Q&A: How to deduct a tenant’s rent who also does work for you?

Today’s question comes from a creative landlord who wants to credit a tenant for work performed. (If you like this, consider buying our full training).

I’m a landlord, and sometimes I make an arrangement with a tenant to get a rent deduction in exchange for work done. How do I record this in QuickBooks?
- Judi

Great question.

Example: John Smith, a tenant of yours, also shovels snow for your apartment building. For this, he gets a $100 deduction on his rent during the winter months.

You want to indicate that you paid him $100 and decrease his outstanding rent due balance. Here’s how:

  1. From the Banking menu, select Write Checks.
  2. Select the Vendor from the Pay to the Order of drop-down.
  3. Enter the expenses and/or items for which you are writing the check.
  4. Select the Expenses tab.
  5. On the next blank line, select the Accounts Receivable (A/R) account from the Account drop-down menu.
  6. Enter a negative (-) amount equal to what you wish to deduct for the outstanding accounts receivable balance. Here, $-100.00.
  7. On the same line, select the customer:job “Smith, John” from the Customer:Job drop-down menu.
  8. Enter a memo into the Memo field on this line. This memo is an optional explanation of why money is being deducted from the check.
  9. Once all of the information has been added to the check, click the Recalculate button. This is located in the bottom-left corner of the Write Checks window.
  10. Now, click Save & Close.

pay a tenant with work due credit

Save the check and a credit will be added to the customer’s A/R account. Then apply this credit to the outstanding customer balance.
If you print the check, the deduction will now reflect on the check stub; along with the memo explaining the deduction.

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What are Capital Improvements versus Repairs? (eBook excerpt chapter 2.12)

A free sample from chapter 2 Accounting Fundamentals of our Landlord / Property Management in QuickBooks guide. Section 2.12 What are Capital Improvements versus Repairs? We hope you’ll become a customer today, or sign up for the free e-course.

Caution: Have a conversation with your accountant about what he or she wants you to capitalize and what to expense. This is a grey area due to court rulings in which owners expensed some things (and got away with it) the IRS suggests one capitalize. Do your own homework and talk to your accountant.

Routine maintenance and repairs are not treated the same as capital improvements. This becomes very important when you enter the transactions into QuickBooks. Repairs go into QuickBooks one way (as expenses), while capital improvements go in another way (as increases to the value of your real estate assets). The following definitions are from IRS publication 527.

Repairs keep your property in good operating condition. They do not materially add to the value of your property or substantially prolong its life. Repainting your property inside or out, fixing gutters or floors, fixing leaks, plastering, and replacing broken windows are examples of repairs. If you make repairs as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration of your property, the whole job is an improvement. For instance, in a large rehab project if you repaint the walls (typically this is a repair) it is an improvement.

Capital Improvements add to the value of property, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses. If you make an improvement to property, the cost of the improvement must be capitalized. The capitalized cost can generally be depreciated as if the improvement were separate property.

The following Frequently Asked Questions are taken from the IRS’ website. The questions were current at time of publication. I suggest you ask the same questions to your accountant. It will help you learn how aggressive he or she is.

We have incurred substantial repairs to our rental property: new roof, gutters, windows, furnace, and outside paint. What are the IRS rules concerning depreciation? (This question comes from an FAQ from the IRS.)

Replacements of roof, rain gutters, windows, and furnace on a residential rental property are capital improvements to the structure because they materially add to the value of your property or substantially prolong its life. The items would be in the same class of property as the rental property to which they are attached. Since the property is residential rental property, the items are generally depreciated over a recovery period of 27.5 years using the straight line method of depreciation and a mid-month convention.

Repairs, such as repainting the residential rental property, are currently deductible expenses. A repair keeps your property in good operating condition. It does not materially add to the value of your property or substantially prolong its life. Repainting your property inside or out, fixing gutters or floors, fixing leaks, plastering, and replacing broken windows are examples of repairs. If you make repairs as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration of your property, the whole job is an improvement. In that case, you should capitalize and depreciate the repair costs as the same class of property that you have restored or remodeled as discussed above. For more information, refer to IRS Publication 527, Residential Rental Property and IRS Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property.

The full guide has more content on this section, but it is limited in this preview…

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Introducing the Income (P & L) Statement (eBook excerpt chapter 2.07)

A free sample from chapter 2 Accounting Fundamentals of our Landlord Accounting in QuickBooks guide. Section 2.07  Introducing the Income (P & L) Statement. We hope you’ll become a customer today, or sign up for the free e-course.

An Income (Profit and Loss) Statement records revenue and expenses over a specified period of time. It indicates how Net Revenue, also called the “top line,” (received from the sale of services before expenses are taken out) is transformed into Net Income, or the “bottom line,” (the result after all revenues and expenses have been accounted for).

sample income statement p and l - landlord accounting quickbooks

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Why Does a Landlord or Investor Need Accounting? (eBook excerpt chapter 2.01)

A free sample from chapter 2 Accounting Fundamentals of our Landlord Accounting in QuickBooks guide. Section 2.01 Why Does a Landlord or Investor Need Accounting?

Order and download the eBook and sample company files instantly. Want a hassle free refund? Ask us for your money back within 30 days.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the bestselling Rich Dad Poor Dad book series on business ownership, investing and entrepreneurship says, “Accounting is the language of business.” If you want to be the most productive, have free time away from your business, and maximize success in investing—you must master your company’s financial records and fluently speak the accounting language.

In order to best use QuickBooks one needs an understanding of the fundamentals of accounting, guidelines to insure accurate data entry (bookkeeping), and a trained accountant.

The following are goals to complete before you continue to the next chapter:

  • Learn the basic accounting fundamentals.
  • Start your accountant search, or already have one with real estate investing and QuickBooks experience.

If you are pressed for time, jump forward to Chapters 3, 4 and 5 for accurate data entry, but hopefully return here eventually.

 

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eBook Excerpt: Chapter 1. Introduction

Below is an unedited excerpt of Chapter 1 of our training guide for landlords to use QuickBooks. If you like what you see, you can order risk free and download everything immediately. Want a hassle free refund? Ask us for your money back within 30 days.

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.01  Who Should Read This Book
1.02  What this Book Is
1.03  What this Book Is Not
1.04  When is a Good Time to Read and Implement this?
1.05  How this Manual is Designed
1.06  QuickBooks is not Quicken
1.07  QuickBooks is not Quicken Rental Property Manager
1.08  Benefits of QuickBooks
1.09  My Personal Goal

The actual book is in PDF format and comes along with a sample company file and a template data file. You can print the eBook, no restrictions.

1.01 Who Should Read This Book

This book is designed for people involved in the purchase, management, and tracking of rental homes or apartments. It is my hope that this book will aid you in your understanding and application of QuickBooks for a real estate investment company. Other individuals such as property managers, commercial landlords, or developers have found this book helpful too. I appreciate your feedback and success stories as your read this over. Share successes at LandlordAccounting.com/your-story.

You will understand how a real estate rental business works and the associated terminology. Ideally you already either have your own corporate entity, or are in the process of forming one. It is essential for you to have a strong understanding of the financials of your company, even if you hire a bookkeeper. We’ll help you learn those. Use QuickBooks to enter data properly, and you will be able to analyze your business, make decisions using accurate financials, and save an enormous amount of time.

I recommend starting at the beginning to understand the underlying accounting principles. This applies if you plan to enter the bookkeeping data yourself, hire a third party, or train an employee to do it. You will learn common bookkeeping activities a landlord will encounter while dealing with properties, tenants, and sorting out financing.

1.02 What this Book Is

This manual is an education tool to bring anyone involved in the residential real estate rental market up to speed to manage the bookkeeping and property management using QuickBooks. The basic concepts and terminology will still apply to older or newer versions.

Throughout this book I will use a sample data file of an LLC. Your entity, state laws and individual needs may differ. Get a competent accountant and attorney and go over what you do in QuickBooks.

Large public corporations keep two sets of accounting books: one for tax purposes, and the other for management decision making and analysis purposes. This manual assumes you keep one set of books and use one QuickBooks file.

1.03 What this Book Is Not

This manual is not a replacement for your accountant. There are nearly 10,000 pages of tax law which change yearly. Please interview many accountants and choose a competent one with extensive experience with QuickBooks and real estate business owners like yourself. When you’re ready to implement QuickBooks for your property management, make sure your accountant supports you and is familiar with the program. Most who deal with small businesses are, and may even offer you a discount for using QuickBooks.

This manual is not a replacement for your attorney. Consult your attorney. Do not consider anything in here legal advice.
ch1.03 caution quickboks landlords

1.04 When is a Good Time to Read and Implement this?

Read now! Implement slowly. Commit to reading this every day and playing with QuickBooks until you master it and are ready to try it on your own company. I invite you to visit the free forums at www.LandlordAccounting.com/forum on a regular basis to ask questions and strengthen your knowledge by helping answer other people’s questions.

It is suggested to not try this on your own “real” books at first. Instead enter transactions that are similar to what you would incur in your company. Then try generating the reports you need and have your accountant look it over. Start using QuickBooks exclusively when he or she approves your setup.

Like what you’re reading? Order our full training today for the 200+ page ebook and QuickBooks data files.

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1.05 How this Manual is Designed

I have been an investor, landlord, consultant, and business owner. I firmly believe in the importance of understanding the financial health of one’s companies. Some investors just want to make the next investment, and they insufficiently manage, optimize and track what they already have. Through this book and the accompanying company files, you will enter property, tenant and management company transactions, automatically track tenants’ late fees, understand your business’ financial health, and save time.

Information that you type appears in this special typeface. If you need to press a special key sequence, such as the “Control” key and the “A” key, I will write it like: Ctrl+A. I put QuickBooks specific terms in “quotations.”

When you need to click a link or a menu item on the screen those will be bold. For example, to open a company file in QuickBooks, click File > Open Company….

If a new term is introduced, I use a definition box like the following:

ch1.05 definition quickbooks landlords

As you read you will have questions, I try to answer them all here in FAQ’s. If I don’t answer your question, don’t hesitate to search the forum at www.LandlordAccounting.com – someone else probably had the same question and it was answered.

ch1.05 faq quickbooks landlords

Sometimes something tricky comes up; if that’s the case, take careful note of our Quick Tips:

ch1.05 quick tip quickbooks landlords

There will be times that you need to use extra care, we will highlight these moments with a caution.

ch1.05 caution quickbooks landlords

When a related topic is relevant to current discussions, the See Also box will refer you to these other topics.

ch1.05 see also quickbooks landlords

From time to time there will be additional information that does not merit inclusion in the main text area, but some people will enjoy reading it. A sidebar will pop up on the side and delve into more details.

ch1.05 sidebar quickbooks landlords

1.06 QuickBooks is not Quicken

Quicken is a personal finance product for individuals. It uses single entry accounting. Amounts are usually recorded in column form, like a checkbook register. Entries include the transaction’s date, a memo, and the amount of money involved.

QuickBooks is an accounting solution for small businesses. It uses double entry accounting. Each entry has two accounts (sometimes more with “splits”) associated with it. In the simplest case this means one account is where the money came from, and the other explains how it was spent. For instance, you use cash to buy a new property. The two accounts involved are cash and a fixed asset account for the property. Money came from the cash account and it went to the new asset. Details on double entry accounting appear next chapter. QuickBooks makes it easy and once you understand it, you will be grateful of double entry’s power.

Businesses need more detailed financial reporting than individuals. QuickBooks transactions are recorded on a dual impact on the financial position (change to balance sheet) or operating results (change to income statement) or both. You cannot deposit money from a security deposit into a checking account (increasing an asset on the balance sheet) and stop there. You also need to recognize that you owe this back to the renter (and add a liability on the balance sheet).

QuickBooks has fields to collect information about your tenants, services, vendors, inventory, late fees, etc. You can invoice your tenants, track accounts payable and rent receivable, make journal entries, create advanced reports and more in QuickBooks. Many of these functions are not available in Quicken.

When you start to use QuickBooks for your business, it should have no relationship to your personal finances. If you commingle the two, you may have serious consequences with the law or tax authorities. It is essential to keep separate personal and corporate finances. If you are migrating records from Quicken to QuickBooks, refer to the integrated help on this topic in both programs.

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1.07 QuickBooks is not Quicken Rental Property Manager

Many of my customers have first tried to use Quicken Rental Property Manager; however it did not work out well for them. Because it is designed to be so “simple” many real business scenarios just aren’t supported. QuickBooks’s is still our best bet. Here is what some of my customers had to say.

Note: I recommend you use QuickBooks, not Quicken Rental Property Manager. Below are complaints of people who tried to use Rental Property Manager. (Later they were delighted once hey started using our training – testimonials ♥).

“I tried the Quicken PM [Rental Property Manager] – very busy and very non- intuitive.” – C.B.

“We are presently using Quicken Rental Property Manager 2.0. It is an entry level program, but quite an improvement from our previous excel spreadsheet system. Quicken RPM 2.0 does not provide the ability to compare expenses, profits, between individual units/tenants on our property’s.” – D.W.

“Checked with my accountant on this one and turns out this is actually a QUICKEN product so it doesn’t have the double entry system and some other necessary business features.” – C.K.

“The new software [Rental Property Manager] did not produce any late notices and is not able to be interfaced with Quickbooks.” – E.E.

I hope you too will turn to QuickBooks since it is a real business accounting software package. With this guide and our data files, it is not hard to set up, and you’ll quickly be moving in the right direction.

1.08 Benefits of QuickBooks

QuickBooks is the number one bestselling small business accounting software in the world. It is extremely easy to use, very powerful, adaptable, loved by accountants, and it creates a multitude of detailed reports. It saves you time, money and headaches.

You will be able to get the information you need out of the program through customizable reports, and efficiently enter the data through its well-designed user interface.

1.09 My Personal Goal

I first wrote this book after our company struggled with implementing QuickBooks for residential rental properties. It is my goal that:

  • You will successfully implement QuickBooks as your business accounting solution.
  • You will be completely satisfied with my book and website.
  • You will build a competent team of professionals.
  • You will tell your partners and associates about my product if you find it useful.

ch1.09 100% guaranteed quickbooks landlordsIf you are not satisfied with this book, let me know within 30 days of purchase and receive a complete refund. Your satisfaction is important to me.

 

That concludes the excerpt from the book, Chapter 1. Please read more on our blog, or more efficiently, purchase our training today to get expert assistance in managing properties in QuickBooks.

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Rental Property Expenses versus Capital Improvements

As landlords enter transactions into QuickBooks, they must decide if something is an expense or a capital improvement. The impact is significant.

Example: You have a property that will earn $12,000 in gross rent this year (and $5,000 after insurance, property taxes, depreciation, etc). You bought if Jan. 1st this year for $100,000. You expect to pay taxes on the $5,000 in income.

The purchase price is generally capitalizable (some exceptions are if it was already rented and in the $100K you also received cash for the current tenant’s security deposit. Then you’d need to transfer the security deposit.) What if you need to put on a $3,000 new front porch and replace the carpet in the living room for $450? You’ll spend the money, but how do you record it in QuickBooks?

Let’s say you expense everything.

Your expected $5,000 in income is reduced to $1,550. “Great!” you may say, you pay less in taxes, because all repairs can be deducted from income in the current year. Your balance statement will not change, only your income statement. Is this correct? Is this legal?

Let’s say you capitalize everything.

You will still earn almost $5,000. You will have a more valuable asset on your balance statement, and you will have a little bit more depreciation to offset income (which is why you will be taxed on a bit less than $5,000). “Terrible!” you say, you pay more taxes and have to wait for years for depreciation to offset income which could have happened all at once if you only expensed it. Is this correct?

The problem here is capital improvements must be depreciated. The problem with depreciation is you do not get to make a full deduction to your income in the year the payment was made.

What is the right way?

Generally speaking you do not have a say in what you can expense and what you must capitalize. The tax authorities have pretty clear guidelines. Everyone in the US should at least skim Pub 527 Residential Rental Property. You still get to deduct capital improvements from income to lower taxes, but they must be spread out over the particular asset’s depreciation schedule.
The IRS explains you capitalize what “extends the useful life” of the property. Examples of capital improvements:
  • replacing a roof
  • building an addition or a garage
  • replacing all plumbing, electric, or windows
Reparts are necessary to keep a property in working condition. The IRS says they “do not add significant value to the property or extend its life.” Examples of repairs:
  • fixing a bad patch of a roof
  • repainting a room
  • replacing bad flooring

What’s a smart landlord to do?

Skim Pub 527, but don’t stop there and try to do everything yourself. Many tax strategies have been tested in court and you need to find an accountant that can help you be aggressive, but entirely in compliance with what courts ruled and the IRS requires.

For instance, you may find some tax lawyers will advise you to expense most of the costs spent to bring a rental up to service, even if these would normally be capitalized in a very strict reading of the tax law. He or she will have very specific reporting requirements for you, fortunately these are quite easy when you set up QuickBooks correctly and have an organized office.

If you must depreciate, and you are operating a profitable company, then you can optimize current year’s deductions by using an accelerated depreciation schedule instead of a straight-line schedule.

The verdict? Set a goal this year to meet several new accountants and ask them about how they optimize taxes for other landlords. First meetings will be free, and you will be able to ask lots of questions and find someone who can help you find a legal balance between capitalizing and expensing your outflows.

Want more? Read our blog for other articles (like this one previewed from the training guide) or go ahead and buy the full course right now to learn how to use QuickBooks for Landlords and Property Managers. (We have lots of screenshots of how to enter expenses and capitalized transactions.)

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Check out the testimonials ♥ if you have any doubts in making the investment.

 

Video of Landlord Accounting Training (long form)

Read happy customers’ testimonials ♥, skim through the training information, or watch the short video below. You’ll learn how QuickBooks can be easily, and correctly, set up for Landlords.

Share a comment below, or read more on the blog.



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Questions? Leave a comment below, or contact us at Landlord Accounting.

 

Q&A: one or two QuickBooks companies for US and Canadian businesses?

Chris, a training customer of ours writes in:

I am going through your course now. It’s very helpful (♥) and am looking forward to mastering it.

I had a question about using QuickBooks for two different real estate companies. We have one based in Canada, and one in the US registered as separate entities. Would you recommend keeping both companies in the same Quickbooks document, or having two separate docs to work off of?

I am wondering if it makes more sense to amalgamate all our activities, or to keep them compartmentalized?

Thanks, Chris

Chris, thanks for writing in. Two company files is almost always the better approach.

Generally it is easier inside QuickBooks to have one company per company file. You can combine them into one (with separate balance sheet accounts for each) but it is more work. Now all recent versions of QuickBooks for Windows support opening multiple company files at the same time. (Note, I use a mac but more frequently use QuickBooks in VMWare with Windows since that version from Intuit is the most mature product). Note, if you are using the online edition, you will need to have multiple subscriptions to have more than one ‘company file.’

If you want to take advantage of the Canadian Specific version of QuickBooks, then you’ll certainly want two company files. One for Canada, in the Canadian version, the other in the US version. You can probably get away with just using one (Canada or US) version of QuickBooks too. Check that your accountants can open whichever country file you send them.

Have a question? Contact the team at Landlord Accounting; we look forward to hearing about your QuickBooks and Landlording questions – or order our training and get answers right away.

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Q&A: Partial Security Deposit Payments in QuickBooks

P.J. wrote in asking how to receive security deposit payments over time, such as in a payment plan.

How do I properly track partial security deposit payments (Some of our tenants cannot pay full deposit up front—but might take an additional month to pay in partial payments).

We need a easy way to know at any given time how much they owe. I read how to setup the security deposit in your book—but I am unclear on how to determine how much they owe vs. how much they paid.

I can look at Chart of Accounts and see how much they have paid in Security Deposit—Current Liability account—but I cannot determine how much is remaining—any help would greatly be appreciated.

Great question. Fortunately, after reading other parts of the book you practically know the solution already. You’ll want to create an invoice and invoice the tenant (job) for the security deposit. The key is you need to create an item, just like the Rent Item, but it is a new item to post to this tenant’s security deposit sub-account.

Create the new tenant’s security deposit account:

create security deposit account - partial deposits

security deposit accounts - partial deposits

Create the item to use on the invoice for the security deposit.

quickbooks item for security deposit of a tenant

partial security deposit item lists

Invoice the tenant for the item, as in the rest of the examples in the book. Then go through the book’s normal receiving of payments process as the tenant pays things back. Receive payments as many times as they pay. Choose if you want (and are allowed) to impose finance charges to a late payment.

How much does this tenant still owe in their security deposit?

Look at the Customer center and see the tenant (job’s) current outstanding balance. Or, click Reports > Customers & Receivables > Customer Balance Detail.

If all of this seems complicated, we have a simpler way that works in most cases. Usually security deposits are paid upfront, so we teach a quicker method in our training. Also, we show instructions for combining the first month’s rent with the security deposit. There are many more screenshots (with detailed arrows) in our book than in the abbreviated instructions above.

Learn about our Landlording Training for QuickBooks or order our full guide today. Money back guaranteed, no questions asked, read about some of the thousands of happy customers.

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Opening Balance Equity Account Explained

opening balance equity quickbooks Opening Balance Equity is an account that QuickBooks automatically creates under certain circumstances, most commonly when creating a new account and setting an opening balance.

How does Opening Balance Equity get a balance?

The following screenshot someone created a new checking account and set the opening balance here. That seems tempting, but it just defers the real work. (Later you’ll need to zero out Opening Balance Equity and record the actual account that gave this new account the opening balance.) The money came from somewhere else, so read below for the preferable way to enter all opening balances.

new account creates opening balance equity

It is an equity account, which means it sits alongside Owners Equity, Retained Earnings, Capital Stock, etc. You can see the current balance by looking in the Chart of Accounts, or click Reports > Company & Financials > Balance Sheet Standard.

opening balance equity balance sheet report

When Opening Balance Equity has a non-zero balance, you need your accountant to make end-of-year adjustments into other balance sheet accounts and zero it out.

How do you adjust Opening Balance Equity to zero?

It could be as simple as a two line item journal entry from Opening Balance Equity to the actual balance sheet account that “funded” the opening bank account balance. Generally, it is one journal entry, just sometimes many accounts are involved.

Other times it is not that simple. There may be multiple sources of the Opening Balance Equity balance. And it takes your accountant’s help to correctly allocate them to the right accounts depending on which owner contributed them and whether they happened in the current, or a prior, year.

If you only entered the beginning bank balance during the set up of the bank account in the chart of accounts, you may have a simple fix. Quickbooks automatically offsets the amount in the Opening Balance Equity account. Since the beginning amount is generally from prior period activity, do a Journal Entry to retained earning to zero out the Opening Balance Equity. It could be that simple. Or, it could need to go to the member’s Equity account, or split among several owners.

Recommended steps for creating a new company file, preventing any Opening Balance Equity.

Thanks to fellow QuickBooks ProAdvisor Laura D. for sharing what she does with a new company file and existing data:

  1. If you have an accurate trial balance from a previous month/year, enter it as one journal entry. (Do not enter any opening balances when setting up new accounts in the chart of accounts.)
  2. Start your journal entry with a blank line.
  3. For the Checking account, enter only the reconciled bank statement amount in that journal entry.
  4. Enter all other Balance Sheet accounts except Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.
  5. Enter your Profit & Loss accounts.
    1. If you want your income/expenses by class, you can enter each year-end amount on a separate line in order to attach the class to it. (Following our training, you will want to do this for each property’s class).
    2. If you want your income/expenses by job, you can enter each year-end amount on a separate line in order to attach the job name to it. (As landlords, you don’t want to do this).
  6. Let the variance hit Opening Balance Equity.
  7. Then, enter any outstanding checks/deposits and hit Opening Balance Equity. (Use the write checks/make deposits windows).
  8. Then, enter Unpaid Bills and Open Invoices, one at a time with the vendor/customer name, offsetting Opening Balance Equity. (Use the enter bills/create invoices windows – you will have to set up an item which points to Opening Balance Equity for the invoices).
  9. When you complete these three steps, your Opening Balance Equity should be zero.

This will give you the detail of outstanding checks/deposits so that you can reconcile next month’s bank statement.

This, also, will give you an accurate A/P and A/R with enough detail to move forward in paying bills and receiving payments.

Hopefully, the LandlordAccounting.com blog is helpful to you. Read more, or order our full training for Landlords in QuickBooks today.

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