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How to Void a Check in QuickBooks…

…without paying your accountant to fix what you’ve done wrong.

This is an issue in QuickBooks that seems to generate more headaches than almost any other. It makes accountants go prematurely gray.

QuickBooks Training 091313 image 1Many QuickBooks training courses will cover this, and it is the topic of many questions from QuickBooks users. Doing it correctly is not as easy as you might think.

Voiding a check in the current period causes few issues. Locate the check the check register or on any report. Double click to view it. Then, from the edit menu, choose Void Check. It might be a good idea to add a note of explanation in the memo field of the check. Then save and close to record the transaction. Since the check was originally written in the current period, prior account balances are not affected.

How to Void Checks from Prior Periods

If you take QuickBooks classes, it’s likely that someone will ask how to void a check from a previous period. This is a more common situation, and a task that must be handled with more care.

Why? When the QuickBooks menu item for voiding a transaction is used, the transaction amount is changed to zero, but it keeps its original date. Assume that the company’s bookkeeping was complete, financial statements were given to the bank, and a tax return filed. Then, something is done about the old checks that won’t clear the bank and have been listed as outstanding on the bank reconciliations for a year (the checks in QuickBooks that were voided).

The result? Besides voiding the checks, the previously-issued financial statements are incorrect — as is the completed tax return.

Here’s how to void a check from a prior period correctly. The first step is the same as above. Find the check to be voided either in the register or on a QuickBooks report. Double click on the entry to view the check. In the memo field, make a note that the check is being voided with a deposit entry as of a current date.

Do not void the check! This is important. Only note in the memo field that the check will be voided, and on what date.

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QuickBooks check marked as “void”

Now, using the current date, create a deposit in QuickBooks. The Name column can be left blank. In the Account column, use the same expense account as was used on the original check. In the Memo column, explain that check #XXX from (original date of the check) is being voided by this deposit. In the Amount column, enter the amount of the check being voided.

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“Voiding” a check by creating an offsetting deposit

The final step will occur when the bank account is next reconciled. The old check will still be there, but so will the new deposit. Check off both even though they are not on the bank statement. They are the same amount so will net to zero and not affect your bank reconciliation.

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Selecting both the old check and the newly created deposit results in a zero effect on the bank reconciliation and removes the check from the outstanding section of the reconciliation report

This procedure works for QuickBooks regular checks, but not for paychecks or bill payments; those will require special handling.

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