Customizing GnuCash reporting

Before I start: a huge Thank You to the amazing Cheri703 for holding my hand over VOIP while I got the hang of GnuCash.  I wouldn’t have finished my taxes without her patient support 🙂

I spent a while looking around for how to customize GnuCash reporting for Canadian taxes, and it ended up taking me some time to figure out quite simple things so I figured I’d document it here for the benefit of those searching for this info.

I started off with “A Simple Checkbook” and added a number of accounts for my consulting business, various expenses, etc.  I haven’t gotten into tracking my personal expenses in great detail yet, but I’ll try that for 2011.  Feel free to skip the next part: <grumble type=”Canadian Banking System”> The Canadian banking system is behind the times, so I manually downloaded Quicken-compatible files from my 2 banks.  Kudos to CIBC for allowing me to download a whole year’s transactions in one go.  Boo Hiss to TD for not only making me download things a month at a time, but only keeping credit card records for six months.  My books are a bit complicated as I have a USD account and credit card in addition to my CAD one, and I incorporated last year… all told, I had to type in about 18 months worth of various accounts. Lesson learned for next year!</grumble>

When it came time to output all the info for my accountant, I initially used the “Transaction Report” which I copied and pasted into OpenOffice Calc and tidied up… but there was a lot to tidy up, particularly because it did monthly subtotals, which was really overkill and distracting.

Turns out you can customize the Transaction Report!  While you’re on the Transaction Report tab, there will be a new menu option in your Edit menu – Report Options. I customized the Accounts tab to just show the accounts relevant to my taxes and added a running balance in the Display tab.  In the Sorting tab I checked “Show Full Account Code,” and most importantly (to me) I set the “Secondary Subtotal for Date Key” to “None” to make the cluttery monthly subtotals go away.

Hit apply, copy and paste the whole report into OpenOffice Calc, save as XLS if your accountant hasn’t seen the Free Software light, and presto! Taxes are a go, with GnuCash 🙂

One last tip once things are pasted into OpenOffice – do a find and replace for ^. with & to get rid of all the fussy formatting that makes it impossible to do calculations in OpenOffice, and remove all the useless hyperlinks.

There is lots of additional info on the GnuCash FAQ about other ways of exporting data, but this is the quick and simple way that worked for me.  There’s also an official-ish way to export to OO Calc here but I didn’t find that worked any better than just copying and pasting.