How Does an Accountant Working With Client Data From an Accountant’s Copy File Return Completed Work To a Client?

The approach you use to return completed work to a client depends on which way you opted to work with the Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) file at the outset.  Intuit does not provide electronic communications to transmit completed work to a client however you chose to work with the file initially.  The simplest electronic method to transmit completed work is via email, but that may not be feasible if you opted to work with the .QBX file by converting it to a company file (.QBW).

For background, the Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) in QuickBooks is an easy way for a company to transfer data to a third-party, such as an accountant.  In an article on our blog, we’ve described how a company can easily transfer an Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) to us using Intuit’s secure servers.  This file could also be delivered via other methods, such as delivery on a flash drive or other physical media.  Intuit uses the terms “export” and “transfer” to describe a .QBX file interchangeably.  For simplicity, we’ll refer to this file as an export file because “eXport” serves as a better reminder of the purpose of the file extension, .QBX.

Working with an Accountant’s Copy is essentially a 5 step process:

  1. client sends an Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) to an accountant or third party
  2. accountant or third party works with the data
  3. an accountant or third party returns completed work to the client
  4. client imports changes made by accountant or third party
  5. resolving problems if the client import fails

Throughout this article, we’ll refer to different file types with similar names.  The function of each of these files is very specific.  For more information, see our article describing the different file types in QuickBooks.  In this article we’ll address how to return completed work to a client.

There are 2 ways to work with an Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX):

  1. Convert it to an Accountant’s Copy working file (.QBA), which allows your changes to be automatically incorporated into the client’s company file, or
  2. Convert it to a company file (.QBW), which will not allow your changes to incorporated into the client’s company file

How work is returned to a client depends on the method you opted to use the .QBX file from the start.  Hopefully, before doing any work you evaluated which method best suited your needs, because once the work is completed, your options on how to return that work are limited.

Method 1 – You Previously Chose To Convert a .QBX to a .QBA File

The principal benefits of using this method are threefold:

  • your client can continue to record transactions in the company file after the dividing date,
  • QuickBooks will record only your changes in an Accountant’s Copy import file, resulting in a much smaller file to be transmitted to the client, and
  • tools are in place from within QuickBooks to easily document changes you made to the file.

This method is only available if you are working with the Accountant Edition of QuickBooks.  From within QuickBooks, click the File->Accountant’s Copy->View/Export Changes for Client… menu selection.

With the View/Export Changes for Client window open, you’ll be able to:

  • record a note to your client describing the work you performed
  • review the changes you made to the file
  • print or save a PDF report of your work
  • create a .QBY import file (referred to as a Change File on the button) for transmission to your client

Here’s the View/Export Changes for Client window with important sections highlighted:

In this example, we recorded a single change in the .QBA file created from the client’s data, a journal entry.  Changes initially appear as single line items, and you can expand (+) or collapse (-) the detail that appears below a transaction by clicking the appropriate indicator to the left of the transaction.  If you’ve recorded more than a few transactions, you can also also click the Expand All and Collapse All buttons to perform those tasks on all of the transactions you recorded.

To document your work, click either the Print or Save as PDF button.  We’ve attached a sample of the PDF produced by QuickBooks.

Once you’ve documented your work, click the Create Change File for Client button.  This will create an Accountant’s Copy import file (.QBY) from the .QBA file.  The .QBY import file will contain only the data required to update your client’s company file, so it’s much smaller in size than other file types.  That makes it easy to transmit via email, since many internet service providers impose restrictions on the size of email attachments.  In addition, security is less of a concern because you’re not transmitting all of a company’s financial information – just a record of your changes.

When you click the Create Change File for Client button, you’ll be prompted to specify a location for the .QBY file.  Be sure to write down this location.  Open your email client, address an email to your client, attach the .QBY file you just created, and send it.  Your completed work is now on its way to your client.

Method 2 – You Previously Chose To Convert a .QBX to a .QBW File

If you opted to convert an Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) file to a company file (.QBW) and record your work in that company file, you’ll need to replace your client’s company file (.QBW) with the company file that contains your work.

Unlike the previous method, QuickBooks doesn’t provide any tools to assist in this process.

Because a company file (.QBW) is the primary file for recording data in QuickBooks for Windows, the file is considerably larger than other file types.  You may find that the size of the company file makes electronic transmission, especially via email, more difficult.  For example, the company file containing the sample data we used in these examples is 7944 Kb, or nearly 8 megabytes, in size.  By comparison, the Accountant’s Copy export file (.QBX) created from this company file to be sent to an accountant is only 328 Kb.  The Accountant’s Copy import file (.QBY) containing our 1 journal entry is less than 2 Kb in size, which is about the space required for 1 transaction.  If we had recorded 100 transactions resulting in a .QBY file of approximately 200 Kb, it would be easier to transmit that file via email than a file containing nearly 8 Mb of data.  If the company file (.QBW) containing your work is too large for transmission via email, you can consider:

  1. compressing the file with a file compression utility,
  2. using a file service that isn’t subject to the limits imposed by your internet service provider on email, or
  3. physical delivery of the file on electronic media.

Before replacing your client’s company file with the one containing your work, be sure to create a backup copy of the client’s data.  If the client did record transactions in the company file, those transactions will be lost once you replace the client’s company file with the one containing your work.  The backup will provide the ability to identify those transactions at a later date and enter them manually.

If you created and emailed a .QBY file, your client will need to incorporate the changes that are recorded in the Accountant’s Copy import file (.QBY) that you supply.  We describe incorporating the changes in an Accountant’s Copy import file (.QBY) in a separate article.

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  1. Quickbooks is great for sending your accountant a copy to make corrections and then import them. The problem is Intuit lists this as a “free” service and it is far from that. Every three years Quickbooks will make you buy an “upgrade” at the same cost of the original software in order to continue to use this “free” service.
    They do tell you, when you buy the software that Quickbooks will only support this version for so long. But, unlike other software, they have made it impossible to use all the features of software, like emailing invoices or an accountant’s copy, unless you upgrade every three years.
    This seems more than just a little deceptive to me.
    After looking on line, it’s clear one can get around the emailing of invoices without “upgrading” However, I have not found a way around the accountant’s copy issue and there may HAVE to upgrade.
    What a scam! And too bad, ‘cuase otherwise Quickbooks workd pretty well for our business.

    • John, you’ve got an important fact wrong: you do not need to buy an upgrade to use the accountant’s copy features. You only need to buy an upgrade to use Intuit’s secure servers to send files back and forth. That’s a big difference. You can generate files and transmit them by a variety of other means, including your own email, which, while not free, doesn’t have a marginal cost.

      You’d also benefit from broadening your perspective a bit. Consider QuickBooks Pro. Using our Buy QuickBooks link, you can get Pro as of this writing for under $190. Using your own logic of a 3 year life for the product, that’s under $65 per year, or under $6 a month. Is keeping your accounting software – one of the most important functions of every business – worth $6 a month to you? With the rate of technological change, it’s almost mandatory to update key business software on a regular basis, and an upgrade every 3 years is not burdensome.

      I often have to repeat something a wise salesperson in a motorcycle shop once said to a customer shopping for a new motorcycle helmet: if you have a $10 head, get the $10 helmet.