How to do Accrual Accounting in QuickBooks

Tom Zehentner

Whether it is business or personal we all want to keep a close eye on our financial health, and implementing accrual accounting is a vital component of this for businesses. While it may seem complicated at first, QuickBooks makes it easy to implement this accounting method in your business.

In this blog post, we'll dive into the specifics of how to do accrual accounting in QuickBooks, so you can become a QuickBooks Online master and confidently manage your finances, making informed decisions for your business.

How to Set Up Quickbooks Online for Accrual Accounting

Here's a step-by-step process for setting up accrual accounting in QuickBooks:

  1. Open QuickBooks and go to "Company Settings."
  2. Click on "Advanced" and select "Accounting."
  3. Under "Reports," click on "Accrual."
  4. Select "Use Accrual Accounting" and click "Save."

That's it! You've now set up accrual accounting in QuickBooks and created your first bill.

Accrual accounting is a vital part of financial reporting, and setting up Quickbooks Online for this purpose is an essential step. Once you have set up your Quickbooks account for accrual accounting, it is important to learn how to enter an accrual in QuickBooks to ensure your financial reports are accurate and up-to-date.

Note: It's important to regularly review your balance sheet and other financial reports generated by Quickbooks Online to ensure accuracy and make any necessary adjustments

transitioning to accrual method from cash method accounting

Steps to Take When Transitioning from Cash to Accrual Method

Transitioning from a cash method of accounting to an accrual method can be daunting, but with the right tools and resources, it doesn't have to be. QuickBooks is one such accounting software that offers easy-to-use features for transitioning your financial statements to accrual accounting.

There are three key considerations before switching:

1. Consider the timing

Switching from cash to accrual basis is typically recommended at the end of a fiscal year or the end of a reporting period. This timing ensures a clean transition and allows for accurate financial reporting. Here are some considerations for the timing:

  1. Fiscal year-end: It is often advisable to make the switch at the end of your fiscal year when financial statements are prepared. This way, you start the new fiscal year on the accrual basis, ensuring consistency in reporting.
  2. Tax implications: Consider any potential tax implications of the switch. Discuss with your accountant or tax advisor to determine the most suitable timing based on your business's tax situation.
  3. Reporting requirements: Take into account any external reporting requirements, such as obligations to investors or lenders. Ensure that the timing of the switch aligns with these requirements. Also, communicate your intention of switching to make sure expectations are managed. You may want to consider presenting both cash and accrual financials in the first meeting following the transition.

2. Transition Approach: All at once or hybrid method?

When transitioning from cash to accrual basis, you have two options: switching all at once or adopting a hybrid method for a period of time. Here are some considerations to help you decide:

  1. Complexity of your business: If your business has a simple structure and a minimal number of transactions, switching all at once may be feasible. However, if your business is more complex, it might be beneficial to use a hybrid method initially. For example, you may want to implement a threshold for the first few months and account for your largest transactions on an accrual basis. Using thresholds can help you get materially accurate accrual financials without stressing over accruals for tiny transactions. 
  2. Time and resources: Assess the availability of time and resources for the transition. Adopting a hybrid method allows you to gradually adjust to the accrual basis while continuing to operate smoothly.
  3. Comparative analysis: Consider running reports on both cash and accrual basis side by side for a few months. This will help you understand the differences in financial outcomes and evaluate the impact on your business.

3. Specific steps for the transition

When switching from cash to accrual basis in QuickBooks, there are several specific steps and adjustments to consider. Here's a step-by-step outline:

  1. Take a snapshot: Before making any changes, take a snapshot of your financials and save them for future reference. This will help you compare the before-and-after results.
  2. Set up new accounts: Create new accounts in QuickBooks to accommodate accrual-based transactions. For example, set up accounts for deferred revenue, prepaid expenses, accrued expenses, accumulated depreciation, etc.
  3. Enter opening balances: Enter the opening balances for accounts such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, and inventory based on their values at the start of the accrual period.
  4. Adjust income and expenses: Make adjusting journal entries to recognize income and expenses that were earned or incurred but not yet recorded under the cash basis.
    For example: You sold a 12 month agreement on December 1, 2022, collected $120,000 upfront, and recognized it all as revenue on a cash basis. On January 1, 2023 you decide to switch to an accrual method. You would book an adjustment to revenue and deferred revenue to account for the fact that only $10,000 of revenue was earned to that point, and $110,000 of it is now deferred revenue.
  5. Reconcile accounts: Reconcile your accounts to ensure accuracy and alignment between your bank statements and the accrual-based transactions recorded in QuickBooks.
  6. Review and analyze: Generate financial reports on the accrual basis and compare them with the cash basis reports. This will help you understand the impact of the switch and ensure the accuracy of your financial information.
  7. Communicate the changes: Inform stakeholders, such as investors, lenders, and employees, about the transition to the accrual basis. Explain any notable differences in financial reporting and answer any questions they may have.

Remember: stay vigilant about reviewing updated financial statements frequently post-transition to ensure accuracy moving forward!


Congratulations, you're now equipped with a comprehensive guide on how to do accrual accounting in QuickBooks! 

By following these steps, you can easily transition from cash basis to accrual basis and keep track of your finances more accurately.

With a little bit of effort upfront, you can avoid headaches down the road and make smarter decisions for your business's future success. So why not give it a try and see how accrual accounting can benefit your business?


How do I accrue expenses in QuickBooks?

To accrue expenses in QuickBooks, go to the Company menu and select "Make Journal Entries." Choose the appropriate accounts for the expense and credit, enter the amount, and select the date. Save the journal entry, and the expense will be accrued.

How do you record expenses in accrual accounting?

In accrual accounting, expenses are recorded when they are incurred, not when they are paid. This means you need to record the expense in an account payable or expense account, and then later record the payment when it is made.

What is the basic rule for accrual accounting?

The basic rule for accrual accounting is to record revenues and expenses when they are earned or incurred, regardless of when the cash is received or paid.

Is an accrual a journal entry?

An accrual is a type of adjusting entry made in accrual accounting to recognize revenue or expenses when they are earned or incurred, regardless of when cash is received or paid.

Can you change from cash accounting to accrual?

Yes, a business can change from cash accounting to accrual accounting, but it usually requires adjustments to previous financial statements and potentially filing for approval with tax authorities. It's recommended to consult with a professional accountant or tax advisor before making the switch.

How do I record accrued salaries in QuickBooks?

To record accrued salaries in QuickBooks, you would create a journal entry debiting your Salary Expense account and crediting your Accrued Salaries liability account for the amount of the accrued salary.

Who uses accrual accounting?

Accrual accounting is primarily used by businesses and organizations to provide a more accurate picture of their financial position and performance over a given period. It is often used by larger companies, as well as by those with complex transactions or long-term contracts.

automate quickbooks accruals in accruer

Tom Zehentner

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