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Negative Entries not allowed in selected areas of Lacerte

SClement
Level 1

I use negative entries a lot when entering data in numerous areas of the return.  For example, for auto mileage, I ask the client for their ending odometer reading each year.  As the appointment occurs around the same time, it give me a good idea of their annual mileage by subtracting the prior year odometer reading from the current year.  The total mileage for vehicles in the depreciation schedule allow this, but the total mileage on the Vehicle/Employee Business Expense (2106) does not allow it.

I do similar thing throughout the return and leave notes to allow me to understand how I arrived at a total.  This year I am finding that Personal Property Tax box on Sch A does not allow negative entries.  I use negative entries here because clients can remember their total vehicle fees, but don't know the non-deductible amount.

I also found this year the entry field for repairs on the rental schedule does not allow negative entries.  I have a situation where the client provided a number for total repairs, but I wanted to leave tracks as to the amount moved to other lines, such as painting, plumbing, maintenance. 

If this is a trend to move toward not allowing negative entries on the form, please, please reverse this.  It is our responsibility to review the return to make sure that it is correct, not the software's responsibility to limit us to only positive entries.  Does any one else have similar thoughts?

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Accepted Solutions
PhoebeRoberts
Level 9
Level 9

I agree with the original poster. It's not unusual for me to put notes into the Ctrl+E detail fields, some of which are subtractions. For instance, real estate taxes might have a line item for taxes paid through escrow, and an offsetting line item for the portion reimbursed at closing. Yes, my workpapers have the net, but they also have a billion other entries (and the more line-items in the workpapers, the more important it is to have independent entry of the source numbers).

And then there are oddball situations where you have to make an apparently-random entry in order to force the right tax return presentation, and sometimes it's a negative amount. (See also, schedules that don't foot because some sub-calculated number that doesn't even appear on the schedule is a -1, and everyone knows that's zero, so let's just ignore the dollar of loss...)

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14 Replies 14
itonewbie
Level 15

These negative entries belong to your workpaper, not input screens of a tax return. That's part of the safeguard that's built into tax preparation software to help avoid inadvertent mistakes and to weed out entries that don't make sense.

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qbteachmt
Level 15

"not the software's responsibility to limit us to only positive entries. Does any one else have similar thoughts?"

Your role also is to use the proper tools for their specific function and need. Mileage math is done in spreadsheets and calculators. Stated Values would be put into tax forms. You simply fill in what is being asked for. And not putting in negative, does not mean it won't do math. If you see Beginning and Ending, did you see if it then "does the math" for you? You might simply be overthinking some of this.

I see this often: just because a Form accepts numbers doesn't mean it works the same as a spreadsheet program. You need to follow the instructions.

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PhoebeRoberts
Level 9
Level 9

I agree with the original poster. It's not unusual for me to put notes into the Ctrl+E detail fields, some of which are subtractions. For instance, real estate taxes might have a line item for taxes paid through escrow, and an offsetting line item for the portion reimbursed at closing. Yes, my workpapers have the net, but they also have a billion other entries (and the more line-items in the workpapers, the more important it is to have independent entry of the source numbers).

And then there are oddball situations where you have to make an apparently-random entry in order to force the right tax return presentation, and sometimes it's a negative amount. (See also, schedules that don't foot because some sub-calculated number that doesn't even appear on the schedule is a -1, and everyone knows that's zero, so let's just ignore the dollar of loss...)

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rbynaker
Level 11

While I don't use Lacerte, I do frequently use negative numbers in a detail list for a whole host of reasons (many of which are already mentioned here).  It's very convenient to have those details in the tax return software.  If this were tax filing software provided by the IRS for free, sure, suck it up and deal with it.  But you folks pay thousands of dollars for a product that should make your life easier, not more difficult.

Sounds like Intuit has come up with a Lacerte dehancement.  They've been dehancing ProSeries for years.

qbteachmt
Level 15

"The total mileage for vehicles in the depreciation schedule allow this, but the total mileage on the Vehicle/Employee Business Expense (2106) does not allow it."

"It's not unusual for me to put notes into the Ctrl+E detail fields, some of which are subtractions. For instance, real estate taxes might have a line item for taxes paid through escrow, and an offsetting line item for the portion reimbursed at closing."

I read these as two different issues. The first seems to be, "I want to enter the formula and see the Net." That's what I meant by "doing the math" in the field or not. The ability to enter into Detail section, multiple lines, using negatives and positives, to see the net result, is different.

If it shows you should Enter the Beginning Reading, and Enter the Ending Reading, then it should do the math. If it states to Enter the Mileage, then you did the math. I would never attempt to enter a negative in Enter the Mileage, as itonewbie points out.

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SClement
Level 1

I appreciate all of the comments that have been made to my posting.  As we have all discovered, Lacerte allows us to access each part of the software in different ways because we all work differently.  Some of us, myself included, much appreciate the ability to use Lacerte as a place to leave notes and do allocations within the data fields so that we have fewer documents that can get misplaced.  Others, like yourself, much prefer to prepare separate worksheets and enter the net amounts.  This flexibility is one of the reasons why we work with Lacerte.  My point to the posting should probably have stated to please allow this flexibility throughout the software and not limit us to only entering positive amounts.

Let me share an example of when a negative number needs to be in a return.  I had a client purchase a property mid-year and they received a credit through escrow on the property taxes that are due next year.  I will be reporting a negative amount for property taxes as the taxpayer reports on the cash basis.  If Lacerte limited this field to only positive amounts, we would not be allowed to report the credit in the proper place on the return.  Thankfully this field allows a negative amount to be entered and thus I am a happy tax preparer.  This is not the only time I find negative numbers being the correct amount to be reported, so again, I am asking for the ability to use Lacerte in the way that works best for me in my practice as all of us desire.

abctax55
Level 15

@SClement 

I completely agree with you, and with Phoebe (surprise..).

I use the negative number many, many times to track/allocate or even as a "quickie" calculator.

For what I pay for Lacerte, let ME decide if a negative number is acceptable and stop trying to micro-manage my tax practice or tax flow.

Yes the "math" may be in my workpapers; there's nothing wrong with also having it actually in the program.  It should be MY choice.

Former Chump..umm... AllStar...This message was typed from 6 feet away so you can safely read it immediately.

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qbteachmt
Level 15

"If Lacerte limited this field to only positive amounts, we would not be allowed to report the credit in the proper place on the return."

The possibility that a value would be negative or not is something that should be considered by the programmers, of course. That isn't the same as trying to get math to work, and that is why I used the word Value for an entry, such as a property tax credit exceeding the expense for that reporting year. So, barring some bad directive, the programmers should understand where to allow for a value to be negative or positive, when that applies.

"My point to the posting should probably have stated to please allow this flexibility throughout the software and not limit us to only entering positive amounts."

But that isn't what you put here in your topic. You put: "Does any one else have similar thoughts?" and that opened this discussion among your peer users.

Because no one here is limiting this. No one here is a Lacerte programmer or a tech support programmer or even an Intuit staffer.

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itonewbie
Level 15

Yep, was looking at this from a programming perspective in terms of how to poka-yoke (to borrow a Six-Sigma term) user input.

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itonewbie
Level 15

I can see how allowing negative entries could be useful to more experienced users.  Perhaps the solution then is to modify the validation to trigger a warning similar to how override diagnostics work.

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abctax55
Level 15

"...could be useful to more experienced users".

HEY, I resemble that remark 😉

Jensen, you OK over there?  I'm hearing of a major outbreak & quarantines.  Stay safe, my friend.

Former Chump..umm... AllStar...This message was typed from 6 feet away so you can safely read it immediately.

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itonewbie
Level 15

Yep, that's clearly a reference to you, Anna.

The world is going topsy turvy.  Otherwise, I'm doing fine.  Hope you and the family are staying safe and healthy too.

I do hope things will go back to normal soon (although part of it probably never will, if you know what I mean) but it looks like it may take a while, even with the vaccines.

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akap
Level 1

So did we ever get a solution to this? It is very frustrating on how some input boxes you can put negative numbers but not others. On Sch F I can input negative numbers into Freight and trucking but not Gasoline, fuel, oil. It makes no sense which ones you can and cannot have negative numbers in.

itonewbie
Level 15

Don't expect a change from these discussions.  This is the peer-to-peer support part of the Community only.  If you'd like to make a product enhancement suggestion, you can create an entry in the Lacerte Idea Exchange instead:

https://proconnect.intuit.com/community/lacerte-tax-idea-exchange/idb-p/604

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