Troubleshoot Negative Inventory Issues in QuickBooks (Desktop or Online)

negative inventory issues in QuickBooks

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Negative inventory issues in QuickBooks (Desktop or Online) occur when the recorded inventory suggests a lower quantity than should be available based on sales and purchases. This situation arises when a company sells products that it doesn’t have in stock. This impacts the financial reporting and leads to incorrect cost calculations.

Causes include system errors, incorrect data entry, faulty inventory management, and theft. Addressing these issues involves verifying initial transactions, adjusting dates for purchases and sales, and maintaining accurate records. Resolving negative inventory is necessary to ensure financial accuracy, effective planning, customer satisfaction, cost savings, and compliance with legal requirements.

What is a Negative Inventory?

Negative inventory occurs when a company’s records indicate a lower on-hand inventory than expected based on sales and purchases. Essentially, it means the company is selling products it doesn’t currently possess. In this case, the accounting system reflects a negative inventory balance and shows more items have been sold or shipped than are available in the warehouse. This situation poses challenges for the company and leads to inaccurate financial reporting, miscalculated cost of goods sold (COGS), and lower profit margins.

Causes of Negative Inventory Issues in QuickBooks

Negative inventory can occur from multiple factors including not only across industries but also among companies within the same sector. Several triggers such as timing discrepancies, warehouse locations, unclear invoices, multiple warehouses, and recording errors lead to a negative inventory. 

  • Incorrect Data Entry: Mistakes in data entries such as errors in item numbers, incorrect quantities, or pricing mistakes can lead to negative inventory. If an employee enters incorrect data while updating inventory levels then it can also result in inaccuracies.
  • Faulty Inventory Management Practices: Inadequate inventory management practices such as neglecting real-time tracking or failing to conduct regular counts may also cause negative inventory. Businesses not monitoring inventory levels in real-time might unintentionally sell products they don’t have in stock.
  • Theft and Fraud: Instances of theft and fraud can contribute to negative inventory. Employee theft or manipulation of inventory records can distort actual inventory levels, leading to discrepancies in the system.

Importance of Accurate Inventory Management

Accurate inventory management holds major importance for businesses engaged in selling products irrespective of their size or industry.

  • Financial accuracy: It ensures the financial accuracy of a business by providing an exact valuation of the inventory asset on the balance sheet. This is very crucial for analyzing the overall financial health of the company.
  • Efficient Planning: Accurate inventory management facilitates effective planning for future production needs, purchasing decisions, and sales projections. Businesses can use inventory data to anticipate demand and enable well-informed decisions on production schedules and procurement requirements.
  • Customer Satisfaction: The availability of desired products when customers need them is ensured through accurate inventory management. In cases of poor inventory control, dissatisfied customers may shift to competitors offering better product availability.
  • Cost Savings: Business cost savings can be achieved with accurate inventory management. It helps prevent overstocking, preventing tied-up cash flow and storage costs or understocking. This can result in missed sales opportunities and additional shipping expenses.
  • Compliance: Accurate inventory management is crucial for compliance with legal and regulatory requirements for businesses dealing with products having expiration dates such as food or pharmaceuticals.
May be useful- QuickBooks Show Accounts Payable is Negative

Monitor Negative Inventory

It represents a balance sheet however mainly it displays IVD i.e. Inventory Valuation Detail report.

Execute the IVD report

Inventory Valuation Detail is used in QuickBooks to calculate the negative inventory extent. There appear negative numbers in the column named Quantity on Hand (QOH)

Steps to execute the above-written report

  • Choose Reports located in a menu
  • Click on inventory and then hit on inventory valuation
  • Discover the drop-down which says Dates and tick all
  • Sort entire negative amounts occurrence in the On Hand column

Elaborate on the Negative Item Listing Report

QuickBooks Enterprise 15.0 and beyond Consultants the negative item listing report. It does not include past negative Quantities.

Below are the steps:

  • Locate Reports menu
  • Choose Inventory then click on Negative Item Listing

In case you are not implementing Enterprise 2014, QuickBooks Premier Independent advanced then Inventory Center is there.

Here are the steps:

  • Navigate Vendors menu
  • Choose Inventory Activities and then click on Inventory Center.
  • Go to the left corner of the displaying window to modify the Active Inventory filters to Assembly to QOH <=0.

Troubleshoot the Negative Inventory Issues in QuickBooks Online

To resolve negative inventory issues in QuickBooks Online, it’s important to maintain an accurate count of products in stock. Negative inventory occurs when the quantity on hand falls below zero. This can happen due to overselling, incomplete entry of purchase orders, miscounted physical inventory, or discrepancies between vendor quantities and purchase orders. 

Identifying Causes

  • Selling more products than available.
  • Incomplete entry of purchase orders.
  • Miscounting physical inventory.
  • Discrepancies between vendor quantities and purchase orders.
  • Failure to convert purchase orders to bills.

Steps to Address Negative Inventory

Step 1: Review Quantity on Hand

  • Generate an Inventory Valuation Detail report from Reports.
  • Set the Report period to All Dates to view the entire inventory.
  • Negative amounts in the QTY column indicate potential overselling.

Step 2: Convert Open Purchase Orders to Bills

  • If open purchase orders exist, create bills to inform QuickBooks of impending inventory.
  • Create a new purchase order then fill it out and save it.
  • Navigate to Expenses and find open purchase orders then select “Send” to notify vendors.
  • Once products are on route then convert the purchase order to a bill.
  • Run another Inventory Valuation Detail report for an updated inventory count.

By following these steps, users can rectify negative inventory issues ensuring accurate tracking and effective inventory management in QuickBooks Online.

Adjusting Purchase Order Quantities in QuickBooks Online:

If you’ve missed or incorrectly entered quantities on a purchase order in QuickBooks Online then don’t panic. Follow these steps to rectify the situation without directly editing your inventory: 

Step 3: Conduct a Physical Inventory Check

  • Access Reports and print a Physical Inventory Worksheet.
  • Count the actual stock in your storage area and record the amounts on the worksheet.
  • Compare the Physical Inventory Worksheet with the Inventory Valuation Detail report from Step 2.
  • If variances exist then adjust the quantities in QuickBooks accurately ensuring open purchase orders are converted to bills first.
  • For lost or misplaced inventory, consult your accountant for specialized handling.  

Tip: Conduct regular physical inventories to maintain accurate records.

Step 4: Replenish Inventory

  • If your inventory remains negative, it’s time to reorder products.
  • Create and send purchase orders for the needed items.
  • Create estimates for out-of-stock items when customers place orders While waiting for the order’s arrival.
  • When the order arrives, follow the necessary steps to convert estimates into invoices, completing the transaction seamlessly.

Troubleshoot the Negative Inventory Issues in QuickBooks Desktop

If you’re facing discrepancies in your inventory report due to the absence of average cost, follow these steps to rectify the issue.

Points that need to be considered before troubleshooting

  • Backup company files without conflict with past backups.
  • Ensure that you have saved backup in a safe folder
  • A costly negative inventory is a complex and risky task it is a better option, to begin with, a new data file.

Solution 1: Check whether the initial transaction for an item is Sales

Step 1: Accessing the QuickBooks Reports Menu

  • Navigate to the Reports menu within the QuickBooks application.
  • Select “Inventory” from the menu options.
  • Choose “Inventory Valuation Summary” from the sub-menu.
  • Identify an item in the report displaying incorrect values.

Step 2: Correcting Initial Transaction for an Item

  • Double-click on the item name to QuickZoom into it, opening the Inventory Valuation Detail report.
  • Locate the first Bill transaction associated with the item within the Inventory Valuation Detail report.
  • Double-click on the Bill to access the “Enter Bills” window.
  • Adjust the date of the Bill to precede the first invoice listed in the detail report.
  • Click “Save & Close” to record the modified Bill transaction with the new date.
  • Return to the Inventory Valuation Detail report.
  • Identify the next item with incorrect values and repeat Steps 4-6 for each item, addressing the issue systematically.

Solution 2: Adjusting Dates for Purchases Before Sales

If you’ve entered adjustments or purchases before sales then it’s necessary to align the dates of bills preceding the invoice dates. Follow these steps 

  • Navigate to the menu bar in QuickBooks and select “Reports.”
  • From the drop-down options, choose “Inventory” and then select “Inventory Valuation Detail.”
  • Locate the “Dates” drop-down arrow Within the Inventory Valuation Detail report. 
  • Click on the arrow and select the “All” option to include all dates in the report.
  • Scroll through the report and examine the “On Hand” column.
  • Identify items displaying negative amounts in the On Hand column and note them for adjustments.
  • Adjust the dates of the bills and/or invoices for the identified items If authorized. Ensure that bill dates precede invoice dates, adhering to legitimate business practices.
  • Repeat the process for each item with a negative amount in the On Hand column.

Solution 3: Sales Recorded Without Purchases

If inventory items have been sold without corresponding purchases then it may be due to bills using accounts instead of inventory items. To address this: 

  • Edit the bills and change entries from the Expenses Tab to the Item.
  • Note that this adjustment may impact inventory expenses so it’s advisable to consult with your accounting professional before proceeding.

Tips to Prevent Negative Inventory Challenges

  •  If you want to avoid negative inventory it is suggested that you never try to sell inventory items unless you have purchased that item.
  •  Set up entire inventory items with an opening balance
  •  Implement Sales orders or estimates to fill sales associated with inventory
  •  Make use of pending invoices while entering sales.

It is expected that through the above article, you have learned How to fix negative inventory issues in QuickBooks (Desktop or Online.


In conclusion, troubleshooting negative inventory issues in QuickBooks (Desktop or Online) is important for maintaining accurate financial records and ensuring smooth business operations. By understanding the root causes and implementing corrective measures, businesses can prevent complications such as inaccurate reporting and reduced profit margins. For those encountering consistent errors, it is advised to seek guidance from accounting professionals. Our QuickBooks experts are available to provide assistance and help 24×7.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes negative inventory in QuickBooks?

Negative inventory in QuickBooks can be caused by various factors including system errors, incorrect data entry, faulty inventory management practices, and even instances of theft or fraud. It’s crucial to identify the specific cause within your business context to address the issue effectively.

How does negative inventory impact financial reporting?

Negative inventory can lead to inaccurate financial reporting by distorting the valuation of assets. This affects metrics like cost of goods sold (COGS) calculation and profit margins. Resolving negative inventory issues is essential for maintaining the financial health and accuracy of your business records.

Can system errors contribute to negative inventory?

Yes, system errors such as software bugs, incorrect data feeds, or configuration errors can contribute to negative inventory in QuickBooks. If the inventory management system fails to accurately track inventory levels then it may show products as available when they are not, leading to discrepancies.

How can businesses rectify negative inventory issues in QuickBooks?

Rectifying negative inventory involves steps like ensuring the earliest transactions for items are bills, checks, or credit card charges. Additionally, adjustments to transaction dates and converting open purchase orders to bills can help align inventory records with actual stock levels.

What impact does negative inventory have on customer satisfaction?

Negative inventory can lead to customer dissatisfaction as it may result in products being unavailable when customers need them. Businesses with poor inventory management risk losing customers to competitors who can consistently provide the products they seek.

Is there a risk of legal and regulatory non-compliance due to negative inventory?

Yes, accurate inventory management is important for legal and regulatory compliance, especially for products with expiration dates. Businesses must maintain precise records to meet compliance requirements. This ensures the quality and safety of goods sold, such as in the case of food or pharmaceuticals.