12.3. Initial Setup

To set up GnuCash to handle accounts receivable for a company two preliminary things must be done. The first is to build an appropriate Account Hierarchy and the second is to register the company in GnuCash.

12.3.1. Account Setup

There are many different ways to set up a business account hierarchy. You can start with the Business Accounts setup which is available from the New Account Hierarchy assistant, or you could build one manually. To access the prebuilt Business Accounts, start GnuCash and click on FileNew File and proceed until you see the list of available accounts, select Business Accounts.

The prebuilt Business Account hierarchy will not meet your needs exactly. You will need make adjustments for the hierarchy to function well with your particular situation. It should be close enough that it is recommended you begin with it.

Accounts Receivable (or A/R) refers to products or services provided by the company on credit for which payment has not yet been received. This is represented on the balance sheet as an asset, because you expect to receive payment soon. To use GnuCash’s integrated accounts receivable system, you must first set up an account (usually a sub-account under Assets) defined with account type A/Receivable. It is within this account that the integrated A/R system will place transactions.

Basic A/R Account Hierarchy:

   -Accounts Receivable

You need to add additional asset, expense, and income accounts to this hierarchy for it to be useful. The important aspects of this hierarchy are the use of an income account and the Accounts Receivable asset account, with account type set to A/Receivable.


You do not need to create an individual A/R account for each customer. GnuCash keeps track of customers internally and provides per-customer reports based on the internal tracking.

12.3.2. Company Registration

After you have built the account structure, register the GnuCash file as belonging to your company. To register your company, select FileProperties:

  • Enter the name of your company along with contact information such as your phone number, fax number, e-mail address and website URL.

  • Enter your company’s tax payer id number in the Company ID field.

  • Select default tax tables applicable to your most common customers and vendors.