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How to Write off Bad Debt in QuickBooks Online

March 15th, 2013

Having to write off bad debt is one of those common business scenarios everyone. If you find yourself in a situation in which you need to write off bad debt from one of our customers, the first thing you should do is make sure you’ve exhausted all resources in attempting to collect.

Bad debt doesn’t necessarily mean you have a customer that is out to get you. Your customer may be going through a bankruptcy, so it’s important to reach out to your customer, obtain as much information about the situation, and see if you can come to an agreement to pay part of the debt, work out a payment plan, or get in line behind other creditors.

If all of that fails, there are two methods of writing off bad debt. Which one is good for you largely depends on how you currently do your accounting. The two options are:

1) Cash Accounting
2) Accrual Accounting

The following will detail how to write off bad debt for each of these situations.

Write Off Bad Debt – Cash Accounting

Void Invoice

The main difference between accrual accounting and cash accounting when writing off bad debt is how you count your income; with cash accounting, an open invoice is not considered to be income yet.


So to write off bad debt with cash accounting, all that needs to be done is to void the invoice.


Browse to Customers->Customer Center and select the name of the customer on the left hand side. Next to Show, select Invoices from the dropdown and double click on the invoice you wish to write off. Once you’re looking at the invoice you’d like to write off, just select Void.



Write Off Bad Debt – Accrual Accounting

Credit Customer with Bad Debt

With accrual accounting, as soon as an invoice is sent out, it is counted as income. So in order to write off bad debt, you must issue a Bad Debt credit to cancel out the invoice income.

Before you do so, you must make sure you have Bad Debt listed as a Product/Service item. To do so, browse under Company->Lists then choose Products and Services List. Then select New and enter ‘Bad Debt’ next to name. Choose ‘Bad Debts – Expense’ (or similar) next to Account and select Save.

Now that you’ve added Bad Debt as a Product & Service item, you’re able to write off the bad debt.  Select the Customers tab, then under More, choose Refund or Credit. In the pop-up, choose Credit and make sure “Give credit for something already billed to the customer” is selected. Then enter in the Customer name and under Product/Service, choose ‘Bad Debt.’ Enter in the description that you’re writing off bad debt and in the Rate column, enter in the amount you’re writing off. Select Save and you’ve successfully written off the Bad Debt!


As with all accounting practices, it’s always best to consult your accountant before you make any changes to your books. Speak with your accountant or a QuickBooks Pro Advisor to ensure you’re using the best method for your business.

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