Writing off your obsolete inventory in this manner allows you to expense the cost of the obsolete inventory while also decreasing your current inventory balance using the contra asset account. Note that the contra liability account has a positive balance (a debit balance), and the liability account normally has a credit balance. Hence, the book value of the liability will be the credit balance of the liability account minus the debit balance of its contra liability counterpart.

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. Although the car is normally an asset because you can sell it for parts or use it for your business, when the car depreciates to a zero or negative balance, it is a contra asset on your balance sheet. 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.

The percentage of sales method assumes that the company cannot collect payment for a fixed percentage of goods or services that it has sold. Notes payable or bills payable represents credit note or credit memo – what is it a liability created when a company signs a written agreement to borrow a specific amount of money. The granter may offer the company a discount if it repays the note early.

However, some asset accounts need a negative counterpart to reduce the balance of that account. The debit balance of the asset account and the credit balance of the contra asset account determine the net value of the asset. Revenue is an income statement account, but it flows through to the equity section of retained earnings as well. Any products that are sold at a discount or returns are deducted from gross revenue to produce net revenue as the top line on the income statement. Normal asset accounts have a debit balance, while contra asset accounts are in a credit balance. Offsetting the asset account with its respective contra asset account shows the net balance of that asset.

What Are the Different Types of Contra Accounts?

A company creates allowances for doubtful accounts to record the portion of accounts receivable which it believes it will no longer be able to collect. The amount in allowance for doubtful accounts is deducted from the accounts receivable account of a company. There is no answer to contra accounts…best i can guess is that QB does NOT have the ability. Let me give you the detailed steps on how to set up a contra account for accumulated depreciation. CCC bought equipment and machinery worth $100,000 at the beginning of the current financial year and estimates that the equipment and machinery will depreciate by $10,000 every year. For example, when depreciating an asset, the accumulated depreciation account is used to reduce the book value of the asset while also keeping track of the total amount of depreciation that has been posted to date.

  • The use of contra accounts ensures the accuracy of financial accounting records, as the value of the original accounts is not directly reduced.
  • You may use accounting software packages, such as QuickBooks Online to set up contra accounts.
  • For this reason, contra accounts are primarily seen as having negative balances because they are used to reduce the balance of another account.
  • Taking the example of CCC again, the company has $50,000 in accounts receivable at year-end of December 31.
  • The main contra equity account is treasury stock, which is the balance of all stock repurchased by the company.

For example, if you bought a car for $10,000 seven years ago and you estimated a seven-year life on the vehicle. Now, the car is worth less than $1,000 and you continue to put more money into upkeep, maintenance, and insurance for the car than the value of the vehicle. Our writing and editorial staff are a team of experts holding advanced financial designations and have written for most major financial media publications. Our work has been directly cited by organizations including MarketWatch, Bloomberg, Axios, TechCrunch, Forbes, NerdWallet, GreenBiz, Reuters, and many others. Emilie is a Certified Accountant and Banker with Master’s in Business and 15 years of experience in finance and accounting from large corporates and banks, as well as fast-growing start-ups. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent.

Contra Asset Journal Entry Accounting

A contra account is an entry on the general ledger with a balance contrary to the normal balance for that categorization (i.e. asset, liability, or equity). If the balance in your allowance for doubtful accounts has a credit of $1,000 and your accounts receivable has $20,000 in normal debit balance, then the net value of the receivables is $19,000. Showing contra assets on your balance sheet allows potential investors to see how you write-down a depreciable asset, such as a piece of equipment. Contra assets give investors a better picture of how you use your assets over time. A doubtful debts contra account allows for future write-offs of accounts receivable.

Example Contra Account – Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

When a company repurchases shares, it increases the fractional ownership of all remaining shareholders. Allowance for doubtful accounts is netted from the accounts receivable balance. The company predicts which accounts receivable won’t be paid by customers and writes those off. When the account receivable is written off, it is added to bad debt expense on the income statement and placed in the contra account.

Contra equity accounts are accounts in the equity section of the balance sheet that reduce the amount of equity a company holds. Therefore, contra equity accounts have a debit balance to offset their corresponding equity balances. 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).

Equity Contra Account

When recording assets, the difference between the asset’s account balance and the contra account balance is the book value of the asset. We will define what contra accounts are, the types of contra accounts and provide examples to illustrate. Contra asset accounts can be used in a variety of areas, but there are three contra asset examples that you should pay close attention to. For example, if the balance of accumulated depreciation increases from $20,000 to $50,000, this means that the depreciation expense amounts to $30,000, which will be listed in the income statement. Note that the asset account balance represents the purchase price of the asset in question, also known as its historical cost.


Contra accounts are used to reduce the original account directly, keeping financial accounting records clean. The difference between an asset’s balance and the contra account asset balance is the book value. A contra liability is an account in which activity is recorded as a debit balance and is used to decrease the balance of a liability. Contra Liability a/c is not used as frequently as contra asset accounts. It is not classified as a liability since it does not represent a future obligation. Contra revenue is a general ledger account with a debit balance that reduces the normal credit balance of a standard revenue account to present the net value of sales generated by a business on its income statement.

For example, Accumulated Depreciation is a contra asset account, because its credit balance is contra to the debit balance for an asset account. This is an owner’s equity account and as such you would expect a credit balance. Other examples include (1) the allowance for doubtful accounts, (2) discount on bonds payable, (3) sales returns and allowances, and (4) sales discounts.

Understanding Contra Accounts

There are four key types of contra accounts—contra asset, contra liability, contra equity, and contra revenue. Contra assets decrease the balance of a fixed or capital asset, carrying a credit balance. Contra liabilities reduce liability accounts and carry a debit balance. Contra equity accounts carry a debit balance and reduce equity accounts. Contra revenue accounts reduce revenue accounts and have a debit balance. You may want to first classify contra accounts as contra asset accounts, contra liability accounts, contra equity accounts, or contra revenue accounts before accounting for any transaction.

The amount on the equity contra account is deducted from the value of the total number of outstanding shares listed on a company’s balance sheet. As a reminder, assets and expenses are debit accounts whereas liabilities and revenues are credit accounts. One other type of account is the contra account and for accountants, this is a must-know. A contra account is an account with a balance opposite the normal accounts in its category. Contra accounts are usually linked to specific accounts on the balance sheet and are reported as subtractions from these accounts. In other words, contra accounts are used to reduce normal accounts on the balance sheet.

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