How to Define Accounts Receivable: Terms, Examples, and Benefits Outsource Your AR Tasks to the Experts and Maximize Collections


AR/accounts receivable is any money owed by customers to a company. In other words, it’s money that a company has a right to receive because it has provided a product or service. Current asset account that keeps track of money that third parties owe to you. Again, these third parties can be banks, companies, or even people who borrowed money from you. One common example is the amount owed to you for goods sold or services your company provides to generate revenue.


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Tips for Collecting on Accounts Receivable

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If a company offers customers a discount if they pay early and they take advantage of the offer, then they will pay an amount less than the invoice total. The accountant needs to eliminate this residual balance by charging it to the sales discounts account, which will appear in the income statement as a profit reduction. Accounts receivable is increased—that is, debited—whenever your business delivers goods or provides services on credit. This means that your business was not paid for the goods or services immediately upon sale, but will rather be paid for them at some point in the future.

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This involves a wide scope of responsibilities that one bookkeeping professional may undertake on their own, or that may be divided between an entire team in the accounts receivable department. In a sense, your accounts receivable balance is a necessary evil. Of course, you’d rather have cash in the bank immediately whenever you deliver a good or service to a customer.

AP & AR: The Difference Between Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable

On a company’s balance sheet, accounts receivable are the money owed to that company by entities outside of the company. Account receivables are classified as current assets assuming that they are due within one calendar year or fiscal year. To record a journal entry for a sale on account, one must debit a receivable and credit a revenue account. of electronic payment like ACH, wire transfers and credit card payments are growing rapidly. In an accounts receivable situation, you don’t immediately possess the cash earned from goods sold or services performed. A customer often receives some sort of product or service but has an amount of time, or a term, to pay the amount owed.

In turn, this will enable you to make key business decisions to improve your business’ collections and cash flow. There is a potential risk with having a large amount of AR/accounts receivable. By definition, the success of the concept depends entirely on the reliability of the debtors. It’s also an important responsibility of the company to follow up with outstanding invoices or payments. An “aging” account receivable is dangerous, as it is unlikely to be paid back in full.

current asset

This means that the full amount owed on the property may not be collected. “Net” receivables often come up when discussing accounts receivable. They are the total money owed to a company by its customers, minus the money that will likely never be paid. Net receivables are usually expressed as a percentage with a higher percentage indicating that a business has a greater ability to collect.

What is Bookkeeping?

Company B owes them money, so it records the invoice in its accounts payable column. Company A is waiting to receive the money, so it records the bill in its accounts receivable column. Companies record accounts receivable as assets on their balance sheets because there is a legal obligation for the customer to pay the debt. They are considered a liquid asset, because they can be used as collateral to secure a loan to help meet short-term obligations. Accounts receivable is any amount of money your customers owe you for goods or services they purchased from you in the past.


You can compare your ART ratio with the industry to know how you are doing in relation to the competition. Lastly, if the receivables are paid back after the discount period, we record it as a regular collection of receivables. In business transactions, companies will often purchase items on account . The term used to call the transactions is purchases “on account,” which signifies a transaction where cash is not involved. Recording and tracking receivables has seen huge advances with the widespread implementation of cloud invoice delivery and easy payment processing. We help businesses get paid faster with fewer trips to the bank and much easier receivables controls.

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If you have an understanding of these two numbers, then you will be able to better manage your finances as well as plan ahead for future growth. This means that if you owe $100 to a vendor by April 1st but haven’t paid yet, it’s considered as “outstanding” until May 15th. If there is more cash going out than coming in, then this will cause problems with future operations. Yes, we do generate bills electronically and to make the process easy and accurate. We have a methodical process to resolve any potential billing disputes. This not only streamlines the process, but also leads to added customer satisfaction as there will always be a clear guideline to follow in such a case.


If the customer were to later pay the invoice, ABC would simply reverse the entry, so that the allowance account is increased back to its former level. There is an issue with the timing of the preceding sale transaction. From that point onward, the delivery is technically the responsibility of either a third-party shipper or the buyer.

Transform Your Accounts Receivable Processes

For tax reporting purposes, a general provision for bad debts is not an allowable deduction from profit—a business can only get relief for specific debtors that have gone bad. An alternative method is the direct write-off method, where the seller only recognizes a bad debt expense when it can identify a specific invoice that will not be paid. Under this approach, the accountant debits the bad debt expense and credits accounts receivable . It is not the preferred method for recording bad debts, because it introduces a delay between the recognition of a sale and the recognition of any related bad debt expense . An account receivable clerk is a bookkeeping professional who manages a company’s balance sheet and ensures that their company gets paid for the goods and services they provide to customers.

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We handle everything related to paying your company’s bills on time, within the vendor’s terms. We will also keep track of the A/P Aging Report to ensure and avoid any late fees or finance charges from the vendors. Accounts receivable refer to the outstanding invoices that a company has or the money that clients owe the company.

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Our team will provide you with financial advice regarding optimal due dates and payment amounts that maximize your liquid assets. For example, billing for every client on the first of the month may not be to your advantage. Then again, spreading income out without a discernable pattern can cause confusion. Our goal is to create a solid, organized process that benefits your monthly and yearly income.

We save you money the moment you hire us by cutting out the expensive cost of hiring an in-house CFO. The Structured Query Language comprises several different data types that allow it to store different types of information… Gain in-demand industry knowledge and hands-on practice that will help you stand out from the competition and become a world-class financial analyst. Just fill out the form below and we will set up a call to get to know you and your business. AP and AR are two different ways to represent a company’s financial status.

Accounts receivable is critical because it reveals how much money you should expect to earn in the future. If you are paid primarily through invoices, this figure is directly linked to your overall income. Three hundred sixty-five days a year, divided by 10, equals 36.5.

The credit period could range from several days to a few months or more. Notice that we have an account called sales discounts and allowances. This account is a contra account that goes against sales revenue on the income statement. Another example of a contra account is allowance for doubtful accounts, which you can learn about in our bad debt expense article. Generally, bad debt expense is determined by analyzing a company’s accounts receivable and estimating the amount of money that will not be collected. Accounts Receivable is the payment which the company will receive from its customers who have purchased its goods & services on credit.

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