Accounting for Uncollectible Accounts

The direct write-off method delays recognition of bad debt until the specific customer accounts receivable is identified. Once this account is identified as uncollectible, the company will record a reduction to the customer’s accounts receivable and an increase to bad debt expense for the exact amount uncollectible. Once this account is identified as uncollectible, the business will record a reduction to the customer’s accounts receivable and an increase to bad debt expense for the exact amount uncollectible.

Because it is an estimation, it means the exact account that is (or will become) uncollectible is not yet known. Here, the allowance serves to decrease the receivable balance to its estimated net realizable value. As a contra asset account, debit and credit rules are applied that are the opposite of the normal asset rules.

Journal Entries to Record Actual Write-Off

The adjustment to accounts receivable is recorded in the contra asset allowance for the bad debt allowances under the indirect method of writing off the debtors. The allowance for doubtful accounts method is an estimate of how much of the company’s accounts receivable will be uncollectible. This estimate is entered as an adjustment in the books at the end of each accounting period. A journal entry debiting bad debt expense and crediting allowance for uncollectible accounts will be made with the estimate amount. Continuing our examination of the balance sheet method, assume that BWW’s end-of-year accounts receivable balance totaled $324,850.

In contrast, under the allowance method, a business will make an estimate of which receivables they think will be uncollectable, usually at the end of the year. This is so that they can ensure costs are expensed in the same period as the recorded revenue. And, having a lot of Accounts Uncollectible Definition bad debts drives down the amount of revenue your business should have. By predicting the amount of accounts receivables customers won’t pay, you can anticipate your losses from bad debts. This is different from the last journal entry, where bad debt was estimated at $58,097.

What is your current financial priority?

For example, your ADA could show you how effectively your company is managing credit it extends to customers. It can also show you where you may need to make necessary adjustments (e.g., change who you extend credit to). Doubtful accounts frequently turn into bad debt; an owed payment deemed to be uncollectible.

Accounts Uncollectible Definition

When you encounter an invoice that has no chance of being paid, you’ll need to eliminate it against the provision for doubtful debts. You can do this via a journal entry that debits the provision for bad debts and credits the accounts receivable account. Recording allowance for doubtful accounts under the correct journal entries is just as important as calculating it correctly. You will deduct AFDA from the overall AR balance when calculating the total asset value of AR on your balance sheet. Let’s say your business brought in $60,000 worth of sales during the accounting period.


And naturally, these owed payments have a significant impact on business performance and cash flow. During this tutorial, the account names allowance for doubtful accounts, allowance for bad debt, and allowance for uncollectible accounts will be used interchangeably. Each time that a credit sale is made, the balance in the account receivable account increases.

Are uncollectible accounts good or bad?

However, if there is little chance of collecting the debt, it is usually best to write it off and move on. Because uncollectible accounts are an unfortunate reality for many businesses. They can cause financial difficulties and may even lead to bankruptcy.

The balance represents the amount of money that the company expects to receive from its credit customers. So, when a customer doesn’t pay, then obviously, the balance in that customer account won’t be collected. The most common way, and the way that we will focus on in this lesson, is by using a combination of two accounts – the allowance for doubtful accounts and the bad debt expense. Uncollectible accounts expense is the charge made to the books when a customer defaults on a payment. This expense can be recognized when it is certain that a customer will not pay. However, the adjusting entry on December 31, 2019, to record the estimated uncollectible accounts needs to be explained.

Provision for bad debts meaning

Negative cash flows negatively affect the company’s financial position. A company’s lending practices could be kept in a controlled manner, seeing as the account uncollectible or uncollectible receivables provides an insight into the vendors regarding its lending practices to its customers. If the uncollectible receivables are steady and keep on increasing, then the company will go for stringent measures of not extending credit to its risky customers.

  • (2) Adjust the Allowance for Bad Debts account to the balance calculated in step (1).
  • The percentage of receivables approach is another simple approach for calculating bad debt, but it too does not consider how long a debt has been outstanding and the role that plays in debt recovery.
  • And, having a lot of bad debts drives down the amount of revenue your business should have.
  • Any amount of uncollectible debt directly translates to a loss for creditors.
  • Let’s look at how the first example we talked about earlier is recorded in your accounting records.