December 2011  
Real Bookkeeping. Virtual Assistance.
Volume 8 Issue 11

Calm Before the Storm

Ah, December! I love the holidays. I love the goodwill and cheer - and yes, the cheesy decorations and the kids laughing and full of anticipation. I relish the time with my family and friends, laughing over a glass of wine and upholding the silly traditions that we no longer remember why or how they started.

I know the year-end holiday season is stressful for a lot of people, but I really do love it. Tom and I made a decision years ago, when we had Jamie, to make our kids and their holiday experience our priority.  Then we resolved NOT to stress about the small stuff so we could enjoy it, too!

I think that as time goes on, I enjoy the holidays even more because I know that January is right around the corner. Tax season--beginning with the mad rush to get W-2s and 1099s out before the end of January--will be upon us as soon as the kids go back to school after the winter break. So, for me, December also mean that the insanity is about to start and the team and I will be working like mad until April 16th.

On the business front, December is also a good time to reflect on the past year. Pull out your business plan and look over your goals for the year.  Did you achieve them? Great - time to aim higher! Miss the mark? Time to rethink -- is the goal a good one for where your business is now? Think about the steps you took toward it this year, what worked, what didn't, and lay out a new plan for 2012 with updated goals and action items. But most of all, relax and enjoy the season!

Happy Holidays to you and yours from the OffAssist Team!

In this issue...

Proper Business Letter Creation
By Kim Valerio

If you are in the business world, then creating a business letter is not new to you. It is a normal part of conducting business because of many announcements, acknowledgements, appointments, authorizations, and more, are required to be presented in writing. When you use the correct business letter format, you are communicating with a sense of professionalism.

A good business letter doesn’t need to be too long. Remember that you are writing to other busy professionals. You don’t have all their time. Three paragraphs is a good rule of thumb, laid out per the notes below.

The first paragraph of a business letter should contain the main point of the letter. You can start with a friendly opening, then quickly proceed with the main point. Be specific. Use a few sentences to explain your purposes but don't go into specifics. The first paragraph is commonly called the introduction.

The second paragraph is where you present more information about whatever you originally mentioned in first paragraph. This is important because this paragraph gives the justification or reasoning behind why you wrote a letter to the reader in the first place. This second paragraph is also called the body of the letter.

The third and final paragraph should re-iterate the point from the first paragraph, and wrap up the the body neatly. If you are writing for employment, here is where you put your contact information. On the other hand, if you are writing because you want to inform the reader, the last paragraph should contain your appreciation for the reader’s time. The last paragraph should end with a call to action and indicate your hope that the reader will respond to your letter. This paragraph is referred to as a closing.

Business letters should be short yet clear to take into consideration the time of the reader.

One last thing -- If you are sending a letter with additional documents enclosedScience Articles, don’t forget to put an enclosure line below your signature block to let the recipient know there's more content that just the letter.

About The Author: More about Business Letters visit Technical Writing

Source: Free Articles from

QuickBooks Tip

Merging Information

Q: I just upgraded to QuickBooks 2011 and now my invoices are showing an option for my clients to pay online with a link to an Intuit website. What is this and what do I do with it?

A: This is a feature that comes standard with QuickBooks 2011.  You have two options, use the feature or turn it off.  You can turn it off for selective customers or turn it off in your settings.

To turn it off for all clients go to Edit: Preferences: Payments: Company Preference.  Towards the bottom uncheck the box next to “Show payment link on emailed invoices” and “Show payment link on printed invoices”.  This will now default to now have this printed.

To turn if off for select clients uncheck the box at the bottom of the Create Invoices screen that says “Show online payment link on invoices”.

If you would like to utilize this feature you can sign up for Intuits bill service.  In the create invoices screen there’s an option “learn more” at the bottom of the screen, that will take you to Intuit’s website with information.  In short, this allows your customers to enter their check information online and send you a payment to be directly deposited into your checking account.  There is some set-up required on your end but it’s pretty simple.  There is a small fee, at this time it is $0.50 per payment.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!


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Tax Deadlines

December 15
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
- Corporations - 4th Quarter Estimate Due

December 31
- Last Day to Open KEOGH account for 2010 deposits

January 17
- Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 4th Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
- Estates & Trusts 4th Estimated Tax Payment
- Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month

January 31
- File Form 2290 - Heavy Highway Vehicles
- Furnish W-2s recipients
- Furnish 1099 MISC to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Interest to recipients
- Furnish 1099 Dividends to recipients
- 4th Quarter Payroll Reports
- File Employers Annual Payroll Reports
- File Annual Payroll for Agricultural employees
- 4th Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher

Tech Talk With Tom...

How Many Bits Do You Need?

That’s bits as in “64-Bit or 32-Bit”. Most of you probably noticed that the Windows 7 comes with both the 32-bit and the 64-bit version in the box. Which should you run? There are those that say “More is better!” After all, nearly every PC sold today ships with a 64-bit CPU.

Let’s start with who should go 64-bit:

If you run any applications that need a lot of memory, you should go 64-bit. Or, if you need to run a lot of applications at the same time, 64-bit is also the way to go. 32-bit Windows 7 only allows up to 4 GB of RAM, 64-bit allows as much as your system hardware can handle. If you need a lot of memory now, or will need it in the future, then 64-bit Windows 7 is the right choice for you.

Obviously, if you need to run 64-bit applications, then you will have to have 64-bit Windows 7. You really don’t have a choice there. However, applications that require 64-bit are still pretty uncommon. The good news is that 32-bit applications will run (mostly) on 64-bit systems.

Who should not go 64-bit:

If you spend a lot of time in a web-browser, 64-bit is probably not a good choice for you. 64-bit browsers cannot run Flash. If you use of Google’s Chrome browser you will experience a dramatic slow down of your system with the 64-bit OS. Hopefully they'll fix that in the near future, but for now you are a little stuck.

If you are running legacy (read “old”) hardware, then there probably will not be 64-bit drivers available for it. If you have an older but still mission critical piece of hardware, such as an old printer for invoicing or check printing, then your best bet is to stick with 32-bit Windows 7.

A move to 64-bit operating systems has been due for a long time. We’ve been using 64-bit CPU’s in 32-bit computers for way too long. For some people, the time to move completely to 64-bit has come. For others, it is still out on the horizon. The good news is, you now have the option to go completely 64-bit. For those of you that can, you’ll experience faster computing with the ability to run more applications side-by-side.

The rest of us will just have to make do with 4GB of RAM, the ability to use Flash, and enjoying Google’s Chrome browser. Maybe we aren’t so bad off after all?

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at

Spotlight On...

Spotlight: Balanced Bookkeeping Solutions

You all know that OffAssist is more than just me, and has been for a while. This month we want everyone to get to know another member of our team: Susan Kovalesky, owner of Balanced Bookkeeping Solutions.

Susan's MBA in Finance coupled with 20+ years of experience in corporate finance -- bookkeeping, financial reporting, forecasting, and more -- make her a valuable part of the team. As an added bonus, Susan is also a Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor and not ashamed to admit she likes Quickbooks Online. When not playing with numbers on behalf of her clients Susan enjoys spending time with her family, attending live music events, and waiting impatiently for the new Phillies season to start.

Want to learn more about Susan? Check out her website at Feeling social? Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanKovalesky.

Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Fine print: We do reserve the right not to feature anyone and a request is not a guarantee that you will make it into the newsletter. Also, if your news, announcement, etc. is time sensitive or tied to a specific date, please let Patty know in your email.

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?


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