Michael or Penny Novack stepbystepfarm at comcast.net
Tue Jun 1 10:53:50 EDT 2021

> As I've been reading the discussion about the imbalance account, it occurred to me to ask why GnuCash allows entries that are out of balance?  In theory and practice, we should not have entries that don't balance...credits should equal debits...and if they don't, we have an error in the entry.  And not that I would say QuickBooks is a work of art, but it doesn't allow one to make an entry that doesn't balance.  In other words, it forces the user to at least consciously assign an imbalance to an account (either an already existing one or a new one.

<< wearing my old "senior business analyst" hat for a moment >>

Work flow?

There are two very different sorts of "out of balance" transactions. One 
sort (the least interesting) is when in a split, had a remnant not 
assigned. And this could be "disallowed" as you suggest.

The more interesting sort is "the appropriate account does not yet 
exist". Sometimes that would be a simple matter of "create new account" 
and this action could be forced within entering the transaction. BUT, it 
might not be just a simple matter, because once this account is created 
it might imply a split of an existing account*. And that you would not 
want to do in the middle of entering a transaction. Much better to allow 
the transaction to complete (using Imbalance) letting you complete 
entering this and the other transactions you were entering, then address 
the "messy" task of splitting the existing account, and finally dealing 
with the Imbalance.

The solution of "put in in some wrong account" not such a good idea 
unless you wrote a note to yourself about fixing later. You would have 
no easy way to find this to fix (as you do when stuck into Imbalance 
--ANYTHING left in Imbalance needs to be addressed so easy to find).


* The not quite fitting account contains two sorts of transactions that 
were closely enough related to be placed into the same account as long 
as no better fitting account existed for one of those sorts. But once 
the new account is created to exactly fit the new transaction, it 
becomes clear that one of those sorts is a MUCH better fit for this new 
account. Might involve moving quite a few transactions.

    Now USUALLY I manage to spot this in advance. I see that a 
transaction has occurred that will make me want to change the CoA in 
this way and make that change before beginning to enter transactions. 
Certainly true for my personal books but even then sometimes I don;t 
spot in advance. But were I just the bookkeeper for an organization, not 
(also) the treasurer, I'd need to talk that over with the Treasurer to 
get instructed what change to make in the CoA or where to stick this 
amount even if no change to the CoA (where best fits). So letting me 
finish my work leaving the amount temporarily in Imbalance. It can't get 
forgotten there as sticks out like a sore thumb. Note even the "simple" 
case can't be solved by "simply create new account" when you need 
authorization to do that. Even as Treasurer, I might want to defer the 
decision to the next meeting of the Board of Directors. Or, in the case 
of one of the organizations, when doing reimbursements might not fully 
understand one or more of the receipts so  needing to check with the 
person << but knowing the person's financial situation, not want to hold 
up sending the reimbursement check >>

PS -- I have never encountered the "Orphan" account used but I suspect 
from a messed up account deletion.

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