QuickBooks unveils spring product plans
QuickBooks has a job on its hands dealing with the growing challenge posed by Xero’s personal tax module.
This year’s QuickBooks Connect event took place online on 3 March. The virtual conference was overshadowed on the political front by the Chancellor’s Covid-rescue Budget, and by the growing challenge posed by the impending launch of Xero’s personal tax module.
Intuit UK director of sales Nick Williams set the scene with an opening talk that celebrated the efforts of the assembled accounts for helping businesses survive through the pandemic.
“They’ve been maxed out with government schemes, furlough grants and loan applications. That community deserves a huge accodade for its efforts on behalf of small businesses,” he told AccountingWEB after the event.
The post-virus syndrome may have affected the organisation hosting the event too. Aside from missing the face to face contact of a live conference, QuickBooks didn’t have many grandstand announcements that would dominate conversations and attract the interest of new customers.
For new functionality that QuickBooks users can access and use, the Month-end review feature was the star of QB Connect. First trailed back in October, the review uses machine learning aids to analyse books at the end of each period and flag up missing data, duplicates and unexpected balances. The program will flag transactions that need review and prompt the user on how they can be corrected.
Williams explained that the review was based around feedback from bookkeepers and accountants on how to manage the monthly close process, which got the thumbs up from Ros Hodgson of BCAMS, a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and trainer.
“I absolutely love it,” said Hodgson. “It hits the button of what we do anyway. I created a checklist that we go through and all of that is now caught in the system, so you can check it and tick it off in QuickBooks. It also does some extras, for example flagging uncategorised transactions going in or out. Our checks might have found them, but this saves us that time.”
Last week, Hodgson checked out the new Dext Precision with Xavier integration with QuickBooks Online, but was happy that the native QuickBooks tool “does effectively the same thing”.
While there is still little word on QBO’s tax capabilities, the next module to show up within the QuickBooks Online Accounting (QBOA) menu will be a workpapers process, and after that a new Business Account section that will let accountants manage payments for business clients though a link with Modulr’s online payment platform.
As Williams explained, “The Business Account will feed into the Cashflow Planner, so the user and their accountant will have a proactive view to track payments and optimise when the business needs to manage cashflow.”
Hodgson said that her practice was moving away from compliance work, so was less concerned about “book to tax” requirements and gave QBOA the thumbs up for the way it was evolving to support her virtual finance department approach.
The tax race is on
While Hodgson is happy, accountants more interested in the compliance side of things got thin portions from QuickBooks at last week’s event.
Where Xero is readying up its free personal tax module, Williams and his colleagues talked about how Intuit was continuing to look at “full end-to-end processes and efficiency gains across the board” for its accountant partners.
There is a new capability in the QuickBooks Online Self Employed product to assess how much individuals will have to pay income tax, but it still can’t file their tax return. FreeAgent has had a graphical tax liability chart for years and can file tax returns, and both Xero and Sage have already got that.
With Making Tax Digital for income tax looming over the next two years, the nature of the race for personal tax compliance will change. In answer to queries on the QuickBooks roadmap, Williams answered that MTD was the next big priority and that work was underway.
But the time is coming when accountants considering their options for processing clients’ income tax over the next few years will want to hear about specific functionality and delivery dates.
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