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An Accountants Guide to Closing the Books at Year End

An Accountants Guide to Closing the Books at Year End

Closing Out 2017

 As 2017 comes to an end, accountants across the United States will work diligently to close out their clients' books, so that tax returns can be filed on time. As work stacks up, it is easy to miss a step in the closing process, which could cost your clients time and money. If you are a new firm owner, it is challenging to know exactly what to do, and you may even feel a bit lost. Below you will find an exhaustive checklist to adapt to your end of year closing process.

Should you be a small business owner, and not an accountant, the list below will give you a little glimpse into what we review in your file. No stone is left unturned as we close out the end of year; insuring that 2018 will be a great year for you and your business.

Source Documents 

We document the heck out of our accounting files, in case the IRS comes knockin'. We use Hubdoc to automate the statement download for our clients and drop the files into a shared Box account for safekeeping. With 1 petabyte (or 1million gigabytes) of storage in Box, we have essentially limitless storage. We keep our clients' files up indefinitely, as there is no real reason to pull them down. We share our Box files with our clients and the CPAs that we work with, so that there isn't a struggle to get documents back and forth. Easy peasy!

What Documents You Need To Save

  • Bank Statements 
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Merchant Statements
  • Loan/LOC Statements
  • Payroll Reports 
  • Inventory Count 
  • Prior Year Tax Return


Income Statement

The Income Statement (or Profit and Loss) shows the money moving in and out of the business. We want to be sure that the revenue and expenses are accurate so that we can report income properly to the IRS and plan for the future. It is important to not only look at the totals on a yearly Income Statement, but look at a month over month comparison. We do this to be sure that all transactions are in the correct period. Why? If you are looking for trends in the business, you need a true representation of the company's performance in the books. This means lump sum adjusting journal entries at the end of year won't do!

Ask yourself:

  • Are transactions left in Suspense or Ask my Accountant? 
  • Are expenses consistent? 
  • Is income consistent? 
  • Does the income match the Point of Sale reports 
  • Are merchant fees accurate? 
  • Have all direct costs been properly broken out? 
  • Are income and expenses booked in correct period? 
  • Have all large purchases been capitalized and depreciated?
  • Do payroll totals (salaries and employer tax) match? 
  • If an S Corp: Is officer compensation delineated?
    • Are officer health benefits on the W2?

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet shows the financial position at a point in time. We can identify what the value of all assets, liabilities, and equity are by pulling this report. It is essential to not only validate the ending balances against their statements, but to validate balances in accounts that do not have statements.

For example, typically you do not have statements for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. In fact, your accounting file is the source of truth. What happens if you look at your books and see a large balance in Accounts Receivable, but know that those clients won't be paying due to a dispute? Unless you write those balances off, your books will carry those invoices forward. Be sure to write off any aging past due receivable balances, so that your books accurately reflect what you believe you will able to collect.

Validate Balances:

  • Checking and Savings
  • Credit Cards
  • Merchant Services
  • Loans and Lines of Credit
  • Payroll Liabilities
  • Sales Tax Liabilities
  • Prepaid Expenses
  • Year End Inventory
  • Deferred and Unearned Revenue
  • Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable: Write off Aging Balances?


End of Year Adjustments

Prior to sending the file to the CPA, we make sure that the books are in perfect shape. This means that we go the extra mile by validating that not only is our work accurate, but their work is represented in the file. Often times the CPA will have access to Xero, and will make end of year closing entries on their own. Should they not log into Xero to make these entries, we make the entries for them.

We also make sure that once the tax return is filed and we know that no more change will happen, we lock the books. This means that as of 12/31/17, no other entries can be made by anyone. This helps to preserve the integrity of the file, so that we can trust the books and taxes are in alignment.

  • Does prior year tax return match the books? If not, make an adjusting journal entry.
  • Enter 2017 Adjustments
  • Close the Books at 12/31/2017

End of Year Forms

Filing W2s and 1099s is our main goal in January. We make doubly sure that we have W9s from all vendors throughout the year, so that we don't have to request these at the beginning of the year. Once we know that everything in the file is accurate, and we have all contact details for all vendors, we electronically issue 1099s to save trees (no printing!) and money (no postage!).

  • 1099s Issued- Due January 31, 2018
  • W2s Issued- Due January 31, 2018


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