AUTOMATE YOUR DAY WITH A MICROCOMPUTER
Steve Leake, CPA
A. Why Do I Want a Computer on My Desk?
1. Convenience - work can be reviewed and corrected in the CPA's office without disturbing subordinates.
2. Efficiency - letters, memos, tax returns and financial statements can be prepared by the CPA without constant interaction and revision time with staff.
3. Accuracy - computer generated documents are more accurate if generated by software with math capabilities, spelling checkers, etc.
4. Uniformity - templates can be developed and used many times for invoices, tax return schedules, filing instructions, accountant's reports, financial statements, etc. to enhance the professional appearance of work performed.
B. Hardware Considerations:
1. Desktop computers generally provide more expansion features for additional memory, disk drives, and communication devices. In addition, desktop computer monitors are generally easier to view for extended periods of time.
2. Portable and Laptop computers offer the advantage of transportability; to home, to the client's office, etc. However, they are generally not as expandable and monitor quality is generally not as good as most desktops.
3. Printers for the CPA's office should be chosen based on needs. For example, I have a laser printer and a dot matrix printer in my office. The laser is used for correspondence, tax returns, financial statements, filing instructions and invoices and the dot matrix printer is used for drafts, trial balances, depreciation schedules, firm reports, and other worksheet schedules. The amount of noise generated by a printer should be considered because the printer can be an interruption during phone calls and appointments.
4. Speed is a big consideration for CPAs with computers in their offices. An "AT" compatible machine with a fast hard disk will pay for itself with the additional time savings realized.
C. Software Applications:
1. Electronic Spreadsheets are the most used software applications by CPAs. They are used for general worksheets, tax return schedules, depreciation and depletion schedules, due date ticklers, tax planning worksheets, pro-forma statements, financial statements, budgets, etc. As you can see, the usefulness of a spreadsheet is only limited by one's imagination.
2. Word Processors are the second most used software applications by CPAs. They are used for general correspondence, tax return filing instructions, invoicing, accounts receivable collection letters, form letters, financial statements and accountant's reports and many other types of professional documents.
3. Data Base Managers are another useful software tool. They are used for client billing and accounts receivable, due date ticklers, job scheduling, work-in-progress control, payroll and many other types of data processing. Generally, any task that requires that discreet pieces of information be stored and manipulated can be handled with a data base manager.
4. Memory Resident Utilities that provide applications to manage telephone lists, calendars, data files, data transfers, and many other tasks can also be useful to the CPA.
5. This seminar will be dedicated to a discussion of various uses for word processors and spreadsheet applications in the CPA's office.
D. Word Processing Applications:
1. Mail merging is one of the most useful applications for the CPA. Generally, a form letter can be developed and used many times. I use mail merging to collect overdue accounts, to write thank you letters for referrals, and to remind clients that their returns are on extension. See Exhibit A for an example of a common mail merge letter.
2. Memo writing is another task which can be handled by a word processor. If the CPA has a computer in his/her office, a quick memo can be written, printed, initialed, and placed in the "out" basket for filing while a subject is still on one's mind.
3. Tax return filing instructions can be developed and put on the word processor for use with many types of returns. Many CPAs feel that typed filing instructions give a hand prepared return a more professional look. By preparing many types of filing instructions and saving them on a disk, the CPA can "boilerplate" many different scenarios and use them on his tax returns. These documents can be set up as "Merge" documents or "Edit and Print" documents. See Exhibit B for an example of a typical filing instruction document.
4. Like filing instructions, engagement letters, accountant's reports and financial statement formats can be saved as documents and used many times for different clients.
5. The use of sub-directories is especially important when working with word processors. This makes documents easier to find and manipulate. For example I have separate sub-directories for these types of documents:
Directory Document Type
\ltr General correspondence
\irs Correspondence with the IRS only
\mgt Firm management (collections, etc.)
\tax Filing instructions, etc.
\fst Financial Statements & Reports
E. Electronic Spreadsheet Applications
1. Worksheet design is the most important consideration for success with spreadsheets. For example, you would not want to place your worksheet in an area which will be subject to column or row deletions. This can be disastrous if data or formulas are inadvertently erased. See Exhibit C for an example of good worksheet design.
2. Macros (keystroke processors) are a useful tool when working with worksheets. They can be saved and reused in many types of worksheets. See Exhibit D for examples of some common time-saving macros.
3. A worksheet designed to be used over and over again for one task with a variety of data is called a "template". Templates are used for tax planning and compliance, financial statement analysis, amortization schedules, and many other such tasks. See Exhibits E, F, G and H for examples of spreadsheet templates.
4. A worksheet can also be used as a data base for information which might be transferred to a mailing, tax returns (K-1 forms), due date tickling, etc. See Exhibits I and J for examples of data base spreadsheets.
F. Applications Sharing
1. If you would like to have copies of any of these applications on disk, send a formatted blank disk to Steve Leake, CPA, P.O. Box 1285, Mesquite, Texas, 75149.
2. There is no charge for this service, and while every effort has been made to test the accuracy of the applications, I can make no warranty to that effect. I recommend that you verify any results obtained from using these applications.
- Page -
- EXHIBIT A -
®city¯, ®state¯ ®zip¯
As you know, your account in the amount of $®amount¯ is seriously past due. I have written to you on several occasions about your delinquent account, but have received no reply to my correspondence.
I feel that my services were rendered to you in a timely, professional manner. Therefore, your prompt attention to this obligation would be appreciated. I trust that further action on my part will not be necessary.
Stephen A. Leake, CPA
- EXHIBIT A, CONTINUED -
OVERDUE ACCOUNT DATA BASE
DOCUMENT NAME: C:\MGT\DOGLIST.DOC
" ",Mr. J.D. Smith,"888 LBJ Freeway, Suite 66",Mesquite,Texas,75149,Mr. Smith,500
" ",Tim M. Winston,"7890 N. Central Expressway, Suite 777",Dallas,Texas,75237,Tim,975
" ",Mr. Steve Gibbs,P.O. Box 90,Forney,Texas,75118,Steve,350
- EXHIBIT B -
TAX RETURN FILING INSTRUCTIONS
STEPHEN A. LEAKE
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT
111 SOUTH BROAD STREET, P.O. BOX 1285
MESQUITE, TEXAS 75149
For the year ended YEAREND
TAX RETURN FILING INSTRUCTIONS
The enclosed tax return must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Austin, Texas 73301 by DUEDATE.
The return must be signed and dated by an officer prior to filing.
The return indicates a balance due of $DUE. Please deposit this amount at an authorized Federal depository before filing. Mark your deposit coupon 1120 and fourth quarter.
The return indicates an overpayment of $OVER of which $APPLY will be applied to your estimated tax and $REFUND will be refunded to you.
To be protected from an underpayment penalty in your next taxable year, the following estimated tax payments should be deposited with an authorized Federal depository on or before the dates shown below:
April 15, 1987 $ xxxxx
June 15, 1987 $ xxxxx
September 15, 1987 $ xxxxx
December 15, 1987 $ xxxxx
Review this return carefully before filing. Please contact our firm immediately if you have any questions about it.
The copy of the return attached to these instructions should be retained by you as your permanent record.
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