When Quickbooks Doesn?t Balance
After you?ve been using QuickBooks for while and have been balancing your account regularly, you will only irregularly have trouble reconciling it. However, if you are just getting started, you may have trouble getting your QuickBooks bank account to balance. For that reason, let me offer some suggestions for balancing a bank account that?s causing you trouble.
Check for missing transactions
Account balance trouble stems from only three causes:
Reason 1: You cleared a transaction the bank hasn?t recorded
Reason 2: You forgot to record a transaction, or perhaps several transactions
Reason 3: Either you or your bank incorrectly recorded a transaction
Therefore, when you find yourself with reconciliation troubles, first make sure that you are not missing some transaction. Go through the bank statement line for line, comparing each of the transactions listed there with the contents of your account register. If you find the bank statement lists a transaction that your QuickBooks bank account register does not, then you need to record it in QuickBooks.
Confirm you haven?t incorrectly cleared transactions
Once you confirm that the QuickBooks bank account register includes all transactions, verify that you have not incorrectly cleared transactions that are still outstanding. To do this, thoroughly review the QuickBooks account register and make sure that each transaction marked with a ?C? does, in fact, appear on the bank statement.
If the two reviews described in the preceding paragraphs don?t explain the difference between your records and the bank?s, you need to check the actual transaction amounts that you have recorded against those shown in the bank register. In other words, if the bank register shows a check to your mortgage company for $500, you need to make sure that your account register also records the check as $500.
Unfortunately, it is easy to incorrectly record transaction amounts in the QuickBooks account register. All it takes is pressing the wrong key. And, in fact, two data entry errors are particularly difficult to see: transposition errors and sign errors.
Keep a sharp lookout for transposition errors
Transposition errors occur when you transpose, or flip-flop, the numbers in an amount. If you write a check for $123, but record the check as $132, for example, you?ve transposed the 2 and the 3. And this error is hard to spot later. You look at the bank statement, for example, and see the digits 123. Then when you look at the account register, you see the digits 132. Unless you are looking not just at the digits used but also at their order, you may miss this error.
Don't miss sign errors
Sign errors occur when you enter a deposit as a withdrawal, or a withdrawal as a deposit. All this really means is that you have entered some transaction amount in the wrong column. Again, this error is sometimes tough to spot because the transaction appears both on the bank statement and in your register?just in the wrong column in the QuickBooks bank register.
If you come up with some difference with your records and the bank?s that is irreconcilable, try dividing the error by 2. Then look for a transaction equal to this result. For example, if you have a $200 error, divide $200 by 2 to get the result $100. Then look for a $100 transaction that is entered in the wrong column.
Some problems account reconciliation won?t fix
There are several common errors that account reconciliation won?t catch. Reconciliation won?t catch when you forget to record a transaction and the transaction hasn?t yet cleared the bank. If you forget to record a check and the check is still outstanding at the end of the statement month, for example, the check doesn?t appear in your register and it doesn?t get listed on your bank statement.
Another kind of error that a bank reconciliation won?t catch stems from entering a fictitious transaction in the account register. For example, if you enter a check in the QuickBooks bank account register that you never wrote or a deposit you never made, the check or deposit will never clear the bank.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to find these sorts of errors. Mostly, you need to apply simple common sense to prevent them. In the case of forgotten uncleared transactions, your only recourse is to be careful in your record keeping. Try to establish a system whereby you regularly record the checks you write and the deposits you make.
About the Author: Seattle tax CPA & author Stephen L. Nelson wrote Quicken for Dummies and more than 100 other books as well. Nelson holds an MBA in Finance and an MS in taxation. His web site is http://www.stephenlnelson.com