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Contra Account Definition + Journal Entry Examples

contra asset account definition

The reason that a ledger account is often referred to as a T-account is due to the way the account is physically drawn on paper (representing a « T »). The left column is for debit entries, while the right column is for credit entries. DrCrEquipment500ABC Computers 500The journal entry « ABC Computers » is indented to indicate that this is the credit transaction. It is accepted accounting practice to indent credit transactions recorded within a journal. Each transaction that takes place within the business will consist of at least one debit to a specific account and at least one credit to another specific account. A debit to one account can be balanced by more than one credit to other accounts, and vice versa.

  • The balance sheet will show a gross fixed assets value, a contra account value for accumulated depreciation, and a net value.
  • A contra account is an account that reduces the gross valuation of an asset.
  • To offset this, the allowance for doubtful accounts balance is adjusted via a credit, while the bad debt account is debited to balance out the AR account.
  • The same is true for other asset accounts like accounts receivable.
  • A discount on bonds payable account is created to show the difference in the amount at which a company issues a bond and when the bond matures.

When examining the term “contra asset account,” look no further than the root of contra to get a vague grasp of the definition. Because contra means “against,” one could quickly conclude that a contra asset account is going to be an account that goes against the regular asset account on the Balance Sheet. Quite frankly, the actual definition is not far from this estimate. In a sense, a contra asset account is a negative asset account that detracts from all of the other assets included in the balance sheet.

Understanding a Contra Account

Whenever the balance of a CA account increases , the increased amount is written off as an expense and is reported in the company’s income statement. A contra account is an account whose balance is the opposite of a corresponding account. In finance, a contra account reduces the value of related or corresponding account. It offsets the balance of the related account, which means when the corresponding account is positive, a contra account will be negative.

  • It’s like a helper account that works in the opposite direction.
  • In this scenario, a write-down is recorded to the reserve for obsolete inventory.
  • Companies that hold inventories for a long time may face accumulating obsolete inventory.
  • Depreciation is not directly reduced from the asset so that the historic value/fair value of the asset could be presented in a balance sheet.
  • Its purpose includes selling the asset to another business unit, merger and acquisition.
  • Treasure stock is a good example as it carries a debit balance and decreases the overall stockholders’ equity.
  • When reporting a contra account in a company’s financial statement, it is reported immediately below the account it relates to or corresponds.

Another example of a contra account is accumulated depreciation, which reduces the value of a company’s fixed assets to their net book value. This is important for accurately reporting the value of a company’s assets on its balance sheet. A contra account is used for account classification and is also reported in a company’s financial statement alongside its corresponding or related account. When reporting a contra account in a company’s financial statement, it is reported immediately below the account it relates to or corresponds.

What are the types of Contra Accounts?

Despite the use of a minus sign, debits and credits do not correspond directly to positive and negative numbers. Accumulated depreciation is the total of all depreciation that has been charged to existing fixed assets such as equipment and buildings. There can be hidden value in stocks that have a lot of fully depreciated buildings. Companies like to depreciate assets as quickly as possible to get the tax savings, so the balance sheet may not state the true value of fixed assets.

Another type of contra account is known as “contra revenue,” which is used to adjust gross revenue to calculate net revenue, i.e. the “final” revenue figure listed on the income statement. The “Accumulated Depreciation” line item is the contra asset account reflected on the balance sheet, but often they are combined as “PP&E, net”. By reflecting both accounts on the balance sheet, analysts can understand both the original price and the total decrease in value of a certain asset over time.

Contra Account – Explained

Perhaps the most common example of a contra account is an asset’s depreciation, which is subtracted from its original price to calculate its book value. In this case, the depreciation and the original price are contra accounts with respect to each other. Current liability, when money only may be owed for the current accounting period or periodical. This use of the terms can be counter-intuitive to people unfamiliar with bookkeeping concepts, who may always think of a credit as an increase and a debit as a decrease.

contra asset account definition

Transactions made to contra accounts are presented on a company’s financial statements under the related account. Contra accounts are important because they allow a company retail accounting to follow the matching principle by recording an expense initially in the contra asset account. The contra asset account is later reduced when the expense is recorded.