Both of these accounts offset each other to represent a net balance on a company’s balance sheet. Typically, the accumulated amortization account is reflected on the balance sheet as a contra account (which offsets the balance in a related account) and is tied with the intangible assets line item. For example, if the balance of accumulated depreciation increases from $20,000 to $50,000, this means that the depreciation expense amounts to $30,000, which will be listed in the income statement. The main advantage of using a contra asset account is to separate this reduction from the asset account with which it is paired. By doing so, you can more clearly see the total amount of the related asset account, which would otherwise have been obscured by the offsetting amount of the reserve. Management may disclose its method of estimating the allowance for doubtful accounts in its notes to the financial statements.

  • Excess, stored inventory will near the end of its lifespan at some point and, in turn, result in expired or unsellable goods.
  • If you’re using accounting software, you’ll be able to create contra accounts when setting up your chart of accounts.
  • A second example of a contra asset account is Accumulated Depreciation.
  • You record the allowance for doubtful accounts by debiting the Bad Debt Expense account and crediting the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts account.

Companies often have a specific method of identifying the companies that it wants to include and the companies it wants to exclude. Any company that owns intangible assets such as software, patents, etc., will maintain an accumulated amortization account. Similar to depreciation, this account plays a significant role in representing the book value of a company’s assets. Accumulated amortization is an account similar to accumulated depreciation.

Why are contra asset accounts important for businesses?

You record the allowance for doubtful accounts by debiting the Bad Debt Expense account and crediting the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts account. You’ll notice the allowance account has a natural credit balance and will increase when credited. Another type of contra account is known as “contra revenue,” which is used to adjust gross revenue to calculate net revenue, i.e. the “final” revenue figure listed on the income statement. The allowance for doubtful accounts – often called a “bad debt reserve” – would be considered a contra asset since it causes the accounts receivable (A/R) balance to decline. Contra asset accounts provide business owners with the true value of certain asset accounts. For example, let’s say your accounts receivable balance is currently $11,500, but you’re not entirely sure that you’ll be able to collect the entire balance due.

  • The allowance for doubtful accounts also helps companies more accurately estimate the actual value of their account receivables.
  • You’ll continue to use the contra asset account until the equipment has been completely depreciated, retired, or sold.
  • However, the details for contra accounts usually exist on the notes to the financial statements.
  • It also helps with asset valuation, enabling clients to more accurately report an asset at its net book value.
  • Last, for contra revenue accounts there are sales discounts, sales allowances, or sales returns.

Hence, the term valuation account represents all types of balance sheet accounts related to their corresponding balance sheet accounts. This helps the firms to evaluate the book value of their assets and liabilities. By keeping the original dollar amount intact in the original account and reducing the figure in a separate account, the financial information is more transparent for financial reporting purposes. For example, if a piece of heavy machinery is purchased for $10,000, that $10,000 figure is maintained on the general ledger even as the asset’s depreciation is recorded separately. Some companies may classify different types of debt or different types of vendors using risk classifications.

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Usually, companies add to the accumulated depreciation account after every accounting period. Therefore, contra-asset accounts differ from other accounts that have a credit balance. For example, accumulated depreciation is a contra asset that reduces the value of a company’s fixed assets, resulting in net assets. Your bank account, the inventory you currently stock, the equipment you purchase, and your accounts receivable balance are all considered asset accounts. Whenever the balance of a contra asset account increases (credit to the contra asset account), the increased amount is written off as an expense and is reported in the company’s income statement. Sometimes, both accounts can be written in a single line if they don’t represent a large portion of the assets.

What is a Contra Asset Account?

The company estimates that it will not be able to collect 1,000 from its customers. The allowance for doubtful accounts is a contra asset account that is used to offset Accounts Receivable on the balance sheet. An allowance for doubtful accounts is a contra asset account that is used to offset Accounts Receivable on the balance sheet.

Examples of Contra Asset Accounts

This type of account could be called the allowance for doubtful accounts or a bad debt reserve. The balance in the allowance for doubtful accounts represents the dollar amount of the current accounts receivable balance that is expected to be uncollectible. The amount is reported on the balance sheet in the asset section immediately below accounts receivable.

We can see how the $10,000 allowance for doubtful accounts offsets the $100,000 A/R account from our illustrative example above (i.e. the account decreases the carrying value of A/R). In this way, the historical cost, the amount of write-off, and the book value of an asset can always be seen on the balance sheet. Contra accounts provide more detail to accounting figures and improve transparency in financial reporting. Whether reported as separate lines on the financial report or as a cumulative value, the net amount of the pair of accounts is called the “net book value” of the individual asset. The Treasury Department has long recognized the threat from money laundering linked to drug trafficking.

How to Estimate the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

Since it is a contra asset account, this allowance account must have a credit balance (which is contrary to the debit balances found in asset accounts). The Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is directly related to the asset account entitled Accounts Receivable. Therefore, the net amount of the accounts receivable that is expected to turn to cash is $38,000. Contra asset accounts are a type of contra account that net off against asset accounts. These include accumulated depreciation, accumulated amortization, allowance for receivables, obsolete inventory, and discount on notes receivables. Contra liability, equity, and revenue accounts have natural debit balances.