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Contra Account Definition, Types, and Example


This means that it acts in the opposite manner of a regular asset account. 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. They can present more information about the assets and liabilities of the company. Such information includes the purchase cost of an asset , the amount of depreciation written off for that asset, etc. As the expected growth rate in cash flows increases, the value of an asset increases.

reporting does not describe the increase or decrease in the market value of the asset. Instead of amortization, indefinite-life assets are evaluated for impairment yearly. Intangible assets are created through time and effort, and are identifiable as separate assets. Fixed assets, according to International Accounting Standard 16, are long range assets whose cost can be measured reliably. If you keep a lot of inventory in stock, chances are that some of the inventory will become obsolete.

The Struggles of Private Company Accounting

As the discount rate increases, the value of an asset increases. As the life of an asset is lengthened, the value of that asset increases. These assets represent rights to receive future payments that are not due at the balance sheet date.

  • When an account receivable is collected in cash, the total assets of the business increase.
  • That is to completely or partially offset the balance of their related asset accounts.
  • Therefore, it reduces the value of shareholders’ equity by the amount paid for those repurchased stocks.
  • Contra assets are accounts in the general ledger—where you enter your transactions—that carry a balance used to offset the account with which it is paired.
  • Accumulated depreciation is a contra account because it subtracts from the asset.
  • A classic example of human error creating a credit balance on in an asset account is bouncing a check.

It is a standard business practice to prepare an estimate for the amount likely to go bad. This amount is shown as a provision or reserve for doubtful debts. The provision for doubtful debts is a contra asset account related to debtors. The allowance for doubtful accounts is a contra asset because it reduces the value of the accounts receivable account on the general ledger. Often when a company extends goods on credit, management expects some of those customers not to pay and so anticipates writing off bad debt. Whereas assets normally have positive debit balances, contra assets, though still reported along with other assets, have an opposite type of natural balance.

How to Record a Contra Account

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. In accounting, assets are things of value that your business owns. Your bank account, the inventory you currently stock, the equipment you purchase, and your accounts receivable balance are all considered asset accounts. Balance Sheet AccountsA balance sheet is one of the financial statements of a company that presents the shareholders’ equity, liabilities, and assets of the company at a specific point in time. It is based on the accounting equation that states that the sum of the total liabilities and the owner’s capital equals the total assets of the company.


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