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QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping is an add-on for QuickBooks Online that does exactly what the name suggests: It connects QuickBooks clients to QuickBooks-certified bookkeepers for personalized, real-time support.
This service can be a major help for business owners who don’t have the time to keep their own books and who want the hands-on, human support that a basic, self-directed accounting software just can’t offer them. But you have to be willing and able to pay for this ultra-personalized level of service. Keep in mind this service won’t make tax filings on your behalf, so you'll have to handle that separately.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping was first offered only to a select group of QuickBooks Online customers in June 2019. In December 2019, it became available to all businesses that use QuickBooks Online and have filed taxes in the previous calendar year.
The bookkeeping service connects you with a certified bookkeeper (yes, a human bookkeeper), with whom you can communicate through video chat. You can contact your bookkeeper anytime with questions or concerns about your accounting, and your bookkeeper will manage your books for you and provide you with month-end reports.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping notes that you may not qualify for its service if your business is extremely complex, deals in foreign currency or cryptocurrency or heavily mingles personal and business expenses.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping doesn’t come cheap. But keep in mind that it doesn’t have long-term contracts, so you can switch or cancel your service at any time without incurring fees.
QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping has three service plans:
Low-volume bookkeeping: $200 per month. This plan works for businesses with up to $25,000 in monthly expenses.
Medium-volume bookkeeping: $400 per month. This plan is suitable for businesses with $25,001 to $150,000 in monthly expenses.
High-volume bookkeeping: $600 per month. This highest-tier plan is designed for businesses with $150,001 or more in monthly expenses.
How it works
When you sign up for QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, you’ll provide QuickBooks with some information about your business, and the service will match you with a certified bookkeeper within a couple of minutes. This will be your primary contact, but you can also leave a message with an additional team of bookkeepers if you have any questions. Note that your bookkeeping team is available only during certain hours; QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping says it tries to match you with a bookkeeper with availability similar to yours.
From there, you can schedule video and screen-sharing sessions with your bookkeeper. The bookkeeper will help you with:
Cleanup and setup: At the start, the bookkeeper will help you clean your existing information in QuickBooks Online. If you're new to QuickBooks, they can help you set it up, including your chart of accounts.
Ongoing bookkeeping: The bookkeeper will categorize transactions and reconcile accounts each month.
Reporting: After closing your books at the end of each month, your bookkeeper will send you copies of financial reports, including your profit and loss statement and balance sheet.
However, there’s one major caveat: The bookkeepers on this platform won’t handle your payroll setup, administration or support. And although they’ll organize your books for tax season, they won’t file your taxes for you. For that, you’ll need to stick with your accountant, professional employer organization or payroll service that’s certified to calculate and file taxes on your behalf.
Wave Advisors: Best option for free accounting software
If the steep cost of QuickBooks Live is an issue for you, you might consider Wave Accounting software with the Wave Advisor service add-on as a more cost-effective alternative. Wave Accounting is one of the very few business accounting software providers on the market that’s completely free. Plus, the software itself is intuitive and easy to use.
With Wave's Advisor service, which is similar to QuickBooks Live but generally more affordable, you can choose from three paid plans: Bookkeeping and Payroll Support, Tax Service, and Accounting Coaching. Prices for the Bookkeeping and Payroll Support starts at $149 per month; the Tax Service starts at $1,500 per year. The Accounting Coaching service has a one-time fee of $229 for one hour of live coaching with 30 days of email support.
FreshBooks: Best option for customer service
FreshBooks offers excellent customer service and, for an additional fee — which is quote-based — you can add on bookkeeping services from Bench. FreshBooks' customer support team can be contacted through either email or phone, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, and receives consistently stellar ratings across major review platforms. Bench also offers similar services to QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping. FreshBooks offers three service plans ranging from $15 to $50 per month, but larger businesses with more than 500 billable clients can contact FreshBooks directly for a custom pricing plan.
Beyond its customer service, FreshBooks is a great alternative to QuickBooks overall, as each software’s accounting and administrative tools are comparable. And in addition to essential accounting capabilities, FreshBooks customers can take advantage of time-tracking, team management and invoicing tools, as well as online payment acceptance. As FreshBooks is a cloud-based software, all of its services are fully accessible via mobile app.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.