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What is a Contra Asset Account

It is not classified as a liability since it does not represent a future obligation. When compiling or recording a financial statement, a contra account is recorded immediately before the account or corresponds or relates to.

  • A contra account is a ledger account related to another specific ledger account.
  • In fact, it is often referred to as the ‘language of business.’ In this lesson, you’ll learn about the steps in the accounting cycle.
  • The fixed asset account tracks the cost.The fixed asset account minus accumulated depreciation is used to calculate the book value.
  • Key examples of contra asset accounts include allowance for doubtful accounts and accumulated depreciation.
  • It has 3 major types, i.e., Transaction Entry, Adjusting Entry, & Closing Entry.

Discount on notes receivable accounts is created for when the current value of note receivables is less than the note’s face value. This improvement in the accounting details and transparency is good for any business in multiple ways. The allowance for these doubtful accounts can ultimately result in the total number of receivables. These accounts might also appear on the balance sheets of the company. This helps the reader to know how many sales were actually made and how many customers had problems with the goods sold. Simultaneously, allowance for doubtful debt account shows a closing balance of $5,000. Create a Journal where credit card fees & interest will be recorded during reconciliation.

What Is The Journal Entry If A Company Pays Dividends With Cash?

The allowance for doubtful accounts is a contra-asset account that is associated with accounts receivable and serves to reflect the true value of accounts receivable. The amount represents the value of accounts receivable that a company does not expect to receive payment for. Bad debt is an expense that a business incurs once the repayment What is a Contra Asset Account of credit previously extended to a customer is estimated to be uncollectible. Trade accounts receivable accounts enable a company to manage bills for its clients. Allowance of doubtful accounts helps a company create an allowance for clients that have failed to pay the owed amount for the purchase of goods and products from the company.

If your credit policy doesn’t reflect when to write off bad debt, below are a few tips that can help get you started. Transactions, financial statements, and accounts are broken down into classifications. In this lesson, we will be discussing two classifications of accounts – real accounts and nominal accounts. Debit depreciation expense for $16,875 and credit accumulated depreciation-equipment for $16,875. Debit depreciation expense for $18,625 and credit accumulated depreciation-equipment for $18,625. This results in compliance with the accrual concept while reflecting on an accurate accounts receivable balance. Accounts receivable result in a cash inflow to an organization when they repay their dues.

Writing off your obsolete inventory in this manner allows you to expense the cost of the obsolete inventory while also decreasing your current inventory balance using the contra asset account. The accumulated depreciation account is perhaps the most common contra asset account used by business owners.

Accounting Topics

A contra account can be used to remedy an error, to track depreciation of an asset, or to register payments that are not collectible. In a balance sheet, accumulated depreciation would be reflected as a reduction from the asset’s account so that the net balance is evident. The allowance method of accounting enables a company to determine the amount reasonable to be recorded in the contra account. The discount offered on the liability that is created when a company borrows a specific amount of money and repays it early. Discount on notes payable reduces the total amount of the note to reflect the discount offered by the lender.

What is a Contra Asset Account

Such information can be useful for determining future credit, pursuing future debt collection, or even if you want to keep a customer. Since we are discussing doubtful accounts, statement of retained earnings example the offset will be against accounts receivables. When determining how much uncollectible customer debt to write off, an associated account called a contra account is used.

Is Rent A Liability Or Asset?

The contra asset account then allows recording of the value factoring in depreciation. Inventory obsolescence is an expense account, while the allowance for obsolete inventory is a contra asset account, which aims to reduce the inventory valuation on your balance sheet. Another contra asset account is Allowance for Doubtful Accounts. This account appears next to the current asset Accounts Receivable.

One can determine the net book value of the assets with debit balances upon adding the balances of both balances, the contra asset account and debit account of the asset. Typically, in the balance sheet, accounts receivable is listed net, meaning it already has the allowance subtracted out. You go to the notes of the financial statement and might see that accounts receivable is 10,000 with an allowance prepaid expenses for bad debt of 1,000. Likewise, separating the allowance for bad debt from accounts receivable lets you calculate the profitability of your sales team. Other examples of contra accounts deal with variables where the exact value is unknown. Sales discounts often depend on how fast your customers pay their bills. You can estimate based on experience, but you won’t know for sure until they actually pay.

A contra asset is a negative asset account that offsets the asset account with which it is paired. The purpose of a contra asset account is to store a reserve that reduces the balance in the paired account. By stating this information separately in a contra asset account, a user of financial information can see the extent to which a paired asset should be reduced. A less common example of a contra asset account is Discount on Notes Receivable.

The credit balance in Accumulated Depreciation means that the cost of the property, plant and equipment will continue to be reported. Obsolete inventory refers to a company’s products or goods that have become obsolete, or unusable, during routine use and operations.

What is allowance method for bad debts?

Allowance for Doubtful Debts Adjustment
Record the payment by increasing the cash account with a debit and decreasing the accounts receivable account with a credit. For, example, Lucy paid the invoice 75 days after you wrote it off. To reverse the write-off: Accounts Receivable – Debit $125.

As we have seen in the above discussion, how reporting contra assets account helps in a better understanding of financial statements of any organization. So, an organization looking for a robust accounting process must move to this type of reporting for better understanding. Contra asset accounts provide business owners with the true value of certain asset accounts. For example, let’s say your accounts receivable balance is currently $11,500, but you’re not entirely sure that you’ll be able to collect the entire balance due.

Accumulated depreciation decreases the value of an asset, bringing it more in line with its market value. Contra assets and contra liabilities are listed on a company’s balance sheet and carry balances opposite of their related accounts. Unlike regular assets and liabilities, contra assets typically keep a credit balance and contra liabilities typically keep a debit balance. Managers and investors must understand contra accounts to accurately analyze a company’s balance sheet and determine the organization’s financial position. Contra Asset AccountA contra asset account is an asset account with a credit balance related to one of the assets with a debit balance. When we add the balances of these two assets, we will get the net book value or carrying value of the assets having a debit balance. The same is true for other asset accounts like accounts receivable.

What is a Contra Asset Account

A bit more work will be required on the accountant’s or account analyst’s behalf if books are done manually without any software. You’ll be able to keep your books clean by using contra asset accounts on your balance sheets. Well, generally, the accountant will be forced to reduce the value of the main account.


This allows the company to know the amount uncollected from each customer. Such information can be used in the future to try and collect on outstanding debt. There are two accounting methods that companies can choose from when deciding how they want their books done. In this lesson, you will learn the differences between the two. This lesson explains what a purchase journal is, how it is used, and what types of transactions are recorded in a purchase journal.

Is capital an asset?

Accounts payable is considered a current liability, not an asset, on the balance sheet.

You don’t have to, yet even a small business will benefit by using the contra asset account for accounts receivable. This eliminates the need to write off large accounts receivable balances at year end since they’ve already been accounted for.


The accumulated depreciation account appears on the balance sheet as a credit and is a reduction from the total amount listed for fixed assets. Some companies choose not to include accumulated depreciation on the balance sheet and simply list the net amount of property, plant and equipment. Osmand Vitez A contra asset is an account that carries a natural credit balance even though most assets have a normal debit balance. A contra asset is an account that carries a natural credit balance even though most assets have a normal debit balance. Assets represent items a company owns and uses during business operations, such as cash, inventory, and prepaid expenses along with buildings, vehicles, and land. In the accounting equation — assets equal liabilities plus owners’ equity — the preceding items are all debits that increase the asset side of the equation.

In this lesson, you’ll learn the definition of accounts payable, how they fit into a business overall finances and be provided some examples. A good example of how this works is under Adjusting Entries Illustrated where there is an example of recording interest for land. When you actually pay the interest, you can debit interest payable and credit cash . Accumulated depreciation is a contra-asset account which is subtracted from asset accounts. Current Assets include assets that are expected to be converted into cash within a year from the balance sheet date.

Journal entries for this account allows returns and allowances to be tracked and reveal trends. Nobody likes to have accounts payable, but they are a reality of business.

A company creates allowances for doubtful accounts to record the portion of accounts receivable which it believes it will no longer be able to collect. The amount in allowance for doubtful accounts is deducted from the accounts receivable account of a company. A contra account is a general ledger account with a balance that is the opposite of another, related account that it is paired with. Credit BalanceCredit Balance is the capital amount that a company owes to its customers & it is reflected on the right side of the General Ledger Account. Usually, Liability accounts, Revenue accounts, Equity Accounts, Contra-Expense & Contra-Asset accounts tend to have the credit balance. As you know, from studying the basics of debit and credit, balance sheet accounts have a healthy balance.

What is a Contra Asset Account

Contra asset accounts are asset accounts where the balance is a credit balance. They are called “contra” asset accounts because these accounts are contrary to normal accounts. Overall, contra asset accounts can improve your accounting system, particularly cash flow projections. To complete the transaction, there is also an expense account involved.

Discount on bonds payable is a result of a bond issued for less than the face value of the bond. Companies must bring the balance of the discount on bonds payable account to zero over the What is a Contra Asset Account life of the bond, which is accomplished through amortization. The amount recorded in the discount on bonds payable account is amortized to interest expense over the life of the bond.


Accountants use contra accounts rather than reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean. If a contra account is not used, it can be difficult to determine historical costs, which can make tax preparation more difficult and time-consuming.

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