What Is the Accounting Equation, and How Do You Calculate It?

The three elements of the Accounting Equation-assets, liabilities, and equity- provide a snapshot of a company’s financial position. By ensuring that these three elements balance, accountants can make sure that the financial statements are correct. The accounting equation is considered the foundation of double-entry bookkeeping, where every transaction gets recorded as a debit in one account and a credit in another.

  • Below, we’ll cover several accounting terms and principles you should have a firm grasp on.
  • The accounting equation states that a company’s total assets are equal to the sum of its liabilities and its shareholders’ equity.
  • It is based on the idea that each transaction has an equal effect.
  • Your assets include your valuable resources, while your liabilities include any debts or obligations you owe.
  • The accounting equation identifies the relationship between the elements of accounting.
  • These retained earnings are what the company holds onto at the end of a period to reinvest in the business, after any distributions to ownership occur.

The accounting equation aims to determine business progress on any given day. It tells us how much money any company has in the Bank and how likely the business will meet all its financial obligations. It also helps us evaluate a business’s profit or loss since its inception. The accounting equation helps determine if the company has sufficient funds to purchase an asset if debts should be paid off with the existing assets, or by creating more liabilities. The balance sheet is also known as the statement of financial position and it reflects the accounting equation. The balance sheet reports a company’s assets, liabilities, and owner’s (or stockholders’) equity at a specific point in time.

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The accounting balance sheet formula makes sure your balance sheet stays balanced. The balance sheet shows the assets, liabilities & owners’ equity. It is an extended version of the accounting equation showcasing how assets are equal to liabilities plus equity.

  • Eventually that debt must be repaid by performing the service, fulfilling the subscription, or providing an asset such as merchandise or cash.
  • The company does not use all six months of the insurance at once, it uses it one month at a time.
  • Liabilities include amounts which a company owes to another party.
  • The ability to read financial statements requires an understanding of the items they include and the standard categories used to classify these items.
  • Land, buildings, fixtures & fittings, equipment, machinery all are classified as non-current assets.
  • For example, if a business buys raw materials using cash, it would first mark this in the inventory accounts.
  • The difference here is that a note typically includes interest and specific contract terms, and the amount may be due in more than one accounting period.

This double-entry method of bookkeeping is designed in such a way that assets will always equal to liabilities plus owners’ equity. To maintain accuracy, accountants must follow a step by step process of recording entries. Current liabilities similarly are short term in nature and are used to finance short term assets of the company. Examples of current liabilities include short term loans, overdrafts, accounts payable, etc. The dividend could be paid with cash or be a distribution of more company stock to current shareholders. Accounts payable recognizes that the company owes money and has not paid.

What is the purpose of the accounting equation?

Recording accounting transactions with the accounting equation means that you use debits and credits to record every transaction, which is known as double-entry bookkeeping. The accounting equation is only designed to provide the underlying structure for how the balance sheet is formulated. As long as an organization follows the accounting equation, it can report any type of transaction, even if it is fraudulent. In short, the accounting equation does not ensure that reported financial information is correct – only that it follows certain rules regarding how information is to be recorded within an accounting system.

  • Additionally, you can use your cover letter to detail other experiences you have using the equation.
  • This consists of all equipment, prepaid expenses, receivables, and property – anything the business owns that reflects its value.
  • The objective of doing this is for the financial analysts to have more insights into how the company’s profits are being used.
  • Some common examples of liabilities include accounts payable, notes payable, and unearned revenue.
  • Most companies maintain the accounting equation using a double-entry bookkeeping system to record financial data.
  • These three elements are all essential for understanding a company’s financial position.
  • Thus, the asset and liability sides of the transaction are equal.

That is, each entry made on the debit side has a corresponding entry (or coverage) on the credit side. The accounting equation holds at all times over the life of the business. When a transaction occurs, the total assets of the business may change, but the equation will remain in balance. The accounting equation serves as the basis for the balance sheet, as illustrated in the following example. The goal of the accounting equation is to ensure that a company’s financial statements are accurate.

Another way to look at the equation it is:

The Liabilities part of the equation is usually comprised of accounts payable that are owed to suppliers, a variety of accrued liabilities, such as sales taxes and income taxes, and debt payable to lenders. Accounts payable include all goods and services billed to the company by suppliers that have not yet been paid. Accrued liabilities are for goods and services that have been provided to the company, but for which no supplier invoice has yet been received.

Accounting Equation

The https://kelleysbookkeeping.com/ states that the amount of assets must be equal to liabilities plus shareholder or owner equity. There are different categories of business assets including long-term assets, capital assets, investments and tangible assets. They were acquired by borrowing money from lenders, receiving cash from owners and shareholders or offering goods or services. These may include loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, bond issues, warranties, and accrued expenses.


As a result, the equation is sometimes referred to as the balance sheet equation. The accounting equation ensures that all uses of capital (assets) remain equal to all sources of capital (debt and equity). The mechanics of accounting are structured so that this equality is always maintained.

  • If you understand all of the above, then you are well on your way to understanding the three-statement model framework.
  • This increases the accounts receivable (Asset) account by $55,000, and increases the revenue (Equity) account.
  • While very small or simple businesses can sometimes make single-entry accounting work, everyone else is wise to use the double-entry accounting—in part because it has error-avoidance built right in.
  • Debt is a liability, whether it is a long-term loan or a bill that is due to be paid.


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