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How to Write Off Invoices in QuickBooks Desktop? A Step by Step Guide

Updated: 7 days ago

Whether you're using QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online, managing bad debts is crucial to maintaining accurate financial records. In this guide, we'll take you through the steps of how to write off an invoice in QuickBooks Desktop, along with insights on how the process works in QuickBooks Online.


Write Off Invoices in QuickBooks

Step 1: Checking Account Receivables Reports for Invoices that Would Be Written Off

Before delving into how to write off an invoice in QuickBooks, monitoring unpaid invoices is essential. Access your Reports menu and navigate to Customers & Receivables to inspect the A/R Aging Detail. This step helps you determine which outstanding accounts receivables need attention and which might eventually lead to bad debt in QuickBooks.

1. Open the Reports menu

2. Find Customers & Receivables, then A/R Aging Detail

3. Identify unpaid invoices you want to write off.


Step 2: Set Up Allowances for Doubtful Accounts

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is a contra asset account used in QuickBooks Desktop and other accounting systems, indicating the amount of outstanding invoices not expected to be collected. It's a safeguard against overestimating revenue by adjusting for potential bad debts.


To proficiently write off invoices in QuickBooks Desktop, establishing a dedicated space for doubtful accounts is vital. Navigate to the List, select Chart of Accounts, and open the Add New Accounts window (Ctrl + N). Ensure you choose the Type Account Receivables, name your account, and classify it as a subaccount of Accounts Receivable.


1. Navigate to List, then choose Chart of Accounts

2. Press Ctrl + N to open the Add New Accounts window

3. Choose Type as Account Receivables, rename the account, and put it as a subaccount of Accounts Receivable

how to write off accounts receivable in QuickBooks

Step 3: Prepare Bad Debt Expense Account and Bad Debt Item

Bad debts are an unfortunate business reality. This is an expense account used to record the value of accounts receivable that a business no longer expects to collect. Essentially, it reflects the amount of revenue lost to unpaid invoices. It is used in both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online for accurate financial reporting.


Knowing how to write off bad debt in QuickBooks aids in keeping your finances transparent. Revisit the Chart of Accounts and create a Bad Debt expense account. This will reflect on your P&L report. Then, proceed to the Item List and introduce a new Bad Debt Item.


1. Open Chart of Accounts again, then press Ctrl + N to open the Add New Accounts window

2. Add the Bad Debt as an expense account, which will appear on the P & L report

3. Choose List, then Item List

4. Click on Item, then New to add Bad Debt Item

how to write off bad debt in QuickBooks

When creating the "Bad Debt Item," it's crucial to choose a name that's both descriptive and easily identifiable. A recommended naming convention would be to include the year and the nature of the item to ensure clarity, especially if you have multiple items or you write off bad debts annually.


Tip: Name the item as "BadDebt_2023" or "2023_UnrecoverableInvoice" to immediately recognize its purpose and the year it pertains to. This naming convention avoids confusion with other items and provides clear context when reviewing accounts.


Step 4: Move The Invoice

The next step is crucial. Open the particular invoice, and at its header, select the Allowance for Doubtful Account. If an invoice has received partial payment, ensure to adjust its payment to reflect in the Allowance for Doubtful Account. This maintains the invoice status as partially paid and prevents creating an unapplied payment.


1. Open the invoice, on the head of the invoice, choose the Allowance for Doubtful Account

how to write off an invoice in quickbooks desktop

2. In case the invoice was paid partially, continue to open its payment and move to Allowance for Doubtful Account. This could help you keep your invoice as partially paid and not create an unapplied payment.

write off invoices in QuickBooks Desktop

Step 5: Create A Credit Memo with The Written-Off Amount

Creating a credit memo acknowledges the lost revenue and adjusts your financial records accordingly. Start with generating a credit memo for the unpaid amount, opt for Customers, then Create Credit Memos/Refunds. Utilize the Bad Debt Item to indicate the amount being written off. Always link this to the Allowance for Doubtful Account.


1. Choose Customers, then Create Credit Memos/ Refunds

2. Use the Bad Debt Item with the written-off amount

3. The Account is still Allowance for Doubtful Account


writing off bad debt in QuickBooks

Step 6: Check Reports for All Necessary Transactions

An essential aspect of writing off bad debt in QuickBooks is consistently verifying your transactions. Access your Reports Menu, focusing on Company & Financial, then scrutinize the Balance Sheet Standard. This report provides an overview of your financial movements, including any adjustments due to written-off invoices.


1. Open the Reports Menu, navigate to Company & Financial, then Balance Sheet Standard

2. Customize the date range, then double click to open the Account Receivable, which includes the Allowance for Doubtful Account


how to record bad debt in quickbooks

Step 7: Apply the Credit Memo to Close the Invoice

Having created a credit memo, open it and click on Use Credit to apply it against the respective invoice. This action seals the invoice as PAID through a combined effort of payment and the credit memo.


1. Open the credit memo just created, and click on Use Credit to apply invoice

2. Find the suitable invoice, then Save & Close.

3. When you successfully apply the credit memo, the invoice will be marked as PAID by 2 transactions – a payment and a credit memo.

quickbooks bad debt

Step 8: Review P&L Report:

Finally, the essence of writing off bad debt in QuickBooks is visualized in the Profit & Loss report. Navigate via the Reports Menu to Company & Financial, then choose Profit & Loss Standard. This report clearly illustrates the interplay between your income and QuickBooks bad debt expenses.


1. Open the Reports Menu, navigate to Company & Financial, then choose Profit & Loss Standard

2. Choose the date range and you will find both Income (by the invoice) and the bad debt expense

write off invoice in quickbooks
 
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write off invoice in QuickBooks Desktop

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