allowance for doubtful accounts calculation

A bad debt refers to an account receivable that has been specifically identified as uncollectible and, therefore, it is written off. Bad debt occurs when a borrower or debtor defaults – fails to repay his or her loan or debt. Before computer systems became common, keeping the total of thousands of individual accounts in a subsidiary ledger in agreement with the corresponding general ledger T-account balance was an arduous task.

  • Writing off these debts helps you avoid overstating your revenue, assets and any earnings from those assets.
  • It’s an important part of the overall AR process since it helps businesses develop a clear picture of their cash flow.
  • Net receivables are the money owed to a company by its customers minus the money owed that will likely never be paid, often expressed as a percentage.
  • When it comes to your small business, you don’t want to be in the dark.
  • If a company finds it is usually increasing reserves, it should take a look at its customers and determine if any are too risky or unreliable to warrant a continued relationship.
  • The basic method for calculating the percentage of bad debt is quite simple.

Calculate the actual percentage for each period and then calculate the overall average percentage. Multiply that figure by the sales or accounts receivable balance to determine your allowance for bad debts. Unlike the percentage of sales method, we do not make the journal entry for allowance for doubtful accounts immediately.

Let’s say your business brought in $60,000 worth of sales during the accounting period. Based on historical trends, you predict that 2% of your sales from the period will be bad debts ($60,000 X 0.02). Debit your Bad Debts Expense account $1,200 and credit your Allowance for Doubtful Accounts $1,200 for the estimated default payments. We can use the accounts receivable aging report to determine the allowance for doubtful accounts by applying different percentages on each balance of accounts receivable classified by the number of days overdue. The applied percentages are usually based on our experiences in business as well as the available industry data (e.g. industry average of customer default) that is publicly obtainable.

However, current electronic systems are typically designed so that the totals reconcile automatically. Normally, a higher rate is used for accounts that are older because they are considered more likely to become uncollectible. A broader look at the industry in which Apple, Cisco and Dell operate reveals that estimating the allowance for doubtful accounts is not an easy task. This group included 65 instances in which firms recorded either negative or no write-offs during the year and 123 cases in which the BADA/WO ratio was 10.0 or higher.

One way companies derive an estimate for the value of bad debts under the allowance method is to calculate bad debts as a percentage of the accounts receivable balance. Companies that use the percentage of credit sales method base the adjusting entry solely on total credit sales and ignore any existing balance in the allowance for bad debts account.

Accounting For The Allowance For Doubtful Accounts

Otherwise, your business may have an inaccurate picture of the amount of working capital that is available to it. This contra-asset account reduces the loan receivable account when both balances are listed in the balance sheet. While the direct write-off method records the exact amount of uncollectible debts and can be used to write off small amounts, it fails to uphold the GAAP principles and the matching principle used in accrual accounting. This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting, or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein.

Here, we’ll go over exactly what bad debt expenses are, where to find them on your financial statements, how to calculate your bad debts, and how to record bad debt expenses properly in your bookkeeping. Bad debt expense is an income statement account and carries a debit balance. It indicates how much bad debt the company actually incurred during the current accounting period.


Use an allowance for doubtful accounts entry when you extend credit to customers. Although you don’t physically have the cash when a customer purchases goods on credit, you need to record the transaction. The company would then write off the customer’s account balance of $10,000. The amount represents the estimated value of accounts receivable that a company does not expect to receive payment for. Hence, the allowance for doubtful accounts increase by $390 ($890 – $500) during the accounting period.

allowance for doubtful accounts calculation

We see that the longer an item is unpaid the greater the chance that the amount is uncollectible. In this method you would assign a percentage to each bucket for the amount you believe may become uncollectible and then multiply the balance in each bucket by the assigned percentage. This is just an example and not indicative of the percentages you should use. As shown allowance for doubtful accounts calculation in the T-accounts below, this entry successfully changes the allowance from a $3,000 debit balance to the desired $24,000 credit. Because bad debt expense had a zero balance prior to this entry, it is now based solely on the $27,000 amount needed to establish the proper allowance. Estimate and record bad debts when the percentage of receivables method is applied.

Provision For Bad Debts Example

Doubtful accounts are past-due invoices that your business does not expect to actually collect on before the end of the accounting period. In other words, doubtful accounts are an estimated percentage of accounts receivable that aren’t likely to ever hit your bank account. After a certain period of time going uncollected, a doubtful account can become a bad debt, which is ultimately a cost that’s absorbed by your business.

Other than accounts receivable, they are commonly set up for inventory, equipment, and accounts payable. As might be imagined, big companies maintain subsidiary ledgers for virtually every T-account, whereas small companies are likely to limit use to accounts receivable and—possibly—a few other large balances. Students are often concerned because these two reported numbers differ. The actual amount of worthless accounts is likely to be a number somewhat different from either $29,000 or $32,000.

  • So, to account for it, businesses usually write it off to be able to balance their accounts.
  • Thus, if you are not sure content located on or linked-to by the Website infringes your copyright, you should consider first contacting an attorney.
  • Suppose a company generated $1 million of credit sales in Year 1 but projects that 5% of those sales are very likely to be uncollectible based on historical experience.
  • Then use the preceding historical percentage method for the remaining smaller accounts.
  • If it uses the ending receivables method, bad debt expense will be $26,600 ($540K x 4% + $5K debit balance).

These analyses indicate a possible need for Apple and its auditors to critically re-examine the estimation process. Bad debt expenses are classified as operating costs, and you can usually find them on your business’ income statement under selling, general & administrative costs (SG&A).

How To Directly Write Off Your Accounts Receivable

Your bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. Now let’s say that a few weeks later, one of your customers tells you that they simply won’t be able to come up with $200 they owe you, and you want to write off their $200 account receivable.

allowance for doubtful accounts calculation

A company estimates future bad debt and accounts for the anticipated loss in the current year. It is consistent with GAAP because the bad debt expense is recorded in the year the corresponding revenue has been recognized. In other words, when you record the sale, you know some of the receivables will not be collected. The matching principle requires you to record the anticipated loss at that time. In the percentage of sales method, the business uses only one percentage to determine the balance of the allowance for doubtful accounts.


A contra account is an asset account that is used to offset a parent account – in this case, the accounts receivable. By doing this, you remove both the credit memo as well as the invoice from the accounts receivable statement report. Provision for doubtful debts should be included on your company’s balance sheet to give a comprehensive overview of the financial state of your business.

allowance for doubtful accounts calculation

It has extensive reporting functions, multi-user plans and an intuitive interface. How you determine your AFDA may also depend on what’s considered typical payment behavior for your industry. It helps them acknowledge the risks inherent in collecting on account and present more realistic AR figures.

Understanding The Allowance For Doubtful Accounts

Suppose a company generated $1 million of credit sales in Year 1 but projects that 5% of those sales are very likely to be uncollectible based on historical experience. In effect, the allowance for doubtful accounts leads to the A/R balance recorded on the balance sheet to reflect a value closer to reality.

This could mean more customers fail to pay and you wind up with more uncollectible accounts, or you might have overestimated your allowance for doubtful accounts. The allowance for doubtful accounts is recorded as a line item on a company’s balance sheet. The customer risk classification method works best if you have a small and stable customer base following similar credit cycles. If your customer base grows, consider adopting one of the previous methods since they’ll be easier to implement. The historical percentage method works best if you have a relatively small customer base and straightforward billing cycles.