website logo

Allowance For Doubtful Accounts Definition & How to Calculate it

allowance for doubtful accounts balance sheet

If the following accounting period results in net sales of $80,000, an additional $2,400 is reported in the allowance for doubtful accounts, and $2,400 is recorded in the second period in bad debt expense. The aggregate balance in the allowance for doubtful allowance for doubtful accounts balance sheet accounts after these two periods is $5,400. The sales method applies a flat percentage to the total dollar amount of sales for the period. For example, based on previous experience, a company may expect that 3% of net sales are not collectible.

allowance for doubtful accounts balance sheet

In turn, these figures help CFOs efficiently project budgets and plan working capital needs. One way to determine the AFDA and Bad Debt Expense is to use T-Accounts first, then do the journal entries afterwards. This also simplifies adjusting year-over-year, where it can be difficult to keep track of allowances. It is rare for an entity to be able to collect all of their Accounts Receivable (A/R).

Accounts receivable aging method

This could mean more customers fail to pay and you wind up with more uncollectible accounts, or you might have overestimated your allowance for doubtful accounts. The company may need to adjust its allowance, recognizing a higher risk of uncollectible accounts. You should write off bad debt when it’s clear that a customer won’t pay, typically after exhaustive collection efforts.

allowance for doubtful accounts balance sheet

Accountants use allowance for doubtful accounts to ensure that their financial statements accurately reflect the current state of their receivables. Economic conditions, such as high unemployment and interest rates, can also affect the estimated number of uncollectible accounts. As a result, businesses may need to increase their estimated amount to account for the higher risk.


The balance sheet method (also known as the percentage of accounts receivable method) estimates bad debt expenses based on the balance in accounts receivable. The method looks at the balance of accounts receivable at the end of the period and assumes that a certain amount will not be collected. Accounts receivable is reported on the balance sheet; thus, it is called the balance sheet method. The balance sheet method is another simple method 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.

By analyzing each customer’s payment history, businesses allocate an appropriate risk score—categorizing each customer into a high-risk or low-risk group. Once the categorization is complete, businesses can estimate each group’s historical bad debt percentage. This will help present a more realistic picture of the accounts receivable amounts you expect to collect versus what goes under the allowance for doubtful accounts. Assume a company has 100 clients and believes there are 11 accounts that may go uncollected. Instead of applying percentages or weights, it may simply aggregate the account balance for all 11 customers and use that figure as the allowance amount. Companies often have a specific method of identifying the companies that it wants to include and the companies it wants to exclude.

Prevent bad debt before it’s too late

It does not necessarily reflect subsequent actual experience, which could differ markedly from expectations. If actual experience differs, then management adjusts its estimation methodology to bring the reserve more into alignment with actual results. With the account reporting a credit balance of $50,000, the balance sheet will report a net amount of $9,950,000 for accounts receivable. This amount is referred to as the net realizable value of the accounts receivable – the amount that is likely to be turned into cash.

Or, in the reverse situation, the bad debt rate in the current period will likely drop below what was experienced in prior periods. A bad debt expense occurs when a customer does not pay their invoice for any of the reasons we mentioned earlier. This figure also helps investors estimate the efficiency of a company’s accounts receivable processes. BDE is reported on financial statements using the direct write-off method or the allowance method. The allowance for doubtful accounts is an estimate of the portion of accounts receivable that your business does not expect to collect during a given accounting period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *