May 2016 Newsletter
Ruh, roh! Small businesses are not using nice words to describe how they feel about Washington this Election Year!
(Source: Sage 2016 Election Survey)
- How does the market, in general, react to an election year? Hint: not well!
- Small businesses weigh in: Sage 2016 Election Survey
- Tony’s pick – Timberscan Mobile
- TUG is in the house!
- Tips and Tricks for Sage 100 & 300CRE, CON, Estimating and Accounting
With a full-on, “huuuuge” dramatic presidential race, one wonders how that will affect the state of the economy. I set out to discover what typically happens in election years — and as the 2016 race is anything BUT typical — what may happen THIS year, economically speaking.
My research produced a couple of great articles found on the SPDR.com blog site. Quotes and content summations are attributed to the work of Chief Investment Strategist, Michael Arone, CFA.
Recessions Bookend Presidential Terms
Sounds crazy, right? According to Strateges Business Partners, LLC1 the last 10 out of 11 recessions have happened either in the first year or last year of a presidential term! They report that two-thirds of these recessions have taken place in the first year – a condition that some presidents like to blame on “inheriting” economic instability.
CFA Michael Arone follows market trends during presidential terms, and he reports in his article, “What the 2016 US Presidential Election Means for Markets” that most presidents’ third year in office historically bodes best for the state of the economy. BUT – and this is a big one — the current Obama administration does not adhere to this tradition:
However, the current presidential election cycle is not following historical trends. Instead of weak stock market performance, we saw strong performance in the first two years of this cycle as government stimulus measures, like quantitative easing, led to asset price appreciation. Fast forward to today and we’re now seeing weaker stock market performance in the third year of the cycle, as compared to other third years of the cycle in history dating back to 1948.
I think there are numerous reasons for this weak third-year stock market performance. To begin with, the global economy has not accelerated as expected, and deterioration in emerging market economies has damaged the broader global environment. Slower emerging market growth has put downward pressure on oil and other commodity prices, reducing demand for developed market exports and hurting the US manufacturing sector. Capital has flowed out of emerging markets, boosting the exchange rates of advanced economies, like the US. The higher exchange rate has reduced their competitiveness and exacerbated problems in manufacturing.
With two political parties with totally non similar agendas (think immigration reform versus climate control), how will the market respond? Arone says the market dislikes “the uncertainty of an open election.”
Full Volatility Ahead?
In a follow up post, Arone predicts more market uncertainty. This year, the S&P 500® Index has already declined 2.82% (as of March, 2016) and with China’s instability, falling gas prices, and an interest rate hike from the Feds in December –the Magic 8 Ball signs are pointing to “Outlook not so good.”
Arone sums up the likely candidates:
Clinton, who has had a long political career, is well known by most investors. However, the surprise emergence of Trump as the Republican front runner has put the presidential campaign into territory that is uncharted in modern-day politics. Since Trump has never held a public office, it is hard for investors to assess what a Trump presidency might look like, how he might govern and what policies he may enact that could affect the economy, markets or international relations. This adds a new level of uncertainty for investors and markets to navigate.
With Clinton mainly supporting the Obama’s initiatives on clean energy (potentially benefiting environmentally-conscious companies), and Trump changing positions frequently on major issues (confusing investors), the market certainly will not make any strong moves.
1 “Equity Market Performance in a Presidential Election Year”, as of 10/22/2015
Small Business Weighs In on US Election 2016
Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey
Sage surveyed 383 customers in late January, focusing on small companies (82% had 20 or less employees), to find out what THEY, “Main Street” businesses are prioritizing this election year, and what they think the GOVERNMENT is prioritizing.
Respondents were varied in political affiliation: “Thirty-six percent identified as Republicans, 14 percent as Democrats, 20 percent as Independents, and 15 percent did not identify with any party. No other affiliations (Tea Party, Socialist, Libertarian) registered more than 6 percent.”
- What Main Street thinks is important, is not what Main Street perceives the government thinks is important.
- Negativity towards Washington is rampant, with 63% reporting “discouraged” / 61% are “disgusted” / and 53% report they are “mistrustful” of the current government
- Reagan is still the SMB hero, with a 56% vote when asked which former prez they would like to take the reins in 2016 (Obama tied for last, at 3%)
Main St. versus Washington
A large majority of respondents feel government focuses on the wrong special interest groups, pursues the wrong missions, and implements the wrong policies.
Main Street ranks small businesses, the military, and the middle class as the most important special interest groups. Yet it believes that the federal government not only caters to the needs of Big Business and government employees, but it does so at the expense of small businesses and the middle class.
When asked to set the government’s priorities, the survey finds Main Street has a pragmatic view. It wants Washington to focus on the economy, energy and healthcare, in that order. However, when comparing those to what it believes our current government’s priorities actually are, it only sees one area of agreement: healthcare. Main Street also accuses Washington of ignoring its top priority, the economy, and focusing instead on issues it feels are less urgent, such as the environment or labor.
Finally, Main Street has a list of policy initiatives that it feels Washington is also ignoring. It wants government to address tax reform, the deficit, and social security. At the bottom of its list: global warming, income inequality, and raising the minimum wage.
However, it sees government, instead, working on gun control, global warming, and raising the minimum wage. In other words, small businesses feel that government spends its time and energy on issues that merit the least amount of attention in Main Street’s collective eyes.
Wrong special interest groups
Respondents were asked to rank SIGs in order of importance to them. Next, they were asked which SIGs they perceive the government thinks are most and least important. This is where the first signs of a significant disconnect appeared.
Their most important SIGs are small business, the military and the middle class. They selected unions, the wealthy and government employees as the least important special interest groups.
Respondents feel government considers these SIGs most important: big business, minorities and government employees. They believe government leaders consider these SIGs least important: religious groups, the middle class and small businesses.
So, two of the SIGs most important to respondents—small business and the middle class—are viewed as being least important to government.
Survey methodology and respondents
For the Sage 2016 U.S. Election Survey, Sage commissioned Qualtrics, a leading research firm, to survey 383 Sage customers in mid- to late January 2016. All respondents were with small companies, with 82 percent employing 20 or fewer people.
Fifty-five percent of respondents are male and 45 percent are female. Most (64 percent) have at least a four-year college degree.
A former construction contract specialist and Sage 300 CRE user, Tony does what most Sage resellers don’t: he demos the products himself (most Sage Business Partners rely on Sage sales engineers to do the deep dives). Why? Because Tony’s industry experience includes accounting, project management, and estimating — which mean he RELATES to your construction business needs.
The following products are what Tony thinks are the best-in-class, are new launches to the market, or are just particularly great performers.
Core Associates is working hard to keep their top-selling product relevant and connected to Sage 300 CRE (spoiler – soon it will also connect with Sage 100 Contractor!).
Recently, Core teamed up with hh2|Cloud Services to make Timberscan mobile, allowing the paperless approval system to operate outside of the office.
What’s cool about Timberscan Mobile, according to Tony, is that it can code and approve invoices on your mobile device even when you’re OFFLINE! Next time you’re connected, the app will automatically sync.
Timberscan Mobile Features:
- Paperless routing and approval
- Full offline capabilities
- Native iPad app
- Invoice coding and annotation
- Easy implementation
Email Tony or call 480-423-8300 to pick his brain or set up a demo!
Win Tickets for a Yankees vs. Diamondbacks Game
Do you love to hate the Yankees (or are you a real fan)? Join Ledgerwood for a Diamondbacks game in a private suite at Chase Field in beautiful, downtown Phoenix.
Lucky winners will be bussed to and from the Sheraton on Wednesday evening, May 18th!
Click HERE to enter a raffle for a PAIR of tickets to the game!
Winners will be chosen and notified a week before the game.**For TUG attendees only.
Sage Summit Goes Hollywood!
July 25-28 |McCormick Place | Chicago, IL
For the last three years, it seems that each Sage Summit event surpassed the preceding year’s when it comes to Featured Speakers and Conversations. Branded as the “largest small and medium business conference in the world” — Sage has indeed, secured world class talent for 2016!
Past presenters and panels in the last couple of years have been exciting – Colin Powell and Deepak Chopra; Jane Seymour, Magic Johnson and Jessica Alba; Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs.
Like a Virgin!
This year’s headliner is no less than Sir Richard Branson! His conversation is entitled, “The magical Virgin business model applied: Architecting a brand that’s built to last,” and will be co-hosted by enigmatic Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly.
And the Hollywood/Entertainment sector will be represented – actors Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel; the Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec and Daymond John; also Yancey Strickler (co-founder, CEO of Kickstart and music journalist).
Things you need to know for Sage Summit 2016:
- Bookmark the official website
- Official twitter handle: #sagesummit
- Registration is $299
- The Killers and Houndmouth are the bands at the closing party!
- Layer your clothing! The A/C is usually on full blast in the larger assembly halls!
Follow LAI on Social Media for immediate construction and technology news!
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Upcoming LAI Online Training and Networking Events:
1099 Preparation for Year End
Join an LAI consultant for a live, online FREE session.
Employee W-2 Preparation and Audit
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GL vs. Job Costs Reconciliation
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What is a “Private” Report in Sage 100 CON?
Submitted by Pam Schulz, Certified Sage 100 Consultant
You’re Not Crazy!
Do you save changes to a report, but not see them?
You may have “Private reports” lurking…
In the old days, when you saved a Custom Reports or a Form Design you designated a drive for that report to be saved to. Awhile back, things changed, and you no longer see this option. Instead you have a choice between saving your Report or Form as either a “Shared Report” or a “Private” Report.
It seems there has been some confusion since then.
What Constitutes “Private”
Here are a few “rules” that may make your reports easier to find and run.
First, if you save your report for form as a SHARED report, it is saved to the same drive as your data, under the “MB7” folder, and in either the “Custom Reports” or the “Report Forms” folder. These reports can be seen by “everyone”- subject, of course, to the security you have set up.
This is usually pretty straightforward, and not usually too confusing, UNLESS you run into “interference” from a PRIVATE report.
What, exactly, does it mean to save a report as “Private?”
First, a “Private” report can be seen only by the WINDOWS user (which may be different than the “Sage” user) who created it (and only on their own computer). Also, once you have saved a report as “Private”, that particular version of your report will override “Shared” versions when you are logged in (to Windows.)
Here are some consequences of this:
- Only YOU can see the report
- You will ONLY see the private version (even if a shared version has subsequently been saved.)
- If you have saved the report as both Private and Shared, everyone else will see the Shared version while you see the Private version.
Imagine how confusing this can be- two people run the same report, but get two “different” reports.
Find and DELETE the Private report.
In “My Computer”, or “Windows Explorer”, locate the following path (Make sure you have your settings checked to “See Hidden Files”)
C:\users\(your user name)\appdata\local\Sage\Sage 100 Contractor
Here you will see the “Custom Reports” and the “Report Forms” folders. Open the appropriate folders, find your report or form, and delete it. (Or, instead, you can create a folder called “unused reports” and move it there if you are afraid to delete it.) Once you have deleted the Private report, you will now see the “Shared” version like everyone else.
How do I avoid this confusion?
I typically advise clients to ONLY save “Shared” reports. There are not a lot of reasons to save a “Private” report, and there are alternate ways to accomplish things that will not cause confusion later.
- Reason 1- “I want to make sure no one else can see this information.”
Instead of saving a report as Private, use the SECURITY features in the program to limit access. This includes the fact that users can only run reports with data that they have security access to. If you want even more “security”, then save the report to a menu option where you can limit the security. The first six digits of a report name dictate the menu option the report can be run from. Just select an option you can control with security (Believe it or not you can save/run a report from anywhere- not just the menus it may be related to.)
- Reason 2- I want to get the report “just right” and keep it private until it is “ready for everyone.”
To do this, write and revise your report in the 13-4 “Report Writing” option- save it with a “Verbal” name- then when ready to release, save with a new “numeric” name that will direct the report to the appropriate menu option.
FINALLY, if I suspect that there may be some “Private Report Confusion” I can usually diagnose it by putting something in the report title when saving as a “Shared Report”. I like to use the revision date here. Then, when users are running the report they should all see the revision date in the menu’s report title. If a user does not see the updated revision date, they most likely have a Private report stored.
By being aware of the difference in Private and Shared reports a lot of confusion can be avoided, as everyone will be looking at the same results.
Current version information
On February 18, 2016, Sage released Sage 100 Contractor Version 19.7.52. This update includes all payroll tax table revisions known to date, and more importantly, fixes a problem created in version 19.7.43 with the Reconcile Credit Card Statement function. I strongly encourage users to consider installing this update.
More about Sage 100 Contractor here. Call Ledgerwood Associates at 877-918-8301 today and we’ll match your needs to the best solution.
When is the Perfect Time to Upgrade?
Submitted by Kyle Zeigler, Sage Senior Certified Consultant
Year End: Probably is NOT the Best Time
It’s sometime between late-November and mid-December (yes, it’s really early May, but let’s pretend). Your fiscal year ends December 31st, and the year-end frenzy is ramping up. Accounting personnel are stretched thin and senior management is already putting on the pressure for preliminary year-end financial reports. And then it comes – the email from Sage telling you the newest version of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate is ready for you to download and install.
Upgrading your accounting software is no small undertaking. It takes time and resources, and most often means several hours, if not a full day, of downtime for your users. Scheduling your upgrade during the busiest time of your accounting year, regardless of where that falls on the calendar, is probably not a good idea. But does it have to be installed before the end of the year? For most organizations, probably not. So if you want the luxury of installing the version upgrade during the slowest time of the year for your accounting team or while the boss is vacationing in Costa Rica, consider the following:
- You only need to install the new version upgrade before December 31 if you will be unable to install the year-end update (there is a difference!). The year-end update, also released in December, contains the accumulation of patches and fixes released throughout the year, as well as government-mandated changes, but only for the two most recent versions. If you don’t have one of the two most recent versions installed when the year-end update is available, you will need to upgrade your software before installing the update.
- As with any software, Sage thoroughly tests the new versions prior to release, but it is not unusual for glitches to arise when thousands of users begin putting the new features to use every day. For some customers, those glitches can present major inconveniences and workarounds until Sage is able to produce an update. Waiting until a little later to install the upgrade means that you can take advantage of the fixes already developed and in place for a smoother upgrade experience.
Strategy – Update to Supported Versions, and WAIT
So here’s the strategy: As of today, Sage is supporting versions 14.1 and 15.1. You will need to have one of these versions installed by the end of this year in order to apply the year-end update when it is released. Sometime this year, Sage will also release version 16.1 of Sage 300 CRE. Unless the new version contains features and improvements you just can’t live without, you need not install it until the end of 2017. If you’re running version 14.1, you’ll want to upgrade to at least version 15.1, but you don’t have to upgrade to version 16.1 if you want to wait until patches are available for any unforeseen glitches. That gives you nearly a year to officially procrastinate and find the perfect time for you and your accounting team to schedule your upgrade.
If you need helping installing an update or upgrade, one of our skilled consultants at Ledgerwood Associates would be happy to assist you. Call us at 480-423-8300, and ask for Carolyn!
Submitted by Bryan Eto, CPA (First appeared in LAI’s May 2015 Newsletter)
As businesses and individuals begin to towards paperless reporting and storage, one question always comes up…Do I have to keep this? Here are some guidelines in case the IRS ever comes calling.
IRS Audits and Amended Returns
You should generally keep records supporting items claimed on your individual tax return until the statute of limitations runs out. Typically, that is three years from the due date of the return or the date you filed, whichever is later. So this year you can generally toss out your tax records for the 2011 tax year (return filed in 2012) and most paperwork you have left from that year and earlier years.
But keep your files for the past three tax years. This is because the IRS can audit your returns for a minimum of three years after you file. You can also file an amended return on IRS Form 1040X during this time period if you missed a deduction, overlooked a credit or misreported income.
But you are not necessarily safe from an audit after three years have passed. There are a couple of key exceptions to this general rule:
- The statute of limitations increases to six years if the IRS has reason to believe you understated your income by 25 percent or more, and
- There is no time limit if the IRS suspects fraud or you do not file a tax return.
Various Retention Requirements
Keeping records for three years is the general rule. There are exceptions for certain records. In some cases, there is no easy answer to the question of how long you should keep specific papers. The IRS does not require you to keep records in any particular way. But here are some basic guidelines for individuals to follow. (See the right-hand box for business guidelines.)
Completed tax returns. Some tax advisers recommend that you hold onto copies of completed, filed returns for your lifetime. The reason is so that you can prove to the IRS that you actually filed if there’s ever a question about it. Even if you don’t keep the returns indefinitely, you should hang onto them for at least six years after they are due or filed, whichever is later.
Backup records. Any written evidence that supports figures on your tax return, such as receipts, expense logs, bank notices and sales records, should generally be kept for at least three years.
Exceptions. There are times when you may be entitled to more than the usual three years to file an amended return. For instance, you have up to seven years to take deductions for bad debts or worthless securities, so don’t toss out records that could result in refund claims for those items.
Real estate records. Keep real estate records for as long as you own the property, plus three years after you sell (or otherwise dispose of) it and report the transaction on your tax return. Throughout ownership of the property, keep records of the purchase, as well as receipts for home improvements, insurance claims, and documents relating to refinancing. These may help prove your adjusted basis in the home, which is needed to calculate the taxable gain at the time of sale, or to support calculations for rental property or home office deductions.
Securities. To accurately report taxable events involving stocks and bonds, you must maintain detailed records of purchases and sales. These records should include dates, quantities, prices, dividend reinvestment, and investment expenses, such as broker fees. Keep these records for as long as you own the investments, plus the statute of limitations on the relevant tax returns.
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The IRS requires you to keep copies of Forms 8606, 5498 and 1099-R until all the money is withdrawn from your IRA accounts. Now that Roth IRAs have been added into the mix for some retirement savers, it’s more important than ever to hold onto all IRA records pertaining to contributions and withdrawals in case you’re ever questioned. If an account is closed, treat IRA records with the same rules as securities. Don’t dispose of any ownership documentation until the statute of limitations expires.
Issues affecting more than one year. Records that support figures affecting multiple years, such as carryovers of charitable deductions, net operating loss carrybacks or carryforwards or casualty losses, should be saved until the deductions no longer have an effect, plus seven years, according to IRS instructions.
These general recordkeeping guidelines are for individual tax purposes. Businesses, insurance companies and creditors may have other requirements. Contact your advisers for more information.
Last word: One critical step to take when cleaning out financial documents is to shred them thoroughly before you toss them out.
Business Record Guidelines
|Employee earnings||Maintain for at least four years, to meet various state and federal requirements. (However, don’t throw away records that might involve unclaimed property, such as a final paycheck not claimed by a former employee.)|
|Employee time cards||Keep for at least three years if your business is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (engaged in interstate commerce). It is a best practice for all businesses to keep the files for several years in case questions arise.|
|Personnel records||Retain for three years after an employee has been terminated.|
|Employment tax records||Keep four years from the date the tax was due, or the date it was paid — whichever is longer.|
|Employee business expenses||For travel and transportation expenses supported by mileage logs and other receipts, keep supporting documents for the three-year statute of limitations.|
|Sales tax returns||State regulations vary. For example, New York generally requires sales tax records to be retained for three years, while California requires four years, and Arkansas, six. Check with your tax adviser.|
|Business property||Records used to substantiate the cost and deductions (such as depreciation, amortization and depletion) associated with business property must be maintained to determine the basis and gain (or loss) on the sale. Keep these for as long as you own the asset, plus seven years, according to IRS guidelines.|
Get by with a Little Help!
Submitted by Jim Hoeppner, Certified Sage Consultant
The “Help” system is often overlooked in software in general, which is unfortunate; the Help system in Sage Estimating is very good. I remember that when I started in support at Timberline in 1998, sometimes I would race to the Help topics to better understand a problem that a client was having.
In February of 2015, I wrote about the sorting with ASCII, the very important system used in North America for Window- based computers which determines how we can find what we are looking for by priority in any list. The information listed below is well summarized and explained in this Help topic. Just go to Help Topics and look up ‘Sorting on the Index’ tab.
- Spaces (come first at the top of any list)
- Special characters !# etc
- Numeric characters
- Upper case A,B,C, etc.
- Lower case a,b,c, etc.
Functions>Using Functions in Formulas
Aside from that, a very helpful topic is Functions-Using Functions in Formulas. It explains about IF statements and many other type of useful functions in Sage Estimating. The blue highlighting of the function name means that it is hyper linked so that you can go directly there.
The Help system also has context help, meaning that when you see a question mark in the upper right of a screen, you can drag that to the feature that you are inquiring about and click on it to get a Help note.
Aside from the main text Help, there are also short videos (Show Me Demos), under Help that might be of interest.
Want more examples in real-life job situations? Click the button below to set up a Sage Estimating Demo from Tony!