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Level 1

Payroll liabilities

I am taking over for a bookkeeper and payroll liabilities are a mess. For over 14 years she paid payroll liabilities by writing a check and occasionally using the pay liability feature. I have a particular problem I haven't been able to clear. There is an employee garnishment  showing on the payroll liabilities report of negative $12,655.50. I have confirmed that all payments were made and the balance should be zero. I need to reflect the correction for 2020 (or so I think). Can you help me?

QuickBooks Team

Payroll liabilities

Heelo there, @ lovemydoggiedogs.


We can run the Payroll Liability Balances Report to check if you have overpayments or underpayments affecting the payroll liability balance. Let me guide you how:


1. Select Employees from the top menu bar.

2. Choose Payroll Center.

3. Click the Payroll tab then go to Pay Liabilities.

4. Select Payroll Liability Balances from the Reports section.

5. Check if there are negative amounts (overpayments).


Once done, you can adjust your payroll liability in the Payroll Liability Adjustment window, then set the dates to match it with your bank register.


 Here's how to adjust your liability balance:


1. Go to the Employees menu, choose Payroll Taxes and Liabilities, and then click Adjust Payroll Liabilities.

 2. In the Date field, enter the date for which you are making the adjustment.

 3. In the Effective Date field, enter the date that you want this adjustment to affect your liability balance.

4. Choose whether to associate this liability adjustment with the company or a specific employee.

 5. In the Item Name field, choose the payroll item.

 6. In the Amount field, enter the amount of the adjustment.

 7. Click Accounts Affected to check or modify the setting, and click OK.

 8. If you need to adjust an employee's wage base, click the Show Wage Bases button.

 9. When you've finished adjusting the liability, click OK.


For proper accounting of your books, I'd also suggest consulting an accountant. Refer to this article for more detailed information: Adjust payroll liabilities in QuickBooks Desktop.


You can also reference this article for Incorrect Amounts for Payroll Liabilities.

I'm just a comment away if you have other questions with your tax liabilities.

Level 1

Payroll liabilities

Thank you for your reply. I tried this, but didn't affect accounts because the expense side is correct. Because the previous bookkeeper paid with a check vs liability check. The garnishments were accrued, but show unpaid. Is there another solution? Thank you :)

QuickBooks Team

Payroll liabilities

Hello @lovemydoggiedogs,


You can create a prior payment to remove the liability on your payroll liability report. Let me walk you through the process.


  1. Go to Help, then About Intuit QuickBooks.
  2. On your keyboard, press CTRL+ALT+Y.
  3. In the Set Up YTD Amounts window, choose Next until you reach the Enter prior payments section.
  4. Tick Create Payment. Then, enter all prior payroll tax and non-tax payroll liability payments you've made under Taxes and Liabilities. Make sure to select the Payment Date and For Period Ending date.
  5. Click Accounts Affected, and choose Affect liability accounts but not the bank account.
  6. Hit Done, then Finish.

With these steps, you'll be able to pull up your payroll liability report correctly. Here's an awesome article for details about entering historical tax payments in Desktop payroll. We also have a guide on QuickBooks Desktop Payroll that you might find helpful.


Keep in touch if you need help with anything else. We're always here to lend a hand. Thanks for reaching out and have a wonderful day.

Level 1

Payroll liabilities

Interesting. I tried this last week and it didn't work. Rebooted my computer today and Voila! Thank you so much for your help.

Content Leader

Payroll liabilities

It's great to hear everything is running smoothly for you now, lovemydoggiedogs. You're always welcome here in the Community if you ever need assistance again in the future.

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