Addsum web site and general info

Postings here will focus mainly on Advanced Accounting software updates, tips, and related topics. They will also include general comments relating to troubleshooting PC/Windows/network problems and may also include reference to our other software products and projects including any of our various utilities, or to the TAS Premier programming language. We considered setting up separate blogs for different topics so that users/others could subscribe to topics mostly aligned with their interests, but decided that it would be better to keep things simple since some topics cross over into others. We would nonetheless welcome your feedback/input in this regard. Our web site URL is www.addsuminc.com. Call us at 800-648-6258 or 801-277-9240. We also maintain www.advancedaccounting.us so that older Business Tools users in particular have a greater chance to find us.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Year end expected 2021 changes (and planned AP/PR module enhancements)

In IRS regulations proposed on July 23, 2021 (see Federal Register publication), e-filing thresholds for W-2 filings have been recommended to be reduced from the longstanding 250 count down to 100 effective this year (i.e. early 2022 filing for 2021).   For 2022 (filings in early 2023), the threshold is proposed to decrease to 10.

There is currently a comment period to the proposed changes that will end on September 21 and it is expected that thereafter, this change will be implemented in final regulations.

Many states have already had requirements of much less than 100 state income tax forms and some are already at 10 (plus a few that require e-filings only).  It makes sense to finally streamline some of these requirements so that the federal threshold is at a similar lower level and that should provide for much more efficient processing.

In determining the 100 (and soon 10) thresholds, note that the proposed regulations now for the first time requires that you aggregate ALL of certain forms you will be filing (1042-S, 1094 series, 1095-B, 1095-C, 1098, 1098-E, 1098-T, 1099 series, 5498 series, 8027, W-2G, W-2, 499R-2/W-2PR, W-2VI, W-2GU, W-2AS, 1098-C, 1098-Q, 3921, 3922, 1097-BTC) in determining whether the threshold has been met, with possible fines for non-compliance.

So for most accounting software users, the forms that will factor into the threshold determination is the combination of 1099-NEC and W-2 forms.  These forms are often prepared by different departments or individuals within the same organization.  Form 1099-NEC are for non-employees (which last year replaced prior 1099-MISC reporting), i.e. your  service type vendors or similar outside consultants and the like.  You do not issue a 1099-NEC to an employee.  Accounts payable transactions are often handled by a different person than the staff member handling payroll within a given organization.  There will have to be communication between these staff or between different departments to see if the threshold is met, especially this year, rather than considering them as separate, standalone filings.   As the threshold then drops in the future, companies should just plan on e-filing going forward even if their state doesn't have an e-filing requirement because it is faster and easier than ever, and because it may offer greater security, and because if you are in a state that does require filings, chances are that you may need to e-file to meet those requirements anyway.

The 2021 1099-NEC form has also changed to a 3 parts per page form rather than a 2-up form.  For those still planning on printing these in 2021, we will be accordingly updating the "Print 1099 Forms" program in Advanced Accounting.  These forms will be available from our forms supplier (Dynamic Systems800-782-2946) who also supplies compatible Advanced Accounting check and other forms.

We already have had a solution for the past several years with respect to the e-filing of W-2 and related forms (both for IRS and for all states that require them).   We are looking at adding 941 and 1099-NEC e-filings as well, through a common interface involving the same integration partner and through a similar web site interface.

In addition we are planning on expanding the number of employee deductions in the payroll (PR) module from the current limit of eight (six of those global as established in the enter/change payroll GL interface, i.e. SY-D) to eleven (nine global).




















Saturday, July 17, 2021

Windows 11 is coming: what you need to know

As announced in late June, Windows 11 is expected to be released later this year (possibly as early as October, 2021) .

Meanwhile, Windows 10 support is scheduled to end in October of 2025 (which has always been the planned life cycle end date by Microsoft for Windows 10).

The interface is similar to Windows 10 involving a mashup of Chrome OS and Mac OS in appearance.

Windows 11


The important thing about this update however is not aesthetics nor new "app" options but rather a significant shift in how security is handled, i.e. hardware enforced security.  But that's where currently there are questions in what will be supported and whether your current PC may be able to update to this newer operating system.  (Updates from Windows 10 to Windows 11 on compatible PC's are expected to be free.)

General requirements are outlined as follows:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11-specifications.

The critical consideration is what type of chip is installed in your computer. The new hardware enforced security relies on trusted platform modules (TPM).   New PC's purchased since 2016 should have some TPM version included.  However Windows 11 may require a high level of TPM that has only been included with even more recently purchased new PC's.   In essence, Intel's 8th generation processors  that didn't start to be generally be available until late in 2017 may represent the minimum for upgradeable PC's (although that could change by the time Windows 11 is released).

Supported processors are outlined here: 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/design/minimum/supported/windows-11-supported-intel-processors

So for example, if you acquired a Surface Pro in 2017, it most likely has a 7th generation chip that won't be compatible.

PC's however with generation 6, 7 or 8 processors running Windows 10 may nonethless be able to take advantage of the new security features as along as they have been fully updated to the October 2020 Windows 10 update.  On those devices, you simply need to turn device security on in the BIOS, and you will have the same enhanced hardware security features offered by Windows 11, and so you won't have to worry about Windows 11 compatibility (until October 2025 when Windows 10 support ends) even if it has an older CPU.

For PC's with even older processors running Windows 10, add-on chips for desktop PC's may be available to support the hardware enforced security.

Your new PC purchases going forward should involve the latest generation of CPU processors to ensure potential compatibility with Windows 11 (and also until the dust settles as to what exactly will and won't be supported). 

Note that Windows 11 only supports 64-bit processors.  If you are running a PC with a 32-bit processor (as some of our users are to support legacy applications), you will not be able to upgrade your current PC to Windows 11.  Note also however that 32-bit applications are all still expected to run under Windows 11 exactly as they have been running under Windows 10 with 64-bit processors (by far the most common configuration).   Accordingly we are not expecting any problems with TAS Professional 6, TAS Professional 7, TAS Premier 7i nor the recently released 7ix runtime systems, including applications based on those versions (Advanced Accounting 6, 7i and 8 for example) to have any problems migrating ultimately to Windows 11.  Our preference however is always to wait until the first major update of any new operating system before planning a migration to that new version.










Saturday, July 10, 2021

TAS Premier 7ix release 16 published

We are pleased to announce the next release in the TAS Premier 7i series.

This release perhaps could have been referenced as TAS Premier "8" but that would have led to changes in executable names, documentation files, etc. and so for simplicity and to make it easier for users to update to this next release, we decided to retain the existing executable names, icons, help files, etc. referring to this instead as release 16 in the TAS Premier 7i series.  In light of some of the significant features relating to exporting data and other enhancements, however, we are also now referring to development system as the TAS Premier 7ix version.

Releases 14 and 15 both came out in 2019.   Not long after the October 31, 2019 publication of release 15, we added support for QR codes, first in a private/custom standalone executable where it was needed but then we added it to the development system/runtime environment and since then we have continued to make changes and updates to the system that are finally now being released.

The new QRCODE() function can create images (which can then be picked up on the fly in reports, for example, as with any image file).  QR code technology was first developed in 1994 but widespread use came much later.   We first looked at generating them in 2012 but did not have anyone expressing a need for them; that did not happen until late in 2019.   Because of how much information that can be stored in a QR code compared to say a conventional bar code, they seemingly could be used in many inventory type applications.

A QR code PNG image with 13 characters (byte size:  204) generated by the 7ix version


There are different versions of QR codes.  The most standard type, Module or Version 2, is what we are supporting starting with the TAS Premier 7ix release 16.  The amount of information that can be included depends on the type of characters (string vs. numeric) and also based on the margin and pixel size of the generated image.  While some sources indicate that they can hold  up to roughly 4,000 characters of text, or about 7,000 numeric characters, in our tests we were able to generate a maximum size of 2,930 characters using a margin size of 4 with a pixel size of 75.  Readability of the code and the intended distance from which it may be read are other factors to consider in the design of a QR code.  If the code will be read by a smart phone, the code should be limited to fewer overall characters (under 300).   For smart phone readability, they should not be smaller than 1" x 1" and equal to at least 1/10th the desired scanning distance.


A QR code PNG image with 2,930 characters (byte size: 6,259) generated by the 7ix version



More recently we have added export features such as EXPORTGRID() that exports current visible rows of the TTASDataGrid object (a string grid descendant) into a great number of other file types including XLSX.  This feature has been added to the Maintain Database and Maintain Data DIctionary options as well.

Two new utilities include an option that can Read XLS or XLSX files into a string grid that also includes a number of output options similar to EXPORTGRID() as well as a utility option that can load a delimited text file into a string grid and that also has the same export output capabilities.  These utilities can be used in runtime environments even though they are not currently embedded into the runtime engine.  The Read XLS/XLSX option can even be used to automatically convert and XLS files to the XLSX format without end user interaction. We intend to add more options like these in future releases.  We have also been using custom modified versions of these tools to meet specific customer requests.

Some 14 pages of additional documentation have been added (the PDF version of the help file is now up to 794 pages) in connection with both new and existing capabilities of the development system.  The report designer now has a separate end user document tied to it which can be substituted with a similarly named PDF  allowing it to be branded/customized for use with a specific runtime system.  The provided PDF however contains information that may help end users in making with aesthetic changes to reports and/or may be of interest to developers, and is in addition to the normal help files provided with the development system.

See the "Addsum Premier 7i features" under the topic "What's new in TAS Premier 7i" in the help files for more information as to all of the updates provided in this release.

Future releases of Advanced Accounting 8 will use the 7ix runtime.


 











Friday, January 1, 2021

Advanced Accounting 8 r5 release

Release 5 in the Advanced Accounting 8 series is now available which includes recently announced 2021 federal withholding and other payroll module changes.   Advanced Accounting 8 was originally released in September of 2019.

While new releases in the Advanced Accounting series have typically not coincided with calendar year payroll changes, it just worked out that way this time.  

Some of the new features included in Adv 8 r5:

Sales order/quotes/inventory control/point-of-sale:

Special customer parts (price and customer part number) feature added to programs in five different modules:

AR-A (accounts receivable maintenance), IC-A (inventory maintenance), QC-A (quote entry), SO-A (sales order entry) and SO-I (recurring sales order), and POS-A (run POS register).

In AR-A and IC-A, there are new options for special customer pricing and customer part codes (see option "U" under the Customer options button in AR-A and the Inventory options button in IC-A.  Pricing logic as implemented in those options are then used in sales order entry, quotes, recurring sales orders and point-of-sale.

The purpose of these options are two-fold:  (1) despite the many existing pricing options that exist, provide a way to provide special customer pricing that is unique to that customer; and (2) provide a cross-reference to customer part codes.   


Enter/change customer part codes - Adv8 r5



While input on the same screen, the customer part code facility can be used without providing any special price to the customer (or vice versa): just leave the price and discount fields as zero.

An effective date and expiration date related to the special pricing can also be optionally used but those two dates can also be unassigned so that the pricing remains in effect until changed in this option.

Special customer prices (and a special discount can also be used) take precedence over any other pricing for a given product code relating to a specific customer.

The customer's part code can be looked up in either AR-A or IC-A under the "U" option.  A customer's special parts pricing can also be printed under that option in AR-A.


Customer part code list and lookup - Adv8 r5


General ledger:

GL-E-A - in the re-designed print detailed trial balance option, there was an issue with balance forwards on systems with non-calendar dates which has been resolved; progress bar enhancements added.

GL-K Bank reconciliation - if users attempt re-finalize a bank statement, the prior saved PDF version will not be overwritten and will be append by adding a, b, c, etc. at the end of the file name.

Bills of material:

BM-A enhancement to display/find components lacking an internal line number (mainly an issue with older systems that update to the newer versions)

Accounts payable:

AP-A - new electronic funds transfer (EFT) default flag; related changes to AP-D to default a vendor that is flagged as EFT to be paid electronically and warning in AP-F (print checks) if a check is attempted to be processed for an EFT flagged vendor

Payroll:

PR-G and SY-D changes for the new FICA max default and payroll tax table and related updates.

Existing Advanced Accounting 8 users should simply get in touch with us to arrange to have this update installed. 


Monday, December 28, 2020

Payroll tax withholding for 2021

Federal withholding tax changes for 2021:

The IRS released tax tables for 2021 on December 8, 2020 (Publication 15-T).  Compared to the changes implemented in January of 2020 (see 2020 federal payroll changes create confusion), the 2021 changes will be easier to implement since they build on the changes made last year.  There is also an updated W-4 form for 2021 which appears to be exactly the same as its 2020 counterpart.

As of today and for businesses that have already processed their last paychecks for 2020, updated tax tables are available for Advanced Accounting 8 which includes our normal annual payroll update which checks all payroll divisions for the latest social security limit maximum, which for 2021 has increased from $137,700 to $142,800 (see the SSA's COLA information page).  

Versions prior to Advanced Accounting 8 are not compliant with the latest federal withholding logic for the reasons indicated in our February 2020 blog.

All of the federal ("US") tax codes have been updated including the new codes added last year i.e.:

Legacy tax codes (employees still using a pre-2020 W-4 form):  USS, USM and USH.

New tax codes (2020 or 2021 W-4 form):  UST, USN and USI.

We have tested all of these codes with the updated tax table, and they appear to all be working as expected.

Note that while employees are not required to submit new W-4 forms each year, if an employee wants to make any changes to their withholding or is first hired on/after January 1, 2020, they must use the newer W-4 form.

State withholding tax changes:

We also anticipate logic and/or table changes for at least 14 states.  So far we have already made updates for California, Michigan, Oregon and South Carolina with more to follow.

No W-3/W-2 form changes:

There are no required W-3/W-2 form changes for 2020.   W-3/W-2 forms can be obtained from any number of suppliers including the official forms supplier for Advanced Accounting, Dynamic Systems.  (Dynamic Systems also can provide the new form 1099-NEC and updated 1096 transmittal that replaces 1099-MISC handling for non-employee compensation.  We released an update for printing to that form in late March of this year as a part of Advanced Accounting 8 r3.) 

E-filing for 2020 is now also available:

We have re-tested and been approved by our e-filing partner to begin processing forms through our portal for federal/state e-filing of W-3/W-2 forms for 2020.  Filings can be initiated as early as this week if you have processed your final paychecks for 2020.  

February 1, 2021 is the deadline to file forms W-2/W3 with the SSA:

This due date is the same for all filings, i.e. whether paper or electronic.

How to obtain payroll tax updates for Advanced Accounting 8

Please contact us via support@addsuminc.com or https://www.addsuminc.com or call 1-800-648-6258.





 



Monday, November 30, 2020

TLS protocol changes can cause encrypted e-mail to fail

Advanced Accounting has supported encrypted e-mail since February of 2014 (background details).  In the ever-changing world we live in, nothing stays the same.   Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols are widely used over a wide spectrum of web communication services ranging from e-mail to web browsing to file transfer protocols (FTP) and more.   Web sites with the https prefixes use these protocols, sometimes referred to as "secure" http (and similarly secure FTP for file transfer).   Web socket calls used in securely communicating with web servers also utilize these transport layers. TLS is the more modern version of what was called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) which had the same goal of providing cryptographic protocols for securely connecting across computer networks.   When sending e-mail, most Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) providers now require secure communications using TLS.

TLS first came out in 1999 as an upgrade to SSL.  TLS 1.0 continued to be the standard for a very long time.  TLS 1.1 came out in 2006 with then 1.2 (2008) and 1.3 (2018).  Mail and browser providers however have continued to support TLS 1.0 (until recently).

In October of 2018, Microsoft announced that it would be ending TLS 1.0 and 1.1. support in some of their browsers.  This was planned for the first half of 2020 but has since been delayed, in part.  Meanwhile other providers have started to end their support of TLS 1.0 and 1.1.

In August of this year, we had a custom project that was making secure HTTP socket calls in connection with which users suddenly started to receive messages that we traced to HTTP 1.1 426 upgrade required.  The components used in part to make the secure connections were the same tools we use in other projects requiring secure communications, yet this was the first report of any issue and the custom application had previously worked continuously without issues.

At first, the web server provider of the application we were communicating with indicated that they had not made any changes.  Based on some posts we had seen related to the plug-in components we use to make the secure calls, however, we realized that this was happening probably due to their dropping TLS 1.0 (which they later admitted was the case).  While our program settings indicated that if one layer protocol failed then proceed to try the next available layer, it turns out that the third party component was failing after a refusal of TLS 1.0 to connect, and then would simply stop trying.  The solution was to change the internal handler's SSL options to start with TLS 1.1 and then continue trying from there, which did solve the problem.

Other providers have since also started to drop at least TLS version 1.0.  We realized this could happen when sending e-mail within standard Advanced Accounting, so we updated our encrypted e-mail "send" program with a change similar to that made in the custom project that brought out this issue in August. That update was made available in September and included in Adv 8 rel. 4 (see our prior blog where we also described this issue).  E-mail can suddenly stop working for a variety of reasons typically related to issues such as required changes to passwords, or the requirement that the sender e-mail address match the authentication logon ID which is now typically the case, and these changes are often made by providers without any advance warning.  This is also the case if a mail provider suddenly drops TLS 1.0 support: encrypted e-mail will then stop working.

While we've had almost no additional reports of this issue from our users so far, and while they don't manifest themselves always in the same way in terms of an error response, earlier this month we had an Advanced Accounting 7i user suddenly experience a problem sending e-mail and it turned out to be, in part, this issue.   While Advanced Accounting 7i isn't being formally updated, we were able to solve the issue for this user using the newer components that are used with Advanced Accounting 8.


More information















Saturday, October 31, 2020

Advanced Accounting 8 releases 3 and 4

Since its initial release in late September of 2019, there have been three additional Advanced Accounting 8 releases.  Release 2 in part dealt with the rather significant payroll changes that went into effect in January of 2020, but also included all of the updates made to the software since the initial release.   Release 3 was completed by mid-May of this year and several of its features were mentioned in a pre-release blog published in March.  Release 4 is being officially released today, October 31, 2020.

Here are some of the new features and enhancements included in releases 3 and 4:

  • Support for new IRS form 1099-NEC and the revised form 1096 as previously announced (with a related update to vendor maintenance, i.e. AP option A; rel 3)
  • Inclusion of a report editor (new option UT-R) allowing end users to edit certain report layouts (more details below) with changes to all programs where end user report editing is now possible (rel 3)
  • Related in part to the above, the print AP checks program (AP-F) includes support for MICR encoded check printing with the ability to have different custom modified check formats for each company that has been established (rel 3)
  • Allowing more flexibility in some commonly used options to allow other programs to be topmost (rel 3)
  • New Salesperson Payment Detail Report (PR-I-B) which provides the details behind receipts for a given salesperson both currently assigned or when invoiced and for any desired data range including an outline of issues associated with receipt tracking (rel 3)
  • Dashboard and SY-A changes to allow for monitoring of inventory balances
  • Encrypted e-mail send enhancements (rel 3: if e-mail failed to send, wasn't providing an end user response in the Adv 8 version and then also allowing for a second attempt; rel 4: updated for newer underlying components, and also overcoming an issue whereby if an ISP stops supporting TLS 1.0 the next supported server SSL protocol is then used, otherwise a STAT DISCONNECTED could result)
  • Sending encrypted e-mail involving customer codes with illegal file creation characters such as a slash could create GPF's when creating the RTF file (resolved, rel 4)
  • Cancel button in the backup option changes to "exit" when complete (rel 3)
  • Zero amount checks were being printed if discounts/credits were involved in creating the zero amount (this has been the case in every prior version until now - rel 4)
  • Sort option H (Product code/Ship City/Order Date) under print open S/O list (SO-B) wasn't allowing access to the from/thru product code ranges as it was in the last Adv 7i releases (rel 4 - resolved)
  • New feature in part documented under UT-F (Global Startup Options) allowing you to use an environment variable to load a company on startup so that you can have different users startup with different companies with a single installation of the software; the software now supports four different startup methods (rel 4)
  • New Transfer Cust Balance option (AR-K) added and available for the first time which allows for easy transferring of invoices or credits from one customer to another (rel 4) (somewhat similar to the option to transfer vendor balances that has existed in the software for many years)
  • Implemented a restriction that already existed in the sales order quick report (SO-M) into the sales invoice reprint option (SO-N) option based on the security permission SY-C-C for sales orders entitled "Allow user to print reports showing other salesperson numbers?" which has also been clarified in the SY-C-C Maintain User Permissions option (rel 4)
  • Added the optional Emp/Slsp # associated with user logon codes in the SY-C-D Security Permissions Report (rel 4)
  • List salesperson issues in AR-A and SO-A resolved (rel 4)
  • New Open/Save/Paste Text option under Tools along the top menu bar (rel 4); while the existing "Clip" option has a somewhat similar function, this new option also allows you to directly open and save text files and also provides the ability to change the font size
  • In the generic export (UT-J-A), allow older style type V overlay fields to be exported; screen enhancements re: key field from/thru ranges (rel 4):
  • In the export option under Print Customer General Information (AR-H), add customer class (start date and last date were added in rel 2) and improve the export output (rel 4)
  • The full details of an AR voucher (AR-B) can now be viewed from the Customer options button and then Vouchers in Enter/Change Customers (AR-A)
  •  All three help format files updated throughout the course of releases 3 and 4 - the PDF version now consists of 611 pages


New UT-R Report Designer option (rel 3):

No prior version of Advanced Accounting has allowed for end user modification of report layouts.  Custom modifications relating to report layouts were typically provided by us or a third party developer.  Prior to the Windows versions, custom formats could only be changed by also changing the source code.  The ability to provide an integrated report designer option that could be used to modify report layouts in standard menu options wasn't possible until we added that capability to the underlying development system in September of 2005 (TAS Premier Rel. 1).   The report designer is the same tool that is used in the development system itself.  There were a number of reasons why however we still did not include it with the accounting software.   One reason related to the fact that we encrypt report (and screen) layouts, and we had to come up with a solution for that (which we have).  Another reason is because we had users who did not want the software to be capable of being changed from outside of the software (which it can't be without our encryption tools).  Another reason related to being able to more flexibly deal with custom report layouts in a way that they would not conflict with future updates (that issue we dealt with long ago in provide custom report layout changes, but only as directly controlled by us).  And more.

At the same time, users may want to on their own initiative delete non-essential language or add their own or change the way labels or other text appears on certain business essential documents.  Or add include images, or make position changes, etc.  

Starting with release 3, there are some 26 report formats relating to 12 different options that can be modified by end users including all of the essential types of documents that fall into the category of the most likely layout that users might want to change including sales orders, sales invoices, quotes, AR statements, point-of-sale tickets, AP checks, purchase orders and pack slips. As additional options are identified, they will be added.


Adv 8 r3's UT-R Report Designer interface


Documentation for use of this option is included in the updated help files, but we would encourage users to contact us so that we can jump on your system and provide some additional guidance. 

Previously too when custom report changes were made, those changes would be in effect for all companies established in that installation yet often in multi-company situations, the desired change was really intended only for one of those companies.   Further, also for the first time in standard Advanced Accounting, we support MICR encoded checks which have to be specific to one company.  So not only do we rename the standard report layout to a different name (in part to resolve any chance of a future update conflict) but we also place that layout in your company's data folder where related programs using the layouts currently available for modification now look, so that any changes will only apply to that company.   Previously changed layouts can be edited/updated or even deleted at any time but only by users with assigned access rights to the new UT-R option.  The software remains protected from edits made from outside of the accounting program.

Depending on interest and demand, we may provide additional training materials specific to this option in the future.

Advanced Accounting updates are installed in succession and each builds on the last.  So a system on release 2 would first have release 3 installed and then release 4.  For standard system users and those we have modified, we install these updates remotely and at no additional charge.