QuickBooks HelpQuickBooksHelpIntuit

How to use the Accountant's Copy

SOLVEDby QuickBooks28Updated January 08, 2024

Learn how to use the Accountant's Copy in QuickBooks Desktop.

An Accountant's Copy is the way to go if you need your accountant to review your books, You can continue to work on your company file at the same time. With the Accountant's Copy file transfer service, the file is saved on an Intuit server, where you can exchange data securely with your accountant.

You’ll need to make sure your accountant’s QuickBooks version matches your QuickBooks Desktop or Enterprise version. For example, if you have QuickBooks Desktop Premier 2022, your accountant needs QuickBooks Desktop Accountant 2022 to open your Accountant's Copy. 

Note: QuickBooks Desktop and Enterprise 2024 offer ‌best-in-class data security, which is higher than in QuickBooks Desktop or Enterprise 2023 and older. Accountants can’t update client company files into QuickBooks Desktop 2024. You’ll either need to use the older version of QuickBooks Desktop Accountant or have your client update their file to QuickBooks Desktop 2024, then send a new accountant’s copy.

The Accountant's Copy workflow

There are two workflows you can follow.

  • Manual workflow -
    • You and your accountant can exchange Accountant's Copy file via:
      • a USB drive
      • email attachment
      • or shared through a cloud service like Box.
    • You can send back the updated version in the same way. Check out on how to create an Accountant's Copy for specific details.
  • Accountant's Copy file transfer (ACFT) workflow -
    • The ACFT service lets you and your accountant exchange Accountant's Copy files through Intuit's secure server.

Check out how to create an Accountant's Copy for more info on how to create and share an Accountant’s Copy.

Accountant's Copy limitations

Here's what you can and can't do with an Accountant's Copy.

Limitations for clients

You can work in the .QBW working file to make changes to transactions in the current period, after the dividing date. Here's what you can do:

  • Add new entries to any of your lists
  • Create, edit, and delete transactions
  • Edit the list information
  • Turn on Payroll

However, while accountant's changes are pending, you can't make these changes:

  • Edit or delete existing accounts
  • Send Assisted Payroll Data or Direct Deposits to Intuit

It's possible to reconcile your accounts with a pending Accountant's Copy. However, your reconciliation may be rolled back if you clear transactions dated on or before the dividing date, or if your accountant reconciles the Accountant's Copy and undoes your reconciliation. Verify with your accountant whether they plan to reconcile the Accountant’s Copy before you reconcile your accounts in your working file.

System message about reconciling while changes in an Accountant's Copy are pending in QuickBooks

Reconciliations performed in an Accountant's Copy are limited to 800 transactions. If the number of transactions reconciled is more than 800, then the reconciliation won't import into the client file.

Limitations for accountants

QuickBooks Desktop prevents you from editing information or transactions that may conflict with your client's work. It also prevents your client from editing the information before the dividing date to avoid conflict with any changes you make.

When working in an Accountant's Copy (the .QBA working file), you may encounter disabled or sometimes highlighted areas in a client's file:

  • Highlighted background: Information entered in these fields is included in the change file that you send back to your client
  • Non-highlighted background: You can change the information in non-highlighted fields, if necessary, but the changes aren't included in the change file you send back to your client

Message explaining fields that can and cannot be changed in the Accountant's Copy in QuickBooks Desktop

There are also some specific limitations of the type of changes you can make.

The following sections provide details about the specific changes you can and can't make in an Accountant's Copy.

When working with Lists, you can make the following changes in an Accountant's Copy:

  • Add an item to the Class List, Customer List, Employee List, Fixed Asset Item, Item List, Other Names List, Vendor List, and Sales Tax Code List
    Note: You can't edit or make items on the Sales Tax Code List inactive
  • Edit items on the Vendor List and the Item List
    Note: You can't change an item to another type on the Item List

You can't make the following changes:

  • Add, edit, void, or delete build assemblies
  • Change the type of an item
  • Delete and merge existing accounts
  • Enter vehicle mileage

When working on transactions, you can make the following changes in an Accountant's Copy:

  • Add, edit, and delete most types of transactions dated on or before the dividing date
  • Add new transactions dated after the dividing date
  • Edit account and tax information for existing items (tax line mapping can't be sent back to the client)
  • Temporarily change preferences
  • Make adjusting entries
  • Add a new account

You can't make the following changes:

  • Add, delete, and edit (but not void) payments received
  • Add, edit, void, or delete sales tax payments
  • Add or use credit card processing
  • Create non-posting transactions such as estimates and sales orders
  • Edit or void bill payments by credit card
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Add or edit the routing number

You can't make the following payroll-related changes in an Accountant's Copy:

  • Add, edit, or delete payroll items
  • Create, edit, delete, or void paychecks
  • Enter, edit, or delete timesheet data
  • Create, edit, delete, or void Direct Deposit checks for 1099 vendors
  • Send Assisted Payroll Data or Direct Deposits to Intuit

Although there are transaction restrictions for processing payroll, customers can still process payroll tax forms in an Accountant's Copy.

All monthly, quarterly, and annual tax forms available in a regular QuickBooks Desktop company file (.qbw) are also available in the Accountant's Copy.

Accountant's changes won't include the details of payroll tax forms the accountant processed or printed, because of no changes made to employee records or reports.

If a customer wants to e-file or process a payment transaction, verify the paid-through dates. An error will appear if the paid-through periods cross the dividing date.

When working in an Accountant's Copy, you can make the following changes:

  • Print 1099 and 1096 forms in the historical period
  • Create, adjust, and print 941, 940, and W-2 forms
    (You can't send adjustments back to the client)
  • Create new reports
  • Add new customers, vendors, employees, and items
    (Exceptions are identified as disabled fields in the Accountant's Copy)
  • Add accounts

You can't make the following changes in an Accountant's Copy:

  • Import data from Excel, Web Connect, and QuickBooks timer files
  • Manage service keys (buy additional licenses)
  • Use planning and budgeting tools
  • Use online banking services
  • Add routing number

Additionally, you can't send the following changes back to the client:

  • User or password changes
  • Changes to memorized reports
  • Changes to preferences

The Essential Accountant's Copy Guide

This article is part of a series about Accountant's Copy in QuickBooks. To learn more, check out the following articles:

Was this helpful?

You must sign in to vote, reply, or post
QuickBooks Desktop AccountantQuickBooks Desktop Accountant PlusQuickBooks Desktop PremierQuickBooks Desktop ProQuickBooks Enterprise QuickBooks Enterprise DiamondQuickBooks Enterprise GoldQuickBooks Enterprise Platinum

Sign in now for personalized help

See articles customized for your product and join our large community of QuickBooks users.

More like this