Occassionally, a negative balance arises in Accounts Payable (A/P), and business owners who take care of their own books don’t understand how the problem happened or what to do about it. Here’s the scoop:
A negative balance in A/P can sometimes mean that bills were entered, and checks were written against those bills, but the original bills somehow got deleted or voided. The bill-payment checks are left “hanging” in the system, creating a negative balance in A/P.
If you notice a negative balance in A/P, or even if you have certain vendors who show a negative balance in the Vendor list, go to the Reports menu and select Vendors & Payables. Then select the Unpaid Bills Detail report. Scan through the report and look for negative amounts. If you see any, double click on them.
After double clicking, a bill-payment check should open. Look at the lower half of the screen. Possibly, there will be no bill located here, no amount at all, nothing to indicate that this check was applied to a bill. If so, leave this window open, and go to the Vendors menu. Select Enter Bills. Enter a bill to the vendor you just saw on the last screen. Be sure to use the same amount you saw on the check. You will need to guess as to the correct due date – better yet, try to locate the original bill so you can get correct information off it. After entering it, click Save & New to leave the window open if you have more bills to enter, or Save & Close to close the window if you are finished.
After entering the bill, go back to the bill-payment check. Look at the lower half of the screen – the bill should be there. If it is, place a checkmark next to it, and enter the correct amount (the amount on the check) in the far right column. Click Save and Close. QuickBooks will ask if you are sure you want to save the transaction – click Yes.
Go to the Unpaid Bills Detail report and click Refresh. The bill-payment check, which caused the negative amount on this report, should now be gone. Follow these steps for all negative amounts you see on this report.
Important: notice that you did not repay the re-entered bills – you did not use the Pay Bills function. The original bill-payment checks were in the system, and we simply applied those checks to the re-entered bills. If you accidentally repay the re-entered bills, this will not solve the problem of having a negative balance in A/P.
If you see negative amounts that DO have bills applied against them, that is an issue beyond the scope of this article.