bad debt expense calculation

Debts that are no longer recoverable and written off as losses/expenses are called bad debt. For example, loans from banks and sales made on credit can be categorized as bad debt. When a bad debt is written off, it is considered an expense and removed from the Accounts Receivable tab of the balance sheet. It means a company is acknowledging that the AR is no longer recoverable and a loss has occurred. In this technique, the bad debt is directly considered as an expense, and the debt ratio is calculated by dividing the uncollectible amount by the total Accounts Receivables for that year. This contra-asset account reduces the loan receivable account when both balances are listed in the balance sheet.

This approach is like the percentage of accounts receivable method, but it looks at how long it takes customers to pay. A general rule is the longer an account receivable remains unpaid it will default. The allowance method uses an imaginary bucket of cash called a contra asset account. A business then uses this to pay off bad debt as they occur during the year.

Allowance method

This is because any overdue receivables from the year prior are already accounted for in the receivables balance for the current period. The matching principle states that companies must record all expenses and the revenue connected to them in the same period. Per the allowance method, companies create an allowance for doubtful accounts entry at the end of the fiscal year. Bad debt expense is an accounting entry that lists the dollar amount of receivables your company does not expect to collect. The two methods used in estimating bad debt expense are 1) Percentage of sales and 2) Percentage of receivables.

There are two distinct ways of calculating bad debt expenses – the direct write-off method and the allowance method. Because you set it up ahead of time, your allowance for bad debts will always be an estimate. Estimating your bad debts usually involves some form of the percentage of bad debt formula, which is just your past bad debts divided by your past credit sales. Although it is based on an estimate, this method allows a business to align bad debt to the reporting period in which the sale occurs. This is in accordance with the matching principle, and therefore, it is considered a more accurate form of accounting bad debt expenses.

Reactive collections process

According to the allowance method, bad debt expenses will be journaled as a debit in the bad debt expense account and as a credit allowance in the doubtful accounts. Working capital, cash flows, collections opportunities, and other critical metrics depend on timely and accurate processes. Ensure services revenue has been accurately bad debt expense calculation recorded and related payments are reflected properly on the balance sheet. Classifying accounts receivable according to age often gives the company a better basis for estimating the total amount of uncollectible accounts. For example, based on experience, a company can expect only 1% of the accounts not yet due to be uncollectible.

  • Using this number, dividing by the accounts receivable for the period can show the exact percentage of bad debt.
  • Not only does this help forge better customer relationships, but it also minimizes bad debt expense by reducing the likelihood of receivables becoming uncollectible.
  • This makes things difficult if months after making a sale on credit, a customer doesn’t pay their invoice.
  • You can then attribute a percentage of bad debt to each of these categories.

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