How to Write off Bad Debts in Quickbooks Online


Using software programs for accounting and finances can help businesses achieve efficiency in the way tasks are done. This includes creating bills, paying bills to vendors, checking for any outstanding payments, recording expenses, and easy reporting of any transactions. Another thing that businesses can easily do with the help of such programs is dealing with bad debts. Through helping to create accounts for bad debts, recording them and setting up credit memorandums for them can also be achieved efficiently with an accounting program.

This process can, in turn, help the businesses to write the debt off as an expense, making them eligible for returns on them. One of the most efficient accounting programs that you can use to deal with bad debts is QuickBooks Online. By knowing the process of executing all such procedures, small businesses can easily identify and write off bad debts. While the process of labelling an invoice as bad debt and ultimately writing it off involves multiple tasks, we will guide you through all the steps required for each task. Keep reading to learn more on how to do so!

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is the online accountancy software launched by Intuit. The easy, online-based system allows small businesses to conduct all the basic accountancy tasks through the online program. The easy-to-use interface makes it even easier to operate it, regardless of how clueless you are regarding using such software programs. Some of the features you can use are:

  • Generating invoices.
  • Track transactions through online banking,.
  • Manage inventory and stock.
  • Pay and track vendor bills.
  • Prepare GST returns.
  • Record and track expenses.
  • Create reports accurately, among many other features and specifications.

While these are the more well-known features included in QuickBooks Online, another task that you can easily do through the application is writing off bad debts. Bad debts become a liability on the company, due to the little to no scope of recovering them. Thus, writing them off can help businesses record it as an expense and claim returns on it. And with the help of QuickBooks online, you can do so easily.

What is bad debts in QuickBooks

Bad debts, in general, refer to debts made that have little to no probability of getting paid. This means that the invoice made against that customer becomes uncollectible and you know that it will not act as an asset anymore. When such invoices and clients are present, it is crucial to write them off as bad debts. And you can do this easily through QuickBooks Online. By writing off bad debts through QuickBooks Online, you can ensure that all your net income and accounts receivable are updated.

However, in order to do this, you first need to identify and review which accounts and invoices fall under the category of bad debt. This can help you to correctly ensure that only the ones that are no longer collectable are written off duly. For this purpose, the first course of action would be to check your accounts receivables and create an account for the bad debt.

Create an account of bad debt

Creating a bad debt account is crucial for writing it off later on. However, prior to creating the account, you need to review your accounts and invoices to identify which ones are eligible to be considered as bad debts.

To check for such accounts, also known as ageing accounts receivable, follow these below-given steps:

  • Step 1: On the menu bar, select the menu titled “Reports”.
  • Step 2: In the reports menu, go to the sub-menu titled “Customers & Receivables” and wait for the next pop-up menu.
  • Step 3: Now click on the menu item titled “A/R Aging Detail”
  • Step 4: This will take you to the page where the outstanding balance of all customers is displayed.

By looking at the o/s balance of the different customer accounts, you can easily determine which customers need to be written down and which ones need to be written off permanently.

After you have successfully identified the relevant account, you would not need to create an expense account of bad debt for the identified customers. To do this, follow the below steps:

  • Step 1: Go to “Settings” and then click on “Chart of Accounts”.
  • Step 2: Go to the upper-right corner and click on “New” to create a new account.
  • Step 3: Click on the option of “Account Type” and select “Expenses” from the items that drop down.
  • Step 4: In the “Detail Type” options, click on “Bad Debts”.
  • Step 5: Click “Save and Close” to complete the process.

Set up a Service/Product debt Item

Creating a bad debt account is not sufficient to write off bad debts. After creating the account, you also need to add a non-inventory item, which will be used as a placeholder for the identified bad debt invoice. This is not a real item and is just needed to balance the accounts, which will help later in announcing the account as bad debt.

To set up a service or product as your bad debt item, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Go to the “Settings” option and click on the option of “Products and Services”.
  • Step 2: Go to the upper-right corner of the page and select “New”.
  • Step 3: Following this, click on “Non-inventory” to create a non-inventory item.
  • Step 4: Enter “Bad debts” in the name field.
  • Step 5: Click on the “Income account” option and select “Bad debts” to label it as a bad debt item.
  • Step 6: Click on “Save and Close” to complete the process.

Record debt

Recording debts on QuickBooks Online can help you monitor and track your expenses, accounts receivable, a concise reporting of your company’s financial position and manage the capital. So, to record bad debts, all you need to do is:

  • Step 1: Click on “Customers” and choose the option of “Receive Payments”.
  • Step 2: Choose the relevant customer from drop-down menu of “Customer:Job”.
  • Step 3: Choose the invoice or item that is outstanding and has not yet been paid for.
  • Step 4: Click the “Discount and Credits” option to enter details of the amount of debt.
  • Step 5: In the “Amount of Discount” section, enter the amount of the debt that would be your loss.
  • Step 6: Click on “Done” to close the box.
  • Step 7: Click on “Save and Close” to successfully complete the process and record the debt.

Set up a credit memorandum for the debt

Setting up a credit memorandum, or a credit note, can help you to apply it to invoices as and when you need it. So, follow these steps to successfully set up a credit memorandum for the bad debt:

  • Step 1: Click on “+New” to create a new note.
  • Step 2: Select the option of “Credit Note” from the box.
  • Step 3: From the “Customer” drop-down menu, choose the relevant customer who owes the outstanding balance.
  • Step 4: Choose “Bad debts” from the section of “Products/Services”.
  • Step 5: In the section of “Amount” enter the amount of debt that you want to write off for the customer.
  • Step 6: Subsequently, write “Bad Debt” in the section for “Message displayed on statement”.
  • Step 7: Click on “Save and Close” to set up the credit note successfully.

After successfully setting up the credit note, you also need to apply it to invoices in order to finally label the invoice as a written off bad debt. For this purpose, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Click on “+New”.
  • Step 2: In the section of “Customers,” select the option of “Receive payment.”
  • Step 3: From the “Customer” drop-down menu, select the relevant customer.
  • Step 4: From the section of “Outstanding Transactions,” choose the invoice you want to write off.
  • Step 5: Select the credit memorandum you created above in the “Credits” section.
  • Step 6: Complete the process by clicking on “Save and Close.”

Successful completion of this process will lead to the amount appearing on your P&L Account as an item under the “Bad Debts Expense Account.”


Debtors and unpaid invoices can be a loss to your company since you are not getting what the customer needs to pay. However, you can turn this liability into an expense by writing off the debt and showing it as an expense. With QuickBooks Online, you can easily write off bad debts and have them show as expenses in your P&L Account. While the process may include multiple different tasks, as explained above, it can be a wonderful way of easily recovering your losses incurred due to uncollectible invoices. In this manner, you will be able to maintain the financial strength of your company and not face any setbacks as a result of non-paying debts and invoices.

As a result, QuickBooks Online can help you get the most out of your transaction and help you prevent unexpected losses, such as bad debts. By knowing how to use the different features and facilities, you can ensure that all business accounts are maintained properly, that too in the most convenient way possible.

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