X Marks the Spot…The Accounting Scavenger Hunt

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on what feels like two different accounting scavenger hunts. While both projects were different in nature, they had one thing in common, the quest to solve the unknown. Each project had clues to decipher the finished product but required multiple steps and research to reach the end goal.

The first scavenger hunt was to proforma 2014 tax returns.  This simply means entering tax returns that were already prepared into our tax software for future use. While this sounds like an easy task, it can be a little tough if the return is complicated or you are dealing with something you have never seen before. In a formal Federal Tax class, you learn how to prepare tax returns by hand. This is ideal for learning what form produces what numbers. However, preparing a return on computer software can be very different. The basic knowledge of tax forms can go a long way, but knowing which page and box number calculates the number that transfers over to the 1040 or 6251 can get a little confusing. I would spend time maneuvering my way through the return entering numbers in boxes that could potentially produce the number that was reflected on the completed return. This began a long process of trial and error. Ultimately, with the help of the tax software’s help search, IRS form directions and the knowledge of Jenn, I was able to crack the code of the proforma returns.

The second scavenger hunt was creating a spreadsheet to summarize all of the checks written by a client for their business by category. Again, while this seems like an easy task, it can get slightly complicated if a document can be difficult to see. Photocopying, printing and quality can all be factors in this issue. Each check had to be broken down by date, payee, description, account number and amount. The biggest mystery in this project was figuring out the payee mainly because this was the most difficult item to read from the document. Using clues about the nature of the business, similar vendors and internet searches, I was able to produce a spreadsheet that covered all of the checks written. It is interesting to see how the day to day activities of a business correlate and can be broken down into simple terms.

Clues and practice led me through these “accounting scavenger hunts” to reach the goals of the projects. I solved the unknown through trial and error with some help along the way, learning during each step of the adventure!

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