This balance is used to offset the value of the asset being depreciated, so as of September 1, your $8,000 asset now has a book value of $7,866.67. Inventory obsolescence is an expense account, while the allowance for obsolete inventory is a contra asset account, which aims to reduce the inventory valuation on your balance sheet. The accumulated depreciation account is perhaps the most common contra asset account used by business owners. Contra assets may be stated in separate line items on the balance sheet. Or, if they contain relatively minor balances, they may be aggregated with their paired accounts and presented as a single line item in the balance sheet. In either case, the net amount of the pair of accounts is referred to as the book value of the asset account in question.

At the end of year 20, the car and the accumulated depreciation accounts will be written off from the balance sheet, as the car will be a fully depreciated asset. Therefore, it reduces the value of shareholders’ equity contra asset account by the amount paid for those repurchased stocks. Sometimes, it is important to keep the original balance of the accounts and create the contra accounts to be able to calculate the net value of the account.

This frequently happens to manufacturing companies that sell products with an expiration date since any inventory remaining in stock past the expiration date quickly becomes obsolete. Still, the dollar amounts are separately broken out in the supplementary sections most of the time for greater transparency in financial reporting. Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling.

  1. If you find managing contra asset accounts to be a daunting task, there lies a solution in outsourcing.
  2. So rather than adjusting your Inventory account, you would update its contra account — Obsolete Inventory.
  3. The accounting entries for a discount on notes receivables are as follows.
  4. Management may disclose its method of estimating the allowance for doubtful accounts in its notes to the financial statements.

In this scenario, a write-down is recorded to the reserve for obsolete inventory. Treasury stock represents shares of a company’s own stock that it has repurchased from shareholders but not retired. Instead of increasing assets or decreasing liabilities (as would be typical when spending cash), buying treasury stock reduces shareholders’ equity. Specifically, it is contra to shareholders’ equity because it decreases the total shareholders’ equity on the balance sheet. However, the details for contra accounts usually exist on the notes to the financial statements. However, these can cause a reduction in other balances on the statement.

The difference between an asset’s account balance and the contra account balance is known as the book value. A contra account carries a balance that is opposite to the normal balance of its related main account. Therefore, these companies must maintain an obsolete inventory reserve account to net off any unusable stock from the account. This requirement also comes from the accounting standard for inventories. Any company that owns intangible assets such as software, patents, etc., will maintain an accumulated amortization account.

While accumulated depreciation is the most common contra asset account, the following also may apply, depending on the company. A contra asset is a negative account used in double-entry accounting to reduce the balance of a paired asset account in the general ledger. A less common example of a contra asset account is Discount on Notes Receivable. The credit balance in this account is amortized or allocated to Interest Income or Interest Revenue over the life of a note receivable. Note that accountants use contra accounts rather than reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean.

This account is paired with and offsets another asset account, so that a net balance is reported on the balance sheet. Contra liability accounts are less commonly used than contra asset accounts. Contra liability accounts are mainly used by corporations that issue bonds frequently. That is because some of the bonds are issued at a discount, so this reduces the balance of their bonds payable. By reporting contra asset accounts on the balance sheet, users of financial statements can learn more about the assets of a company. Contra asset accounts allow users to see how much of an asset was written off, its remaining useful life, and the value of the asset.

Properly documenting these contra accounts in your ledger can sometimes feel counter-intuitive since they operate in an opposite manner from their parent accounts. Consider an asset account, where the values are listed as debits, and the account itself will present a positive total. Conversely, for a contra asset account like depreciation, you would list all entries as a credit, carrying a negative total balance for the overall account. A contra asset account is an asset account with a natural credit balance.

What Is an Allowance for Doubtful Accounts?

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. In the financial statements the asset a/c would be offset against the contra asset a/c to show the net balance. In bookkeeping terms, a contra asset account refers to an account which is offset against an asset account. also help companies keep their general ledgers organized. By recording reductions in a separate account, companies can get better insights into their actual accounts. Contra asset accounts help companies record any reductions to their non-current and current assets.

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts: Methods of Accounting for

This account offsets the balance in the respective asset account that they pair with on the balance sheet. Some companies may classify different types of debt or different types of vendors using risk classifications. For example, a start-up customer may be considered a high risk, while an established, long-tenured customer may be a low risk. In this example, the company often assigns a percentage to each classification of debt. Then, it aggregates all receivables in each grouping, calculates each group by the percentage, and records an allowance equal to the aggregate of all products. Accounts receivable (A/R) has a debit balance, but the allowance for doubtful accounts carries a creditbalance.

Contra Asset Accounting & Examples

Because the allowance for doubtful accounts is established in the same accounting period as the original sale, an entity does not know for certain which exact receivables will be paid and which will default. 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. 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.

Accounts use this method of estimating the allowance to adhere to the matching principle. The matching principle states that revenue and expenses must be recorded in the same period in which they occur. Therefore, the allowance is created mainly so the expense can be recorded in the same period revenue is earned. The first step in accounting for the allowance for doubtful accounts is to establish the allowance. This is done by using one of the estimation methods above to predict what proportion of accounts receivable will go uncollected. For this example, let’s say a company predicts it will incur $500,000 of uncollected accounts receivable.


Contra asset accounts include allowance for doubtful accounts and accumulated depreciation. Contra asset accounts are recorded with a credit balance that decreases the balance of an asset. A key example of contra liabilities includes discounts on notes or bonds payable.

Specific Identification Method

The account offsets the balance in the respective asset account that it is paired with on the balance sheet. 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. Regardless of that, allowance for receivables accounts will exist for all companies that have account receivable balances. This account helps companies present a more accurate accounts receivable balance on the financial statements. Although contra-asset accounts have credit balances, they do not appear in liabilities or equity.