What Is Accounts Receivable?

What Is Accounts Receivable?

what does accounts receivable mean

Accounts receivable is used under an accrual accounting method, the accounting system in which income and expenses are entered when a transaction occurs, not when funds are received or debited. Starting from Year 0, the accounts receivable balance expands from $50 million to $94 million in Year 5, as captured in our roll-forward. Moreover, at the beginning of Year 0, the accounts receivable balance is $40 million but the change in A/R is assumed to be an increase of $10 million, so the ending A/R balance is $50 million in Year 0. Then, the projected accounts receivable balance can be determined using the following formula.

  • The cash is received in April, but the revenue is correctly recorded in March.
  • ABL can also be structured around other assets, such as commercial property, equipment, or inventory.
  • In the case of inventory items, like frames, the expense is recognized when the items are sold to the customer — when the revenue is earned.
  • In the image below, you can see Microsoft’s real balance sheet, where accounts receivable is inside the current assets section after cash and before inventories.
  • Businesses that sell “big-ticket items”, such as airplanes, may not receive payment for months.
  • Accounts receivable (AR) are the balance of money due to a firm for goods or services delivered or used but not yet paid for by customers.
  • This decreases the amount in the AR account and increases the cash account balance.

Calculating your business’s accounts receivable turnover ratio is one of the best ways to keep track of late payments and make sure they aren’t getting out of hand. In this scenario, for Sony, accounts receivable would be debited for $10,000, and retained earnings would be credited for $10,000, making the balance sheet balance. The reason retained earnings would be credited is that the sale of $10,000 would be a revenue for Sony, and therefore would increase retained earnings. An accounts receivable aging schedule is a financial statement that categorizes outstanding receivables based on the length of time they have been outstanding. The first method is the allowance method, which establishes a contra-asset account, allowance for doubtful accounts, or bad debt provision, which has the effect of reducing the balance for accounts receivable. The change in the bad debt provision from year to year is posted to the bad debt expense account in the income statement.


A typical aging schedule will group outstanding invoices based on 0 to 30 days, 30 to 60 days, etc. The goal is to minimize the dollar amount of receivables that are old, particularly those invoices that are over 60 days old. If a company’s accounts receivable balance increases, more revenue must have been earned with payment in the form of credit, so more cash payments must be collected in the future. When an invoice is issued to a customer, the seller debits the accounts receivable account (an asset account) and credits the sales account (a revenue account). When the seller receives a cash payment from the customer, the entry is a debit to the cash account and a credit to the accounts receivable account, thereby flushing out the receivable.

However, the manufacturer is a long-time customer with an agreement that provides them with 60 days to pay post-receipt of the invoice. For purposes of forecasting accounts receivable in a financial model, the standard modeling convention is to tie A/R to revenue, since the relationship between the two is closely linked. Companies can use their accounts receivable as collateral when obtaining a loan (asset-based lending). Pools or portfolios of accounts receivable can be sold to third parties through securitization. The two methods are not mutually exclusive, and some businesses will have a provision for doubtful debts, writing off specific debts that they know to be bad (for example, if the debtor has gone into liquidation).

What is accounts receivable (AR)?

Now let’s look at an example of a balance sheet, which shows the accounts in the company’s books. Accounts receivable increases after the company records sales and then drops after some customers remit payment. The accounts receivable aging schedule separates receivable balances based on when the invoice was issued. Liquidity is defined as the ability to generate sufficient current assets to pay current liabilities, such as accounts payable and payroll liabilities.

What is another name for account receivable?

On this page you'll find 6 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to account receivable, such as: arrears, balance due, debt, bill, invoice, and receivable.

‘Trade receivables’ is generally limited to only referring to the receivables themselves. The company received a payment from a customer—a debit—which the bookkeeper recorded in the left hand column. Correspondingly, the bookkeeper recorded a credit of the same amount in the right-hand column, assigned to revenue.

Accounts Receivable Example

To win more business, Frames Inc. offers StyleVision net-60 with a 50% prepayment on new purchase orders of $1,000 or more. Sometimes, businesses offer this credit to frequent or special customers that receive periodic invoices. The practice allows customers to avoid the hassle of physically making payments as each transaction occurs. In other cases, businesses routinely offer all of their clients the ability to pay after receiving the service. Accounts receivable is a phrase referring to a company’s invoices that are not yet paid at the time of reporting. Similar to a line of credit extended to a customer, accounts receivable serves as a payment agreement between a company and their client.

To record a sale that resulted in an accounts receivable, you would need to make a debit entry to the accounts receivable account for the sale amount and a credit entry to the revenue account for the same amount. By debiting the AR account and crediting the revenue account, the balances in both accounts increase. When payment is received on the account, the cash account is debited for the payment amount, and the AR account is credited. This decreases the amount in the AR account and increases the cash account balance. Each time a payment is made on a customer account, it will decrease the AR balance, just as each time a new credit sale is made, it will increase the balance in the AR account. The term “accounts receivable” is used to identify receivables on a company’s balance sheet as an asset.

The accounts receivable process

There are many benefits to recording accounts receivable, from allowing you to extend credit to customers to measuring how efficiently you are collecting the money owed to your business. It can also help you manage cash flow and streamline your accounting systems, freeing you up to focus on running what does accounts receivable mean your small business. The journal entry reflects that the supplier recognized the transaction as revenue because the product was delivered, but is waiting to receive the cash payment. Hence, the debit to the accounts receivable account, i.e. the manufacturer owes money to the supplier.

what does accounts receivable mean

Essentially, the number in this account represents sales made by extending credit to a customer up until the point that the business receives the expected funds. Since the DSO is increasing, the net cash impact is negative, and the company would likely need to consider making adjustments and identify the source of the growing accounts receivable balance, i.e. the collection issues. Conceptually, accounts receivable represents a company’s total outstanding (unpaid) customer invoices.

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When an account receivable is not paid by a customer past the deadline, it is written off as a bad debt expense. If you’re new to accrual accounting, recording credits for money you don’t actually have in hand can feel a little nerve-wracking. An experienced https://www.bookstime.com/ accounting partner (or modern accounting software) can help you confidently track these transactions and use the information to plan for the future. It’s also helpful to know the amount of money you owe, which is where accounts payable (AP) comes in.