In this article, you will learn about why you might want to create a refund and how you can process that refund in Actionstep.
Refunds are only available to some users. Refunds are available in an Actionstep system that is using Actionstep Accounting. Due to limitations, we do not offer refunds in an Actionstep system that is integrated with QuickBooks Online or Xero.
What are refunds and what do you use them for?
Refunds are where you want to take money that clients have given you and pay it back to them. Normally because they have overpaid you or you have mistakenly overcharged them.
Refunds are not a trust or retainer function (there are separate processes for dealing with those). A refund is where funds have been received into your business bank account and not applied to a general retainer.
Refunds are used in two instances
- When a client has paid you more than you are owed, and
- When they have a credit note that you do not believe will be applied to an invoice
If you want to learn more about what these instances are, we explore both of these in more detail below. Click Overpayments or Unallocated funds and Unapplied Credits to skip to those sections.
If you want to complete a refund that doesn't fit into the two options above, you will be able to process a withdrawal instead.
Processing a Refund
To process a refund, go to the create button in the top right-hand side of Actionstep and, under the expanded version, select Client Refund.
On the 'New client refund' screen you can enter the details of the refund. The refund creates money going out of your bank account as well as updating the unallocated client payment or credit note so their are fields for both.
To bring up the details of the item you are going to refund, you will have to search for the client that the unallocated client payment or credit note was made out to. If there are multiple items for a client then all will be displayed.
The fields on the new client refund screen are explained below.
Select the bank account that the refund will come out of. The refund will create a banking transaction that will appear in your financial reporting and your bank reconciliations.
Enter the date that the refund was processed.
Use the 'Choose a contact' box to search for and select the client that has the item that you want to refund.
You must select a client for the refundable items to be displayed.
The method in which you processed the refund. Depending on which method selected, the 'Reference' field may display.
Enter the reference for the transaction. This field will only appear for some payment method's. This reference will display in the bank reconciliation to help you identify the transaction.
For example, when you enter an Electronic Funds Transfer as the payment method, you would enter the reference for that transaction that would appear on your bank statement.
This is the explanation of the transaction, why you are processing a refund. This will help you identify the cause of the transaction at a later date and in your reconciliations.
You can use the quick-code to apply a pre-saved Memo.
Each item that is available to be refunded will be displayed once you choose the client from the 'Payment to' field.
Each item will display its type and its unique id, its date, the total amount and the unallocated amount for the item. The unallocated amount is the amount that you can refund for the item.
To the right of each item, enter the amount that you would like to refund in the applied box.
If you want to apply all the arrow icon to the left of the 'Applied' box to apply a refund to all of the unallocated amount.
Click Save once you have entered the details about the refund.
Finding and Editing Previous Client Refunds
Once created, you can find a refund by going to the 'Billing' menu at the top of Actionstep and choosing 'Payments'. Any transaction with 'Client refund' in the left hand "Entry type" column will be a refund. You can click on the words 'Client refund' to open that transaction.
You can open a previous refund and make changes to it. The changes will be applied once you click save.
There can be restrictions on when an accounting transaction can be edited such as if it is part of a saved bank reconciliation or a saved tax return.
What you will refund
There are two types of transactions that you can refund in Actionstep. We explain what each is and how they occur below. We also explain when a refund should be used versus a withdrawal.
Overpayments or Unallocated funds
When you are processing a client payment (a payment from a client towards a bill or bills that you have issued them, there are two parts of the form where you enter the amounts.
The first is the deposited amount. This is the amount of money that will be going into your bank account.
The second is the applied amount. The applied amount will be the total of the funds that you have applied against your bills.
In almost all situations, these will match. You cannot apply more to an invoice than what you deposit into your bank account and clients rarely overpay you. However, that can happen which is how you get a client payment with unallocated funds.
Unallocated funds happen when you deposit more than what you can apply to an invoice. When this happens, you will see a blue box on the Client payment screen that will highlight the unallocated funds.
If you have a system which allows for General Retainers, you will be able to place the unallocated funds into the retainer. Otherwise, you will have to leave them as unallocated.
Unallocated funds can be applied to another invoice later as long as that invoice is created so that it is dated on or before the date of the payment with the unallocated funds.
Unapplied Credit Notes
Credit notes are created from an invoice when you want to either refund the invoice to write off part or all of the invoice. In most cases, you will create a credit note to apply it to an existing invoice reducing the amount owing to the client.
You can, however, have a credit note open for a client but have no intention of invoicing that client again so have no invoice to apply it to. In this case, you can use the Refund option to return these funds back to the client.
An example of when to use a refund for a credit note might be when you have invoiced a client and they have paid but after that payment, dispute part of the bill. You agree to credit them for that part of the bill but do not expect to engage them for any further services so will not invoice them again. In this case, you wish to return the credited amount back to the client.
Using a Client Refund vs a Withdrawal
If you are wanting to send funds to a client but it is not related to a credit note or an overpayment, you can create a banking withdrawal instead. Banking withdrawals are typically used for one-off payments that was made by the business that you did not get an invoice for. See Firm withdrawals and Firm deposits for more details.