Direct Write-Off Method for Uncollectible Accounts

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This journal entry eliminates the $500 balance in accounts receivable while creating an account for bad debt. The balance of the Allowance for Bad Debt account is subtracted from your revenue account to reduce the revenue earned. The direct write off method allows the business to write off uncollectible accounts as and when they decide that an invoice will go unpaid. On the other hand, the allowance method asks the businesses to make an estimation of the total amount of uncollectible accounts at the end of the year. Because we identified the wrong account as uncollectible, we would also need to restore the balance in the allowance account.

The Direct Write off Method and GAAP

The account is removed from the Accounts Receivable balance and Bad Debt Expense is increased. Every time a business extends payment terms to a customer, that business is taking on risk. If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t regularly deal with bad debt, the direct write-off method might be simpler. But the allowance method is more commonly preferred and often used by larger companies and businesses frequently handling receivables. If you’re wondering which method is best for your small business, speak with a professional for insights into your specific situation.

  • The direct write-off method is a simple process, where you would record a journal entry to debit your bad debt account for the bad debt and credit your accounts receivable account for the same amount.
  • Consider a roofing business that agrees to replace a customer’s roof for $10,000 on credit.
  • You’ll need to decide how you want to record this uncollectible money in your bookkeeping practices.
  • This method serves as a starting point for understanding the basic principles of bad debt recognition and allows businesses to transition to more complex methods as they grow and evolve.

If you spend more than you receive, your company will have negative cash flow. When you give a customer a good or service, you are spending money on the cost of goods sold (COGS) but not receiving anything in return. As with every other entry we have completed, the first step is to identify the accounts. This is another variation of  an allowance method so we will use Bad Debt Expense and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts.

Methods of Recording Bad Debt Write-off

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. We record Bad Debt Expense for the amount we determine will not be paid.

The below video provides an explanation of the Aging of Receivables Method for creating a bad debt expense account. The below video provides an explanation of the Percentage of Receivables Method for creating a bad debt expense account. The below video provides an example of the Percentage of Sales Method for creating a bad debt expense account.

Overview: What is the direct write-off method?

The below video provides an explanation of the Percentage of Sales Method for creating a bad debt expense account. For instance, a business may be aware of uncollectible debts, but may delay in writing them off, resulting in artificially inflated revenues. The direct write-off method can also wreak havoc on your profit and loss statement and perceived profitability, both before and after the bad debt has been written off. No matter how carefully and thoroughly you screen your customers or manage your accounts receivable, you will end up with bad debt.

How does writing off an uncollectible account affect?

When the uncollectible account is written off, it impacts two accounts, which are accounts receivable and the provision for doubtful debt. Accounts receivable is the BS (balance sheet) item that will be reduced. On the other hand, bad debt expenses will be booked in the IS (income statement).

Also, it’s important to note that the direct write-off method can still be useful in some cases, like when a company has a small number of accounts and can easily tell which ones are unlikely to be paid. In these cases, the direct write-off method can be simpler and less time-consuming than the allowance method. This lets companies see how uncertain it is to get paid on their accounts receivable and gives a more accurate picture of their financial situation. The company uses the direct write-off method to account for uncollectible accounts. This method is related to accounting because it directly affects the financial statements and overall health of a business. The direct write-off method aims to give businesses a way to recognize losses from accounts that can’t be collected promptly and accurately.

The Allowance Method for Uncollectible Accounts

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. Bad debt, or the inability to collect money owed to you, is an unfortunate reality that small business owners must occasionally deal with. You’ll need to decide how you want to record this uncollectible money in your bookkeeping practices. In the end, the method chosen should take into account the company’s specific financial situation and give a fair and accurate picture of its financial health. This direct write-off method shows that the company has recognized the uncollectible account as a loss and will not attempt to collect the debt any further. By the end of the year, it became clear that the debt was uncollectible, so the company decided to write off the debt.

Therefore, the business would credit accounts receivable of $10,000 and debit bad debt expense of $10,000. If the customer is able to pay a partial amount of the balance (say $5,000), it will debit cash of $5,000, debit bad debt expense of $5,000, and credit accounts receivable of $10,000. The sales method applies a flat percentage to the total dollar amount of sales for the period.

The direct write off method: pros and cons

This goes against the standards set by GAAP; hence, GAAP doesn’t approve of this method and asks accountants to follow the allowance method for reporting uncollectible accounts or bad debts. The allowance method follows GAAP matching principle since we estimate uncollectible accounts at the end of the year. We can calculate this estimates based on Sales (income statement approach) for the year or based on Accounts Receivable balance at the time of the estimate (balance sheet approach). Because customers do not always keep their promises to pay, companies must provide for these uncollectible accounts in their records.

under the direct write-off method, when a specific account is written off,

It’s a way to keep track of accounts, debts, or account balances that are not likely to be paid back. 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. The IRS allows bad debts to be written off as a deduction from total taxable income, so it’s important to keep track of these unpaid invoices in one way or another. It’s also important to note that unpaid invoices are categorized as assets, which are debited in accounting.