QuickBooks Tip: Important Facts About Items Left as Billable

Many QuickBooks forms have a billable column, do you know what it’s used for and are you using it correctly?

Many QuickBooks forms have a billable column available for you to work with – checks, enter bills, timesheets, enter credit card charges, etc.  The purpose of the billable column is to allow you to choose which expenses and/or time entries that you will be passing through to customers when you create an Invoice based on Time & Costs {also know as Time & Materials billings or Cost Plus billing in the construction industry.}

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Important Facts About Items Left as Billable

Are you aware that if click into the billable column, which places a checkmark in the column {OR you leave that little Invoice icon found on many forms active and don’t “X” it out older versions of QuickBooks} that the information relating to that transaction line is stored within your QuickBooks file in a “waiting to be billed” status just taking up additional space and making your file larger than normal?

Selecting the billable column doesn’t mean that you want the costs assigned to this job {which is a common thought or assumption} but rather it tells QuickBooks that you want to take the information about that transaction and put it into a temporary database until you create an invoice for a specific customer using the Time/Costs button on the Invoice form.

If you really don’t pass these costs or time entries onto customers using the Time/Costs feature of QuickBooks – then this temporary database is just out there growing and growing – which causes the overall size of your QuickBooks file to become bigger and bigger.

If you are wondering if this is happening to you, an easy way to find out it to run an “Unbilled Costs by Job Report” {Report menu -> Jobs, Time & Mileage -> Unbilled Costs by Job} and look to see if there are a lot of entries in this report, if there are; all of those entries are just sitting there waiting for you to do something with them.

Download our 2 page article (from the Learn to use QuickBooks in your construction business website) for instructions on how to clear out old unbilled costs – without having to edit each item in the report and manually making them unbillable.

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17 thoughts on “QuickBooks Tip: Important Facts About Items Left as Billable

  • Jonathan
    Check your Time & Billing Preferences (Edit menu –> Preferences –> Time & Billing – it’s the last preference) look at both the your preferences and company preferences tab – do you have something automatically checked there?

  • Jonathan

    When I enter expenses and tab through the fields from Account > Amount > Memo > Customer:Job… the cursor skips right over Billable? and goes to Class, but Billable? defaults to checked. Is it possible to make it default to unchecked? Since the cursor skips the billable field and I’m entering hundreds of bills using only my keyboard and the Tab key for speed, it’s annoying to have to use my mouse only to uncheck the Billable? field for every single expense I enter.

  • Hi Beth
    When you use the Account/Expense tab to enter costs and mark them as “not billable” they do still show up in Job Costing reports (such as the Estimate vs Actual) BUT they show up at the bottom of the report with a side heading of “No Item Assigned).

    In my humble opinion, you would be better off if you used the Item tab to select the corresponding item that was used in the Estimate, that way you are matching income and expenses (if the items are setup up to capture both). You can still mark these things as “Not Billable” and they will then show on reports as well.

    Best of luck on your cleanup 🙂

  • Beth

    Using Account Expense Item tab:
    If you make materials and time “not billable” but put under customer job, will materials and time still show up on Job Costing Report and PL? We want to keep track of all expenses (COGS) per customer; however, we do not use Time and Expense feature. We do generate estimates and generate progress and final invoices per that particular estimate.

    We do want to thank you for great information on the Items left “un-billable,” we have a lot of cleaning up to do. Yikes.

  • Diana

    Ms. Smyth – If I already made a manual invoice and “then” had to input the data in Enter Bills w/Bill, how can I made the Bill “Billed”? If I had to make another invoice for the same customer, I would not capture what had, from the 1st bill, already been paid?

  • Is there any way to use the billable tab to make sure items on a project get use tax paid? Think it might be a good way to filter those sort of items (but there is probably a better way)

  • Hi Lanie
    Sorry for the delay, I was attending a QuickBooks conference last week out of town.

    My best advice, hire someone with both QuickBooks and construction experience to help you get things set up correctly from the get go and to teach you how to utilize the program to it’s fullest.

    I offer this sort of setup & training (all done remotely) or if you are interested in someone local coming in to assist you, I do have a list (broken down by state) of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors that I have worked with that understand the use of QuickBooks in the construction industry – you can find that information here on our main website – https://www.sunburstsoftwaresolutions.com/links/

  • Lanie


    My company is a contracting company and we recently purchased quickbooks. I don’t have any idea on how to use this. Anyone can tell me how to do the job costing?thank you

  • Hello Dean
    When you entered the bill from your subcontractor if you assigned it to the specific job/client it should automatically show up in your job costing reports and the Profit & Loss as well – below is some info on how you can make sure that the amount is showing up in your reports.

    When you entered your subcontractor bill, did you use the Account/Expenses or Items tab?

    If you used the Account/Expenses tab what was the Account that you used? Run a P & L and look for that account and then double-click on the dollar amount – you should see that subcontractor bill and it’s dollar amount included in the details for that “total”.

    If you used the Item tab, what Item did you assign to the transaction? Go to your Item List and see what Expense or Cost of Goods Sold account the item is assigned to. Run your P & L, look for that account and double-click on that amount – you should see that specific subcontractor bill and it’s amount included in the details of that “total”.

    Hope this helps. Have a great day!

  • dean

    I have entered a bill from a sub contractor and also applied it towards a job (did not select billable).
    How do I transfer this expense to a job without billing the client as it is just an internal expense which still needs to show up on the profit and loss report. Is there a setting in the Vender tabs or customer invoice or in the bill itself?

  • Joe, not sure what version of QuickBooks you are using but here are a couple of suggestions.

    Both QuickBooks 2011 & 2012 have a Time & Expenses Preference (Edit menu -> Preferences -> Time & Expenses -> Company Preferences tab) check to see what you have checked for Invoicing options on this window. If you have either of these invoicing options checked – try unchecking them. This should make a difference from this point forward.

    To get rid of/remove the “old” unbilled items follow the instructions in the article that you can download – OR – try this nifty new trick that I learned from another ProAdvisor (Thank you Laura Dion) which uses the Sales Receipt form.

    Create your Unbilled Costs by Job Report -> and Open the Sales Receipt form (Customer menu -> Enter Sales Receipts) arrange the 2 items next to each other on your computer. On the Sales Receipt select the first Customer/Job on the list -> when the Billable Time/Costs window appears -> click on the first option (Select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice) -> go to the Expenses tab in your case (others may want to click on EACH of the available tabs) -> click into the Hide column (far right) to place a checkmark next to each item that you want to remove from the report -> click OK -> note that the items you indicated that you want to hide are no longer displayed on the report. On the Sales Receipt form-> select the next Customer/Job on your report -> repeat the process.

    This quicker method eliminates the need to actually create and then delete an invoice.

  • Joe Brunclik

    Purchases that are not items, but “expenses” can not be “X” out, but they show up in unbilled expense report anyway. How do you get rid of those?

  • Kathleen, if I understand your question correctly – you would complete all the normal fields on the form {customer:job, service item, account, etc.} leaving that “billable” column unchecked. Those actions send the associated costs into our job costing reports without telling QuickBooks that you want to pass the costs through to an invoice.

    If I’ve totally misread your question, please let me know.


  • Kathleen

    What if you don’t use some of these billable costs on the client invoice but would like to keep track of as a cost to that client job? Is there another way to do this?

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