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Use the Accountant's Copy

SOLVEDby QuickBooks27Updated July 25, 2023

Learn how to use the Accountant's Copy and know more about its limitations in QuickBooks Desktop.

Creating an Accountant's Copy is the way to go if you need your accountant to review your books and continue working on your company file at the same time. And with the Accountant's Copy file transfer feature, the file is saved in Intuit server, where you can start secured data exchange with your accountant.

  • Ensure Accountant's Copy and QuickBooks Desktop versions are compatible.
    If an accountant makes changes using features that aren't available in the client's version of QuickBooks Desktop, changes will not import to the client's file. That's why you need to upgrade your file when you open an Accountant's Copy in newer version of QuickBooks Desktop.
    Ideally, the client and accountant using the Accountant's Copy feature should use the same version or year of QuickBooks Desktop. But don't worry, you can still work on the Accountant's Copy using a different version as long as the gap between the versions is just one year, and the accountant has a more recent version.

    For example:

    • Client: QuickBooks Desktop Pro or Premier 2020
      Accountant: QuickBooks Desktop Premier Accountant Edition 2020
    • Client: QuickBooks Desktop Pro or Premier 2019
      Accountant: QuickBooks Desktop Premier Accountant Edition 2019 or 2020
    • Client: QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise 2020
      Accountant: QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise Accountant Edition 2020
    • Client: QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise 2019
      Accountant: QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise Accountant Edition 2019 or 2020
  • Set the dividing date to define the fiscal period the accountant can work on.
    • Accountants can only modify transactions that fall on or before the dividing date.
    • While clients can only modify transactions in their working file that fall after the dividing date, to prevent conflict or the possibility of overwriting changes.

Note: If you need to void Accountant's Copy, remove the accountant's copy restriction.

Accountant's Copy workflow

There are two workflows you can follow:

  • Accountant's Copy manual workflow - If accountant uses QuickBooks Accountant Edition but not an active ProAdvisor.
    You and your accountant can exchange Accountant's Copy file on a USB, attach it on email, or share it through 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 -If accountant has an active ProAdvisor membership.
    The ACFT feature lets you and your accountant exchange Accountant's Copy files through Intuit's secure server. Check out on how the accountant's file transfer works to learn more.

Here's how Accountant's Copy with file transfer feature works:

Step 1: For Client

  1. Create Accountant's Copy to send to accountant.
  2. You can continue to work on current items in the working file (.QBW).

Here, QuickBooks Desktop saves the Accountant's Copy as an export file (.QBX) to the Intuit server, which triggers the system to send an email with a download link to the accountant.

Step 2: For Accountant

  1. Access and open the file to create working file (.QBA).
  2. Save your changes and corrections, creating an import file (.QBY), which is saved to the Intuit server.

The client can now open this import file to apply the accountant's changes to the company file.

Accountant's Copy limitations

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

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.

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

When working on payroll-related items, you are generally restricted from making changes in the Accountant's Copy. Although you can still process payroll tax forms.

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 time sheet data
  • Create, edit, delete, or void Direct Deposit checks for 1099 vendors
  • Send Assisted Payroll Data or Direct Deposits to Intuit

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 about this feature, check the following articles:

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