In this blog post, we will explore the process of handling earned revenue customer deposits in QuickBooks Online 2023. We’ll walk through the necessary steps within QuickBooks Online to make adjusting entries for unearned revenue, specifically focusing on customer deposits. By understanding this process, you’ll be prepared to handle similar situations where you receive payment before providing goods or services.
Setting up QuickBooks Online: To follow along, open the QuickBooks Online sample company and your own practice file in separate tabs or windows. If using Google Chrome, you can use the incognito mode to open the sample company. Simply select the three dots in the browser incognito window and type “QuickBooks Online test drive” in the search engine. This allows you to compare the accounting view of your practice file with the sample company.
Duplicating Tabs for Reports: To facilitate easy comparison between the two companies, duplicate tabs in your browser. Right-click on the tab and select “Duplicate.” Repeat this process to have two duplicate tabs. In one tab, open the financial statement report, specifically the balance sheet. In the other tab, navigate to the profit and loss report (P&L). Adjust the date ranges for both reports to compare different periods, such as January and February.
Understanding Adjusting Entries: Adjusting entries are made at the end of an accounting period, whether it’s monthly or yearly, to account for transactions that occurred before the cutoff date. In this case, our cutoff date is February 28. In prior presentations, we covered adjusting entries for accounts receivable, fixed assets, and prepaid insurance. Now, we will focus on unearned revenue.
Unearned Revenue Concept: Unearned revenue arises in situations where you receive payment from customers before providing goods or services. This can occur in subscription models, rental agreements, down payments, or deposits. Since you haven’t yet earned the revenue, it should not be recorded as income but as a liability.
Recording Customer Deposits: In QuickBooks Online, the traditional approach for recording unearned revenue involves debiting cash and crediting a liability account called “unearned revenue” or “customer deposit.” However, using a liability account poses challenges when it comes to tracking customer data in the Customer Center. You can’t easily apply future invoices to the unearned revenue account.
Alternative Approach: To address the tracking issue, an alternative approach is to record the customer deposit as a negative receivable instead of a liability. This involves recording a receive payment without tying it to an invoice, creating a credit balance in the customer’s account. This credit can be applied to future invoices, allowing for better customer data tracking and management.
Recording Negative Receivables: When you receive payment from a customer before providing goods or services, it creates a timing difference where you have received the money but have not yet earned the revenue. From a bookkeeping standpoint, you may be inclined to record this as a negative accounts receivable. However, from an accounting perspective, this is not the correct approach. Instead, it should be recorded as a liability, such as unearned revenue or customer deposit.
Tracking Customer Data: Recording customer deposits as negative receivables poses challenges in tracking customer data within QuickBooks Online. To address this, an alternative approach is to record the customer deposits as credits or outstanding amounts in the customer’s account. This allows for better tracking and management of customer transactions. However, from an accounting standpoint, this approach deviates from the traditional adjusting entry for unearned revenue.
Analyzing Customer Subledger: To identify outstanding customer deposits, it is essential to review the customer subledger within QuickBooks Online. By generating a customer balance detail report, you can identify any discrepancies or negative receivables that should be recorded as liabilities instead. These adjustments are necessary to ensure accurate financial reporting.
Adjusting Entry for Customer Deposits: To correct the negative receivables and properly record customer deposits, an adjusting entry is required. Since QuickBooks Online does not allow directly posting to accounts receivable without a customer’s name, you need to use a journal entry to make the adjustment. Debit the accounts receivable account and credit the appropriate liability account, such as unearned revenue.
Considerations for Subledger and Reporting: When recording the adjusting entry, it is important to consider the impact on the customer subledger. To prevent discrepancies in customer detail reports, create a separate customer account, such as “Z Z,” solely for the purpose of recording the adjusting entry. This helps isolate the adjustment and avoids affecting other customer accounts.
Recording Adjusting Entries: When it comes to earned revenue customer deposits, it is crucial to ensure accurate reporting in financial statements. While QuickBooks Online may allow recording negative receivables as a workaround, it is not the correct accounting treatment. Instead, we recommend making adjusting entries to correct these entries and reflect the true nature of customer deposits. By debiting accounts receivable and crediting a liability account like unearned revenue, you can accurately report the liability on your balance sheet.
Managing Customer Subledger: To maintain organized and accurate customer data, it is important to be mindful of the impact of adjusting entries on the customer subledger. You can create a separate customer account, such as “Z Z Z,” to record these adjusting entries. This helps segregate the adjustments from other customer accounts and prevents any discrepancies in customer detail reports.
Alternative Approaches: Different businesses may have varying methods of handling unearned revenue. For example, subscription-based businesses may record all revenue as unearned and gradually recognize it as it is earned. However, for customer deposits or down payments, the method of recording adjusting entries may differ. It is important to consider the nature of your business and consult with an accounting professional to determine the best approach for your specific circumstances.
Reversing Entries: In some cases, reversing entries may be necessary to correct adjustments made in a prior period. Reversing entries are made at the beginning of the next accounting period and can help ensure smooth day-to-day operations in the accounting department while still reflecting the adjustments for reporting purposes. Reversing entries can help maintain accuracy and consistency in financial reporting.
Reviewing Reports: To verify the accuracy of your adjusting entries and their impact on your financial statements, it is recommended to run relevant reports. Reviewing the journal report allows you to see all the adjusting entries made, including those related to customer deposits. Additionally, running the trial balance report enables you to compare the account balances before and after the adjustments, ensuring consistency and accuracy.
Conclusion: Managing earned revenue customer deposits in QuickBooks Online 2023 requires careful consideration of accounting principles and accurate reporting. By making adjusting entries to properly record customer deposits as liabilities, you ensure your financial statements reflect the true financial position of your business. Remember to utilize separate customer accounts for adjustments to maintain clean and organized customer data. And consider reversing entries to facilitate smooth day-to-day operations in the accounting department.
As you navigate QuickBooks Online 2023 and encounter various accounting scenarios, it’s important to understand the unique requirements of your business. Consulting with an accounting professional can provide valuable insights and ensure your accounting practices align with applicable regulations and standards. With proper handling of customer deposits, you can maintain accurate financial records and make informed business decisions.