Liabilities in Accounting: Definition & Examples

what are liabilities in accounting

It also includes the ability of the organization to repay loans, long-term debt, and interest. Fundamental investors prefer companies with lesser liabilities as compared to assets. Usually, companies that owe more money than they bring in business are in trouble situations and are not considered by investors.

Let us learn about long-term liabilities and short-term liabilities. Assets are the items your business owns that add value to your company. For example, buildings, equipment, accounts real estate bookkeeping receivable, cash, and intellectual property are all assets. By comparing assets to liabilities from your balance sheet equation, you can find your net ownership within the company.

What is the importance of liabilities in accounting for businesses functioning on a smaller scale?

Current liabilities are debts that you have to pay back within the next 12 months. Current liabilities, also known as short-term liabilities, are financial responsibilities that the company expects to pay back within a year. If you borrow instead of paying outright, you have liabilities. Business loans or mortgages for buying business real estate are also liabilities.

For instance, when you receive a utility bill, you must record the utility expense. You also must record a utility liability for the amount you owe until you actually pay it. But not all liabilities are expenses—liabilities like bank loans and mortgages can finance asset purchases, which are not business expenses. A liability is typically an amount owed by a company to a supplier, bank, lender or other provider of goods, services or loans. Liabilities can be listed under accounts payable, and are credited in the double-entry bookkeeping method of managing accounts. A contingent liability is a potential liability that will only be confirmed as a liability when an uncertain event has been resolved at some point in the future.

Definition of Liabilities in Accounting

In financial accounting, a liability is an obligation arising from past transactions or past events. The settlement of such transactions may result in the transfer or use of assets, provision of services, or benefits in the future. In this topic, we are going to learn about Liabilities in Accounting. Financial ratios depict relationships between accounts and line items in your financial statements, such as assets compared to liabilities or total debt compared to owners’ equity. However, an expense can create a liability if the expense is not immediately paid.



Posted: Mon, 17 Apr 2023 19:39:03 GMT [source]

The assets are placed on the left side of the document, while the liabilities are placed on the right side of the document, along with shareholders’ equity. Shareholders’ equity, also referred to as owners’ equity, represents the amount that goes to the business owners or shareholders after all expenses are considered. The balance sheet essentially balances out what the business owns with what it owes to others.


Liabilities are unavoidable and essential in business operations if managed properly. They aren’t inherently bad for business as long as utilized properly. Note that not all liabilities are enforceable by law, however, in most businesses it’s usually clear when an obligation arises. You can now accept JCB card payments with all current models of SumUp card reader.

what are liabilities in accounting

A debit either increases an asset or decreases a liability; a credit either decreases an asset or increases a liability. According to the principle of double-entry, every financial transaction corresponds to both a debit and a credit. Arises when the company failed to deliver to the goods or services but has taken the money in advance. This is a liability account that contains the amount owed to bondholders by the issuer.

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If a business wishes to purchase computer equipment worth £300, the purchase can be made in many possible ways. If liability is used, the £300 can be paid off using assets or by new liability like a bank loan. The best accounts payable (A/P) software must have strong general accounts payable features like vendor tracking, purchase order tracking, and vendor payments tracking. Good A/P automation should also reduce data entry and streamline the A/P process. Based on these requirements, here are five accounts payable systems that can help your business process and manage… When you borrow funds, you’ll have to pay interest to the creditor.

what are liabilities in accounting

Since most companies do not pay for goods and services as they are acquired, AP is equivalent to a stack of bills waiting to be paid. A liability is something a person or company owes, usually a sum of money. Liabilities are settled over time through the transfer of economic benefits including money, goods, or services.