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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Friday, December 31, 2021

Adv 8 year end updates and introducing Adv 9

In our August 2021 blog post, we mentioned proposed IRS regulations that would lower e-filing requirements for W-2/W-3 forms and a possible aggregate approach involving other forms including 1099-NEC.  Those proposed changes have not been finalized, and so the pre-existing rules still apply for 2021.  Nonetheless, the writing is on the wall as to a continued reduction in e-filing thresholds coupled with the fact that many states have very low minimum requirements making it more convenient to simply file W-2/W-3 forms electronically at both the federal and state (where required) levels.  Submission in this manner is generally more secure and it also allows your employees to potentially file their personal returns quicker.

Meanwhile we have remained very busy updating both the Advanced Accounting 8 version (and now 9 - see below) as well as with custom programming work.

By August we had completed Adv 8 releases 6 and 7 (almost none of which related to payroll issues).  Rel. 6 included further enhancements to customer product cross-references first introduced in release 5 (at the end of 2020) and many other system-wide changes.  Release 7 included the integrated report designer and some 20+ report layouts that end users are able to directly modify (via a new Utilities option R, i.e. UT-R).   In Adv 8 release 8 that has just been completed, we have provided the changes for the new 3-part 1099-NEC as mentioned in the earlier blog but also a new load sheet option from both the sales orders and point-of-sale modules, a new remittance option when making e-payments from the pick to pay program (AP-D),  and more.  Plus, Adv 8 rel. 8 (released today) includes the federal tax table update for 2022.   As state changes are announced and as we go through the states that make 2022 changes, further updates will be made in the next release which will be made available on an advance basis for anyone that needs them and that has Adv 8 r8 (or Adv 9 r1) installed.  We have fairly extensively tested those rate changes and for most people, they will result in at least slightly lower federal withholding, although the potential number of combinations for any given employee has become fairly complex as a result of the January 2020 federal changes.  We have also completed the required W-2 e-filing testing, and the Addsum-Nelco portal will be available for federal and state e-filings as of January 10, 2022.

In addition and as also indicated in an earlier blog, we have expanded employee "other deductions" (UOD) that allow for either pre- or post-tax options from six to nine, which overall increases the number of available employee deductions from eight to eleven per employee overall.  This change ended up being so significant to the payroll module affecting almost every option (over 26 individual program changes plus a new data file and four restructured data files and seven report layout modifications) and because most Adv 8 users are happy with the current number of deductions or may not use the payroll module, that we decided to preliminarily make the expanded payroll deduction the starting point for Advanced Accounting 9.  Eventually we plan to move all users to the Adv 9 version, but for now we will continue to develop both versions simultaneously so that they will have have the same overall features and since the payroll changes can be fairly well isolated, and because both versions are otherwise highly compatible.

We look forward to working with our new and long-term customers in the new year as we all continue to do the best we can under less than ideal circumstances.















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