GNUcash setup

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GNUcash setup

kbrown
Just getting set up on GNUcash for the first time and would like some recommendations.

I have two separate proprietorship type business ventures that I want to track separately and that both get rolled up into my personal income taxes that I also want to use GNUcash for e.g. medical, house expenses, utilities etc. Within the businesses, I would also like to keep certain projects separate in order to easily see and report on project details. A portion of my utilities and house expenses would get expensed to the businesses because of home office space.

What is the best way to handle this tracking via one set of accounts? Or is it best to keep separate data files for each of personal, business #1, business #2?

Thx for any tips or insight.
Ken G. Brown
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Re: GNUcash setup

Adrien Monteleone
Ken,

Welcome to Gnucash!

If you’re going to file only one return for yourself and not for each business separately, it is likely best to keep everything in one file. Others may recommend other setups, but for me, each separate entity gets its own book. If the entities aren’t really separate but just pass-throughs, then they don’t get their own book.

Certainly, ask for a CPA’s opinion on this with regard to any nuances for your specific circumstance and jurisdiction.

First off, I’d re-label the “Income” top account to “Revenue” as it’s more business oriented. Then create separate sub-accounts for each business and for personal income.

For each business, create the necessary revenue sub-accounts as you want to track them. (for example, by category or type of sales for each. I have more than one service I offer so I have separate revenue accounts to track how much work I earn for each.)

For personal, consider creating income accounts based on how you get paid from each business. (Draw, salary, dividends, etc.) Also don’t forget to keep the Gifts Received and other items (Misc, Interest income, etc.) under the Personal set of revenue accounts. Your CPA might have other recommendations, but generally, if you don’t segregate funds and just spend for yourself whatever is available, that’s likely consider an Owner’s Draw in most cases.

You will likely also have to create separation for expenses, and possibly some assets and liabilities.(but if they are pass-throughs, each business probably doesn’t own assets and you might likely be personally responsible for any debt)

There are two basic paths - separate account trees for each business, or sub-accounts under every relevant account for each business. It’s up to you. When you create your P&L for each entity, just select the relevant accounts. (and as just noted, if these are pass-throughs, likely the assets & liabilities all belong to you, so you only need one Balance Sheet)

With respect to taxes, look at the tax report options under the Edit menu. You’ll have to arrange this for your particular situation. (the accounts need to be created first)

Concerning project based analysis, that one is a bit tough. Gnucash does offer the ability to create ‘jobs’ for both customers and vendors, however the feature is severely limited. You can only have one job per vendor per customer for chargeback purposes. Frankly, it fits a very narrow use case. Most projects involve multiple vendors. And, a job for a vendor isn’t necessarily the same actual job for the customer. They might have the same name, but those are two separate ‘jobs’ in the system. (the feature doesn’t have an ‘entity’ called, “jobs” that is independently managed or reported on, instead, a job is just a tag added to both customers and vendors) There also is no way to tag manual entries as part of a job. Some here on the list have some creative ways of working around this using sub-accounts or the memo lines of transactions and some fiddling with the transaction report, but more than likely, you’ll still have to export some data to a spreadsheet or other software to get a good picture for job-costing/profit type analysis.

Regards,
Adrien

> On Mar 1, 2018, at 11:55 AM, Ken G. Brown <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Just getting set up on GNUcash for the first time and would like some recommendations.
>
> I have two separate proprietorship type business ventures that I want to track separately and that both get rolled up into my personal income taxes that I also want to use GNUcash for e.g. medical, house expenses, utilities etc. Within the businesses, I would also like to keep certain projects separate in order to easily see and report on project details. A portion of my utilities and house expenses would get expensed to the businesses because of home office space.
>
> What is the best way to handle this tracking via one set of accounts? Or is it best to keep separate data files for each of personal, business #1, business #2?
>
> Thx for any tips or insight.
> Ken G. Brown
> _______________________________________________
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Re: GNUcash setup

David Cousens
Ken, Adrien
Just a quick note re "separate account trees for each business".

I have experimnted to try to do this within the one set of books (i.e. file)
in Gnucash and have never found a way of doing it.

My problem has always been creating an entity level top account as there is
no top level account of type entity in the Gnucash structure which can have
the other major account types (i.e. Asset, Liability, Equity, Income,
Expense) as the type of its sub accounts.

The account type of a top level account is restricted to be one of {Bank,
Cash, Asset, Credit Card, Liabilty, Stock, Mutual Fund, Income, Expense,
Equity, A/Receivable, A/Payable,or Trading}. Having made a choice of the top
level account (e.g. Asset),the choice of account type for a subaccount is
restricted to types in the Asset and Liability classes , i.e.{Bank, Cash,
Asset, Credit Card, Liability, Stock, Mutual Fund, A/Receivable, A/Payable}.
If the top level account is of type Liability, the choices are restricted to
the same list. If the top level account is an Equity account type, its sub
accounts can only be of type Equity. Expense and Income class top level
accounts can only have a type for the subaccounts of {Income, Expense}. This
precludes setting up multiple entity structures with the entities as
separate top level accounts with their own sub trees.

I think this is by design and that the expected strategy is to use separate
files for separate entity.

I have adopted the second strategy you mentioned of having "entity"
subaccounts under each of the major top level classes {Asset,Libility,
Equity, Income, Expenses} to separate my wife's, mine and a few minor
business ventures we operate jointly or separately. It works OK, but
increases the likelihood of putting a transaction in the wrong account and
the balance sheets and income statements are not ideal but easily rearranged
once generated. The main distinction for me is that none of these ventures
files a separate tax return and they are basically at the hobby level since
we retired.

David



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Re: GNUcash setup

Adrien Monteleone
Thanks Dave,

To clarify, what I was suggesting was this:

Assets
Assets:Personal
Assets:Entity1
Assets:Entity2

with appropriate sub-accounts under each.

In line with this you’d also have:

Expenses
Expenses:Personal
Expenses:Entity1
Expenses:Entity2

with appropriate sub-accounts under each, and so on for Revenue and then Liabilities and Equity as needed.

Each of those ’second levels’ should probably be marked as placeholders to avoid a mess.

The other alternative would be this:

Assets
Assets:Current Assets:Checking
Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Personal
Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Entity1
Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Entity2

That is, if such actual real accounts exist for each entity. The same would go for liabilities and Equity would most likely ALL be under Personal, so no need for separate accounts.

For expenses, this would be the alternate format:

Expenses
Expenses:Utilities
Expenses:Utilities:Electricity
Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Personal
Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Entity1
Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Entity2

with the individual subs being their respective percentages allowed to be deducted on the tax return. (or more likely, for that particular expense type, just leave everything personal and calculate the percentage at tax time off the main expense, which is personal)

Some expenses might only be for each of the business entities or one of the other, so not necessarily all expense categories would have entity sub-accounts.

In the second set of examples, the level just above the entities should probably be marked a place-holder.

Otherwise, yes, you’d have to keep separate books for each and figure out how to handle ‘paying yourself’ according to your local tax laws. You’d also have to figure out your itemized deductions a bit differently, but separate books would also give you separate ‘loss or gain from business activity’ numbers.

I’ve seen prior discussions showing both these methods with respect to rental property tracking. All properties are part of the same legal entity and so should all be on the same statements and return, but the owner wanted to track their profitability individually.

Personally, I keep everything in one book and don’t separate entities at all because I don’t have individual concerns I need to analyze. But I do track separate “revenue streams” for various work.


Regards,
Adrien

> On Mar 2, 2018, at 6:26 PM, DaveC49 <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Ken, Adrien
> Just a quick note re "separate account trees for each business".
>
> I have experimnted to try to do this within the one set of books (i.e. file)
> in Gnucash and have never found a way of doing it.
>
> My problem has always been creating an entity level top account as there is
> no top level account of type entity in the Gnucash structure which can have
> the other major account types (i.e. Asset, Liability, Equity, Income,
> Expense) as the type of its sub accounts.
>
> The account type of a top level account is restricted to be one of {Bank,
> Cash, Asset, Credit Card, Liabilty, Stock, Mutual Fund, Income, Expense,
> Equity, A/Receivable, A/Payable,or Trading}. Having made a choice of the top
> level account (e.g. Asset),the choice of account type for a subaccount is
> restricted to types in the Asset and Liability classes , i.e.{Bank, Cash,
> Asset, Credit Card, Liability, Stock, Mutual Fund, A/Receivable, A/Payable}.
> If the top level account is of type Liability, the choices are restricted to
> the same list. If the top level account is an Equity account type, its sub
> accounts can only be of type Equity. Expense and Income class top level
> accounts can only have a type for the subaccounts of {Income, Expense}. This
> precludes setting up multiple entity structures with the entities as
> separate top level accounts with their own sub trees.
>
> I think this is by design and that the expected strategy is to use separate
> files for separate entity.
>
> I have adopted the second strategy you mentioned of having "entity"
> subaccounts under each of the major top level classes {Asset,Libility,
> Equity, Income, Expenses} to separate my wife's, mine and a few minor
> business ventures we operate jointly or separately. It works OK, but
> increases the likelihood of putting a transaction in the wrong account and
> the balance sheets and income statements are not ideal but easily rearranged
> once generated. The main distinction for me is that none of these ventures
> files a separate tax return and they are basically at the hobby level since
> we retired.
>
> David
>
>
>
> -----
> David Cousens
> --
> Sent from: http://gnucash.1415818.n4.nabble.com/GnuCash-User-f1415819.html
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Re: GNUcash setup

Sébastien de Menten
Adrien,

This thread
https://lists.gnucash.org/pipermail/gnucash-user/2016-September/066879.html
talks about a similar topic. I have posted some "experimental hacks" on it
to have a book with multiple root accounts. But far from guaranteed to work
properly in gnucash.

Sébastien

On Mar 3, 2018 02:02, "Adrien Monteleone" <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Thanks Dave,
>
> To clarify, what I was suggesting was this:
>
> Assets
> Assets:Personal
> Assets:Entity1
> Assets:Entity2
>
> with appropriate sub-accounts under each.
>
> In line with this you’d also have:
>
> Expenses
> Expenses:Personal
> Expenses:Entity1
> Expenses:Entity2
>
> with appropriate sub-accounts under each, and so on for Revenue and then
> Liabilities and Equity as needed.
>
> Each of those ’second levels’ should probably be marked as placeholders to
> avoid a mess.
>
> The other alternative would be this:
>
> Assets
> Assets:Current Assets:Checking
> Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Personal
> Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Entity1
> Assets:Current Assets:Checking:Entity2
>
> That is, if such actual real accounts exist for each entity. The same
> would go for liabilities and Equity would most likely ALL be under
> Personal, so no need for separate accounts.
>
> For expenses, this would be the alternate format:
>
> Expenses
> Expenses:Utilities
> Expenses:Utilities:Electricity
> Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Personal
> Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Entity1
> Expenses:Utilities:Electricity:Entity2
>
> with the individual subs being their respective percentages allowed to be
> deducted on the tax return. (or more likely, for that particular expense
> type, just leave everything personal and calculate the percentage at tax
> time off the main expense, which is personal)
>
> Some expenses might only be for each of the business entities or one of
> the other, so not necessarily all expense categories would have entity
> sub-accounts.
>
> In the second set of examples, the level just above the entities should
> probably be marked a place-holder.
>
> Otherwise, yes, you’d have to keep separate books for each and figure out
> how to handle ‘paying yourself’ according to your local tax laws. You’d
> also have to figure out your itemized deductions a bit differently, but
> separate books would also give you separate ‘loss or gain from business
> activity’ numbers.
>
> I’ve seen prior discussions showing both these methods with respect to
> rental property tracking. All properties are part of the same legal entity
> and so should all be on the same statements and return, but the owner
> wanted to track their profitability individually.
>
> Personally, I keep everything in one book and don’t separate entities at
> all because I don’t have individual concerns I need to analyze. But I do
> track separate “revenue streams” for various work.
>
>
> Regards,
> Adrien
>
> > On Mar 2, 2018, at 6:26 PM, DaveC49 <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > Ken, Adrien
> > Just a quick note re "separate account trees for each business".
> >
> > I have experimnted to try to do this within the one set of books (i.e.
> file)
> > in Gnucash and have never found a way of doing it.
> >
> > My problem has always been creating an entity level top account as there
> is
> > no top level account of type entity in the Gnucash structure which can
> have
> > the other major account types (i.e. Asset, Liability, Equity, Income,
> > Expense) as the type of its sub accounts.
> >
> > The account type of a top level account is restricted to be one of {Bank,
> > Cash, Asset, Credit Card, Liabilty, Stock, Mutual Fund, Income, Expense,
> > Equity, A/Receivable, A/Payable,or Trading}. Having made a choice of the
> top
> > level account (e.g. Asset),the choice of account type for a subaccount is
> > restricted to types in the Asset and Liability classes , i.e.{Bank, Cash,
> > Asset, Credit Card, Liability, Stock, Mutual Fund, A/Receivable,
> A/Payable}.
> > If the top level account is of type Liability, the choices are
> restricted to
> > the same list. If the top level account is an Equity account type, its
> sub
> > accounts can only be of type Equity. Expense and Income class top level
> > accounts can only have a type for the subaccounts of {Income, Expense}.
> This
> > precludes setting up multiple entity structures with the entities as
> > separate top level accounts with their own sub trees.
> >
> > I think this is by design and that the expected strategy is to use
> separate
> > files for separate entity.
> >
> > I have adopted the second strategy you mentioned of having "entity"
> > subaccounts under each of the major top level classes {Asset,Libility,
> > Equity, Income, Expenses} to separate my wife's, mine and a few minor
> > business ventures we operate jointly or separately. It works OK, but
> > increases the likelihood of putting a transaction in the wrong account
> and
> > the balance sheets and income statements are not ideal but easily
> rearranged
> > once generated. The main distinction for me is that none of these
> ventures
> > files a separate tax return and they are basically at the hobby level
> since
> > we retired.
> >
> > David
> >
> >
> >
> > -----
> > David Cousens
> > --
> > Sent from: http://gnucash.1415818.n4.nabble.com/GnuCash-User-
> f1415819.html
> > _______________________________________________
> > gnucash-user mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > To update your subscription preferences or to unsubscribe:
> > https://lists.gnucash.org/mailman/listinfo/gnucash-user
> > If you are using Nabble or Gmane, please see
> https://wiki.gnucash.org/wiki/Mailing_Lists for more information.
> > -----
> > Please remember to CC this list on all your replies.
> > You can do this by using Reply-To-List or Reply-All.
>
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Re: GNUcash setup

Mike or Penny Novack-3
In reply to this post by Adrien Monteleone
On 3/2/2018 8:01 PM, Adrien Monteleone wrote:
> Thanks Dave,
>
Of course can do this. But let me put on my "business analyst" hat for a
moment and ask a question.

If you were set up this way and you accidentally entered a transaction
with one account in the tree of one entity and the other (mistakenly) in
an account belonging to another entity, how would you diagnose the
problem? << you would be in balance >>

Michael D Novack

> To clarify, what I was suggesting was this:
>
> Assets
> Assets:Personal
> Assets:Entity1
> Assets:Entity2
>
> with appropriate sub-accounts under each.
>
> In line with this you’d also have:
>
> Expenses
> Expenses:Personal
> Expenses:Entity1
> Expenses:Entity2
>
> with appropriate sub-accounts under each, and so on for Revenue and then Liabilities and Equity as needed.
>
> Each of those ’second levels’ should probably be marked as placeholders to avoid a mess.

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Re: GNUcash setup

kbrown
In reply to this post by Sébastien de Menten
Everyone, thanks a lot for the responses, I'm leaning towards keeping
everything in one book. Your tips help a lot.
This recent message may be of interest as well:
- Reporting based on search criteria and exprting transactions to excel.
It's simple!
<http://gnucash.1415818.n4.nabble.com/Reporting-based-on-search-criteria-and-exprting-transactions-to-excel-It-s-simple-tp4697843.html>

Thx,
Ken



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Re: GNUcash setup

kbrown
Further:
After reviewing the info and links, it seems it may be possible to have two
or more different root trees in one file to accomplish what I want, however
that appears to be non standard or supported and may not work in the future.
So I've decided to track each of my entities in a separate file and cross
post as required for such as expensing a portion of utilities for my home
office business expenses. There should only be a few items like that and it
seems there can be more than one file open at the same time for copy and
paste between.
   Ken



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Re: GNUcash setup

Ronal B Morse-2
Have you looked at using the log files to duplicate transactions from
one session into another?

Each gnucash session produces a log of the transactions for that session
(those are the files with the extension .log that you see clogging up
your data directory. The name of the log file contains the date and time
it was created.

The file menu has an entry to "import transactions from .log file"

I haven't tried it, but it may be possible for you to open GnuCash and
make you entries into one data file, close that data file, open a second
data file and import the transactions from the earlier session.

Worth trying.  Usual warnings about backing up critical data and all that.

RBM



On 03/18/2018 01:53 PM, kbrown wrote:

> Further:
> After reviewing the info and links, it seems it may be possible to have two
> or more different root trees in one file to accomplish what I want, however
> that appears to be non standard or supported and may not work in the future.
> So I've decided to track each of my entities in a separate file and cross
> post as required for such as expensing a portion of utilities for my home
> office business expenses. There should only be a few items like that and it
> seems there can be more than one file open at the same time for copy and
> paste between.
>     Ken
>
>
>
> --
> Sent from: http://gnucash.1415818.n4.nabble.com/GnuCash-User-f1415819.html
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Re: GNUcash setup

Mike or Penny Novack-3
On 3/18/2018 4:27 PM, Ronal B Morse wrote:
> Have you looked at using the log files to duplicate transactions from
> one session into another?

I don't think that would fit the case here, as in the general case, the
transactions would NOT be duplicates. Take a look at the example Ken gives.

"such as expensing a portion of utilities for my home office business
expenses"

 From the point of view of personal books:  Check to utility, debit of
transaction split between a personal utility expense and probably a loan
to the business << or an additional investment in the business >>
 From the point of view of the business, a debit to a business utility
expense (for that amount) and a credit to a liability to the business
owner. Or of course could have been treated as a negative draw <<
additional investment in the business rather than a loan to it.  >>

Michael D Novack
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Liz
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Re: GNUcash setup

Liz
In reply to this post by kbrown
On Sun, 18 Mar 2018 12:53:40 -0700 (MST)
kbrown <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Further:
> After reviewing the info and links, it seems it may be possible to
> have two or more different root trees in one file to accomplish what
> I want, however that appears to be non standard or supported and may
> not work in the future. So I've decided to track each of my entities
> in a separate file and cross post as required for such as expensing a
> portion of utilities for my home office business expenses. There
> should only be a few items like that and it seems there can be more
> than one file open at the same time for copy and paste between.
>    Ken

I've not succeeded in copy and paste between files (Debian, XFCE).
However, I do keep parallel entries in several books. Copying isn't
usually what is required, because the direction of the transaction is
changed. What is a credit in Book A, becomes a debit in Book B.

Liz
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