What is the best way to get an expense-account transaction report?

Quarterly tax time is here, and I need to get a report of all YTD transactions in tax-deductible expense accounts.

Other than clicking through each account separately in the Summary and exporting the table to Excel, or other than using the inconsistent General Ledger Transactions report (which contains pages of additional information that would need to be pruned and which @Lubos has been talking about getting rid of anyway), what’s the best way to get the reports I need?

I think reporting is currently a weakness of Manager (although that weakness is far, far, far outweighed by Manager’s strengths in other areas). Selective account-specific reporting and selective customer-specific reporting, where the user can tick one or more accounts or customers on a list and get a report containing all transactions on those accounts, is a basic requirement for most businesses.

Custom Reports will fill this gap, once the documentation of the table and field names is made available – but that has been a very long time in coming.

Is there another workaround in the meantime?

While I agree with your general comments about what would make for more useful and flexible reporting, I wonder why you need anything more for tax reporting than the Profit and Loss Statement. Proper design of the chart of accounts will segregate any expenses that need special treatment for tax reporting in a particular jurisdiction. Otherwise, what more do you need besides income minus expenses? You don’t report individual transactions.

For expenses: It’s not enough to see a total of $600 for utilities on my Income Statement. For documentation, validation, and audit purposes, I need to see the itemized list showing what I spent that money on.

For income: Some of my clients aren’t the most rigorous with their Forms 1099*. I need to make sure that the amounts they report on the 1099 matches my cash-based receipts for the year. Last year at tax time, I had to do this manually, and I found a number of discrepancies (partially because some reported on an accrual basis and others on a cash basis, and partially because some of my overseas clients didn’t bother sending a 1099).

*(For those unfamiliar: Form 1099 is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s way of getting reports of taxable payments made to independent contractors.)

This I understand, and is why I support the ability to produce a transaction report for both definable accounts and date ranges. But your original post implied the need was to support tax filing. That’s where I couldn’t see the need.

Actually, I don’t think this is a problem for filing. Schedule C, Line 1, is for gross receipts or sales, making no distinction between income reported on Forms 1099 and other. Some popular tax-preparation software asks for that breakdown, but not by customer. You only need to sum the 1099’s you receive and lump all other income together. The two categories are recombined on Schedule C. So as long as you have more total receipts than the sum of 1099’s, all will be well. The IRS has no better visibility.

The only real problem occurs when one or more customers report all amounts paid in Block 7 of the 1099 instead of only non-employee compensation, and the cumulative effect of that exceeds your actual reported sales. Billable expenses, of course, should not be included there, and if you can’t get a corrected form from them, you have to show a special deduction on Schedule C.

So while it is essential to verify the 1099’s you receive, there is virtually nothing manual about it. You can handle that easily by searching your service income account for the client’s name and comparing the total at the bottom to the 1099 from that client. The income account should only include the service sales amounts, not expenses. If you have one income account for billable time and another for fixed rate work, you still need do this on only two accounts per customer. The sum of the two totals should equal that client’s 1099 reporting. Note that you can’t do this for quarterly estimated filings, though, but you don’t have to, because you won’t have the 1099’s yet. So you do it once per year. Of course, I know you will still want your print-out, but that is the other issue mentioned above.

(Apologies to non-U. S. users, for whom none of this will make sense or matter.)

You hit it exactly! Last year, the sum of my 1099’s exceeded my income. I had to track down which client (or clients, as it turned out) had over-reported. Turns out, one had included unpaid invoices in their reports and the other had incorrectly included pass-through expenses as income, so it was easily fixed once identified.

But that process was very manual. I did it exactly as you described above, @Tut, but with dozens of clients, that process takes a long time and is error-prone. I don’t really see how providing a canned report of income/sales by customer is anything more than table-stakes for a business accounting program.

I think this matters to everyone who uses the program. They may not use Form 1099, but being able to see an account-level expenses report or a customer-level sales report is not a peculiarly American thing. Accounting isn’t just about good number-collecting and good totalling; it’s also about good reporting.

I agree, @Jon. Note what I said in my first response: