what is a contra asset

The net value of both these figures is usually reported on a third line. Contra asset accounts also help companies keep their general ledgers organized. By recording reductions in a separate account, companies can get better insights into their actual accounts. Similarly, it allows companies to retrieve original account balances without complicated calculations. For stakeholders, looking at both accounts is also crucial in their decision-making process. Contra asset accounts are necessary for companies for various reasons.

  • This type of contra asset accounts is used for recording the depreciation within the timeframe of a fixed asset.
  • The contra asset account Accumulated Depreciation is deducted from the related Capital Assets to present the net balance on the parent account in a company’s balance sheet.
  • In case a customer returns a product, the company will record the financial activity under the sales return account.
  • A contra liability is a general ledger account with a debit balance that reduces the normal credit balance of a standard liability account to present the net value on a balance sheet.

Most owners’ equity accounts have a normal credit balance, but Treasury Stock has a debit balance and is treated as a contra account to total Owners’ Equity . Dividends Declared has a debit balance and is a contra account to Retained Earnings. Let’s say you have a truck worth $20,000 that will last five years.

The Effect Of Cash Distribution On A Balance Sheet

A contra asset account is an account that opposes the balances of other asset accounts. As mentioned, a company will usually have debit balances in its asset accounts. However, a contra asset account usually has a credit or nil balance. This account offsets the balance in the respective asset account that they pair with on the balance sheet. Contra accounts exist when the account reported on the balance sheet needs to be reduced by a different account to show its true value. For example, GAAP accounting requires fixed assets to be reported at cost on the balance sheet, but, over time, that value depreciates as the assets are used. The balance sheet will show a gross fixed assets value, a contra account value for accumulated depreciation, and a net value.

Contra accounts are also used in other areas of the financial statements, such as an estimate on an uncontrollable percentage of credit sales in which the amounts listed must be estimable and probable. When this happens, the debit will be added to the expense account Bad Debt Expense and the credit will be added to the asset account, Allowance for Doubtful Accounts. Contra liabilities are not seen on a balance sheet as often as contra assets. 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 life of the bond, which is accomplished through amortization.

what is a contra asset

Contra accounts may have a zero balance in some cases, though the actual instances of this may be rare. The allowance for doubtful accounts, for example, is zero if the company collects all of its open customer receivables or the allowance amounts were written off as a bad debt expense.

Contra Asset Definition

Companies that hold inventories for a long time may face accumulating obsolete inventory. Therefore, these companies must maintain an obsolete inventory reserve account to net off any unusable stock from the account.

what is a contra asset

Include buildings, machinery, office equipment, furniture, vehicles, etc. The accumulated depreciation account appears on the balance sheet and reduces the gross amount of fixed assets. Accountants use contra accounts rather than reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean.

What Is A Contra Asset Account? Definition, Types, Example, And More

In accrual-basis accounting, recording the allowance for doubtful accounts at the same time as the sale improves the accuracy of financial reports. The projected bad debt expense is properly matched against the related sale, thereby providing a more accurate view of revenue and expenses for a specific period of time. In addition, this accounting process prevents what is a contra asset the large swings in operating results when uncollectible accounts are written off directly as bad debt expenses. Purchases has a debit balance; its contra accounts, Purchase Discounts and Purchase Returns and Allowances, have credit balances. The purpose of a contra account is to accurately report value of operating performance and assets for a firm.

Now let’s focus our attention on the two most common contra assets – accumulated depreciation and allowance for doubtful accounts. The balance sheet is one of the three fundamental financial statements. The financial statements are key to both financial modeling and accounting. The second entry will be accumulated depreciation, which will be in credit. The natural balance of a contra asset account, in this case, is exactly the opposite of the balance of the related account. An example would be a contra liability account which would be debited to offset a regular liability account.

  • Amortization of the discount on bonds payable account decreases its balance and increases the balance in the interest expense account.
  • The amount in the accumulated depreciation account is deducted from the assets of a company, such as buildings, vehicles and equipment.
  • The company’s contra asset account will record unusable or obsolete assets.
  • The net of these two figures is typically reported on a third line.
  • You must also report the amount that you can reasonably expect will not be paid, if it is estimable and probable.
  • A contra asset account is an account that opposes the balances of other asset accounts.

We need to show the net book value of the property plant and equipment which equals the cost of PPE offset by related accumulated depreciation which is a contra account. Sales returns, sales allowance and sale discounts are different examples of contra revenue accounts. Contra accounts such as these have a debit balance and are deducted from the total amount of a company’s revenue. A contra liability is a general ledger account with a debit balance that reduces the normal credit balance of a standard liability account to present the net value on a balance sheet. Examples of contra liabilities are Discounts on Bonds and Notes Payable and Short-Term Portion of Long-Term Debt. Allowance for receivables is an account that companies maintain to record possible bad debts. However, this account does not represent actual irrecoverable debts.

Contra Assets

In an accounting system, ledger accounts are designed to contain similar classes of transactions. But for presentation purposes it is sometimes necessary to show net balance of two accounts.

  • Accumulated depreciation offsets a company’s real property assets, such as buildings, equipment and machinery.
  • 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.
  • The equity section of the balance sheet is where the shareholder’s claims to assets are reported.
  • Transactions made to contra accounts are presented on a company’s financial statements under the related account.

Although contra asset accounts have credit balances, they do not appear in liabilities or equity. Usually, credit balances include items from one of those two nature. Therefore, contra asset accounts differ from other accounts that have a credit balance.

Contra Revenue

The allowance, sometimes called a bad debt reserve, represents management’s estimate of the amount of accounts receivable that will not be paid by customers. If actual experience differs, then management adjusts its estimation methodology to bring the reserve more into alignment with actual results. A contra-account is a balance sheet account whose purpose is to reduce the amount of another account. That is why asset contra-accounts have credit balances while liability contra-accounts have debit balances. The impact to the income statement includes the original sale, the contra account for returns, and the debit to expenses for estimated uncollectible based on net receivable. The balance sheet impact includes the remaining account receivable after returns and the estimated uncollectible. When the amount recorded in the contra revenue accounts is subtracted from the amount of gross revenue, it equals the net revenue of a company.

what is a contra asset

In case a customer returns a product, the company will record the financial activity under the sales return account. Allowance for Doubtful Accounts contra asset account decreases the value of accounts receivable by an estimate of uncollectible receivables to show their net realizable value on a balance sheet. The contra asset account Accumulated Depreciation is deducted from the related Capital Assets to present the net balance on the parent account in a company’s balance sheet. The revenue contra accounts Sales Returns, Discounts and Allowances are subtracted from the main Sales Revenue account to present the net balance on a company’s income statement. Notes receivables are promissory notes that include a promise from a borrower to repay a lender. Sometimes, the current value of a note receivable will fall compared to its face value. This process will give rise to a contra asset account which is the discount on notes receivables.

A regular asset account typically carries a debit balance, so a contra asset account carries a credit balance. Two common contra asset accounts include allowance for doubtful accounts and accumulated depreciation. Allowance for doubtful accounts represents the percentage of accounts receivable a company believes it cannot collect.

Is a contra asset an asset or liability?

A contra asset account is not classified as an asset, since it does not represent long-term value, nor is it classified as a liability, since it does not represent a future obligation.

Credit a contra-account “Allowance for Bad Debts” on the Balance Sheet. The account is an income account that is expected to hold a balance opposite to what is normally expected, to counteract the balance in another income account. Accumulated Depreciation, used to diminish the value of an asset over time, is another example of a contra-account. The December 5th journal entries record the original sale, and the December 12th entries record the return and exchange.

Related To Contra

The most prominent of these include allowing companies to present a more accurate picture of their assets. Contra asset accounts help companies to record any reductions to their non-current and current assets. By doing so, they can bring their asset accounts to a more accurate position.

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts Definition – Investopedia

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts Definition.

Posted: Sat, 25 Mar 2017 21:34:03 GMT [source]

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. By reporting contra accounts on the balance sheet, users can learn even more information about the company than if the equipment was just reported at its net amount. Balance sheet readers cannot only see the actual cost of the item; they can also see how much of the asset was written off as well as estimate the remaining useful life and value of the asset. Contra Liability Account – A contra liability account is a liability that carries a debit balance and decreases other liabilities on the balance sheet. Contra Asset Account – A contra asset account is an asset that carries a credit balance and is used to decrease the balance of another asset on the balance. Home Depot reports net receivables and net property and equipment, implying that both are reduced by contra assets. We’ll need to dig into the footnotes to find out what the contra accounts are.

The importance of contra asset accounts is generally to reduce the value of some related account. The contra asset account pulls the value of the combined accounts down, which in turn decreases the value of the second account as well, which is a normal 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. Sales has a credit balance; its contra accounts, Sales Discounts and Sales Returns and Allowances, have debit balances. A contra-asset account has a credit balance and offsets the debit balance of the corresponding asset. A contra-liability account has a debit balance and offsets the credit balance of the corresponding liability.

What is contra account example?

contra account definition. An account with a balance that is the opposite of the normal balance. For example, Accumulated Depreciation is a contra asset account, because its credit balance is contra to the debit balance for an asset account. Another example is the owner’s drawing account.

The net difference between the asset account and the contra account is the total shown on the balance sheet for a given period. 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 accounts get their name “contra” because they include a credit balance. These go against the normal asset accounts, which have a debit balance. In essence, contra asset accounts have a negative balance while other asset accounts have a positive balance.

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. A Contra account is an account that appears as a subtraction from another account on balance sheet of a company. For example, provision for bad debts is a contra account of accounts receivable.