How Can a Balance Sheet be Out of Balance?

 In Post, QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Enterprise, QuickBooks Reports, QuickBooks Tips and Training

Balance sheets generated in QuickBooks (or any other accounting software) should be in balance, right?

Then why is it that more and more people are telling me that theirs don’t balance?

BALANCE SHEETS THAT DON’T BALANCE?

I’ll put this disclaimer in right up front – my expertise is not in understanding the plumbing and database structure that makes QuickBooks tick. (NOTE: if you are an expert and can offer our readers insights on this issue, feel free to do so!)

However, it sure seems odd to me that QuickBooks runs into trouble getting a basic financial report to balance.

Even worse, folks are telling me that the problem seems to be ongoing, regardless of what fixes they attempt to make.

THE MIND-NUMBING STEPS TO FIX BALANCE SHEETS THAT ARE OUT OF BALANCE

The QuickBooks support team suggests this list of fixes when your balance sheet gets wonky.

Have you walked through them to try and resolve this problem for your business?

My guess is that you’ve been ready to put a hammer through your screen shortly after you begin this troubleshooting process.

DID YOU KNOW THIS MAY BE A RECURRING PROBLEM?

A link within the support article above indicates that QuickBooks balance sheets that are not in balance may actually be a recurring problem.

A scary theme that seems prominent in these support articles is “data damage”.

Data damage usually means shipping your QuickBooks data file to the “Intuit Data Services” team for them to examine it and see if a fix is possible.

Did I mention that any transactions you add while they have your file will have to be added again once you get the repaired file back?

Sometimes, they have the file for a short period of time. Others, not so short (as in multiple days). Imagine having to add back multiple days worth of transactions  to your file… NOTE: Do you have experience, good or bad, with the Intuit Data Services team? If so, please post them in the comments box.

INTERESTING WORKAROUND FOR THE OUT OF BALANCE SITUATION?

My friends over at The Intuitive Accountant have proposed this workaround for your out of balance report situation.

Does this solution work for you? If so, that’s great!

If not, are you using any other workarounds for this problem that you care to share?

COULD IT BE – THE QUICKBOOKS DATABASE IS JUST NOT AS SOLID AS IT SHOULD BE?

Just thinking out loud here for a second…

  • The support articles indicate that this problem may be recurring (and a number of my clients will attest to that!)
  • The support article explicitly states that a fix may not be immediately available :
  •  This problem has been called out for several years now, and is definitely not new to some of my clients either

Can’t help but wonder if the underlying database of QuickBooks needs some pretty major help at this point?

I’ve tried to find reports of other accounting software bumping into the same issue, but came up empty. They may be out there somewhere – not sure.

FRUSTRATED USER COMMUNITY

I don’t know what the ultimate solution to this ongoing problem is. That’s above my pay grade.

However, I do know that this problem is causing a great deal of frustration within the QuickBooks community.

Here’s hoping that a permanent fix appears sooner rather than later…of course, Intuit may likely suggest that you move to QBO where this problem has not been reported. But that’s a story for another time…

 

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Showing 10 comments
  • Gary Hayman
    Reply

    We have not had this problem although there have been a few times our BS has been out of balance. This has typically been resolved by running the Verify utility and rebuild (if necessary). We are on Enterprise Platinum.

    We have taken to running the Verify utility and rebuild (if necessary) every week to make sure our data is (hopefully) clean.

    Perhaps this is why we are not having a problem with our BS not being balanced. Or maybe we are lucky – not sure!

    • Scott Gregory
      Reply

      Hi Gary:

      Thanks for the insights on this issue as it relates to your business.

      Glad to hear that this situation has been manageable for you.

      Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to mess around with verify and rebuild at all?

      Scott Gregory

      • Kris
        Reply

        Our verify and rebuild takes hours and has to be run in the evening so as not to disrupt our workflow, which is also very inconvenient. I’m trying to figure out a solution to do it from home so as not to sit at my work computer for hours staring at an empty screen into the night. Once we do run it, our balance sheet normally snaps back. However, it will go right back to out of balance within days.

        • Scott Gregory
          Reply

          You should be able to set up Windows Remote Desktop on your server to access remotely and work on this in the evening.

          Have you looked at how big your TLG file is? That may be slowing this whole process down too.

          As you can see, you’re not alone with this problem…

  • Barbara
    Reply

    Last week, I had this problem. It turned up when a client (I am a ProAdvisor) wanted to run cash basis reports. A balance sheet in Accrual Basis is not out of balance. Only a Cash Basis Balance Sheet is out of balance. I started by running a Summary Balance Sheet for “All” time periods by year. I found that it went out of balance many years prior. So I started on the first out of balance year and ran the Summary report by month. Then started with the first month out of balance and rand the report by week and then the first week out balance, I ran it by day to discover the first day out of balance. When I searched for the amount out of balance, I found the transaction that caused it. It was a journal entry that recorded the payment to a customer with a credit balance . First I did a backup and then I created an image of the transaction. Then I deleted it and recreated it. Discovered that put the balance sheet back in balance. However, if I applied the payment to the credit memo, it went back out of balance. So I recreated it and did not apply it and it stays in balance. The customer’s account shows a zero balance but if you run an Open Balance report it shows the Credit Memo and the unapplied credit payment. I do not how to resolve this and Tech Support couldn’t help me.

  • Scott Gregory
    Reply

    Hi Barbara:

    I don’t have an answer for you on this – if tech support can’t resolve this question about their own software, that’s not good.

    My hunch is you will have to live with either – the entries showing on the open invoice report or the out of balance problem. I don’t see them getting this resolved for you.

    Scott Gregory

  • Cindy Ewins
    Reply

    I’m a bookkeeper with lots of QB clients. I have 2 with the not balanced problem, both for ages now.

    In one case, it is ALWAYS the vacation pay accrued line. But the problem is intermittent – sometimes everything is just fine. Strangely the amount of the diff remains the same for months, then suddenly changes to a new amount which then stays the same for a while. We’ve all just gotten used to not sending the bal sheet to anyone without checking, and then we export to Excel and fix the vac pay line if it is out. Dumb solution, but nothing else seems to be wrong. By the way, all the verifies and rebuilds in the world have not made an impact and the utilities don’t find anything wrong.

    The other client with the problem has lots of multi currency transactions and the problems are always with those. A/R or A/P will be wrong on the balance sheet. At yearend I spend hours going through and finding the transactions causing problems, deleting them and reposting to fix the problem. But the problems continue to crop up. And in this case the utilities sometimes do find the transactions I need to fix. But I can’t see a pattern since the vast majority of the multi currency transactions are fine.

    Sigh.

  • Kathy Romain
    Reply

    I find this issue occurs for me when I move between “accrual” and “cash” reports. If I use a Balance Sheet with a prior period everything balances just fine.
    I can sometimes solve the issue my resorting the followings lists: Vendor, Customer, Other Names, Chart of Accounts, Item List and Memorized Reports List. Eventually it seems I have to use the Rebuild Data Utility.
    I use Enterprise-Manufacturing version of QB.

  • Dee
    Reply

    I have been running into this issue (balance sheet out of balance) for about 4 years. I called and talked to Quick books tech support a dozen times, finally i asked to be escalated to speak to someone hire up in the tech department, and that tech person told me that it was a know issue with Quick books. I have verify & rebuilt so many times, it becomes exhausting. Most recently I have figured out that if I totally close / log off company & exit out of the Quick books and then log back in the balance sheet will be in balance for that day. The next day it will be out of balance again.

    • Scott Gregory
      Reply

      Indeed, this is a known problem that has been going on for far too long as you mentioned in your message.

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