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Reporting Unearned Revenue Accounting for Managers
what is unearned revenue in accounting

You collect it in advance, as prepayment before completing a project or delivering a service for a client. Which means it will initially go under your liability account. Supposed a company sells a product for $100 but has not yet delivered it. The company would record the $100 as unearned revenue on its balance sheet. Once the product is delivered, the $100 would be recognized as revenue and the unearned revenue would be reduced by $100.

  • Deferred revenue is an advance payment for products or services that are to be delivered or performed in the future.
  • Unearned revenue is reported on a business’s balance sheet, an important financial statement usually generated with accounting software.
  • Identify the performance obligations in the contract - A performance obligation describes whatever goods or services the customer agreed to buy and the business agreed to provide.
  • DebitCreditUnearned Revenue$10,000–Revenue–$10,000The unearned revenue account declines, with the coinciding entry consisting of the increase in revenue.
  • They're usually salaries payable, expense payable, short term loans etc.
  • Securities and Exchange Commission sets additional guidelines that public companies must follow to recognize revenue as earned.

By treating it as a liability for accounting purposes, you can keep the books balanced. It’s also useful for investment purposes, as unearned revenue can often provide fresh insight into a company’s potential future revenue. Deferred revenue is expected among SaaS companies because they offer subscription-based products and services requiring pre-payments. Let's say you have a converted customer who makes a booking for your annual SaaS subscription services in January valued at $12,000 ($1000 per month). From aSaaS accountingperspective, you will not earn that revenue until you deliver what you sold to the customer. It means that the $12,000 deferred revenue turns into revenue gradually with each month as the subscription progresses.

Income statement

Instead, you will record them on balance sheet accounts as liabilities until you earn or use them. You will later move them in portions from your balance sheet accounts to revenues on your income statement. Unearned revenue creates debt owed in short-term liabilities to the debtors, while accounts receivable creates creditors from whom the company is yet to receive payments. On receiving advance payment, the first step in the accounting process is to record any transaction via journal entries.

what is unearned revenue in accounting

A liability account that reports amounts received in advance of providing goods or services. When the goods or services are provided, this account balance is decreased and a revenue account is increased. DebitCreditCash$10,000–Unearned Revenue–$10,000We see that the cash account increases, but the unearned revenue liability account also increases. An easy way to understand deferred revenue is to think of it as a debt owed to a customer.

What are the implications of unearned revenue?

Deferred revenue gets recorded on a company’s balance sheet as a liability. If the product or service is delivered incrementally instead of all at once, then revenue should be recognized equal to the amount of goods being exchanged. Aside from the revenue recognition principle, we also need to keep the accounting principle of conservatism in mind when dealing with unearned revenue. Although they sound similar, unearned income and unearned revenue aren’t the same thing. It’s important to distinguish between them, since they’re treated very differently for accounting purposes.

  • Unearned revenue is the revenue a business receives before providing a good or service.
  • Once an adjusting entry is made when the unearned revenue becomes sales revenue, the sales revenue account is debited and the unearned revenue account is credited.
  • Instead, you will report them on your balance sheet as a liability.
  • Your business receives the money upfront, and then does the work to earn it at a later date.
  • In accrual accounting, it is important to organize income properly, especially when it comes to prepaid services.
  • Therefore, businesses that accept prepayments or upfront cash before delivering products or services to customers have unearned revenue.

Revenue is earned when a company delivers the goods or services for which it has received payment. Unearned revenue, on the other hand, is not earned until the goods or services have been delivered. For example, imagine that a company has received an early cash payment from a customer of $10,000 payment for future services as part of the product purchase. Unearned revenue is the money received from a customer for goods or services that have yet to be delivered or produced. A variation on the revenue recognition approach noted in the preceding example is to recognize unearned revenue when there is evidence of actual usage.


As the prepaid service or product is gradually delivered over time, it is recognized as revenue on theincome statement. The accrual method of accounting recognizes revenue when it is earned, rather than when cash is received. This means that when a business receives payment for goods or services that have not yet been delivered, the money is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet.

  • It is essential to understand that while analyzing a company, Unearned Sales Revenue should be taken into consideration as it is an indication of the growth visibility of the business.
  • Unearned revenue can be thought of as a “prepayment” for goods or services that a person or company is expected to produce for the purchaser at some later date or time.
  • This can be anything from a 30-year mortgage on an office building to the bills you need to pay in the next 30 days.
  • 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.
  • The subscription for monthly accounting service is considered a short-term liability on the balance sheet.

The contract will dictate when payments are due and when deliverables are to be met. In your accounting, you will schedule unearned revenue adjusting entries to match these dates. Scheduling these entries will organize and automate deferred revenue recognition. Even though a payment has been received it is not considered income immediately.

The arrangement should include a price and delivery schedule. This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Bench assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein. Or, you could just get your clients to pay you sooner, either in installments or upfront as a deposit. Revenue recovery is very important in the subscription business.

The matching principle states that revenue for a period should match with expenses over the same period to calculate net profit. Some landlords may also offer a better rate what is unearned revenue in accounting for prepaying part or all of a lease term in advance. This is in contrast to earned income, which is income generated by regular business activities, employment, or work.

What Is the Journal Entry for Unearned Revenue?

Since prepaid revenue is a liability for the business, its initial entry is a credit to an unearned revenue account and a debit to the cash account. Assume that ABC Service Co. receives $24,000 on December 31, 2022 in exchange for promising to provide the client with services for the year January 1 through December 31, 2023. Therefore, ABC's balance sheet as of December 31, 2022 must report a liability such as Unearned Revenues for $24,000.

what is unearned revenue in accounting

What type of account is unearned income?

Unearned revenue is an account in financial accounting. It's considered a liability, or an amount a business owes. It's categorized as a current liability on a business's balance sheet, a common financial statement in accounting.

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