QuickBooks Online Payroll Makes Life Easier

QuickBooks Online Payroll Makes Life Easier

This post is all about QuickBooks Online Payroll, but before we dig in, I want to mention that as I’m writing this (in January 2023), I have a newfound appreciation for just how freaking easy QuickBooks Online Payroll makes payroll at year end. I promise I’ll tell you why in a bit; before I tell you how it’s making my life better, I want to go over some general features of QuickBooks Online Payroll.

(Yes, I am aware that I haven’t written a blog post in a Very Long Time; the last few years have been sort of… weird. I found that I needed to focus on mental health and I ended up spending a LOT of time in northern Michigan camping, hiking, and biking in 2022. BUT I’M BACK BABY SO LET’S TALK ABOUT QUICKBOOKS ONLINE PAYROLL!)

QuickBooks Online Payroll is Intuit’s online payroll solution, and after at least a decade of using Intuit’s Online Payroll for Accountants, I moved all of my payroll clients to QuickBooks Online Payroll when Intuit discontinued that product. One of my complaints about payroll as a general topic is there is never a vacation from it. I can take a week off and go up north camping, then catch up on the other services I provide clients when I get back, but with payroll that’s just not an option.

Here’s where my longtime love of Intuit’s online based software comes in, and for what it’s worth, in this video from another lifetime ago (that green eye shadow… gahhh), I’m logging in to look at payroll while on my bike, and it wasn’t staged. I did actually get a message while filming this and had to stop, login and reply.

QuickBooks Online Payroll offers a bunch of features to help make processing payroll accurate and efficient; the best part is that I can manage it from anywhere: my home office, a library, or even with my phone in my rooftop tent:

Ford F150 pickup with a rooftop tent on a bed rack

Some of the features that I love for my clients are the expert set up that comes with the Elite subscription level (I’ll share pricing at the end of this post), the tax penalty protection and the 24 hour and same day direct deposit. I love being able to tell clients that YES, we can process a paycheck TODAY and have the direct deposit hit TODAY. Another feature for Elite subscribers is the HR Services; these are delivered through a 3rd party partner called Mineral, Inc. Just recruiting and hiring is difficult enough, so to be able to have tools like handbook templates and help with setting policies or managing conflicts is a relief. For some of my small businesses, being able to offer health and 401k benefits via the QuickBooks Online Payroll HR Advisor actually makes the recruiting part easier!

For my client’s employees, logging into Workforce allows them to view paystubs and make changes to their tax withholding and direct deposit account.

My clients can also use the contractor payments feature as well


The features that I love for me, as someone who is entering the payroll and creating the paychecks for my clients, are the integration with QuickBooks Time (or even the default time tracking in QuickBooks Online), and automatic tax calculations. QuickBooks Online Payroll uses real-time tax rates and rules to calculate payroll taxes; I can say that I’ve never had an issue with taxes being miscalculated, unless it was because a state unemployment rate didn’t get updated in time. (And when that happens, QuickBooks Online Payroll makes the adjustments needed so that the employer is compliant in paying what is owed.)

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, QuickBooks Online Payroll is making payroll year end so, sooo much easier for me with the automatic tax calculations, automatic tax filing and liability payments. Why do I love this so much? Because I don’t have to worry about making sure all the 941s, 940s, W2s get efiled on time. I just need to make sure everything ties out before that happens!


I don’t have to send PDFs of the W2s to clients, or make sure they’ve mailed them out to their employees. Between the automatic tax filing and payments and the employee access to Workforce, it’s all taken care of – and my clients can access all of it whenever they need to by logging into QuickBooks Online!

Now we get into the costs; there are three different plans to choose from, each with its own set of features and pricing.


QuickBooks Online Payroll Core is the bottom tier at $45/month plus $5 per employee. It includes the automated tax filing/payment, auto payroll, 1099 E-File & Pay and next-day direct deposit.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium is the most popular, mid-range option at $75/month plus $8 per employee. It includes everything that Core does, plus you get QB Time and same day direct deposit.

QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite is the top tier at $125/month plus $10 per employee. This has all of the bells and whistles! It included everything in Core but also expert set up, the HR Advisor and tax penalty protection.

Employers can start at any level and upgrade or downgrade as needed.

For my fellow ProAdvisors: QuickBooks Online Accountant users get the highest tier – QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite free for their firm! There is also pricing for ProAdvisors to offer their clients as well as a revenue share option.

One last thing I want to talk about, is the improvement of support. I’m VERY picky about my support options. I prefer for any app to have an online support page – Intuit’s QuickBooks Community Knowledge Base is AMAZING, but they’ve also made some major changes to Accountant support by providing product experts with prior tax and accounting knowledge and requiring support agents to get certified as part of their training/learning path. They are also working on standardizing the Tier2 support model as well ramping up staffing and social media engagement.

For what it’s worth, I freaking LOVE the QuickBooks Online Payroll chat support. If I can’t find the answer online, I have quite a lot of options to get help by clicking the help icon in the top right corner of any page when logged into QuickBooks Online.


Screen shot 2023-01-13 at 7.28.57 am

If you just need payroll, or you want to keep it separate from the QuickBooks Online account, the stand alone option is available and transactions exported to QuickBooks Online.

With all of this,QuickBooks Online Payroll is saving me time and reducing my stress level this January!! It’s comprehensive, affordable, and the fact that it’s built right into QuickBooks Online makes it so easy!!

You can keep up to date on all things QuickBooks Online Payroll by bookmarking their updates/product news page here.

This post is sponsored by Intuit and QuickBooks Online Payroll.

A New Thing in QuickBooks Online

A New Thing in QuickBooks Online

Hello world! This year has been, let’s just say it: shitballs crazy. After 4 months, I’m finally in a place where I can focus enough to sit down and write an entire piece for this site. We’ve all been busy with PPP and EIDL and yes, I know the title says “A New THING in QuickBooks Online” but once I started writing this, I thought of a few that I want to call out.

The first new thing in QuickBooks Online is that the + icon is back in the top right corner of the screen, but only when the user uses the hamburger icon to hide the left nav bar in QBO.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

See?  Pretty cool. I’m sad that it doesn’t spin like it used to, but I’m still happy to see my lil buddy back.

The second new thing in QuickBooks Online is the ability to assign a default expense account to a vendor:

default vendor

Any time I save having to click that mouse just one time, I love it!

Yes, I realize this post is about more than one new thing in QuickBooks Online.

The third new thing in QuickBooks Online is not just Receipt Capture (I wrote about that here), but that it can now be used to add VENDOR BILLS. Previously, could only had expenses after they had happened; now we can add bills to be paid later.

Very handy little improvement.

The last new thing in Quickbooks Online (at least the last one I’m going to list here, there have been a ton of improvements in QBO Advanced lately) is sort of a big deal: Reconciliation statement auto-import, aka Statement Downloads.

bank statements

The little delighter for me was that ability to upload a statement after I did the reconciliation for the accounts that don’t (yet) have the import function.

Now you can all get back to baking bread or whatever your global pandemic hobbies might be. I have two right now. One is infusing vodka with various fruits. So far I’ve done pineapple (a summer favorite), green apple (I’ll try this again in the fall with some ginger or cinnamon), raspberry/lime (yum) and blackberry/lemon (it was okays.) The other is setting new bike riding goals. For anyone that cares: I did 100 miles/week in June and then thought it would be a great idea to up that to 125 miles/week for July and as I write this, I’m halfway through the 3rd week and realize that 100 is a lovely, round number that is perfectly fine for August and September 🙂

Stay healthy and safe!

Auto Reply to Email Inquiries

Auto Reply to Email Inquiries

If you’re like most businesses, you have some sort of contact form on your website and one way to save time with them is to set up an auto reply to email inquiries. (If you’re a ProAdvisor, this comes in handy for leads from FindaProadvisor.com.)

Since we use GSuite/Google for Business/Gmail, I’ll show you how we do this – create an auto reply to email inquiries – with Gmail’s filter and canned response features. Added bonus – I’ll show you how to use another free tool to track whether your auto reply has been opened.

Enable canned response

Our first step is to create a canned response in gmail.

Click the Settings icon, choose Settings, then Advanced, click to Enable, then scroll down to Save Changes:

Compose your canned response

Now we want to create the response.

Compose a new email, leaving the subject and recipient blank, then click 3 dots/More Options next to the trash can, canned response and choose to save this as a new template and name it:

So now your canned response is ready to be used as an auto reply to email inquiries. You can use this any time you’d like when replying manually to an email, but we want to use this one with a filter for inquiries sent via our website.

Create a filter in Gmail

We just need to create the filter. For one of our landing pages, when a prospect uses our contact form, each email comes to us with a default subject line: “I’m Interested in a QuickReview!”, so we’ll use that as our filter criteria.

We want to again click the Settings icon, choose Settings, then Filters and Blocked Addresses, click Create a New filter, add the text subject to the filter criteria, click Create Filter, then choose our new canned response, then click the Create Filter button:

create filter

Here’s the end result of creating an auto reply to email inquiries, as seen from your end (in your sent folder):

Screen Shot 2019 04 14 at 11.22.03 AM

So there you have it! Without any extra apps (or cost!), you can create an auto reply to email inquiries about your business!

QuickBooks Online: Grow Your Practice Workshops

QuickBooks Online: Grow Your Practice Workshops

Hey accounting professionals, are you looking for ways to grow your firm?  If so, make sure you check out Intuit’s QuickBooks Online: Grow Your Practice Workshops – in person training with a kick off about the gig economy and two tracks depending on where you are in your practice.

Track 1: Intermediate (Recommend for newer practice)
Leverage apps to help you and your clients grow and save time
Discover pricing strategies you can use to get paid what you’re worth
Get an overview of the basics of online marketing to find new leads

Track 2: Advanced (Recommend for mature practice)
Offer new services to grow your firm and boost your revenue
Create pricing packages that meet the needs of your clients
Use advanced marketing techniques to bring in referrals

I had the chance to spend two days at Intuit offices in Plano, Texas with the training team so we could do all work together to create some meaningful, great content for attendees!

Hope to see you in Dallas, Chicago, Detroit or Los Angeles in the next few weeks!

PS: You can see what’s happening at these events by searching for #QBTrainingEvents


Automating Data Entry Using QuickBooks Online

Automating Data Entry Using QuickBooks Online

Back from a bit of a summer break, we’re diving right in with a guest blog post. My friend and co-host of QBOShow.com, Woody Adams, has written this piece about automating data entry in QuickBooks Online. there are a variety of options to choose from, and below are a few:

  • Bank Rules/Auto-add—google vendor upload show result
  • Invoice automatically for unbilled activity—invoice L1386
  • Recurring transactions/auto-email invoice/sales receipt
  • QuickBooks payments – recurring sales receipt/ACH
  • Send trial balance to ProConnect Tax Online

Let’s dig in to automating data entry using QuickBooks Online, and thanks so much to Woody for writing this!

First, we all know why we prefer QuickBooks Online Plus over Essentials, right? Need I remind you…

  • 5 Users included (can expand to 25) + 2 Bookkeeper/Accounting Firms + Unlimited Reports Only Users
  • Class/ Location Tracking
  • Purchase Orders
  • Inventory using FIFO valuation/ track profitability with two-sided items
  • Billable Time/ Expenses, Two-sided items
  • Budgeting
  • 100 + Reports

Yeah, two-sided items is my sleeper hit, but I just think Plus is most akin to QB Pro, minus a few features still: Labor burden tracking, finance charges, loan manager (LOL), Estimate v Actual reporting, single unit of measure, just thinking of some of the key gaps…still, Plus is the QuickBooks Online most similar in feature set. That being said, QuickBooks Online supports data entry automation in a better way than QB Desktop. While both platforms can Auto-send reports and enter Memorized (Recurring) transactions, this is where QuickBooks desktop ends re automating transaction or form entry. And this is the part of the story that QuickBooks Online continues…

“Automatically add to my books”

This feature lives inside of a bank rule. It is a tiny checkbox at the bottom of the rule window. The box is NOT default checked and probably for good reason. Imagine the havoc. However, if you are establishing a rule for how a bank feed transaction is to be categorized and the correct Payee is assigned, and you do not need to review the activity, but can just let it dive into the register once the rule is applied, then this feature is your new best friend.

Literally, I kid you not, the downloaded transactions skips the For Review tab and just ends up in the books. You can see the Mode too the bank feed applied when click the blue link at top left of transaction that is NOW in the register…


Invoice Automatically for Unbilled Activity

Quite a mouthful, eh? Even if you are not from Canada…

Go to Gear icon, Account and Settings, Advanced tab. You will see this sub-section entitled “Automation”. It’s the 3rd option. See screenshot below. This will enter invoices for any unbilled activity from the following posting or non-posting events: Bills, checks, expenses, time, delayed charges and bank feed transaction (not yet supported at the rule level), assuming the Billable box is checked. QuickBooks Online, like QuickBooks desktop will assume you want to create invoices for the yet to be invoiced time, material, expense, but go one step further…regardless of client, create invoices for all unbilled activity based on the interval you choose. What about Journal Entry you say? There is no Billable box on a JE in QuickBooks Online Plus at this time. Why do I say Plus you ask? Cause Plus is required if you want to tag “TME” to a customer, sub-customer or project (sort a’ new) and is the only QuickBooks Online level that offers making this stuff billable. In QuickBooks desktop it is the Add Time/Costs window on route to the invoice. In QuickBooks Online Plus, it can be invoices automatically created. The below invoice was created while I had that automation feature active…Woody forgot he had all this unbilled activity for this customer once, turned on the feature, the next day an invoice was created that had 150 target lines on it. LOL. I saw the invoice. He emailed it to me because we find that kind of thing hilarious…



Qualification: This is a Global setting, no I don’t meant like overseas. I mean it will create invoices like Jack Bauer would; rogue and coming in heavy guns blazin’. If you require to select what customers get what invoices for what unbilled activity, do NOT turn this feature on. Instead, leverage the next feature that QuickBooks desktop also has but only in part…

Recurring Invoices

Yes, I know. I been using QuickBooks Online since 2003 and QuickBooks desktop from way before that. I know Desktop has memorized invoices capability. However, when we’re talking about automating data entry using QuickBooks Online, the same recurring invoice feature in QuickBooks Online offers the ability to include unbilled activity. This is great as while I like the more global setting, this feature can focus on a specific customer.


The above recurring invoice template will be created and any unbilled activity tagged to the customer anywhere else in the QuickBooks Online file (bills, checks, expenses, delayed charges, time) will be included. Sweet!

Recurring Sales Receipt/QB Payments/Auto-Getting Paid

One of the coolest features for automating data entry using QuickBooks Online, period. We do this with most of our subscription billing based clients. In our QuickBooks Online file, we set up a recurring Sales receipt for each client. QB Payments is turned on in Settings. I check the box in the recurring Sales receipt template to auto send to client (input their email address) and I enter their banking/routing numbers in the Payment method field. There is a PCI compliance script you can read to them, a box to check, and then I just leave it alone. Every month the clients gets the emailed receipt, 5 days later I get paid. QB Payments is free and ACH is free so it costs me only the time to set up the recurring transactions for my clients. 5 day funding period might raise a few eyebrows. I have one question to bring them down to a reasonable level: How many days does it take to collect against an open invoice for one of your clients? It’s not 5 days. LOL Maybe you even have to send a drone over to their home or location. As far as you know, Shannon and I have never had to do that…



Lastly, automating data entry to the tax return in ProConnect Tax Online. We don’t have any tax clients but I have seen Woody do this in webinars. No, he does not have any tax clients either, but he is a QuickBooks Online nerd just like me and you. And not having to enter data into the data fields in ProConnect Tax Online does qualify as automating data entry.

In the Trial Balance tool under the Accountant Toolbox, when in a client QuickBooks Online file from QuickBooks Online Accountant, you will see Trial Balance. This is not the report but a Working trial balance that also is the launch pad for the native integration we know have with ProConnect Tax Online. Pictures worth 15 or 16 words…




By the way, all the above functionality that automates data entry is in QuickBooks Online as it is, with no other apps required. Of course there are several great data fetching apps that help with Automating Data Entry Using QuickBooks Online. Ask me about them someday!

What are you comparing QuickBooks Online to?

What are you comparing QuickBooks Online to?

What are you comparing QuickBooks Online to?


Comparing QuickBooks Online Plus Feature Set: Parity with QuickBooks Pro


To what QuickBooks Desktop product are you really comparing QuickBooks Online? This is an important question to ask yourself if you really prefer QuickBooks Desktop for your clients over QuickBooks Online. Having presented QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop to thousands of firms since early 2009, I can say when it comes to QuickBooks Online distaste from an accountant’s point of view, it is mostly about lack of parity in report customization and click-thru workflow.

There are gaps in report customization in QuickBooks Online, for sure, as well, some workflow cumbersomeness; too many clicks to get to same result in QuickBooks Desktop , tabbed browsing vs open windows, etc. However, your clients, for the most part, do not care about that. Accountants are using QuickBooks Accountant Edition to work with their client QuickBooks Pro files, and QuickBooks Accountant Edition is a Premier level desktop program.

My contention is that many of your clients don’t need build assemblies, job costing, manufacture in process, sales order fulfillment as a critical feature set. Again, what QuickBooks Desktop product is your greener grass than QuickBooks Online? If most of your desktop clients are using Pro, then QuickBooks Online Plus already is on par with their current experience. That is right, apples to apples, outside of YOUR reporting and workflow preferences of QuickBooks Desktop , that your client DOES NOT consider as critical to QuickBooks Online adoption, QuickBooks Online Plus is already, save for 1 feature, on par with the QuickBooks pro feature set. Oh, I am sure there are a few other features I will not address below that is in Pro yet still not in QuickBooks Online, but again, only a few of your clients actually use Loan Manager, LOL…You see what I mean? What actual QuickBooks Desktop product are you clinging to in comparing to QuickBooks Online? If it is Premier or Enterprise Solutions, then we are asking the wrong question. Your client is using Pro. They can adopt QuickBooks Online. Even if you do not want them to, they can, and you can stop with the age old file transfer model that is just the very definition of cumbersome…

Let’s take a look at the key QuickBooks Pro features that your product and service based business clients are going to want in QuickBooks Online, and run thru a few of the key settings to turn them on in QuickBooks Online Plus.

My feature set parity is really about comparing QuickBooks Online Plus vs QuickBooks Pro, and while some features below will also be in Essentials, my apple to apple is Plus v Pro. And the two features I mention above still not in QuickBooks Online that I consider critical and awesome in QuickBooks Pro is Estimate vs Actual reporting and the Markup column on Estimate. Pro just does that getting out of bed in the morning, where you will see below, QuickBooks Online Plus requires a lot of extra steps to get to the same result. But even without a 3rd party app, it can be done. For me, the question of comparing  QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop is not about my wants and preferences/bias, and more about mobility and collaboration. Does your client want to be mobile more than the ability to use Loan manager? Don’t keep them on QuickBooks Desktop just cause it is your comfort zone. For whom are you really solving?

What are you comparing QuickBooks Online to? For whom are you really solving?


By the way, QuickBooks Pro does not support Build assemblies, customer price levels per item, multiple unit of measure conversion, WIP reporting, sale order workflow either. What QuickBooks Desktop product are you comparing QuickBooks Online to again? Ok, Ok, I will stop…

Gear icon/Account and Settings. From the screenshots below, there are two features that need to be turned on else you will think QuickBooks Online does not support these Pro features. Namely, Price Rules (Price levels and still in beta) and Inventory (FIFO, not average cost). Price Rules in Essentials and Plus are more akin to Premier level Price levels, in that I can create custom prices for items. One better, I can even set a date range for the rule to apply. Pro price levels support not date ranges and are only a Fixed %. Neither product supports price level reporting. QuickBooks Pro inventory items are 3 sided, so it is in QuickBooks Online Plus. Inventory asset, revenue and COGS are hit, and cogs is debited when the item is sold, just like in QuickBooks Desktop . QuickBooks Online Plus supports inventory adjustments, while the “starting” value adjustment is intended as a one-time adjustment, where in Pro you can make ongoing cost or value adjustments. I like that in Pro. Pro supports partial receiving against purchase orders, so does QuickBooks Online Plus. Pro does handle single units of measure, Plus does not. But multiple unit of measure conversion is a Premier/ES thing, as is assemblies and sales order fulfilment. Pro supports none of that. Keep in mind, there are plenty of good 3rd party apps that solve for the more Premier/QBES level features if a client really wants to stay on QuickBooks Online for mobility, but I will not address them in this article. You can find out more on apps.com…

Please see several screenshots below re what I have been discussing re inventory and price rules, shots are all taken from my QuickBooks Online Plus file…


Pro supports reorder points, so does Plus. As well, note the 3-sided items in both for inventory parts, as well as Quantity On Hand, Sku or Manufacturer Part No, and other important item detail fields. Pro does have custom fields which Plus will not, I miss that one too.

Comparing QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop





I do like how the Price rule is shown at the item record level in QuickBooks Online Plus, whereas Pro I have to go to the actual Price level list to see. Also, see how lame Pro’s Price level function is vs Plus…Again, Plus supports price ruling customized by item, customer type and by date.



And on a sales form, in rate field, just like in Pro, QuickBooks Online will show the default sales rate and the price rule rate:


Pro supports partial PO receiving, and so does Plus…


As well as QOH adjustment, value adjustment (starting value remember, not to be done all the time), and even preferred vendor…Oh I also love the Stock status at top of P&S list in Plus now.


If I prefer QuickBooks Pro at all, it is due to custom fields at the item and name level, as well as the Markup column on Estimates. In Pro, I can see my estimated cost and revenue on the form itself, without even running a report. Not so with Plus, though I can get really close and there are some key settings to turn on to get the Estimating feature set. We not turn our gaze to those, think key features for service based businesses…



Now, look at the QuickBooks Online Plus estimate above. I have already invoiced progressively against it. Progress invoicing is supported in Pro, and also in Beta in Plus right now, soon to be rolled out to all Plus subs. It behaves just like the same feature in Pro save for reporting. At this time in Beta, not a lot of good visibility outside of the actual estimate or invoice of what has been invoiced against etc…But that will be added soon. Pro gets the same pop as below re Progress Invoicing…


QuickBooks Pro supports Estimate to Actual reporting, for me the last real gap in QuickBooks Online that matters. I hope we get it in Plus sometime soon…


That being said, since I can do more than 1 budget per year in QuickBooks Online Plus, I can create a budget for the customer/sub-customer/project, like I can for a customer/job in Pro, and run the Budget vs Actual report filtered for that sub-customer/project to get the same info/result in Plus as in Pro…


A few key settings to get the job costing going in QuickBooks Online Plus to be like QuickBooks Pro, see screenshots below. This allows me to pass thru time, expense and material to an invoice, or just tag jobs for profitability reporting.


As well, I can tag a customer, sub-customer or project to time entry in QuickBooks Online like in Pro, but remember, time is non-posting till you add it to a posting transaction…and no, QuickBooks Online cannot track labor burden by job yet.


The Projects tracking feature can be turned on too, as it gives a Project center for good transaction, report and progress visibility. Pro does not offer the below visually or even in a center…


Net…net…QuickBooks Online Plus is super close to QuickBooks Pro feature set wise. Just a couple more enhancements and they will be literally interchangeable as options for your clients to track their businesses. There are advantages and disadvantages in both platforms, and I think a firm should support both for the most part, as our industry moves closer and closer to cloud only.

Side by side: comparing QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop


Last, I wanted to leave you with a thorough comp chart of QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. Important to note, the stuff in red in the QuickBooks Desktop and Not in QuickBooks Online column is not in QuickBooks Pro ☺.


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