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As introduced in the overview topic on Importing Online Banking Downloads, Bank Rules are used to match a downloaded payee/description name and/or memo with one you use for manual entries. They can also help you by assigning counter accounts (such as expense accounts) to certain descriptions and/or memos, and even sales tax codes if you use them. Those additional details are used when the program creates new transactions from imported ones that don't match any manually entered ones.
Some other bookkeeping programs with a similar feature call these Renaming Rules, but we didn't use that name because it seems to exclude the concept of also assigning an Account based on the name, which as you will see below is one of the options.
You can access the Bank Rules window from the Maintenance ⇒ Bank Rules menu option, and also by using the Create Bank Rule popup menu option after clicking Actions on a transaction in the main importing work window. The window will look like the following, if accessed via Create Bank Rule:
If you access this window via the right-click or Actions menu option Create Bank Rule in the main work window for online banking importing, a new rule based on the transaction you were in will be suggested for you, or if there's already a matching rule, it will be selected in the window.
If you access this window via the Maintenance ⇒ Bank Rules menu option, two additional buttons are displayed: New and Delete.
As indicated by the column heading, the first column ("If the Imported Transaction Description Contains") is for searching in the payee/description of downloaded and imported transactions, and matching if what is shown in this field is contained in that payee/description, ignoring case (capitalization). That's why entries in this field are always capitalized, because the matching ignores case.
The 2nd column ("and/or the Imported Transaction Memo Contains") allows similarly for matching with the memo field of imported transactions, if what is shown in this field in contained in the memo of an existing transaction, ignoring case. A match can be made if the first column matches, or the 2nd column matches, or both.
It's very important to not include anything too common in the 1st or 2nd field, or that bank rule may start incorrectly matching too many transactions. For instance, one user created a bank rule where the Memo (2nd field) was "Toronto ON". Their bank put something that included that text into the memo field for most of their transactions, so it matched all of them, incorrectly!
The 3rd column ("Replace the Description with") is what is put into the Description field when there are matches based on the Description and/or Memo in the first two columns. This column behaves like the Payee/Description column on a Register window, in that it has a drop-down list of previously used descriptions, and you can also start typing and have matches come up.
The final two columns ("Account" and "Tax Code") are optional, but can be very helpful if all transactions matching on the first two columns have the same income or expense account, and/or the same tax code. If those fields are filled in, all matches based on them fill in that account and tax code to the matching transaction.
There is an extra option at the top of the drop-down list for the 3rd column, "<unchanged>". If you specify that value, and also either an Account or a Tax Code or both, then when the first and/or second column matches, the imported Description won't be changed, and only the Account and Tax Code will be applied.
So for instance, if you look at the 1st line in the window displayed above, an imported transaction might have a payee/description of "Monthly Service Fee". It would match, because "SERVICE FEE" is contained in that description, ignoring case. Any new transaction being created in ACCOUNTS based on that imported transaction would have its Payee/Description field changed to "Service Fee", as show in the 3rd column. It would also use the counter account "Bank Charges", as displayed there.
The bank rules are also used as part of determining whether the payee/description names match, when matching imported transactions to manually-entered ones. If the first field in the window above is contained in an imported transaction's payee/description field, and/or the 2nd field is contained in the imported transaction's memo field, and the 3rd field above is contained anywhere in a manually-entered transactions's payee/description, that will be considered to mean that the name matches. It will also match if the first field is contained in an imported transaction's payee/description field, and/or the 2nd field is contained in the imported transaction's memo field, and the manually-entered transaction's payee/description is contained anywhere in the 3rd field above. Finally, the name will match if, ignoring bank rules, the imported transaction's payee/description is included in the manually-entered transaction's payee/description, or vice versa. (For a real match, of course the Amount fields must also match!)
To edit existing bank rules, just click into the fields and make your edits.
If you access this window via the Maintenance ⇒ Bank Rules menu option, you can create new rules, by using the New button. You can actually use that more than once, before you save your changes, to create multiple new rows. You can also use the Delete button to delete rows for rules that you feel are incorrect.
To save all changes, click the Save button. To cancel any edits to existing rows, or inserted new rows, use the Cancel button, which will just redisplay the list of rules that existed when this window was opened.
The Help button opens this help topic. The Close button closes the window, after prompting for confirmation if there are unsaved changes.