The Limitations of the Accountant’s Copy in QuickBooks

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in QuickBooks Tips | 3 comments

If you’re hoping to find something through the QuickBooks Help on the limitations of the Accountant’s Copy, I say to you good luck. Sure it will tell you some useful information about what an Accountant’s Copy is, how large it can be, and so on, but it really doesn’t say what you can and can not use it for. There are so many limitations that I wonder why Intuit even bothered with the function in the first place, and I would have to write a short novel to describe them all.

It must have been designed by a Chartered Accountant because they would have only used it to enter in the year end adjusting journal entries to the company file. Even then, if they would have tested it to the max, they would have found out the QuickBooks doesn’t really like importing Control Accounts, like Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payables.

I would suspect that most QB ProAdvisors find out about it’s limitations through trial and error. Some, like my colleague of more than ten years, doesn’t use it anymore because he finds it a waste of time.

Me, I learn by doing and after a couple of times where I had to re-do some work on my own time, which of course was un-billable, I finally got in contact with a Senior QB tech support person who enlightened me on some of those limitations.

First a brief background on what I was trying to accomplish for the client’s. They had both fallen behind in the reconciliation of their bank accounts, like try a couple of years. Not only that, but there were errors in a number of bank transaction entries and the external accountants year end adjusting journal entries had not been posted . Throw in that one of them had used the Online Banking Service to download their banking transactions and in Matching them up, had caused a considereable number of duplications in the paycheques. Forget about making any changes to payroll because you can’t do that with an Accountant’s copy anyways.

After entering in months of transactions and doing the bank rec’s, I then went to import the Accountant’s changes and was faced with so many transactions that would not import, that I ended up converting the Accountant’s copy back to a .QBW company file and redoing all the changes again.

Wasn’t the whole point of this exercise to allow the client to continue working while I put the books in order? Wouldn’t it have been nice for Intuit to have told us what we can and cannot do with the Accountant’s copy? Did they they ever consider that it makes us look like incompetent professionals to our clients, when the Accountant’s changes do not work?

After my most recent problem I decided to contact a Senior tech support person who I had dealt with in the past. Unfortunately she was unavailable so I was passed on to a tech support person named Rob. It was like nirvana to find out that QuickBooks does not like any more than 200 transactions. The second most important bit of information is that it doesn’t want the date from when you take the Accountant’s copy, and the date that you import the changes back into the client’s company file, to be any more than THREE WEEKS.

Now armed with that very important bit of new information I did work and complete three months of bank rec’s on a new clients books with an Accountant’s Copy,  and some other minor corrections to the proper Tax Code that was suppose to be used, and guess what? The Accountant’s changes that I had made did import back to the client’s company file – and no errors or problems.

What was the difference you ask? It was less than three weeks between the time that I received the Accountant’s copy and importing the Accountant’s Change File. Is that what was missing which had caused the problems before – that I described above?

Well, you’ll have to check back again to this site to find out because I’m like a dog with a bone, and I will surely give it a try again to see if it truly does work.

Closing Quik Tip: If you need to do some bookkeeping work for your client, and you don’t have faith in the Accountant’s Copy concept, try using the Remote Access that QuickBook ProAdvisor’s have access to. That way you can do the work, end the remote when you’re finished, and the company file stays at the client’s location.

QuickNotes: www.quickbookstrained.com is now mobile friendly. From the web address you can choose Options/Mobile formatted and the site will appear in all its living colour for you to view. Check it out.

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3 Responses to “The Limitations of the Accountant’s Copy in QuickBooks”

  1. Thanks for the insight.

    So, if my fiscal year = a calendar year, and I have my books ready for handing-off to my accountant by, say Feb. 15th, but my accountant can’t/doesn’t complete his work (and adjustments or my income tax forms) until April 1st, then sends me his changes, QB won’t properly process the Accountant’s Changes?

    I heartily agree….documentation is sorely lacking, and 3 weeks is entirely too little time.

    I ran into another problem when trying to import the accountant’s changes. Upon import, QB showed a message suggesting that I print the accountant changes, and save the entries as a PDF. I tried both, and neither option worked; while the file still existed, I had no idea what QB did with the entries in the “Accountant’s Changes” file, or if it had done anything.

    I found what is considered “help”, instructing me to:
    – re-name the existing QBPRINT.QBP file to something different, After spending (wasting?) what I felt was too much time finding that file, (because the “help” didn’t specify where it could be found), I used the name “QBPRINT-OLD.QBP”, then
    – re-start QB. (Supposedly, whenever QB starts and doesn’t find that file, it is re-created from scratch using some default or non-custom paramters).

    However, upon trying both those options (“Print” and “Save as PDF”), there was no indication whether the Accountant’s Changes were incorporated or not. Based on the messages, it appeared they were not.

    Upon the re-start of QB, I went to “File/Accountant’s Copy”.
    Once there, the option to “Import Accountant’s Changes from file…” was grayed-out. While this hinted that the changes had been incorporated, I was left with no nicely-formatted printable listing of those changes, nor with a saved PDF version of them. Additionally, I was unsure if the changes had, in fact, been incorporated to QB.

    I then ran a Journal report, and while entries appeared in that report, I had no way to ascertain that those were all the entries that were included in the file I rec’d from the accountant.

    Through further searching, and posting questions in the QB forum, I learned that there is no way for me to see the contents of the file provided by the accountant; that file is intended for “import” only…not for viewing. So, I have no way to ascertain that all the entries in the accountant’s file were correctly incorporated into QB, short of using – and being billed for – more of my accountant’s time. (I suspect there is some way to do that within QB, but how to do it seems to be unavailable to the public).

    So, I’m left facing an additional charge from my accountant, along with not being certain of the condition of my records, all because of some oversight in the QB process of printing the entries in the Accountant’s Change file, or saving them as a PDF.

    Even more aggravating is that I pay a monthly fee to obtain the occassional updates issued by Intuit, and what few updates I’ve rec’d have not fixed this printing oversight.
    My next move is to stop those monthly support payments, because, in this case, at least, they failed to help me.

    The more I use QB, the more problems I run into with it. (In my corporate career, I led a QA team at a Fortune 500 company, and I sometimes feel that the QB user community is serving the purpose that s/b part of Intuit’s QA process).

    I realize this may come across as a “”rant”, and I apologize – and thank you for your patience – but I’ve spent/wasted the better part of an entire day on resolving this and still am not confident that my records are correct.

    • Thanks for sharing that with me/us. The Accountant’s changes are able to be printed which everyone should do every time.

      Also, if you are unsure if the Accountant’s file has updated your year-end, ask for a Trial Balance before the changes and after the changes. This will tell you if the changes were made. Also, ask your Accountant, and there should be no charge for this, a copy of the Adjusting Journal entries made and also a copy of their Working Trial Balance for year-end, also no charge.

      Then look in your QB’s Journal report (found in the Accountant’s reports) as at the last day of your year end. If those entries have been posted to update your company file, you will see the adjusted journal entries in there. If they are missing, then it was not updated.

      Since Intuit’s cloud for holding the Accounting file can not hold literally 1,000’s of files waiting to be downloaded, Intuit should tell users how long they have to process the Accountant’s file. Remember, we as ProAdvisor speak out for the users as much as possible, but the user’s should also voice their opinion to Intuit. also

      • Larry,
        Thanks so much for your dedication.

        As for printing the Accountant’s changes every time, I agree it should be done…every time. However, it simply didn’t work for me this time, apparently due to some print-related parameter I unwittingly customized in the QBPRINT.QBP file without full knowledge of how such customization might affect the “Print” and “Save as PDF” processes.

        Even though those processes were rendered ineffective by my “customized” QBPRINT file, it would have been both helpful and relieving to have seen a message that the Accountant’s changes had been incorporated to QB.

        I have since created a Journal report (as a file) and will send that to my Accountant, asking for verification that the entries in that report are, in fact, correct and complete.

        FWIW, I understand the potential for problems if thousands of files are waiting to be downloaded. In this case, I didn’t use Intuit’s cloud, and actually never have. My Accountant’s Copy was created on my hard drive, then burned to a CD, and hand-delivered to my Accountant. However, I strongly doubt that lent any part to the 2 processes not working.

        Lastly, regarding the length of time users have to process the Accountant’s file, I’d advocate for an entirely different approach, i.e. rather than being given a limit of what is arguably an arbitrary time span of 3 weeks, QB should be prevented from creating a new Accountant’s Copy until the previous one has been imported. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve had any contact with GAAP documents, but I don’t recall anything “magic” about 3 weeks; it just seems like an arbitrary time frame that puts undue pressure on the Accountant as well as the bookkeeper, and serves no useful purpose that I’m aware of.

        Anyway, thanks so much for your help, both here at in the Forum. I feel better already.

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