If accounts receivable is $40,000 and allowance for doubtful accounts is $4,000, the net book value reported on the balance sheet will be $36,000. In accounting, assets are things of value that your business owns. Your bank account, the inventory you currently stock, the equipment you purchase, and your accounts receivable balance are all considered asset accounts. The most common type of contra account is the contra-asset account.

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As mentioned, CA accounts are usually listed below their matching asset accounts, and the net values of those assets are written next to the contra accounts. Therefore, it reduces the value of shareholders’ equity by the amount paid for those repurchased stocks. Sometimes, both accounts can be written in a single line if they don’t represent a large portion of the assets. In case the CA account is not listed in the balance sheet, it must be listed in the footnotes of the financial statement for the users to be informed.

What is a Contra Account?

The third type is contra equity. These contras reduce the equity account and carry a debit balance. Contra equity reduces the total number of outstanding shares on the balance sheet. The key example of a contra equity account is Treasury stock, which represents the amount paid to buyback stock. Sometimes, the current value of a note receivable will fall compared to its face value.

If you’re using accounting software, you’ll be able to create contra accounts when setting up your chart of accounts. There are many situations where one account is used to offset another account. One common example is accumulated amortisation, which is a contra-asset account. This means that it acts in the opposite manner of a regular asset account. A contra account is used in order to better portray the relationship between certain debits and credits within the overall financial structure of an entity. A contra account can be used to remedy an error, to track depreciation of an asset, or to register payments that are not collectible.

  • Are prepared for various parties; some of them might not be accounting versed; they help identify the reduction in total value.
  • Hence, the company will have gross revenue or net sales equal to $9,900.
  • It is shown as a part of the owner’s equity in the liability side of the company’s balance sheet.
  • This Competency includes a Short-Answer Response Assessment.

Contra liability accounts are not as popular as contra asset accounts. There are four key types of contra accounts—contra asset, contra liability, contra equity, and contra revenue. Contra assets decrease the balance of a fixed or capital asset, carrying a credit balance. Contra liabilities reduce liability accounts and carry a debit balance. Contra equity accounts carry a debit balance reduce equity accounts.

What is a Contra Asset?

She previously worked as an accountant. It really depends on what you’re selling. If you stock a limited amount of inventory, you could probably do without it. Designed for freelancers and small business owners, Debitoor invoicing software makes it quick and easy to issue professional invoices and manage your business finances. Go a level deeper with us and investigate the potential impacts of climate change on investments like your retirement account. Intangible assets are non-monetary assets that cannot be seen, touched, or physically measured.

This account appears next to the current asset Accounts Receivable. The account Allowance for Doubtful Account is credited when the account Bad Debts Expense is debited under the allowance method. The use of Allowance for Doubtful Accounts allows us to see in Accounts Receivable the total amount that the company has a right to collect from its credit customers. The credit balance in the account Allowance for Doubtful Accounts tells us how much of the debit balance in Accounts Receivable is unlikely to be collected.

account balance

For example, an accounts receivable’s contra account is a contra asset account. This type of account can also be called the bad debt reserve or allowance for doubtful accounts. Another contra asset account is Allowance for Doubtful Accounts.

Why should one include contra accounts on a balance sheet?

In either case, the net amount of the pair of accounts is referred to as the book value of the asset account in question. When a contra asset account is not stated separately in the balance sheet, it may be worthwhile to disclose the amount in the accompanying footnotes, where readers can readily see it. Some of the most common contra assets include accumulated depreciation, allowance for doubtful accounts, and reserve for obsolete inventory. In order to balance the journal entry, a debit will be made to the bad debt expense for $4,000. Although the accounts receivable is not due in September, the company still has to report credit losses of $4,000 as bad debts expense in its income statement for the month.


Still, the dollar amounts are separately broken out in the supplementary sections most of the time for greater transparency in financial reporting. Net receivables are the money owed to a company by its customers minus the money owed that will likely never be paid, often expressed as a percentage. Bad debt expense is an expense that a business incurs once the repayment of credit previously extended to a customer is estimated to be uncollectible. Mohashortarevised Please provide your contact information and date of submission below.

Closing Entries, Sales, Sales Returns & Allowances in Accounting

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In the event that a contra account is not utilized, it can become increasingly troublesome to determine historical costs, which makes tax preparation time-consuming and difficult. Goodwill’s value on the balance sheet is reported at net of accumulated impairment loss, a contra asset account; the current impairment loss is reported on the income statement. To offset this, the allowance for doubtful accounts balance is adjusted via a credit, while the bad debt account is debited to balance out the AR account. When combined, the AR account and the allowance for doubtful accounts contra assets offer a projection of how much net cash is expected to be received from outstanding accounts. Last, for contra revenue accounts there are sales discounts, sales allowances, or sales returns.

What is a contra asset account?

For freelancers and SMEs in the UK & Ireland, Debitoor adheres to all UK & Irish invoicing and accounting requirements and is approved by UK & Irish accountants. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Intangible assets are created through time and effort, and are identifiable as separate assets.

Contra asset accounts allow users to see how much of an asset was written off, its remaining useful life, and the value of the asset. Key examples of contra asset accounts include allowance for doubtful accounts and accumulated depreciation. Allowance for doubtful accounts reduce accounts receivable, while accumulated deprecation is used to reduce the value of a fixed asset.

Contra accounts are accounts that offset related accounts. Contra asset accounts are a type of contra account that net off against asset accounts. Similarly, there are several types of these accounts. These include accumulated depreciation, accumulated amortization, allowance for receivables, obsolete inventory, and discount on notes receivables.

  • A contra revenue account carries a debit balance and reduces the total amount of a company’s revenue.
  • These contra revenue accounts tend to have a debit balance and are used to calculate net sales.
  • The company uses the straight-line depreciation method for the car.
  • Instead, the existence of contra asset accounts for companies will differ based on a company’s requirements.
  • Accumulated depreciation is the most prevalent type of contra asset account.

If one what is an enrolled agent is debited for $100, then another account must be credited for the same amount. In accounting terminology, it refers to recognition of the reduced or zero value of an asset no longer in use. Instead of amortization, indefinite-life assets are evaluated for impairment yearly. In accounting, goodwill is the value of an asset that is considered intangible but has a quantifiable «prudent value» in a business.


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. Contra assets have natural credit balances. Whereas assets normally have positive debit balances, contra assets, though still reported along with other assets, have an opposite type of natural balance. Note that accountants use contra accounts rather than reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean.