Types of Contra Accounts List of Examples Explanations Definition

For example, if a company just reported equipment at its net amount, users would not be able to observe the purchase price, the amount of depreciation attributed to that equipment, and the remaining useful life. 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. Examples of a contra revenue accounts include sales returns, sales discounts, and sales allowances. You debit the contra revenue accounts and credit the corresponding revenue accounts. For example, when you debit the balance in sales returns account, make sure that you offset the sales revenue account with a credit balance.

There are two major methods of determining what should be booked into a contra 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. Contra accounts are used to help a company report the original amount of a transaction as well as reductions that may have happened.

What is a Contra Account? Definition

These accounts also ensure that you follow the matching principle in accounting, which states that you record expenses in the same period you incur them. To oppose the revenue made by a company, contra revenue accounts must have a debit balance. By reporting contra accounts on the balance sheet, users can learn even more information about the company than if the equipment was just reported at its net amount. Balance sheet readers cannot only see the actual cost of the item; they can also see how much of the asset was written off as well as estimate the remaining useful life and value of the asset. Examples of contra accounts include allowance for doubtful accounts, reserve for obsolete inventory, and accrued liabilities.

  • The debit balance of the asset account and the credit balance of the contra asset account determine the net value of the asset.
  • This means that accounts receivables have a debit balance of $10,000, and the firm credits revenue for $10,000.
  • The accumulated depreciation account has a credit balance and is used to reduce the carrying value of the equipment.
  • A contra expense account is an account used to reduce the amount of an expense without changing the balance in the main expense account.
  • A contra liability account is not classified as a liability, since it does not represent a future obligation.

The reason you show a contra asset on a balance sheet is so you can see the overall net balance of a particular asset and to give investors a more accurate look into your company’s financial activity. Although they all aim at reducing the balance of some type of account, it is useful to have some general foundational knowledge of the different types of accounts. Contra accounts act like regular accounts on the balance sheet but have a unique purpose. The purpose of a contra expense account is to record a reduction in an expense without changing the balance in the main account. If you’re valuing a low-growth company based on its equipment assets, you want to use the net value to be conservative.

What Is a Contra Account?

In case the contra asset account is not listed in the balance sheet, it must be listed in the footnotes of the financial statement for the users to be informed. Contra Asset Account – A contra asset account is an asset that carries a credit balance and is used to decrease the balance of another asset on the balance. Revenue is an income statement account, but it flows through to the equity section of retained earnings as well.

That is done by crediting accounts receivable by $100 and debiting the contra revenue account sales returns and allowances for $100. A contra asset is paired with an asset account to reduce the value of the account without changing the historical value of the asset. Examples of contra assets include Accumulated Depreciation and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts. Unlike an asset which has a normal debit balance, a contra asset has a normal credit balance because it works opposite of the main account.

Contra Account Definition, Types, and Example

Although you have not officially written off these debts yet, you show them to be a negative balance because you don’t believe the customer will pay you. 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. A contra expense account is an account used to reduce the amount of an expense without changing the balance in the main expense account. Examples of contra expense accounts include Purchase Returns, Purchase Discounts, and Advertising Reimbursements.

In other words, contra revenue is a deduction from gross revenue, which results in net revenue. When the original dollar amount is kept in the original account and a separate account is used for recording the deduction, the resulting financial information becomes more transparent and helpful for stakeholders. For example, a building is acquired for $20,000, that $20,000 is recorded on the general ledger while the depreciation of the building is recorded separately. My Accounting Course  is a world-class educational resource developed by experts to simplify accounting, finance, & investment analysis topics, so students and professionals can learn and propel their careers.

For the purpose of financial statement reporting, the amount on a contra account is subtracted from its parent account gross balance to present the net balance. A contra revenue account allows a company to see the original amount sold and to also see the items that reduced the sales to the amount of net sales. The allowance for accretion dilution analysis doubtful accounts – often called a “bad debt reserve” – would be considered a contra asset since it causes the accounts receivable (A/R) balance to decline. It is important to realize that unearned revenue is not a contra revenues account. The balance is held as a current liability (credit) on the balance sheet of the business.

The Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is used to track the estimated bad debts a company my incur without impacting the balance in its related account, Accounts Receivable. An estimate of bad debts is made to ensure the balance in the Accounts Receivable account represents the real value of the account. Allowance for Doubtful Accounts pairs with the Bad Debts Expense account when doing adjusting journal entries. Home Depot reports that returns are estimated at the time of the sale based on historic returns numbers. The amount is not reported, and the net sales amount is reported on the income statement. Within equity, an example of a contra account is the treasury stock account; it is a deduction from equity, because it represents the amount paid by a corporation to buy back its stock.

What is Contra Account?

Treasury stock differs from other stocks in that it has no voting rights, and no dividends are paid to the treasury stock. Contra Accounts serve as a reduction to the balance of their corresponding accounts to find their net values. A company receives rebates for advertising it does on behalf of brands it carries in its stores. For example, a grocery store displays advertisements for a national brand in its weekly flyer. The national brand gives the grocery store cash, reducing the overall cost of printing the flyer. Home Depot also devotes footnote 4 to its share repurchase program and reports that the company is authorized by its board to repurchase $20 billion in shares.

How to Set up Contra Accounts

The contra liability account is less common than the contra asset account. An example of a contra liability account is the bond discount account, which offsets the bond payable account. A contra liability account is not classified as a liability, since it does not represent a future obligation. You may use accounting software packages, such as QuickBooks Online to set up contra accounts. Simply hit Control + N under the Chart of Accounts or Edit, then click New (to create a new account). For example, when a line item on your balance sheet presents the balance of accounts receivable, report the value of allowance of uncollectible accounts below the accounts receivable line.

Given that liabilities have a credit balance, ensure that all your contra liabilities accounts have debit balances. Discount on notes payable and discount on bonds are examples of contra liability accounts. Contra equity is a general ledger account with a debit balance that reduces the normal credit balance of a standard equity account to present the net value of equity in a company’s financial statements. Examples of equity contra accounts are Owner Draws and Repurchased Treasury Stock Shares. If there’s an increase to allowance for uncollectible accounts, you record the same amount in the bad debt expense of your income statement.

Contra revenue accounts

For example, GAAP accounting (or generally accepted accounting principles) requires fixed assets to be reported at cost on the balance sheet, but, over time, that value depreciates as the assets are used. The balance sheet will show a gross fixed assets value, a contra account value for accumulated depreciation, and a net value. All three values can be useful for investors depending on what they’re looking for.

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