The accounts receivable is reduced by the bad debt expense and sales remain intact. The allowance method is the second method of treating the bad debts expense and involves creating a provision or contra account. Hence, the sales amount remains intact, account receivables are eliminated and the bad debt expense account increases. “In the first year of business Central Ride has net income of $159000, exclusive of any adjustment of any bad debt exp. so far no adjustments have been made for write off uncollectible accounts or to estimate bad debt.

The major disadvantage of the Direct Write-off method is the possibility of expense manipulation because companies record expenses and revenue in different periods. In the direct write off method, a small business owner can debit the Bad Debts Expense account and credit Accounts Receivable. The direct write-off method can be a useful option for small businesses infrequently dealing with bad debt or if the uncollectibles are for a small amount. There is one more point about the use of the contra account, Allowance for Doubtful Accounts. In this example, the $85,200 total is the net realizable value, or the amount of accounts anticipated to be collected. However, the company is owed $90,000 and will still try to collect the entire $90,000 and not just the $85,200.

It is based on the accounting equation that states that the sum of the total liabilities and the owner’s capital equals the total assets of the company. Under the direct write off method, when a small business determines an invoice is uncollectible they can debit the Bad Debts Expense account and credit Accounts Receivable immediately. This eliminates the revenue recorded as well as the outstanding balance owed to the business in the books. This distortion goes against GAAP principles as the balance sheet will report more revenue than was generated. This is why GAAP doesn’t allow the direct write off method for financial reporting.

  • C. Compute bad debt estimation using the balance sheet method of percentage of receivables, where the percentage uncollectible is 9%.
  • The first entry is made in the income statement, as an expense and the second entry is made as a deduction from accounts receivables in the statement of financial position.
  • If this estimate is miscalculated, it may lead to material errors distorting the true and financial view of financial statements.
  • However, the direct write off method allows losses to be recorded in different periods from the original invoice dates.

In fact, The IRS requires businesses with bad debt to use the direct write-off method for their return, even though it does not comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles . If Wayne allows this entry to remain on his books, his accounts receivable balance will be overstated by $500, since Wayne knows that it’s not collectible. Your small business bookkeeper or accountant needs to manage bad debt properly.

Direct Write-off Method

However, all of the invoices and letters he has mailed have been returned. As per the prudence concept of accounting which is also referred to as the conservatism principle, revenue shall only be recognized when certain, and expense shall be booked when probable. The adjusted balance in Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is $14,360. Since the unadjusted balance is $9,000, we need to record bad debt of $5,360.


For such a reason, it is only permitted when writing off immaterial amounts. The journal entry for the direct write-off method is a debit to bad debt expense and a credit to accounts receivable. The implementation of the bad debt accounting methods may seem a bit fussy implement. But, Tally automates the process and makes your accounting process easier regardless of whether you use the direct write off method or the allowance method. Tally also helps you stay one step ahead and minimize bad debts in the first place.


The longer the time passes with a receivable unpaid, the lower the probability that it will get collected. An account that is 90 days overdue is more likely to be unpaid than an account that is 30 days past due. Using the direct write off method, Beth would simply debit the bad debt expense account for $100 and credit the accounts receivable account for the same amount. This effectively removes the receivable and records the loss Beth incurred from the non-creditworthy customer. The direct write off method may be necessary to maintain the accuracy of the written off amount.

Therefore, we will be using Allowance for Doubtful Accounts and Bad Debt Expense. Because we identified the wrong account as uncollectible, we would also need to restore the balance in the allowance account. If the customer paid the bill on September 17, we would reverse the entry from April 7 and then record the payment of the receivable. The allowance method follows GAAP matching principle since we estimate uncollectible accounts at the end of the year. We use this estimate to record Bad Debt Expense and to setup a reserve account called Allowance for Doubtful Accounts based on previous experience with past due accounts.


The direct write off method offers a way to deal with this for accounting purposes, but it comes with some pros and cons. The direct write-off method is used only when we decide a customer will not pay. We do not record any estimates or use the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts under the direct write-off method.

  • The direct write-off method is one of the easier ways to manage bad debt.
  • The percentage of sales method simply takes the total sales for the period and multiplies that number by a percentage.
  • The Structured Query Language comprises several different data types that allow it to store different types of information…
  • To compensate for this problem, accountants have developed “allowance methods” to account for uncollectible accounts.

Bad debt arises when a customer either cannot pay because of financial difficulties or chooses not to pay due to a disagreement over the product or service they were sold. The allowance method involves a calculation of an estimate which is based on significant judgment. If this estimate is miscalculated, it may lead to material errors distorting the true and financial view of financial statements.

Use the direct write-off method with caution

The risk of overstating and understating expenses in the income statements is also minimized. The outstanding balance of $2,000 that Craft did not repay will remain as bad debt. Allowance for Doubtful Accounts decreases and Accounts Receivable for the specific customer also decreases . Allowance for doubtful accounts decreases because the bad debt amount is no longer unclear. Accounts receivable decreases because there is an assumption that no debt will be collected on the identified customer’s account.

Why Do Banks Write Off Bad Debt? – Investopedia

Why Do Banks Write Off Bad Debt?.

Posted: Wed, 30 Jun 2021 07:00:00 GMT [source]

In the statement of financial position, the same amount is deducted from accounts receivables under the head ‘current assets’ to show the actual amount of accounts receivables for the current financial year. The direct write-off method is applicable when the business entity is sure that it will not receive any amount due on accounts receivables. Allowances or provision of doubtful debts or any other items for which provisions have been made earlier is not considered under this method. The amount due is considered as bad debts and treated as an expense in the income statement and written off from accounts receivables in the statement of financial position. The bad debt expense or the write-off amount does not have an effect on the annual sales of the business organization. According to the matching principle, it will affect only net profit and accounts receivables of the current financial year.

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Once we have a https://bookkeeping-reviews.com/ account, we debit Allowance for Doubtful Accounts to remove the amount from that account. The net amount of accounts receivable outstanding does not change when this entry is completed. With this method, accounts receivable is organized into categories by length of time outstanding, and an uncollectible percentage is assigned to each category. The length of uncollectible time increases the percentage assigned.

accepted accounting principles

We reconcile payroll payment transactions Bad Debt Expense for the amount we determine will not be paid. This method violates the GAAP matching principle of revenues and expenses recorded in the same period. The main advantage of the Direct Write-off method is that it is straightforward to book and record in books of accounts. Companies only have to pass two journal entries for the amount of the customer’s bad debt. The direct write-off method is a way for businesses to record bad debt. When using this accounting method, a business will wait until a debt is deemed unable to be collected before identifying the transaction in the books as bad debt.

If a customer who owed $100 was deemed uncollectible on April 7, we would credit Accounts Receivable to remove the customer’s balance and debit Allowance for doubtful Accounts to cover the loss. The Coca-Cola Company , like other U.S. publicly-held companies, files its financial statements in an annual filing called a Form 10-K with the Securities & Exchange Commission . Businesses can only take a bad debt tax deduction in certain situations, usually using what’s called the “charge-off method.” Read more in IRS Publication 535, Business Expenses. After determining a debt to be uncollectible, businesses can use the direct write-off method to ensure records are accurate.

Sometimes, at the end of the fiscal period, when a company goes to prepare its financial statements, it needs to determine what portion of its receivables is collectible. The portion that a company believes is uncollectible is what is called “bad debt expense.” The two methods of recording bad debt are 1) direct write-off method and 2) allowance method. The original journal entry for the transaction would involve a debit to accounts receivable, and a credit to sales revenue. Once the company becomes aware that the customer will be unable to pay any of the $10,000, the change needs to be reflected in the financial statements. The direct write-off method is easy to operate as it only requires that specific debts are written off with a simple journal as and when they are identified.

But, the write off method allows revenue to be expensed whenever a business decides an invoice won’t be paid. This makes a company appear more profitable, at least in the short term, than it really is. Bad debts in business commonly come from credit sales to customers or products sold and services performed that have yet to be paid for. The direct write-off method is an accounting method used to record bad debt. When a specific customer has been identified as an uncollectible account, the following journal entry would occur. Has an opposite normal balance to its paired account, thereby reducing or increasing the balance in the paired account at the end of a period; the adjustment can be an addition or a subtraction from a controlling account.


Small companies and individuals generally follow this accounting method. Let’s consider a situation where BWW had a $20,000 debit balance from the previous period. The following table reflects how the relationship would be reflected in the current (short-term) section of the company’s Balance Sheet. As you’ve learned, the delayed recognition of bad debt violates GAAP, specifically the matching principle. Therefore, the direct write-off method is not used for publicly traded company reporting; the allowance method is used instead. The write-off is not the only element that is deducted from accounts receivables.

Using the percentage of sales method, they estimated that 1% of their credit sales would be uncollectible. The accounts receivable aging method groups receivable accounts based on age and assigns a percentage based on the likelihood to collect. The percentages will be estimates based on a company’s previous history of collection. Suppose a business identifies an amount of 200 due from a customer as irrecoverable as the customer is no longer trading. If the amount is not collectible, it needs to be removed from the customers accounts receivable account, and this is achieved with the following direct write-off method journal entry.