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Accrued Expense: What It Is, With Examples and Pros and Cons

The second challenge revolves around the potential for both overstatement and understatement of liabilities. When the actual costs overshoot or undershoot the anticipated amounts, it can lead to incorrect representation of liabilities and affect the company’s liquidity and solvency ratios. Overstating liabilities might cause unnecessary alarm among creditors and investors, while understating could result in unexpected cash shortages. It’s worth noting that these consequences are not exhaustive and can vary based on numerous factors, including the severity of the misrepresentation and the jurisdiction within which the company operates.

  1. Cash basis accounting often results in the overstatement and understatement of income and account balances.
  2. It’s more likely that a bank will grant you a loan, and a supplier will sell you merchandise on credit if your accounting accurately portrays the business’s financial status.
  3. Accrued expenses are also effective in predicting the amount of expenses the company can expect to see in the future.
  4. The expenses are recorded on an income statement, with a corresponding liability on the balance sheet.
  5. As such, accounts payable (or payables) are generally short-term obligations and must be paid within a certain amount of time.

This specialization is designed to help business owners and managers learn accounting basics. For intricate expenditures like legal settlements or sizable projects, several organizations delegate the estimation process to experts. Professionals with experience in relevant areas can provide more precise assessments of these costs as they understand the nuances involved and can guide the valuation process correctly. This practice can enhance the accuracy of reported accrued expenses and facilitate better financial management.


The adjusting journal entry submitted in April would include a debit to lawn care expense and a credit to accrued expenses. The reversal of the adjusting journal entry on the 1st would include a debit to accrued expenses and a credit to lawn care expense. Taxpayers are typically required by the appropriate taxation authority to consistently use the method of accounting that accurately captures the entity’s true income. Consistency is essential since the swapping of accounting methods can potentially create loopholes that a company can use to manipulate its revenue and reduce tax burdens. In general, cash accounting is allowed for sole proprietorships and small businesses, whereas large businesses will typically use accrual accounting when preparing its tax returns.

Transparency in financial reporting is paramount for maintaining a positive corporate image. Misrepresentation of accrued expenses can tarnish a company’s reputation, resulting in lasting damage that could be significantly more expensive to repair than any fine or lawsuit. To ensure sustainability, a company needs to accurately estimate and manage its accrued expenses. By incorporating these costs in their financial planning, companies can ensure they are putting aside enough funds each year to cover these eventual expenses. Such prudent financial management is both a nod to sustainable economic practices and a bulwark against potential financial instability.

Accrued Expense: What It Is, With Examples and Pros and Cons

An example of an accrued expense for accounts payable could be the cost of electricity that the utility company has used to power its operations, but has not yet paid for. In this case, the utility company would make a journal entry to record the cost of the electricity as an accrued expense. This would involve debiting the “expense” account and crediting the “accounts payable” account. The effect of this journal entry would be to increase the utility company’s expenses on the income statement, and to increase its accounts payable on the balance sheet. The term “accrued liability” refers to an expense incurred but not yet paid for by a business.

If an accrued expense is incurred and recognized, the initial journal entry is as follows. Accrued Expenses refer to a company’s incurred expenses related to employee wages or utilities yet accrued expense definition to be paid off in cash — often due to the invoice not yet being received. Salaries are accrued whenever a workweek does not neatly correspond with monthly financial reports and payroll.

What are Accrued Expenses?

A non-routine liability may, therefore, be an unexpected expense that a company may be billed for but won’t have to pay until the next accounting period. This kind of accrued liability is also referred to as a recurring liability. As such, these expenses normally occur as part of a company’s day-to-day operations.

Meaning of accrued expense in English

These estimations allow for more accurate reporting and financial planning, even though the reality may differ slightly when the actual expense is known. Once the actual bill is received, any discrepancy between the estimated and the actual amount is adjusted in the accounts. Although the cash basis might seem a more straightforward way of doing accounting, the accrual basis has proven to be the better measure for a company’s profitability. When using the cash basis, expenses and revenue are recorded only when money changes hands, rather than when goods are being sold or expenses made. Regardless, the cash flow statement would give a true picture of the actual cash coming in, even if the company uses the accrual method. The accrual approach would show the prospective lender the true depiction of the company’s entire revenue stream.

Even if the interest hasn’t been paid, the amount that has built up since the last payment is considered an accrued expense. Accountants record interest expenses continuously throughout the accounting period, and the entry involves a debit to ‘interest expense’ and a credit to ‘accrued interest expenses’. Accrued expense and accounts payable are both liabilities that appear on a company’s balance sheet. Accrued expenses are recorded as an adjusting entry at month or year end to record expenses on the books that have not yet been recorded.

Accruals and deferrals are the basis of the accrual method of accounting, the preferred method by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The accruals are made via adjusting journal entries at the end of each accounting period, so the reported financial statements can be inclusive of these amounts. Because the company actually incurred 12 months’ worth of salary expenses, an adjusting journal entry is recorded at the end of the accounting period for the last month’s expense. The adjusting entry will be dated Dec. 31 and will have a debit to the salary expenses account on the income statement and a credit to the salaries payable account on the balance sheet.

For example, let’s say that a company’s employees are paid bi-weekly and the starting date is near the end of the month in December. Amanda Bellucco-Chatham is an editor, writer, and fact-checker with years of experience researching personal finance topics. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit.

Part of this rhythm includes recording expenses in one of two ways (cash or accrual). A popular choice is through accrued expenses, in which you account for a future charge before it is actually invoiced. This is counteracted to zero when the cash is paid (a credit) and the expense is recorded (a debit) in the new accounting period – since the expense was recorded in the previous period when it was accrued.

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