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Bartering and How to Enter in QuickBooks

In these days and times, when budgets are tight, you may find that you can trade your service with another business to save on your cash flow.  This is called bartering and it is becoming more popular.  However, the fair market value of the property or services being bartered is taxable income to both parties.

The IRS has issued four facts on bartering:

  1. Organized bartered exchanges A barter exchange functions primarily as the organizer of a marketplace where members buy and sell products and services among themselves.  Whether this activity operates out of a physical office or is internet-based, a barter exchange is generally required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, annually to their clients or members and to the IRS.
  2. Barter income Barter dollars or trade dollars are identical to real dollars for tax reporting purposes.  If you conduct any direct barter – barter for another’s products or services – you must report the fair market value of the products or services you received on your tax return.
  3. Tax implications of bartering Income from bartering is taxable in the year it is performed.  Bartering may result in liabilities for income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax or excise tax.  Your barter activities may result in ordinary business income, capital gains or capital losses, or you may have a non deductible personal loss.
  4. How to report The rules for reporting barter transactions may vary depending on which form of bartering takes place.  Generally, you report this type of business income on Form 1040, Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business, or other business returns such as Form 1065 for Partnerships, Form 1120 for Corporations or form 1120-S for Small Business Corporations.”

So, now that we know what the IRS has to say, how do we record this in QuickBooks?  During my research on this I found a couple of different methods for recording barter transactions.  I’m going to giving the directions on the one I think is the best one to use.

Because you will be paying bills and invoicing and receiving payments from both a vendor and customer with the same name, you will have to distinguish them in QuickBooks since QuickBooks does not allow duplicate names in lists.  For vendors you could add -v after the name and for clients/customers you could add -c.

  1. Go to your chart of accounts and click on new.  Set up a new account called Bank and name the account Clearing Account (You can also call it Barter).  If you use account numbers enter an account number.  Click save and close.
  2. To record a barter transaction from the vendor go to the Vendor tab and Enter Bills and enter a bill for the vendor for the goods or service you are trading with from this vendor.  Click save and close.
  3. Next you will enter an invoice for this Vendor/Customer just as you would for any other customer.  Just don’t forget to use the Customer Name with the -c after it.  Click save and close
  4. Now you are ready to receive payment for the invoice.  Go to Receive Payment and enter the Customer Name, enter the amount, and mark the invoice to be paid.  In the Deposit to field click the drop down arrow and change from Use Undeposited Funds as a default deposit to account to Clearing Account (or Barter).  (If this file is not available to change you will need to go to Preferences > Payments and under the Company tab un-mark that box as the default).  Click save and close.
  5. To pay the bill, go the the Pay Bills and mark the Vendor and invoice you are going to pay.  At the bottom of the screen where is says Payment Account, click on the drop down arrow and change to Clearing Account (or Barter).  Click Pay Selected Bills.  On the next screen click done.

The clearing account can be reconciled just like any other bank account.  If the trades are equal in value the account will be zero.  If not, you may have to write a check or make a deposit to clear the account.


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About Jo Ellen Peters

Jo Ellen Peters is the owner of Top Notch Bookkeeping and an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She has over 20 years experience in bookkeeping and payroll, with 14 years at a CPA firm working for clients in a variety of industries. She attended college at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and is a Certified Quickbooks Consultant for The Sleeter Group.

8 Responses to Bartering and How to Enter in QuickBooks

  1. Mark Gubuan | Bookkeeping Services says:


    Great looking site you have here! This is a great post because of the fact that a lot of people won’t think to make note of these changes. It really makes me wonder how much more income would be recorded if people were to track this sort of thing. I’m not sure what the number was off the top of my head, but I know that there is a ton of tax dollars left off the table when it comes to this. Great post. I’ll talk to you later.


    • Thank you. One of the issues I didn’t address was how to issue a 1099 from QuickBooks for a Barter transaction. The IRS is clear on members of barter exchanges, but what about businesses that are just trading services with other businesses. Since the new reporting requirements only require you to send a 1099 to vendors you made a payment to by cash or check, and QuickBooks has a wizard to help with that, how do you send the 1099 for the barter exchange? Before the changes a payment method of barter could be set up and picked when you paid bills, but now that will not generate a 1099. My only guess it to use the cash payment method.

  2. Lisa Seats says:

    Does bartering throw off your trial balance because I did the steps the way you show and I also did it another way before and both ways seems to throw off the trial balance.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m not sure how you are entering your transactions, but your trial balance will equal following my steps. When you enter a bill for the transaction, you will debit an expense and credit accounts payable. When you enter an invoice you will debit accounts receivable and credit sales. To record the bill payment you will debit accounts payable and credit the barter account. To record payment for the invoice you will debit the barter account and credit accounts receivable. Each transaction has a debit and credit entry for the same amount. The trial balance will be in balance.

  3. Cathy says:

    Does this work if you are working with a trade company where you receive trade credit towards all companies involed, not just the company you have sold to? ie, I sold on trade to company A, but can use those trade dollars at companies A, B, C…therefore, I would have an ongoing credit in my clearing account until I purchase something. Is it ok to have a credit balance in this account (for end of year reporting purposes)

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks for this solution! I had a tenant struggling to pay rent who’s boyfriend owns a one-man tree service company. He performed his services on one of our properties and we agreed to apply the amount he billed us towards his girlfriend’s rent. With your method, the fact that his tree service name (vendor) and her tenant name (customer) were different did not matter. Your method also allowed us to keep track of expenses accurately, since the work he performed was on a different property than the one where her rent was due. I could have simply created and applied a credit towards her invoice, but it would not have been as clear as to what happened. Win win!

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