Posted on: August 19, 2022 Posted by: Anurag Comments: 0
Why is Deferred Revenue Treated as a Liability?

Deferred income is fee obtained from a buyer earlier than a services or products has been delivered; nonetheless, the fee shouldn’t be but counted as income. Deferred income, which can also be known as unearned income, is listed as a legal responsibility on the steadiness sheet as a result of, underneath accrual accounting, the income recognition course of has not been accomplished. 

Key Takeaways

  • Deferred income is income obtained for providers or items to be delivered sooner or later.
  • Deferred income is recorded as a legal responsibility on an organization’s steadiness sheet.
  • Cash obtained for the longer term services or products is recorded as a debit to money on the steadiness sheet.
  • As soon as revenues are earned, the legal responsibility account is diminished and the revenue assertion’s income account is elevated by the identical quantity.
  • The accrual accounting technique acknowledges income when absolutely earned.

Deferred Income and Accrual Accounting 

When an organization makes use of the accrual accounting technique, income is just acknowledged as earned when cash is obtained from a purchaser and the products or providers are delivered to the client. When an organization accrues deferred income, it’s as a result of a purchaser or buyer paid upfront for or service that’s to be delivered at some future date.

The fee is taken into account a legal responsibility as a result of there’s nonetheless the chance that the great or service might not be delivered or the client may cancel the order. In both case, the firm would repay the client, until different fee phrases have been explicitly acknowledged in a signed contract.

Over time, when the services or products is delivered, the deferred income account is debited and the cash credited to income. In different phrases, the income or sale is lastly acknowledged and, due to this fact, the cash earned is not a legal responsibility. Every contract can stipulate totally different phrases, whereby it is potential that no income will be recorded till the entire providers or merchandise have been delivered. In different phrases, the funds collected from the client would stay in deferred income till the client has obtained what was due in line with the contract. 

Deferred Revenues vs. Deferred Bills

Deferred bills, very similar to deferred revenues, contain the switch of money for one thing to be realized sooner or later. Deferred revenues check with cash obtained for items or providers to be offered to clients later, whereas deferred bills check with cash expended for obligations not but noticed. Deferred bills are bills paid however not but incurred. For instance, lease funds are deferred bills. The lease is paid upfront for future use of property or land.

The deferred expense is recorded as an asset on the corporate’s steadiness sheet (e.g., pay as you go lease). The pay as you go expense is assessed as an asset. That account is debited, whereas the money account is credited for a similar quantity. As soon as incurred, the expense is acknowledged on the revenue assertion, and the corresponding asset on the steadiness sheet is diminished.


A rustic membership collects annual dues from its clients totaling $240, which is charged instantly when a member indicators as much as be a part of the membership. Upon receipt of the fee, the providers have but to be offered. The membership would debit money and credit score deferred income for $240.

On the finish of the primary month into the membership, the membership would acknowledge $20 in income by debiting the deferred income account and crediting the gross sales account. The golf membership would proceed to acknowledge $20 in income every month till the top of the 12 months when the deferred income account steadiness could be zero. On the annual revenue assertion, the complete quantity of $240 could be lastly listed as income or gross sales.   

The timing of recognizing income and recording shouldn’t be at all times easy. Accounting requirements in line with GAAP, or Usually Accepted Accounting Rules, enable for totally different strategies of income recognition relying on the circumstances and the corporate’s business.

For instance, a contractor may use both the percentage-of-completion technique or the accomplished contract technique to acknowledge income. Underneath the percentage-of-completion technique, the corporate would acknowledge income as sure milestones are met. Underneath the completed-contract technique, the corporate would not acknowledge any revenue till all the contract, and its phrases have been fulfilled. Because of this, the completed-contract technique ends in decrease revenues and better deferred income than the percentage-of-completion technique.

An organization’s monetary statements may seem totally different utilizing one accounting technique versus one other. Every technique would end in a totally different quantity recorded as deferred income, regardless of the full quantity of the monetary transaction being no totally different. 

The Backside Line

Deferred revenues are the funds obtained by clients for items or providers they anticipate to obtain sooner or later. Till the service is carried out or the great is delivered, the corporate is indebted to the client, making the income quickly a legal responsibility. As soon as earned, the income is not deferred; it’s realized and counted as income.

Why is deferred income a legal responsibility?

Deferred income is income obtained however not but earned. In different phrases, the fee obtained is for items or providers that will likely be delivered in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later. Because of this, the corporate owes the client what was bought, and funds will be reclaimed earlier than supply. Till earned, the deferred income is a legal responsibility.

How is deferred income labeled?

Deferred income is recorded as a legal responsibility on the steadiness sheet, and the steadiness sheet’s money (asset) account is elevated by the quantity obtained. As soon as the revenue is earned, the legal responsibility account is diminished, and the revenue assertion’s income account is elevated.

Is deferred income an working legal responsibility?

Working liabilities are quantities owed ensuing from an organization’s regular operations, whereas non-operating liabilities are quantities owed for issues not associated to an organization’s operations. For instance, mortgage and lease funds are non-operating liabilities. Deferred income is income recorded for providers or items which can be a part of its operations; due to this fact, deferred income is an working legal responsibility.

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