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Locking and unlocking tax returns in Lacerte

SOLVEDby Intuit127Updated December 15, 2023

You can lock returns to protect your tax returns from any changes. When you lock a tax return, the program protects the client file from any changes made to details. This includes changes made by entering new data, importing data, or calculation changes available in updated program versions.

When a client file is locked, you can only view the client's detail as read-only. You must unlock the client file before using any of the following:

  • Renumber the client
  • Changing client detail in the Detail Screens
  • Import K-1 Data
  • Import information from QuickBooks or EasyAcct.
  • Create an e-file return
  • Import E-Organizer
  • Clear Missing Data tags
  • Import General Ledger information
  • Use the Family Link
  • Split a Joint Return

Before you start:

  • If a program change does occur and it affects information in a locked tax return, the program will list diagnostics alerting you to the changes. However, the program won't change your client's data until you unlock the return.
  • By locking the return, you can only see a read-only version of the tax return until you unlock it.
  • A consolidator file can't be locked. The linked parent and subsidiary files, which the consolidated data pulls from can be locked.
  • To freeze the client letter before locking a file, go to the Custom Client Letter screen and check the Use This Letter checkbox.
  • Locking the return can act as a reminder that the return has been completed and filed.

To lock a client file:

  1. Go to the Client list.
  2. Select the client(s) in the Client list.
  3. Select Lock Return.
    • If you are locking a client file for the first time, an Add Locked Return Column window will pop up on your screen:
      • If you choose Yes, Lacerte will automatically add the Locked Return column to the Clients tab.
      • If you choose No, Lacerte won't add the Locked Return column to the Clients tab.

Of note:

  • With the Locked Return column in your current view, you can tell if a tax return is locked.  A locked return will have an image of a Lock in the column.
  • Another way to tell if a client is locked is by clicking on the Detail tab. If the return is locked, a red status bar displays, alerting you that the client is locked

To unlock a client file:

We recommend that you make a copy of a tax return before you unlock it, especially if the tax return has already been filed with the IRS.

  1. Select the Client list.
  2. Select the client(s) in the Client list.
  3. Select Unlock Return.
  4. Select the applicable option from the Information window:
    • Select Yes to make a copy of the client file and to make changes to this copied file.
    • Select No to unlock the return and make changes in the original file.

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