Learn what the chart of accounts is and why it’s important to set up correctly in QuickBooks Online.
The chart of accounts is a list of all the accounts that QuickBooks uses to track your financial information. You use these accounts to categorize your transactions on everything from sales forms to reports to tax forms. Each account has a transaction history and breaks down how much money you have or owe.
Because the chart of accounts is foundational for good accounting, it’s important to understand it and set it up correctly.
To watch more how-to videos, visit our video section.
Get familiar with the chart of accounts
To open and view your chart of accounts, go to Settings ⚙ and select Chart of accounts.
The accounts are organized by columns including name, type, and detail type. Account types and detail types determine the data that shows on key financial reports like the Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss statements. Learn more about the importance of account types and detail types.
Many accounts have an account register where you can review the transaction history and current balance. For accounts that don’t have a register, you can run a report to see transactions on that account. To view the register or reports from your chart of accounts list, select either View register or View report from the Action column.
Learn about account types in the chart of accounts
The account type column categorizes transactions into a few main account types, including:
- Assets: a record of purchases for things like vehicles, equipment, buildings, and other assets used for business.
- Liabilities: a record of money you owe but haven't yet paid like loans, mortgages, and lines of credit.
- Income: transactions and payments related to your normal day-to-day business, such as sales revenue or income for services rendered.
- Expenses: a record of money you spend on expenses related to normal business operations, such as advertising and promotion, office supplies, and rent.
Customize your chart of accounts
QuickBooks automatically sets up your chart of accounts for you, but you can tailor it to your business by adding additional accounts, or, if you have accounts you don’t use, you can make them inactive.
Although you aren’t required to use account numbers in your chart of accounts, your accountant may recommend them. If you decide to use them, you can edit the account numbers at any time. Here’s how to turn on account numbers in QuickBooks Online.
Learn about accounts that QuickBooks sets up for you
QuickBooks Online automatically sets up a few of the same standard accounts in the chart of accounts and then gives you additional accounts automatically based on your business entity. There are also accounts that are only created when you take certain actions in QuickBooks.
Here are a few of the most common accounts QuickBooks creates for you:
|Account||What it’s for|
|Accounts Payable (A/P)||A record of the outstanding bills that your business owes. If your business uses multiple A/P accounts, QuickBooks will let you choose the account you want to use when you enter and pay bills.|
|Accounts Receivable (A/R)||A list of transactions related to customers who owe you money. If you need to use more than one A/R account, QuickBooks will let you choose the A/R account that you want to use when you create an invoice or receive a payment.|
|Opening Balance Equity||Ensures that you get a correct balance sheet for your company, even before you've entered all your company's assets and liabilities.|
|Payroll Expense||Tracks payroll items (expense) for the company, including salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, company contributions such as company paid health plan and company paid portion of taxes such as Social Security and Medicare.|
|Payroll Liabilities||Tracks taxes you deduct from your employees' salary until you turn them over to the government, including federal and state income withholding taxes, local taxes and the employee paid taxes like Medicare and Social Security.|
|Retained Earnings||Tracks profits from earlier periods that have not yet been distributed to owners. At the beginning of the fiscal year, QuickBooks automatically transfers net income into your retained earnings account.|
|Sales Tax Payable||Tracks all sales tax you collect and pay. You might not see this account if you haven’t turned on sales tax in QuickBooks.|
|Uncategorized Expense||Money your business spends that needs to be categorized.|
|Uncategorized Income||Money your business earned that needs to be categorized.|
|Undeposited Funds (also called Payments to Deposit)||Holds cash or checks that your business is ready to deposit at the bank.|
|Inventory Asset||Tracks the current value of your inventory. You might not see this if you haven’t turned on inventory tracking.|
|Reconciliation Discrepancy||Tracks reconciliation adjustments. This account is automatically created if you have a discrepancy in a reconciliation.|