Unearned Revenue: What It Is, How It Is Recorded and Reported

The accrued revenues are the revenues that the company has yet to receive for the Services already provided. The revenue recording in the accounting books of an entity is necessary to calculate the net income. An example of unearned revenue could be a software company that receives payment for a year’s worth of software updates that have yet to be provided. The company has the money, but it also must provide updates throughout the year.

  • When a business receives money, it debits its AR balance and credits the cash balance.
  • Oracle Applications or Oracle Apps is the business applications software in the Oracle ERP system.
  • They just can’t record the revenue and put it on the balance sheet until bills are paid.
  • If they were recording on an accrual basis concept then they would have to debit the Account Receivables to decrease its balance and credit the Income or Sales Revenue account to increase its balance.
  • Both are assets on the balance sheet, but accounts receivable is listed separately.

If you have earned revenue but a client has not yet paid their bill, then you report your earned revenue in the accounts receivable journal, which is an asset. It’s categorized as a current liability on a business’s balance sheet, a common financial statement in accounting. Subscription services, pre-booking deals, rent received in advance, etc are some examples of unearned revenue for an accounting entity. However, unbilled revenues, the goods or services are already provided or delivered to the customers, but the company has not yet bill or issue invoices to the customers. Accrual accounting requires recording expenses in the same accounting period as related revenue, based on the GAAP matching principle. Accrued revenue vs accounts receivable is different because customer invoicing hasn’t occurred yet when accrued revenue is recorded.


The unearned revenue account declines, with the coinciding entry consisting of the increase in revenue. From the date of initial payment, the payment is recorded as revenue on a monthly basis until the entirety of the promised benefits is confirmed to have been received by the customer. If the payment is received on time, it is transferred to the income statement otherwise, it is transferred to bad debts account. It is a legal compulsion for customers who have purchased or acquired service on credit to pay off their dues which until then are recorded in accounts receivable. These outstanding invoices are meant to be paid within a short period of time, normally within the same accounting year. Accounts Receivable, for a firm, is the balance of all the payments that are due to a firm for credit sales or services rendered by the firm in advance.

Proper accounts receivable management is critical for the success of any business. The accuracy of the accounts receivable balance is important in order to ensure that the company is paid on time and for the correct amount. Companies must also be aware of any bad debts that may be written off due to customers not being able to pay. This method is typically used when there is a high certainty that the goods or services will be delivered without significant cost to the company. It’s also used when the payment received is non-refundable, and the company has no remaining obligations to the customer.

For both open accounts receivable and accrued revenue, cash hasn’t been received yet from the customer. The standard procedure for customer invoice recording will record accounts receivable and sales revenue through a journal 7 ways to fund your nonprofit entry for accounts receivable subsidiary ledger activity. By understanding the difference between accrued revenue and accounts receivable, companies can ensure their financial statements are accurate and up-to-date.

What is an example of unearned revenue?

While not all payments are made immediately, the company cannot afford to lose essential clients prepared to pay their debts later. Those who have purchased goods or acquired services on credit are legally obligated to pay off their outstanding balances, which are recorded in accounts receivable until the balance is paid in full. Customers who have purchased goods or acquired services on credit are obligated to pay off their outstanding balances. A timely receipt of payment results in recording income on the financial statement; otherwise, the payment is recorded as a bad debt and documented as a negative entry on the financial statement. Accounts receivable represents revenue that has been both earned and billed but not yet received. On the balance sheet, $100 shifts from accrued revenue to accounts receivable, another current asset.

Accounts Receivable vs Unearned Revenue: Difference and Comparison

An account receivable (also known as AR) is a balance sheet asset that’s credited when Revenue is earned but not yet received. By contrast, unearned revenue represents the opposite situation in which a customer prepays for a good or service. In order to balance the cash that the company receives in such a transaction, the company books the value of the goods or services that it’s obligated to provide as unearned revenue, which is a liability.

This invoice should include all relevant information regarding the purchase, such as the date, the amount due, and the payment terms. The customer is then expected to pay the invoice within the agreed upon time frame. If the payment is not received, the company may pursue other options, such as sending out reminders, making phone calls, or taking legal action. Generating income through accounts receivable requires a company to have a system in place to track invoices, payments, and overdue debts.

Classifying Unearned Revenue

Just about any business that supplies goods or services before receiving payment will have accounts receivable. Manufacturers, retailers and other businesses that send invoices with shipments tend not to have accrued revenue, since their revenue is billed as soon as it’s earned. This is money paid to a business in advance, before it actually provides goods or services to a client. The financial statements of a company are heavily reliant on the accurate recording of both accrued revenue and accounts receivable.

The company keeps crediting the amount to sales and debiting the liabilities as the revenues are earned over time. While less common, the income method is another approach for reporting unearned revenue. Under this method, the unearned revenue is recognized as income at the time of receipt rather than being recorded as a liability. For example, if a company receives $12,000 in January for a one-year service contract, it would record the entire $12,000 as unearned revenue.

How Is Deferred Revenue Connected to Accounts Receivable?

Unearned revenue, on the one hand, explains the relationship with the customers while it also allows the company to expand its product lines. However, since you have not yet earned the revenue, unearned revenue is shown as a liability to indicate that you still owe the client your services. Earned revenue means you have provided the goods or services and therefore have met your obligations in the purchase contract.

Leave a Reply

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