It’s that time of year again, Intuit has announced that they are discontinuing an older version of QuickBooks. If you are using QuickBooks 2018 then you won’t be able to use certain services and features after May 31, 2021. Let’s see what the impact will be on your business.
For details beyond what I provide here see this Intuit support document on Intuit’s disco (discontinuation) policy.
What this means is that for the QuickBooks 2018 desktop products, after that date:
- QuickBooks 2018 will continue to work after this date, for basic accounting functions.
- Any service that relies on an Intuit server (such as desktop payroll, online banking, etc.) will no longer be functional in this release.
- Live technical support for this product will no longer be available from Intuit.
- Intuit will not guarantee that you can register products or retrieve keycodes (although, in general I find that this hasn’t been an issue, for at least a few years following discontinuation).
- There will be no further updates to the program.
This applies to the following products:
- QuickBooks Pro 2018
- QuickBooks Premier 2018
- QuickBooks Desktop Accountant 2018
- QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions V18
In addition, QuickBooks Desktop Point of Sale 12.0 payments services will be discontinued after February 2, 2021.
If loss of any of these services are a problem for your business, you can upgrade to a more current version to continue getting support.
Services Discontinued for QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise 2018
After May 31, 2021, you will no longer be able to use the following services if you are using one of the 2018 products:
- Basic, Standard, Enhanced or Assisted Payroll: After the cutoff, QuickBooks 2018 will no longer automatically calculate correct payroll taxes, provide updated forms, or send your payroll data. For details, see the QuickBooks Desktop Discontinuation FAQ for Payroll.
- Worker’s Comp: You will no longer be able to process Worker’s Comp Payments through QuickBooks 2018.
- QuickBooks Workforce (formerly ViewMyPaycheck): You and your employees will no longer have access to QuickBooks Workforce.
- Payment Processing will no longer be available. You won’t be able to process credit card and check transactions through the desktop product.
- QuickBooks Merchant Service Deposit (reconciliation) will no longer download credit card and check info into the desktop product.
- Recurring Payments will no longer be downloaded
- eInvoice mailing will no longer be enabled.
- Live Technical Support will no longer be available. If you have an active QuickBooks Care Protection Plan, support will end when the plan is due for renewal (monthly, 90 day, or annual).
- Accountant’s Copy File Transfer (ACFT) service will no longer work with QuickBooks 2018.
- Multicurrency Exchange Rates will no longer be available for enabling or updating.
- Contributed Reports will no longer be accessible.
- Online Backup will no longer be available when your support plan expires.
- Online Banking, such as downloading transactions or sending/receiving online payments, will no longer work. If you try, it will show you one of several different error messages (depending on your download method) if you attempt to upload or download transactions, send online payments, or send online transfers. One example would be “QuickBooks is unable to verify the Financial Institution Information for this Download.”
- TSheets will no longer be available within QuickBooks desktop directly. To sync your TSheets Data with QuickBooks, upgrade your QuickBooks or use a web connector.
Those are the services that Intuit specifically mentions, but I believe that there are other services not listed that may no longer work after the discontinuation date. Here’s list of some of the other services that I expect will not be provided for QuickBooks 2018 after the disco date, based on what we’ve seen in prior years:
- 1099: You might not be able to launch the 1099 Wizard. You still should be able to use an add-on 1099 e-filing service, though.
- QuickBooks email (the internal QuickBooks mail service for emailing invoices), which is generally associated with one of the services listed earlier, should no longer be available.
Third party add-on products should not be directly affected by this – but you should check with your vendor to see what their policy is.
What Should You Do?
If you are using QuickBooks, the standard answer is, “Now is the time to upgrade.”
There are four areas of concern when upgrading:
What features have changed? Intuit is adding fewer new features every year, and moving from 2018 to 2021 isn’t going to be as traumatic a change as has occurred in some prior years. These articles can give you some idea of what to expect:
- Have system requirements changed? This might be a problem for some people, so you should check before upgrading
- QuickBooks 2021 isn’t supported on all of the operating systems that QuickBooks 2018 worked on, such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2011. In addition, if you are using QuickBooks Enterprise on Linux (database server only installation) there may be some changes in what is required, you should check with Intuit support for details.
- Microsoft Office 2010 is no longer supported.
- QuickBooks Point of Sale V10.0 is not supported.
- TurboTax 2016 and 2015 (Personal and Business) are not supported.
- Lacerte 2016 and 2015 are not supported.
- Pro-Series tax years 2016 and 2015 are not supported.
- Quicken 2015 is not supported
- If you are still using Adobe Acrobat Reader versions older than 9.0 you will have to upgrade that utility (it’s free, so no reason not to). I don’t see a lot of problems in this regard, this year. See this system requirements page for details.
- Converting your QuickBooks company file. Upgrading of your QuickBooks data should be relatively painless going from QB 2018 to 2021, although there can sometimes be problems. Before you install the upgrade, make sure you have a good backup of your company file. You should do a verify of the database before conversion, to see if there are any glitches, before converting. If there are problems, they can interfere with the conversion. We recommend that you work with a knowledgeable consultant in performing your upgrade so that you don’t lose any time in working out the details. However, essentially all you must do is to install the new program and open your old file with that new program. QuickBooks 2021 will handle the conversion automatically.
HOWEVER – keep in mind that your basic QuickBooks 2018 product will continue to work for your basic business needs as long as you aren’t relying on the services I listed.
If you are a QuickBooks consultant, you need to check with your clients so that they understand what will be changing in May. Don’t let them be surprised when things stop working – evaluate their needs and see if they will lose anything crucial to their operation. Keep in mind that sometimes upgrading to a new release takes a bit of time and effort. You want to make plans so that this can be done in an orderly fashion, rather than as a last-minute scramble when they find that things aren’t working right.
My recommendation for QB consultants would be to talk to clients about this now, to prepare them for the changes. From what I can see, there is no major reason to not upgrade to QuickBooks 2021 at this time. Don’t wait until May – if you run into any conversion problems (which can happen), you don’t want to have to deal with that in a hurry, as things like credit card processing stop working.
There are alternatives to upgrading to QuickBooks 2021, of course:
- Many of the discontinued services are available through other sources. There are payroll systems, merchant services systems, that will continue to work with older versions of QuickBooks.
- If you subscribe to the QuickBooks Pro Plus and QuickBooks Premier Plus programs, you are paying a monthly subscription fee, and therefore the latest version is available to you for no additional charge. Enterprise users are on a subscription plan, which provides an upgrade.
- Move to any online accounting product and you’ll (almost) always be using the most current version of that product. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a viable option for many desktop users, due to the smaller number of features currently provided by most online products. Also, keep in mind that products like QuickBooks Online are not the same as QuickBooks desktop. Many desktop users don’t like how the online product works, in many cases it is just a case of “it doesn’t work the same way”.
What Do I Think?
Every year, when Intuit sunsets an older version of QuickBooks, we hear a great outcry over the practice. “How can Intuit disable the product that we bought?!”
I do have some sympathy for what Intuit is doing, but I don’t entirely agree with the policy when you look at the bigger picture.
I do believe that it is appropriate for Intuit to discontinue support for older products, particularly with features that require an online service of some sort, I also believe that a software provider should make it relatively simple to upgrade your product to the latest version. This is where I think the Intuit policy fails. If you are using the older product and you must upgrade to the current product so that you can continue to use these services, Intuit should provide a low-cost upgrade path. Intuit does offer a small upgrade discount through the “disco” page, but it isn’t very big. I think that a reasonable upgrade pricing plan would resolve a lot of issues. But I’ve been saying that for many years, and Intuit hasn’t shown any inclination to change their ways.
Let me know what you think! Will this affect you? Will you be ready?