Contra Asset Examples, How a Contra Asset Account Works

Therefore, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) dictate that the allowance must be established in the same accounting period as the sale, but can be based on an anticipated or estimated figure. The allowance can accumulate across accounting periods and may be adjusted based on the balance in the account. In this method, a company assigns a risk rating to every customer, like low, medium, or high. Then they determine a percentage for each category that reflects the chances of customers in that category paying. These percentages are further multiplied by the total sales in each customer category. The resulting three separate amounts are added and converted to a percentage based on the total sales amount.

  • Assume a company has 100 clients and believes there are 11 accounts that may go uncollected.
  • The only impact that the allowance for doubtful accounts has on the income statement is the initial charge to bad debt expense when the allowance is initially funded.
  • Usually, the asset account is listed first, and its contra asset counterpart is listed underneath, with the asset’s net value or book value.
  • The accounts receivable aging method uses accounts receivable aging reports to keep track of past due invoices.
  • Rather than waiting to see exactly how payments work out, the company will debit a bad debt expense and credit allowance for doubtful accounts.
  • An allowance for doubtful accounts estimates the number of outstanding receivables a company does not expect to collect.
  • With such data, you can plan for your business’s future, keep track of paid and unpaid customer invoices, and even automate friendly payment reminders when needed.

The company then uses the historical percentage of uncollectible accounts for each risk category to estimate the allowance for doubtful accounts. The percentage of sales method assigns a flat rate to each accounting period’s total sales. Using previous invoicing data, your accounting team will estimate what percentage of credit sales will be uncollectible. In accordance with GAAP revenue recognition policies, the company must still record credit sales (i.e. not cash) as revenue on the income statement and accounts receivable on the balance sheet. Using the example above, let’s say that a company reports an accounts receivable debit balance of $1,000,000 on June 30. The company anticipates that some customers will not be able to pay the full amount and estimates that $50,000 will not be converted to cash.

Understanding the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

While assets have natural debit balances and increase with a debit, contra assets have natural credit balance and increase with a credit. The company can recover the account by reversing the entry above to reinstate the accounts receivable balance and the the allowance for doubtful accounts is a contra asset account that equals corresponding allowance for the doubtful account balance. Then, the company will record a debit to cash and credit to accounts receivable when the payment is collected. You’ll notice that because of this, the allowance for doubtful accounts increases.

On the balance sheet, an allowance for doubtful accounts is considered a “contra-asset” because an increase reduces the accounts receivable (A/R) account. The allowance for doubtful accounts is management’s objective estimate of their company’s receivables that are unlikely to be paid by customers. The first step in accounting for the allowance for doubtful accounts is to establish the allowance.

Write off an account

If the total net sales for the period is $100,000, the company establishes an allowance for doubtful accounts for $3,000 while simultaneously reporting $3,000 in bad debt expense. The simple answer would be, no, the allowance for doubtful accounts does not get closed and carries forward the balance to the following year. However, bad debt expenses reflected on a company’s income statement do reset and close. However, some asset accounts need a negative counterpart to reduce the balance of that account.

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