Knowledge Base

11166: Trial Balance Import for 1120, 1120S, 1065, and 990 Returns

Fed Returns Generally

How do I use the trial balance import for business returns?


The Trial Balance Import Feature

This feature allows you to import data into Drake Tax from a trial balance worksheet (Microsoft Excel). Drake Tax’s specially designed trial balance template and importing function has the following benefits:

  • The need to duplicate entries is eliminated.
  • Data entry errors are reduced by automatically importing data to the correct fields.
  • Preparers can merge basic accounting functions with tax preparation.

The Trial Balance Import feature is available for 1065, 1120, 1120-S, and 990 returns, and is accessible from the main Data Entry screen. Click Import > Trial Balance Import to display the Trial Balance Import dialog box:

Click Create New to open a new template spreadsheet in Excel like that displayed on the dialog box. You may have to adjust your Excel macro settings (see the appropriate manual supplement below).

Note: On a 990 return, before you can create a new trial balance worksheet, you must first choose the type of 990 that you are filing. This can be done on screen 1 in the Form drop list. 

To use this feature, you need a copy of your client’s financial statements containing all the data needed to prepare a trial balance. This function does not export data. It creates an Excel spreadsheet in the form of a template that you can complete and import back into the return. All templates are created with $0 amounts entered. You enter the appropriate financial data on the template. Totals are displayed at the bottom of the template. When data is entered, if credit and debit columns are out of balance, the worksheet highlights the out-of-balance amount. You can correct entries until a successful trial balance is displayed, and then import the completed trial balance information back into the return.

Trial Balance Import Practice Balance Worksheets

Practice worksheets are available in Excel format, which you can use to see how this feature works. An attached spreadsheet contains two examples each of balanced worksheets for 1120, 1120-S, 1065, 990 returns. Enter data into the trial balance template to see how the Trial Balance Import feature works. The template should balance and the data can be imported into the return.

Important Considerations and Notes

Note: Importing a trial balance overwrites existing data in the return. You should back up or archive the return prior to importing a trial balance, so that you have the option of restoring the original data.

Before starting to use the trial balance import function, review “Importing Trial Balance Information” in the appropriate manual supplement (see below). You should be familiar with the following subjects before you start:

  • Preparing to Use Trial Balance Import
  • Preparing Financial Data for Import
  • Entering Financial Data
  • Saving a File
  • Importing Data into a Return

The Drake Software Manual Supplements also include a flowchart showing a “big picture” of the process.


  • SCH2 Data: Data for the SCH2 screens cannot be entered directly into the trial balance worksheet. Although the amounts must be included in the trial balance worksheet for the worksheet to balance, the SCH2 detail screens must be created separately from the worksheet. When the return is produced, Schedule L will reflect both the amounts imported from the trial balance worksheets (where direct entry was allowed) and the totals of the SCH2 screen amounts.
  • Autobalance: If you are using trial balance import, auto-balance must be turned off prior to import. In Drake20, there is a global setup option to turn off auto-balance. If you want to turn off auto-balance globally for all returns, go to Setup > Options > Calculation & View/Print tab > Turn off auto-balance of the balance sheet. If this is not checked, turn off the auto-balance on a single return by going to the PRNT screen and checking the box Reverse autobalance setup option. In Drake19 and prior, go to the PRNT screen and check the box Turn off autobalance.
  • Check for Detail Worksheets: The trial balance import allows only those detail worksheets required by the IRS. Check updated returns for detail (CTRL + W) worksheets that are not required. Remove unnecessary detail worksheets prior to import.
  • Cells View Only: Most cells in the trial balance worksheet are view-only. In a new template, editable debit and credit cells are indicated by a dollar amount ($0).
  • Depreciation Amounts: If using the trial balance import feature, enter depreciation amounts directly into the appropriate fields on the trial balance worksheet, not in the fields in data entry. When the trial balance is imported, the COGS depreciation expense amount flows directly to the appropriate line of Form 1125-A, and is calculated accordingly.
  • Items entered on the worksheet Other Tax Detail will not show on the main worksheet, but the amount will be imported into the return on the appropriate line on the DED screen if you import the trial balance. 

Microsoft Excel 2003 or later is required for import.

  • Must be the full program downloaded from Microsoft, not the Microsoft store (app store). Check to ensure that the full program is installed under your computer's control panel > Add/remove programs. 


Related Links

Also In This Category

On a scale of 1-5, please rate the helpfulness of this article

Not Helpful
Very Helpful
Optionally provide private feedback to help us improve this article...

Thank you for your feedback!

Article has been viewed 21K times.
Last Modified: 4 Months Ago
Article not rated yet.