QuickBooks Desktop Premier vs Accountant Edition 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop are built for different purposes. Premier is designed for businesses, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors with experienced in-house bookkeepers. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Accountant Desktop is tailored to independent bookkeepers and accountants who manage the accounts of multiple clients, each of whom may be in a specialized industry.
QuickBooks Premier vs Accountant Quick Comparison
QuickBooks Accountant Desktop
From $799 per year for one user
$799 per year per ProAdvisor
Discounted Pricing per Additional User
(Each ProAdvisor is charged full price)
Create & Send Invoices
Create Account for Multiple Currencies
Track Unpaid Bills
Compare Estimated & Actual Job Costs
Export Accountant Copy
Import Accountant Copy
Toggle between all
Access Accountant-only Tools
When To Use
QuickBooks Premier is great for companies working with on-site certified public accountant (CPAs), bookkeepers, or tax preparers. The program includes many essential accounting features that expanding businesses need to manage their finances, such as sending and tracking invoices, managing inventory, and tracking project profitability.
If you have graduated from entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks Pro and now need access for up to five users, then Premier is an excellent choice. QuickBooks Accountant Desktop has the same features but, as a business owner, you will have to send your accounting files to your accountant from time to time—and you’ll need Premier to export your files to send to them.
QuickBooks Accountant Desktop is best for independent bookkeepers and CPAs managing the accounts of multiple clients. Accountant has special tools and features not found in QuickBooks Premier, including the Accountant Toolbox and the ability to switch between all the industry-specific Pro and Premier editions.
As a bookkeeper, you can use specialized accountant-only tools to import, review, adjust, and communicate file changes with your clients. You can even use the program to manage your own firm’s books.
Alternatives & When To Use Them
QuickBooks Online is a better choice than both QuickBooks Desktop versions for businesses with remote accountants. With QuickBooks Online, you can share files with your bookkeeper easily by sending them an invitation via email.
It is also easier to use, and it has a functional mobile app that allows you to send invoices, accept payments, and view reports from your mobile device. Hence, if your accountant works remotely and you want an easy-to-use accounting software that doesn’t require an accounting background, go with QuickBooks Online.
Read our QuickBooks Online review to see if its cloud-based features are more suitable for your needs than QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop.
If your client is using QuickBooks Online, then you will need QuickBooks Online Accountant instead of QuickBooks Accountant Desktop to access their files. As a cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online solves some of the drawbacks of Pro and Premier. For instance, compared to QuickBooks Online, Premier is more difficult to share with accountants, is less easy to use, and has a very limited mobile app.
Learn more about its features and benefits over QuickBooks Accountant Desktop through our QuickBooks Online Accountant review.
If you’re choosing between QuickBooks Online and Desktop, read our side-by-side comparison of QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? If you think QuickBooks Online and Desktop don’t have the exact features you need, check out our list of the leading small business accounting software.
The Key Difference: Understanding Accountant’s Copy in QuickBooks Desktop
One of the key differences, and often the deciding factor, in choosing between QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop is which side of the Accountant’s Copy function you need. The client uses Premier to create, export, and send the Accountant’s Copy to their accountant. The accountant then receives the copy in QuickBooks Accountant Desktop, makes adjustments to the file, and then sends it back to the client.
The difference between an Accountant’s Copy and a regular copy of your QuickBooks file is that the Accountant Copy imposes a split date (usually the year-end) in Premier when it is exported. The Premier user will not be able to make changes to any prior years, while the Accountant user will not be able to make any changes to the current year. This prevents differences from being created between the two sets of books while the Accountant is working.
Why Companies Prefer QuickBooks Premier
Often, your accountant needs to review and make changes to your file. It’s inconvenient to give them a copy of the file and wait for them to make changes until you can record transactions in the current period.
With Premier, you can create and export an Accountant’s Copy of your file and send it to your accountant in different ways, such as through the Accountant’s Copy File Transfer Service, email, or a storage device like a flash drive. Using a dividing date, you and your accountant can make changes simultaneously to your accounting data—meaning they can work on your files without interrupting your day-to-day work.
QuickBooks Premier and Accountant are priced differently. Both start at $799 per year, but Premier is more affordable because you can add up to five users at discounted prices. Based on Premier’s current pricing, each additional user costs $300 per month, as opposed to the full price in Accountant. If we do the math, Premier costs $1,699 annually for five users, while Accountant is worth $3,995. This makes Premier essentially more affordable for businesses.
Why Independent Bookkeepers Prefer QuickBooks Accountant
Just like you need Premier to export your files, your bookkeeper also needs QuickBooks Accountant Desktop to send the changes back to you. Once they review and make the necessary changes to your file, the Accountant’s Copy is sent back to QuickBooks Premier, with the changes imported to the original file automatically. Your accountant can then use the Accountant’s Copy File Transfer Service to import the file to QuickBooks Premier.
With QuickBooks Accountant, bookkeepers can toggle between any industry-specific version of QuickBooks Pro and Premier: General Business, Manufacturing and Wholesale, Professional, Retail, Contractor, and Nonprofit. This feature allows you to provide your clients with reports that they cannot access in their QuickBooks Desktop account.
For instance, the Manufacturing and Wholesale edition lets you create industry-specific reports, such as Profitability by Project, Sales by Class and Item Type, and Sales by Product. Your clients can’t access these reports in their QuickBooks Pro or Premier general business account.
Tip: If you want to learn more about the industry-specific editions of QuickBooks Premier, read our individual reviews:
- QuickBooks Desktop Manufacturing & Wholesale Edition review
- QuickBooks Desktop Retail Edition review
- QuickBooks Desktop Contractor Edition review
- QuickBooks Desktop Professional Services Edition review
- QuickBooks Desktop Nonprofit Edition review
As the name suggests, the Accountant Toolbox provides specialized accountant-only tools, shortcuts, and reports that can be used to manage client’s files effectively. These offer special privileges, such as the ability to reclassify multiple transactions all at once into the correct account, write off invoices, adjust incorrectly recorded sales and payroll taxes, and troubleshoot prior account balances.
The toolbox also includes quick links to journal entries, charts of accounts, and reports. This helps you save time and provide more efficient services to your clients.
QuickBooks Accountant Desktop comes with a free ProAdvisor Program membership for bookkeepers and accountants. As a member, you will be eligible to take the QuickBooks Desktop ProAdvisor certification. When you pass the exam, you’ll become a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and unlock several benefits.
A QuickBooks ProAdvisor certification helps you establish your authority in the industry and expand your network, increase your online presence through accumulating points, receive QuickBooks discounts, and access exclusive product support and training.
Read our guide on how to become a QuickBooks ProAdvisor to learn some tips on how to pass the ProAdvisor certification exam.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
QuickBooks Premier is ideal for businesses with in-house bookkeepers while Accountant is designed for independent bookkeepers, accountants, and tax preparers serving QuickBooks Pro or Premier clients.
No, they don’t. Accountant has all the features found in Premier, such as invoicing, inventory management, and project accounting, but it also has special tools for accountants, such as the Accountant Toolbox and the ability to toggle between all editions of Pro and Premier.
Prices for QuickBooks Premier range from $799 per year for one user to $1,999 per year for five users.
QuickBooks Accountant Desktop comes with the purchase of the ProAdvisor Premier Software Bundle, which costs $799 per year for each ProAdvisor.
Yes, as prices for each additional user in Premier are discounted whereas, in Accountant, every ProAdvisor must pay the full price of $799 per year.
QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Accountant Desktop have entirely different use cases. If you work closely with an in-house accountant, you’ll need Premier to be able to export and send your files to your tax preparer or external accountant when needed. If you are an accountant or bookkeeper handling multiple accounts of different clients that use QuickBooks Pro or Premier, then you’ll need QuickBooks Accountant Desktop to import their files. If you work closely with an external accountant, we recommend QuickBooks Online as it is much easier to share your books than with QuickBooks Premier.