Liability (financial accounting)

Last updated

In financial accounting, a liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, [1] the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of assets, provision of services or other yielding of economic benefits in the future.

Financial accounting field of accounting

Financial accounting is the field of accounting concerned with the summary, analysis and reporting of financial transactions related to a business. This involves the preparation of financial statements available for public use. Stockholders, suppliers, banks, employees, government agencies, business owners, and other stakeholders are examples of people interested in receiving such information for decision making purposes.

Contents

A liability is defined by the following characteristics:

Liabilities in financial accounting need not be legally enforceable; but can be based on equitable obligations or constructive obligations. An equitable obligation is a duty based on ethical or moral considerations. A constructive obligation is an obligation that is implied by a set of circumstances in a particular situation, as opposed to a contractually based obligation.

The accounting equation relates assets, liabilities, and owner's equity:

The fundamental accounting equation, also called the balance sheet equation, represents the relationship between the assets, liabilities, and owner's equity of a person or business. It is the foundation for the double-entry bookkeeping system. For each transaction, the total debits equal the total credits. It can be expressed as further more.

Asset economic resource, from which future economic benefits are expected

In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned by the business. Anything tangible or intangible that can be owned or controlled to produce value and that is held by a company to produce positive economic value is an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash. The balance sheet of a firm records the monetary value of the assets owned by that firm. It covers money and other valuables belonging to an individual or to a business.

The accounting equation is the mathematical structure of the balance sheet.

Balance sheet summary of the financial balances of a sole proprietorship, a business partnership, a corporation or other business organization

In financial accounting, a balance sheet or statement of financial position or statement of financial condition is a summary of the financial balances of an individual or organization, whether it be a sole proprietorship, a business partnership, a corporation, private limited company or other organization such as Government or not-for-profit entity. Assets, liabilities and ownership equity are listed as of a specific date, such as the end of its financial year. A balance sheet is often described as a "snapshot of a company's financial condition". Of the four basic financial statements, the balance sheet is the only statement which applies to a single point in time of a business' calendar year.

Probably the most accepted accounting definition of liability is the one used by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The following is a quotation from IFRS Framework:

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is the independent, accounting standard-setting body of the IFRS Foundation.

A liability is a present obligation of the enterprise arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow from the enterprise of resources embodying economic benefits

F.49(b)

Regulations as to the recognition of liabilities are different all over the world, but are roughly similar to those of the IASB.

Examples of types of liabilities include: money owing on a loan, money owing on a mortgage, or an IOU.

An IOU is usually an informal document acknowledging debt. An IOU differs from a promissory note in that an IOU is not a negotiable instrument and does not specify repayment terms such as the time of repayment. IOUs usually specify the debtor, the amount owed, and sometimes the creditor. IOUs may be signed or carry distinguishing marks or designs to ensure authenticity. In some cases, IOUs may be redeemable for a specific product or service rather than a quantity of currency, constituting a form of scrip.

Liabilites of sectors of USA economy, 1945-2017, based on flow of funds statistics of the Federal Reserve System. VerbindlichkeitenSektorenUSAengl.PNG
Liabilites of sectors of USA economy, 1945-2017, based on flow of funds statistics of the Federal Reserve System.

Liabilities are debts and obligations of the business they represent as creditor's claim on business assets.

Classification

Liabilities are reported on a balance sheet and are usually divided into two categories:

Liabilities of uncertain value or timing are called provisions.

Example

When a company deposits cash with a bank, the bank records a liability on its balance sheet, representing the obligation to repay the depositor, usually on demand. Simultaneously, in accordance with the double-entry principle, the bank records the cash, itself, as an asset. The company, on the other hand, upon depositing the cash with the bank, records a decrease in its cash and a corresponding increase in its bank deposits (an asset).

Debits and Credits

A debit either increases an asset or decreases a liability; a credit either decreases an asset or increases a liability. According to the principle of double-entry, every financial transaction corresponds to both a debit and a credit.

Example

When cash is deposited in a bank, the bank is said to "debit" its cash account, on the asset side, and "credit" its deposits account, on the liabilities side. In this case, the bank is debiting an asset and crediting a liability, which means that both increase.

When cash is withdrawn from a bank, the opposite happens: the bank "credits" its cash account and "debits" its deposits account. In this case, the bank is crediting an asset and debiting a liability, which means that both decrease.

See also

Related Research Articles

Bookkeeping recording of financial transactions

Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions, and is part of the process of accounting in business. Transactions include purchases, sales, receipts, and payments by an individual person or an organization/corporation. There are several standard methods of bookkeeping, including the single-entry and double-entry bookkeeping systems. While these may be viewed as "real" bookkeeping, any process for recording financial transactions is a bookkeeping process.

Double-entry bookkeeping system seamless, chronological and factual ordered recording of all business processes in a company based of documented evidence

Double-entry bookkeeping, in accounting, is a system of bookkeeping so named because every entry to an account requires a corresponding and opposite entry to a different account. The double entry has two equal and corresponding sides known as debit and credit. The left-hand side is debit and right-hand side is credit. For instance, recording a sale of $100 might require two entries: a debit of $100 to an account named "Cash" and a credit of $100 to an account named "Revenue."

In accounting, book value is the value of an asset according to its balance sheet account balance. For assets, the value is based on the original cost of the asset less any depreciation, amortization or impairment costs made against the asset. Traditionally, a company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. However, in practice, depending on the source of the calculation, book value may variably include goodwill, intangible assets, or both. The value inherent in its workforce, part of the intellectual capital of a company, is always ignored. When intangible assets and goodwill are explicitly excluded, the metric is often specified to be "tangible book value".

Debits and credits

In double entry bookkeeping, debits and credits are entries made in account ledgers to record changes in value resulting from business transactions. Generally speaking, if cash is spent in a business transaction, the cash account is credited, and conversely, when cash is obtained in a business transaction, it is described as a debit. Debits and Credits can occur in any account. For simplicity it is often best to view Debits as positive numbers and Credits as negative numbers. When all the debits and credits that are transacted in each account are added up the resulting account total could be a net Debit or a net Credit. If the total of the account is in a net Debit position (positive), it is generally classified in the Asset section of the balance sheet, whereas accounts that total to a net Credit (negative) are shown in the liability section of the balance sheet. Accounts that relate to the company's profit are totaled to yield company earnings and are classified in the Equity section of the balance sheet. When recording incoming cash (revenue) a Debit will be made to Cash or equivalent Assets and a Credit will be made on the revenue account in the income statement. If a company has a positive Net Income, the Retained Earnings will receive a Credit when closing out the Income Statement for the year, while a Net Loss will result in a Debit to the Retained Earnings. A net Credit (negative) balance in Retained Earnings in the Equity Section demonstrates that the company has been profitable over time, whereas a Debit (positive) balance in the Equity section, would demonstrate that the company has been unprofitable. In most companies the following accounts end-up in Credit positions: accounts payable, share capital, loans payable; while Debit accounts typically include Equipment, Inventory, Accounts Receivable. Debits must equal Credits (negatives) in each transaction; individual transactions may require multiple debit and credit entries.

Account (bookkeeping) the central data structure in the accounts and payment services

In bookkeeping, an account refers to assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and equity, as represented by individual ledger pages, to which changes in value are chronologically recorded with debit and credit entries. These entries, referred to as postings, become part of a book of final entry or ledger. Examples of common financial accounts are sales, accounts receivable, mortgages, loans, PP&E, common stock, sales, services, wages and payroll.

General ledger central repository for accounting data

A general ledger contains all the accounts for recording transactions relating to a company's assets, liabilities, owners' equity, revenue, and expenses. In modern accounting software or ERP, the general ledger works as a central repository for accounting data transferred from all subledgers or modules like accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management, fixed assets, purchasing and projects. The general ledger is the backbone of any accounting system which holds financial and non-financial data for an organization. The collection of all accounts is known as the general ledger. Each account is known as a ledger account. In a manual or non-computerized system this may be a large book.

Working capital is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organisation or other entity, including governmental entities. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is considered a part of operating capital. Gross working capital is equal to current assets. Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. If current assets are less than current liabilities, an entity has a working capital deficiency, also called a working capital deficit.

Chart of accounts

A chart of accounts (COA) is a created list of the accounts used by an organization to define each class of items for which money or the equivalent is spent or received. It is used to organize the finances of the entity and to segregate expenditures, revenue, assets and liabilities in order to give interested parties a better understanding of the financial health of the entity.

In banking and accounting, the outstanding balance is the amount of money owed,, that remains in a deposit account.

Reserve (accounting) accounting

In financial accounting, "reserve" always has a credit balance and can refer to a part of shareholders' equity, a liability [Reserve for Claims better called Liability for Estimated Claims], or an asset contra account [Reserve of Uncollectible Accounts, better called Allowance for Uncollectible Accounts].

Flow of funds

Flow of funds accounts are a system of interrelated balance sheets for a nation, calculated periodically. There are two types of balance sheets: those showing

Provision (accounting) account which records a present liability of an entity

In financial accounting, a provision is an account which records a present liability of an entity. The recording of the liability in the entity's balance sheet is matched to an appropriate expense account in the entity's income statement. The preceding is correct in IFRS. In U.S. GAAP, a provision is an expense. Thus, "Provision for Income Taxes" is an expense in U.S. GAAP but a liability in IFRS. 

Initially pioneered by financial institutions during the 1970s as interest rates became increasingly volatile, asset and liability management is the practice of managing risks that arise due to mismatches between the assets and liabilities.

A foreign exchange hedge is a method used by companies to eliminate or "hedge" their foreign exchange risk resulting from transactions in foreign currencies. This is done using either the cash flow hedge or the fair value method. The accounting rules for this are addressed by both the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and by the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as well as other national accounting standards.

Bank financial institution

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.

International Financial Reporting Standards requirements

This article lists some of the important requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

A deposit account is a savings account, current account or any other type of bank account that allows money to be deposited and withdrawn by the account holder. These transactions are recorded on the bank's books, and the resulting balance is recorded as a liability for the bank and represents the amount owed by the bank to the customer. Some banks may charge a fee for this service, while others may pay the customer interest on the funds deposited.

References

  1. "Definition and Recognition of the Elements of Financial Statements" (PDF). Australian Accounting Standards Board. Retrieved 31 March 2015.