Whenever we pick up a new bookkeeping client I am always amazed at how few of them either (a) use the accountant’s copy feature in QuickBooks, or (b) send the file electronically if they do use that feature. The accountant’s copy feature not only makes it easier on your accountant, but it also allows you to make changes to your company file while your accountant has the copy “checked out”.
For those of you who are not familiar with this feature in QuickBooks, here is how it works; you have an accountant that works on your books at different points during the year (I.e. – weekly, monthly or maybe just at the end of the year at tax time) and reviews your records and suggests or makes changes as necessary. If you don’t use the accountant’s copy feature, you either give your accountant a back-up copy of your company file, or create a portable company.
This creates one of two problems. First, if you want your accountant to make any changes to the company file directly, you will not be able to enter anything into your company file until you get the backup file back from your accountant since once you import that new backup file any information you entered or changed since you gave the original backup copy to your accountant will be overridden. The other issue comes into play if you are aware of issue #1 and therefore ask your accountant to give you a list of the necessary adjustments and you then make the entries yourself. This second issue might not seem like much, but you are creating extra steps that you don’t need due to the accountant’s copy feature.
When you create and accountant’s copy and send that to your accountant, you are allowed to enter new information and make changes to existing information as long as that information pertains to transactions that occur after the dividing date (which I discuss more a little later on). Your accountant on the other hand can make changes to almost everything prior to the dividing date. When your accountant is done, he/she sends the accountant’s changes file back to you. You then import the file and your accountant’s changes are then seamlessly integrated with any work you have done in the company file since sending the original accountant’s copy to your accountant.
That is all there is to it. No waiting to get a file back from your accountant before you can enter new transactions. No having to enter adjustments that you have already paid your accountant to create.
Here is a play by play on how to create an accountant’s copy and more information on the ins and outs of the process:
(1) From the QuickBooks menu you select File –>Accountant’s Copy –> and either Save File or Send To Accountant. For this example let’s assume you are sending the file electronically through QuickBooks. We will get into this feature more in a little bit.
(2) You then get a confirmation screen. Click Next.
(3) You are then asked to set the “Dividing Date”. There are some preset options you can select, or you can create a custom dividing date by selecting the Custom option from the drop down menu. For this example select the End of Last Month option. Then click Next.
This is the genius of the Account’s Copy function. By selecting this date you are allowing your accountant to make changes to anything that took place in your company file up until the dividing date. You will be allowed continue entering information and transactions after the dividing date, but you will be locked out of changing information from before the dividing date until the accountant’s copy is checked back in.
(4) The next screen asks for information needed to send the file to your accountant. You must fill-in (1) your accountant’s address (this is done twice for confirmation that it was entered correctly), (2) your name, and (3) your email address. After this is filled in, click Next.
(5) The next screen asks you to create a file transfer password. You must communicate this with your accountant separately as it will not be included in the email your accountant receives with the link to the file. After creating and reentering your password, you can also create a note to your accountant to pass along any miscellaneous information if you so chose. After you are done with this screen, click Send.
(6) QuickBooks then informs you it must close all windows to create the accountant’s copy. Allow QuickBooks to do so.
(7) When QuickBooks has finished creating the accountant’s copy it will send the file to the Intuit servers and also generate an email that gets sent to your accountant saying the file is ready for he or she to download and use.
(8) Your accountant then receives an email stating that the file you created is ready to be downloaded. He/she then follows the link to download the file and then accesses the file using the password you created and communicated in step #5.
(9) When your accountant is finished with the file he/she creates an accountant’s changes file and sends it to you (either via email or on a portable storage device such as a flash drive).
(10) You then download the accountant’s changes file you’re your computer and import the file into QuickBooks by selecting File –> Accountant’s Copy –> Import Accountant Changes.
(11) In the newly opened window, find where you have saved the accountant’s changes file (it has a file extension of .qby) and click open.
(12) Review your accountant’s changes in the window that has appeared. I suggest saving a PDF file of these changes for your records. When you are done reviewing the changes click Incorporate Accountant’s Changes.
(13) Before the changes can be incorporated, QuickBooks asks you to create a backup copy of your company file. Follow the on-screen prompts and create the backup.
(14) After the backup has been created, QuickBooks imports and incorporates your accountant’s changes into your company file. You also get another look at what changes have been imported.
(15) Once you are done reviewing the changes click Close.
While the process might seem complicated to some, you only have to do it once to realize how simple it really is and how much sense it makes to handle QuickBooks files transfers this way.
You can download the accountant’s copy to a flash drive or other portable storage device rather than using the send to accountant feature, but that just makes it so you have to get the storage device to your accountant. I suggest using Intuit’s file transfer service to make life easier for you and your accountant.
In all the accountant’s copy feature’s handiness cannot be overstated. It makes working with your accountant or bookkeeper easier than ever. I hope that if you didn’t know about this feature before or if you just hadn’t explored it yet, you decide to use it after reading this article.