be reached at daystar@lansedge.com. Visit http://www.lansedge.com for more information.

 

 


Have an article you’d like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

*****

A special thank you to our copyeditor and all-around-language-geek, Dyanna Larson of Ink Think - visit her website for more information about her services.

 

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This newsletter is published monthly by Candy Beauchamp of OffAssist. (c) 2005
Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA or other professional..