Deferred revenue: Is it a liability & how to account for it?

is unearned revenue a current liability

Not all companies have to comply with the specific requirements of ASC 606. But it is highly recommended for businesses working toward becoming a public company or attracting serious investors. This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice.

This is also a violation of the matching principle, since revenues are being recognized at once, while related expenses are not being recognized until later periods. Unearned revenue is a current liability and is usually listed as such on the balance sheet. Contra accounts are used to record values that offset net revenue from actual revenue.

How to Record Unearned Revenue Journal Entries

The recognition of deferred revenue is quite common for insurance companies and software as a service (SaaS) companies. At the start of February, you need to record the first month of service as income. Think of it as a customer paying for monthly service, but you already have the money. This decreases your unearned revenue liability because you performed the service. Unearned revenue is money received by an individual or company for a service or product that has yet to be provided or delivered. It can be thought of as a “prepayment” for goods or services that a person or company is expected to supply to the purchaser at a later date.

  • Demand promissory notes are notes that do not carry a specific maturity date, but are due on demand by the lender.
  • A deferred revenue is specifically recognized when cash is received upfront for a product before delivery or for a service before rendering.
  • It is the prepayment a business accrues and is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet until the customer is provided a service or receives a product.
  • On April 3, you purchase 1,000 boxes (Box Inventory) from this supplier at a cost per box of $1.25.
  • Payables are often categorized as trade payables, or purchases of physical goods that are recorded in inventory.

According to GAAP, all uncollected amounts should be reported as liabilities. It is the seller’s choice to prorate the refund or to charge additional fees. However, there are a couple of reasons why this generally isn’t a good idea.

Deferred revenue examples

Where unearned revenue on the balance sheet is not a line item, you will credit liabilities. Unearned revenue and deferred revenue are similar, referring to revenue that a business receives but has not yet earned. However, since the business bookkeeping for startups is yet to provide actual goods or services, it considers unearned revenue as liabilities, as explained further below. What happens when your business receives payments from customers before providing a service or delivering a product?

is unearned revenue a current liability

Contract terms, fees, and requirements must be outlined and adhered to. Although it’s a liability, having a deferred revenue balance on your books isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Then, at the end of each month, you can recognize revenue for that month with a journal entry. The terms of a note usually include the principal amount, interest rate (if applicable), parties involved, date, terms of repayment (which may include interest), and maturity date. Sometimes, provisions are included concerning the payee’s rights in the event of a default, which may include foreclosure of the maker’s assets.

Is It a Short-Term or Long-Term Liability?

Perhaps at this point a simple example might help clarify the treatment of unearned revenue. Assume that the previous landscaping company has a three-part plan to prepare lawns of new clients for next year. The plan includes a treatment in November 2019, February 2020, and April 2020. The company has a special rate of $120 if the client prepays the entire $120 before the November treatment.

A/P payment terms may include the offer of a cash discount for paying an invoice within a defined number of days. For example, the 2/10 Net 30 term means that the seller will deduct 2% from the invoice total if payment is made within 10 days and the invoice must be paid within 30 days. If the payment is delayed until Day 31 then the full amount of the invoice is due and past due charges may apply. As invoices are paid, the amounts are recorded as reductions to the accounts payable balance in the liability section and cash in the assets section of the balance sheet. The A/P payment process begins as an invoice is received by the purchaser and matched to a packing (receiving) slip and purchase order.

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