Dealing With Uncleared Checks From Prior Years in Sage 50

This month’s tip is a request from a reader. Ginny wanted me to address “How to write off uncashed checks from prior years and how to handle re-issuing an uncashed check from prior years.”

Even though the same principals apply in all three cases, the exact steps will vary depending on whether the check paid an accounts payable invoice, or was posted directly to an expense account, or if it was a payroll check.

Let’s talk about the payroll check first because Sage 50 makes this very easy. If an employee comes to you in January and says they lost their paycheck from December, all you have to do is open the lost check in the the Payroll Entry window and click the Reissue button. That will automatically void the old check and create a new check for the same amount that you can print. The void transaction and the replacement check both get dated today so the net effect on your general ledger and payroll tax reports is zero.

But the reissue feature only exists for payroll checks, so for any other check we have to manually replicate that process.

The first thing you need to do is to void the old check. Go to the Tasks menu and choose Void Checks. A window opens listing uncleared checks. If you have a lot of uncleared checks or if you don’t use the bank reconciliation feature in Sage 50, it could take a little while for the void window to open. At the top left you can select a different bank account if needed. At the top right is the void date. That is the date that the void will be posted. In other words, that is when the old check will be reversed off of your books. In most cases that should be today’s date. Then you simply select the check from the list and click the Void button. Voiding a check also clears it off of your bank reconciliation.

The next steps vary depending on whether or not the check paid an invoice, and if the check should be re-issued.

CHECKS THAT DID NOT PAY AN INVOICE

If the check did not pay an invoice and you want to re-issue the check, then simply enter a new check just like the original but with today’s date. The negative expense from the void will be offset by the expense from the new check and there will be no change to your current expenses.

If the check did not pay an invoice and you don’t want to issue a new check, then you’re done. Voiding the original check is all you need to do. The expense account from the original check will be decreased in the current year. That is necessary because you recognized an expense in the prior year that turned out to not be a real expense, so we recognize the correction on this year’s books.

CHECKS THAT PAID AN INVOICE

If the check paid an accounts payable invoice and you need to issue a new check, simply enter a new check with today’s date and select that invoice, just as you would for any other accounts payable check.

If the check paid an accounts payable invoice and you will not be issuing a new check, in other words you will not be paying the related invoice, then you need to enter a credit memo to get the invoice out of your accounts payable. The easiest way to do that is to go to the Tasks menu and choose Vendor Credit Memos. Enter the vendor ID. The Credit Date should, in most cases, be today’s date. At the Credit No.field, if you have a credit memo from the vendor, use the number from the credit memo. If you don’t have a credit memo (as when you entered an invoice twice) I suggest using “CM-” followed by the original invoice number. Now select the invoice from the drop down list on the Apply to Invoice No. tab, then click the Return button at the top of the window and choose All. That will fill in the amounts and/or quantities from the invoice. Click Save to record the credit memo. This entry will affect your general ledger in the current year, but again that is needed as a correction to the prior year expenses.

If the invoice involved had inventory items on it, then the credit memo will remove those items from inventory. You’ll need to carefully consider whether or not you need to make additional inventory adjustments. For example, in the case of an invoice that was entered twice, you normally want the items to be removed from inventory so you wouldn’t need to do anything else. But if you had done a physical inventory between the original invoice date and when you entered the credit memo, then inventory would have already been corrected and you need to enter inventory adjustments to put those items back into inventory.

I would also like to add that these procedure are the same whether the check is in a prior year or the current year. Just because Sage 50 allows you to delete a check from the current year doesn’t mean you should. It’s much better to void checks so that you can account for every check number.

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