Managing Duplicate and Outstanding Transactions in QuickBooks

Written by Lyn Barr

Do you frequently need to review accounts that have an obviously overstated balance? Do you have a recurring problem with duplicate invoices to your customers? Do you periodically review your Open Purchase Orders report only to discover that many of them should already have been closed? Let’s look at how to resolve these problems in QuickBooks.

Linking Transactions

QuickBooks works best when transactions are converted from one status to another, instead of entering transactions separately. This will “link” the transactions. Improperly linked transactions can result in transactions that either stay open indefinitely, or that end up being duplicated. Here are just a few potential scenarios:

  • Items are marked as billable on a Bill, and then the pre-existing Sales Order is converted into an Invoice. Later, someone notices the outstanding item on the “Unbilled Costs by Job” report, and so creates a second Invoice.
  • Items are marked as billable on a Bill, and then an Invoice is created from the Unbilled Costs by Job report. No one converts the pre-existing Sales Order into an Invoice, which results in it staying open indefinitely.
  • Enter an Item Receipt and then later, separately, enter the Bill without using Enter Bill for Received Items. This results in overstated inventory (both quantities and costs), as well as creating an Item Receipt that stays open indefinitely.
  • Enter a Bill and then use Write Checks instead of Pay Bills, which leaves the Bill open indefinitely. At some point, it’s likely that the Bill will be paid, resulting in a duplicate Check being issued.

Finding Outstanding Transactions

QuickBooks provides many great reminders along the way to help minimize these kinds of errors. We’re all familiar with pop-up warnings such as these:

QuickBooks Open POs Exist

QuickBooks Pending Item Receipts Exist

QuickBooks Job has an Estimate and Sales Order

However, sometimes even these reminders aren’t enough to prevent mistakes from being made. For example, perhaps your transaction volume is so high that you always have open transactions, so as a result you become immune to the warnings.

The good news is that you can take advantage of QuickBooks’ reporting capabilities to find and address these kinds of errors. Try using some of these reports as part of a monthly or quarterly process:

Inventory Transactions

  • Reports / Inventory / Pending Builds: It is important to review your Pending Builds with some regularity, because errors in dates or changes made to Bills or Item Receipts can re-open previously completed builds.

Purchasing & Vendor Transactions

  • Reports / Purchasing / Open Purchase Orders
  • Reports / Vendors & Payables / Unpaid Bills Detail: This report name is a bit of a misnomer; it actually shows any open payables transaction, including any open Item Receipts and Credits.

Sales & Customer Transactions

    • Reports / Sales / Pending Sales: Invoices marked as pending = pending sales.


  • Reports / Sales / Open Sales Orders by Customer – Item: Includes Backorders.
  • Reports / Customers & Receivables / Unbilled Costs by Job
  • Reports / Customers & Receivables / Open Invoices: Another misnomer. This report shows all open receivables transactions, including unapplied customer Payments and Credits.

QuickBooks Open Invoices Report

Reports / Memorized Reports / Open Estimates: If you use Estimates and would like a means to track them, start with your Open Sales Orders by Customer report. Click Modify, go to the Filters tab, and then change the “Transaction Type” to Estimate.

QuickBooks Open Sales Orders by Customer

  • Go to the Headers/Footers tab change the “Report Title” to Open Estimates by Customer.


QuickBooks modify report to be Open Estimates by Customer

  •  Click OK to close the “Modify” window, and then click Memorize to save the new report.

Memorize the new report

You’ve Identified the Transactions– Now What?

To close/cancel open transactions

  • Open the original transaction by double-clicking it from the report.
  • For Sales Orders or Purchase Orders, you can mark individual lines as closed, or you can mark the entire transaction as closed using the checkboxes.

    Mark QuickBooks Order as Closed

  • For other transactions, you can either void or complete the transaction by selecting Edit / Void, or Edit / Mark as Final from the menu bar.

Occasionally, you may also need to delete individual lines or even entire transactions. These functions are also performed from the Edit menu.

  • To cancel billable costs, open the original transaction and unmark the “Billable” checkbox.

To fulfill/complete any open transactions

  • Open the original transaction by double-clicking it from the report.
  • Next, convert it to the next status by clicking the Create button.
  • To complete billable costs, using information from the Unbilled Costs by Job report, go to Customers / Create Invoices, enter the customer’s name and choose Select outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice.

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About the author

Lyn Barr

Lyn has over 12 years of experience as a Corporate Controller for a mid-sized communications company. She currently works for Informed Systems, Inc., an Intuit Solution Provider as well as a Microsoft Gold Partner, and has over 3 years of experience as an Applications Consultant specializing in QuickBooks, QuickBase and Dynamics GP. Areas of expertise include implementation, training, custom reporting, and integrations. Lyn holds multiple certifications from both Intuit and Microsoft, including QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, QuickBase, GP Installation & Configuration and SQL Implementation & Maintenance.


  • Can this be used successfully in QB Online?

    Have new computer that keeps getting bluescreens–seems to always be when I am working on QB (not online version) and doing something online lke downloading payroll or an update…….. Any experience with this?? esp due to any prob with Win 7 an/or the 64bit vs 32 bit issues???? The HP & Costco techs are frustrated due to not being able ot find reason to fix.

    This is 3rd new computer in month, keep getting same blue screen with all of them. Have narrowed down to possibility of this issue—or 2011 ver 8 update.

    Any ideas???

    • Joyce, QuickBooks Online Edition is very different than QuickBooks Desktop, so they are hard to compare.

      As far as the other stuff, that is a bit off topic for this discussion. But I’ll say that I’m running QB 2011 R8 on a Windows 7 64 bit system without any trouble at all…

  • but how do you link a payment made ( via checkbook) to a bill entered? what if there were multipal payments made to said bill. Would I have to recreate the bill in sections to match the payments? is there something simple I have missed. I cant find the “How to” anywhere.

    • For the first question (linking payments already made), I would recommend that you make note of the original check date and amount.

      Then, go to Vendors>>Pay Bills, select the bill in question and mark the option to “Assign Check Number.” Then, click “Pay Selected Bills” and enter in the check number and date from the first step. To finalize this process, you then need to go back and delete the original check written, because at this point, there will be two (duplicate) checks for that amount/day/ck#. This first (original) check is not linked, while the second one is correctly linked.

      For the second question, normally, you can just manually enter in the amount you wish to pay against a bill in the “Amt. to pay” column of the “Pay Bills” window. When you are ready to pay an additional payment toward the bill, just follow the same process and enter the current “Amt. to pay” each time.

      If you need additional help, or perhaps some screenshots, please email me directly and I will do my best to assist you.

      Lyn Barr

  • hello, I have entered a few bills two times for example a bill dated on sep-25 and due oct-5 it seems that I looked at the date issued while entering once and due date on the next. But I already filed all four quarters is there a way to remove the duplicate bills without messing my whole year up?

    • If you do not wish to alter previous periods, then your best bet would be to enter Bill Credits in the current period.

      If you did not pay the duplicate bill, meaning that it still shows up on your Accounts Payable Aging, then you can apply the Bill Credit to the Bill using the Pay Bills screen. To do this, go to Vendors>>Pay Bills. Select the open bill and click Set Credits.

      If you actually paid the bill twice, then you can either contact your vendor for a refund, which could be applied to the Bill Credit, or you can take the credit against a future Bill.

      If you need more precise instructions, let me know! Good luck!


  • How do I make alert when we enter duplicate purchase order ?
    When we enter duplicate purchase order it should pop up window alerting that,” This is a duplicate PO. Do you want a continue ?”

    • Hi, Nasha,

      You can log in as the admin user and then go to Edit>>Preferences. Once there, you can select “Items & Inventory” from the left-hand pane.

      Next, select “Company Preferences” from the main part of the window.

      Finally, mark the checkbox to “Warn about duplicate purchase order numbers.”

  • How do I make adjustments for un reconciled transfers (most likely duplicates) between bank accounts from the previous year?

  • Hi, Sheryl,

    Similar to Brad’s question, from earlier in this thread, I’m guessing that you do not wish to affect your prior year financial records.

    If you are confident these are duplicates, then your inclination might be to void or delete them. However, doing that WOULD affect your prior year.

    To avoid affecting your prior year, you can enter the reverse of the original transfer, and then you can clear both the original and the reversal on your current bank reconciliation.

    For example, if the original transfer was from Bank A to Bank B, you would enter a new transfer, in the current year from Bank B to Bank A. When you do the reconciliations for both bank accounts, you should see both transactions, which can both be cleared.

    Does that answer your question? Let me know if I’ve misunderstood what you were asking!

    Good luck,

    • I think it does answer my question but I won’t know for sure until I reconcile. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time.

  • Hi Lyn,

    I’m in the process of trying to get us converted from QB Pro 2013 to QBO. I created a trial using a rarely used email address just to get a feel for how things will transfer and look. My reports numbers match up. But one major problem has come up that makes me realize I’ve been doing something wrong for 5 years. I haven’t been converting Item Receipts to Bills. I’ve just been entering the bills as they come in. Now that’s left me with open balances in my Accounts Payable which I, nor my accountant, have paid much attention to in the past. Now that I’ve exported to QBO it’s taken all those open item receipts and converted them to open bills that are showing as overdue. All 2,000+ of them. Any suggestions on how to remedy this and clear those out? Will I just have to delete the Item Receipts in QB Desktop and then do the export to QBO? We don’t use QB for inventory if that is a factor.


    • Hi, Brandon,

      It sounds like quite a project you have going on! For the record, I do not use QBO and am not familiar with its features. I actually specialize in QuickBooks Enterprise. However, I do have some thoughts that may help.

      First, I recommend reviewing this site for any postings tagged with “Enhanced Inventory Receiving.” That will help to give you some background on why this is occurring. Charlie Russell wrote an excellent article that you might want to start with: https://www.sleeter.com/blog/2014/07/quickbooks-enhanced-inventory-receiving-3/

      To make sure I understand what you’re seeing, when you wrote “that’s left me with open balances in my Accounts Payable,” I suspect you mean that you have an open balance in your “Inventory Offset Account” which is being converted to Accounts Payable when you migrate to QBO. Do I understand that correctly?

      If that is the case, I think I would start by restoring a backup of your “live” company with a different name, such as “Migration Test.” (That would still be on your desktop version.) Then, in that test company, I would void all the open Item Receipts. Yes, it’s a big job. I don’t know of a way to do it in batches, but perhaps someone else reading will have a suggestion.

      When you void the item receipts, there will be an impact on your inventory asset account as well as your Inventory offset account. You aren’t tracking inventory in QuickBooks, but you may need to make some type of adjustment so that your reports tie out to your “live” company. Once you have the item receipts closed and the reports tie out, use that “Migration Test” company to migrate to QBO.

      Good luck with this project, and feel free to post back with any additional challenges or questions you come across.


      • Thank you so much for the swift reply. I hate that I’m only now seeing it. I may not have explained the gist quite right or maybe I’m just not understanding some terms. Basically what we do from a purchasing/receiving standpoint is for most things we create purchase orders, when the items are received we mark them off the purchase orders which closes them and creates the item receipt and that’s where our “inventory tracking” stops. When the bill comes, instead of going to the item receipt and clicking “Bill Received” (Which i’ve only learned about this week after 5 years) I’ve just been entering the bills manually and then paying them. I guess this has left all these item receipts with balances waiting for someone who knows what they’re doing to come along and do something with them.

        So, when I say “open balances in Accounts Payable”, I mean when I look at my chart of accounts under “Accounts Payable” on the desktop version, I see a big scary 6 figure number. When I look at my “Pay Bills” screen, it’s a much friendlier 5 figure number. When I look at my vendors list, my biggest vendors show massive balances (that add up to that 6 figure number) but I don’t currently owe them this because I’ve paid all the bills. It’s just showing balances from those item receipts I guess.

        Now you mentioned an “inventory offet” and an “inventory asset” account. I’m not sure what those are. Maybe it’s part of Enterprise that we don’t use/have in Pro? But I’m pretty sure we don’t have those account types set up. The only “Other Current Asset” account we have set up is labeled “inventory” but it’s just a basic flat dollar amount that’s adjusted at the end of each year based on a manual count converted to cost of what we have on hand (We’re a small one location business). So, I don’t think I’d have to worry about much as far as having those tie out because I don’t think we have any inventory accounts tied to the items/item receipts. But maybe I’m not understanding the concept. But if I am, then it sounds like I’d just need to void the item receipts?

        Thanks again

        • Hi, Brandon,

          The short answer is that you are correct; you can just void the item receipts.

          I was thinking you were using something called “Enhanced Inventory Receiving” which is where the inventory offset account comes into play.

          Based on your additional details, it sounds like you are not using that feature. When you enter an item receipt without that feature, the journal entry typically debits your inventory asset and credits your accounts payable.

          Voiding the receipts will debit your A/P and credit your inventory asset, thereby eliminating the “extra” A/P balances. The inventory account can be left alone until the next time you do one of your normal adjusting entries.

          Best of luck!

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