What Is A Contra Account & Why Is It Important?

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What Is A Contra Account & Why Is It Important?

contra expense account

The Chart of accounts thus defines the company’s set of active accounts. If instead, the firm finances the purchase with a bank loan, the offsetting transaction could be a credit to a liability account. Increasing “Account 171, Bank loans payable” by $100,000 would restore the Balance sheet balance. Every financial event for the company changes the balance of accounts. If the firm uses double-entry accounting , every financial transaction causes two equal and offsetting changes to at least two different accounts.

  • In addition, this accounting process prevents the large swings in operating results when uncollectible accounts are written off directly as bad debt expenses.
  • This should be used when a company has assets that have lost value over time because it allows a company to show both the cost of the asset and the actual value of the asset on a balance sheet.
  • To understand the actual value of sales, one must net the contras against sales, which gives rise to the term net sales .
  • If the company expects a particularly delinquent customer to not pay the invoice, it may credit $100 into a bad debt reserve, making the net revenue of accounts receivable $900.
  • Throughout her career, she’s worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales.

This account focuses on outstanding debts a company can’t recover or doesn’t expect to recover. The main purpose is to https://www.bookstime.com/ show the true revenue because without this allowance, a company’s balance sheet or income sheet may be inaccurate.


Most companies rely heavily on the profit and loss report and review it regularly to enable strategic decision making. Are neither recorded in a journal entry nor posted to the general ledger accounts. Included with its bank statement a firm may receive a credit memorandum, which could indicate A. Contra accounts provide more detail to accounting figures and improve transparency in financial reporting. The following information has not been reviewed by a certified public accountant. Please check with your own accountant before applying these principals to your accounting practice. Contra Equity Account – A contra equity account has a debit balance and decreases a standard equity account.

contra expense account

Thus, the use of a separate contra expense account makes it easier to monitor the flow of expenses and reimbursements. In the double-entry system, however, whether a debit or a credit increases or decreases the account balance depends on the kind of account in view. The bank statement use is technically correct, but only because the checking account owner is—to the bank—a liability account. Liability category accounts increase with a credit and decrease with a debit. Before viewing the different types of expense accounts, it is important to understand the two different types of costs or expenses that a business incurs. Liability accounts record debts or future obligations a business or entity owes to others.

What Is A Contra Account

Peggy James is a CPA with over 9 years of experience in accounting and finance, including corporate, nonprofit, and personal finance environments. She most recently worked at Duke University and is the owner of Peggy James, CPA, PLLC, serving small businesses, nonprofits, solopreneurs, freelancers, and individuals. Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she’s worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice. Business professionals who understand core business concepts and principles fully and precisely always have the advantage, while many others are not so well-prepared. Rely on the premier business encyclopedia to sharpen your grasp of essential business concepts, terms, and skills.

  • The contra asset account carries a credit balance because an asset account usually has a debit balance.
  • Contra assets decrease the balance of a fixed or capital asset, carrying a credit balance.
  • Sales allowance represents discounts given to customers to entice them to keep products instead of returning them, such as with slightly defective items.
  • As a 4th step, they check entries with a trial balance and correct them if necessary.
  • Purchase returns, allowances and discounts are all examples of contra expense accounts.
  • Firms that sell to other businesses designate their major repeat customers as accounts.

Paid for by the customer and recorded in one period but not fully earned until a later period D. Earned in one period but not paid for by the customer or recorded until a later period. Sellers and service providers sometimes actually create for each customer an accounting system account.

Chart Of Accounts: The Ultimate Guide With Examples

This means that when expenses increase, the entry for expenses is debited and vice versa when they decline. A contra account is a general ledger account with a balance that is opposite of the normal balance for that account classification. The use of a contra account allows a company to report the original amount and also report a reduction so that the net amount will also be reported.

Obsolete inventory refers to a company’s products or goods that have become obsolete, or unusable, during routine use and operations. Purchase returns, allowances and discounts are all examples of contra expense accounts. A bond discount is an example of a contra liability account and it reduces the amount of a bond payable. An example of a contra account is Accumulated Depreciation which is a contra asset account. When the normal balance of an asset is a debit, a contra account’s normal balance would be a credit, and when a liability’s normal balance is a credit, the contra account is a debit.

Contra Equity

The cost of goods sold is the cost of the products that a retailer, distributor, or manufacturer has sold. The Structured Query Language comprises several different data types that allow it to store different types of information… Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Learn the owner’s equity formula and how to compute owner’s equity through given examples. Learn how to calculate ending inventory using the ending inventory formula. Understand how to find the cost of ending inventory using different methods.

contra expense account

Therefore, a contra expense account that contains a debit balance must have a negative ending balance. These are used if, for example, companies are selling discount bonds. For example, if a company sells a $1,000 bond for $900, it will have to make a number of entries into the related contra accounts. These journal entries would include a $900 debit to the cash account, a $1,000 credit to the bonds payable account and a $100 debit to the discount on bonds payable account.

Easy Way To Understand Accounting Terms

Contra Accounts help show the net value of an account in the financial statements. There are various ways to compute the profitability of a company, such as gross margin, operating margin, return on assets, return on equity, return on sales, and return on investment. Learn the definition of profitability ratio and analyze examples of profitability ratio. A transaction is an agreement between the buyer and the seller for the exchange of goods and services. Cash and credit transactions are two main types of transactions that are in practice. Mark to market is a method of measuring the fair value of accounts that can fluctuate over time, such as assets and liabilities. Note especially that for a large and complex business, the list may include hundreds or thousands of items.

For example, a company’s general ledger account may list 10 customers who paid $100 for a service or product. In accounts receivable, this would show as gross revenue for $1,000. If the company expects a particularly delinquent customer to not pay the invoice, it may credit $100 into a bad debt reserve, making the net revenue of accounts contra expense account receivable $900. The equity section of the balance sheet is where the shareholder’s claims to assets are reported. The main contra equity account is treasury stock, which is the balance of all stock repurchased by the company. When a company repurchases shares, it increases the fractional ownership of all remaining shareholders.

  • Accrued revenue is money your company has earned but hasn’t yet billed the customer for.
  • Contra liability accounts—like their contra asset account counterparts—also reverse the debit-credit “rules” from the Exhibit 1 table above.
  • In the cash basis of accounting of expenses, the transaction is recorded as soon as cash is paid off.
  • Such contra account carries a debit balance and reduces the total amount of a company’s revenue.
  • However, what if you gave the customer a 10% discount because he signed up for your email list?

Learn what columns go into a cash payment journal and an example of a cash payment journal of a quilting business. Contra account is important as it not only allows a company to report the original amount of a transaction but also report any reductions that may have happened so that the net amount will also be reported. Knowing the true cost of individual products and services, precisely, is crucial for product planning, pricing, and strategy. However, In some settings, traditional costing gives notoriously misleading estimates of these costs. As a resultl, many turn instead to Activity Based Costing for costing accuracy. The account implies the relationship will continue for a timespan, during which seller and customer have rights, privileges, and obligations towards each other.

A contra account makes allowances for payments in the form of products or services rather than cash. The net realizable value of the accounts receivable is the accounts receivable minus the allowance for doubtful accounts.

A contra equity account is a stockholders’ equity account with a negative balance. This account reduces the total amount of equity held by a business.

Business Operations

Digging deeper, the contra doesn’t have to just appear on a general ledger, though you will frequently see it there. It’s often included on various financial statements like a balance sheet or income statement where the account it’s balancing appears.

Definition Of Contra Expense Account

The two most common contra accounts are the allowance for doubtful accounts/bad debt reserve, which is subtracted from accounts receivable, and accumulated depreciation, which is subtracted from fixed assets. Obsolete inventory refers to a company’s products or goods that have become obsolete, or unusable, during routine use and operations.

Chart Of Accounts And Accounting Cycle

Contra equity accounts carry a debit balance reduce equity accounts. Contra revenue accounts reduce revenue accounts and have a debit balance. The difference between an asset’s balance and the contra account asset balance is the book value. 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. A liability that is recorded as a debit balance is used to decrease the balance of a liability.

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