Unearned revenue or deferred revenue is considered a liability in a business, as it is a debt owed to customers. It is classified as a current liability until the goods or services have been delivered to the customer, after which it must be converted into revenue. From a cash flow perspective for the seller, this possesses an advantage who has the cash to perform the required services or to provide the required goods. It can also be beneficial as it allows the seller to perform other activities such as making an interest payment on debt and making purchases of more inventory. Once the seller delivers the product or service, unearned revenue becomes revenue on the income statement. Unearned revenue refers to the money that a business receives from a customer for work that is yet to be performed.

Funds in an unearned revenue account are classified as a current liability – in other words, a debt owed by a business to a customer. Once a delivery has been completed and your business has finally provided prepaid goods or services to your customer, unearned revenue can be converted into revenue on your balance sheet. Unearned revenues refer to payments received for goods to be delivered in the future or services to be performed.

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In this case, a lot of upfront capital is required since it is crucial for a business to cover its daily operations and payroll costs. Passive income is earnings from a rental property, limited partnership, or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. Taxable income is the portion of your gross income used to calculate how much tax you owe in a given tax year. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation.

Inaccurate financial statements

It is because accounting standards don’t allow companies to record revenues unless they meet performance obligations. On February 1st, a customer paid $10,000 for installation services which will be done in the next five months. This liability will subsequently reduce and the revenue will be recognized on a monthly basis. Unearned revenue is most common among companies that sell subscription-based products or other services that require prepayments. The revenue recognition concept states that the revenue should be recognized when the goods are delivered or services are rendered, and there is a certainty of payment realization.

earned revenue

This means that a credit in the revenue T-account increases the account balance. As shown in the expanded accounting equation, revenues increase equity. Accounts receivable are considered assets to the company because they represent money owed and to be collected from clients. Unearned revenue is a liability because it represents work yet to be performed or products yet to be provided to the client. Sometimes an organization can face a lag between its service delivery and invoice. In such cases, its earned revenue will be unrecorded in the income statement.

What is the difference between adjusting entries and closing entries?

It is because, to recognize revenues, companies must meet two requirements. Secondly, they must ensure, with reasonable certainty, that the customer can pay for those goods. At this point, you may be wondering how to calculate unearned revenue correctly. When a customer prepays for a service, your business will need to adjust its unearned revenue balance sheet and journal entries. Your business will need to credit one account and debit another account with the correct amounts using the double-entry accounting method.

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Under unearned revenues is what type of account accounting, the four thousand dollar purchase is recorded as revenue the instant the sale is made, even if the customer does not send payment until the twentieth of August. Unearned revenue is recognized in accrual accounting, but not in cash accounting. DrCash or bankxCrUnearned revenues xOnce the company makes a sale against the advance, it must reduce the unearned revenues account balance. On the other side, the company must recognize revenue for the same amount. Therefore, the journal entry for recording an eventual sale against unearned revenues is as follows.

In simple terms, unearned revenue is the prepaid revenue from a customer to a business for goods or services that will be supplied in the future. The term unearned income refers to any income that is not acquired through work. Put simply, unearned income is any money you earn by doing nothing. This is in contrast to earned income, which is any compensation received for performing a service like work.

Criteria for Unearned Revenue

There will be changes in this if advance payments are made for goods or services due to be provided 12 months or more after the payment date. If such cases occur, then unearned revenue will appear as a long-term liability on the balance sheet. In essence, unearned revenues are generally classified as short-term liabilities because the obligation is usually fulfilled within a period of less than a year. In some cases, the delivery of goods and services may take more than a year, in this case, the unearned revenue will be recognized as a long-term liability. In accordance with the accrual principle of accounting, companies are required to record revenues that have been earned, and expenses that have been incurred. In other words, only revenues and expenses relevant to the current year are supposed to be included in the financial statements for the given year.

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If the contract were cancelled and the good or service was not provided, then the company would need to refund the money the customer paid in advance. For this reason, unearned revenue is considered a liability until the good or service is provided, at which point it can be booked as earned revenue or sales revenue. Therefore, the journal entry to record unearned revenues is as follows.

It’s also possible with some types of unearned income to defer tax liabilities to a later date. Let us understand how unearned revenue balance sheet documentation is carried out with the help of a few examples. These examples will give us more relevance as they have been curated keeping daily situations in mind. Let us understand the steps involved in the unearned revenue balance sheet entry through the detailed step-by-step process below. Similarly, the generally accepted accounting principles have introduced to us the matching principle.

Most unearned income sources are not subject to payroll taxes, and none of it is subject to employment taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare. Tax rates on unearned income are different from rates on earned income. Unearned revenue can be thought of as a “pre-payment” for goods or services which a person or company is expected to produce to the purchaser. 2) Liability When an individual or company receives money for a service or product that has yet to be fulfilled. Unearned revenue can be thought of as a ‘pre-payment’ for goods or services which a person or company is expected to produce to the purchaser.

For example, the employee is paid for the prior month’s work on the first of the next month. The financial statements must remain up to date, so an adjusting entry is needed during the month to show salaries previously unrecorded and unpaid at the end of the month. For example, a company pays $4,500 for an insurance policy covering six months. It is the end of the first month and the company needs to record an adjusting entry to recognize the insurance used during the month. The following entries show the initial payment for the policy and the subsequent adjusting entry for one month of insurance usage. ABC Co. receives a $10,000 advance through its bank account from a customer, XYZ Co., for future sales.

If the company was not to deal with unearned revenue in this manner, and instead recognize it all at once, there would initially be an understatement in revenues and profit. On the other hand, there will be an understatement for the additional periods during which the revenues and profits were supposed to have been recognized. This also violates the matching principle since the company recognizes the revenues at once while it does not recognize related expenses until later periods. Unearned Revenue is considered as a liability from the perspective of the company. This is primarily because of the fact that the company has received an advance, against which work or service has not yet been provided. Therefore, there is a need to categorize unearned revenue accordingly, since the company does not own this amount.

For the income or revenue to become earned, the company must provide the good or service that the customer paid in advance for. In this article, we shall look at what unearned revenue implies, the account it falls under, its journal entries, and its importance to a business. Almost all the time, unearned revenues are short-term as customers don’t pay for goods or services beforehand in the long term. Therefore, companies must classify unearned revenues as current liabilities. However, in cases where a company receives money for sales that it expects to make after a year, it can also classify unearned revenues as non-current liabilities. In accounting, unearned revenue has its own account, which can be found on the business’s balance sheet.

Understanding Unearned Income

This journal entry illustrates that your business has received cash for its service that is earned on credit and considered a prepayment for future goods or services rendered. Accrued expenses or liabilities occur when expenses take place before the cash is paid. The expenses are recorded on an income statement, with a corresponding liability on the balance sheet. Accrued expenses are usually current liabilities since the payments are generally due within one year from the transaction date. In some transactions, cash is not paid or earned yet when the revenues or expenses are incurred. For example, a company pays its February utility bill in March, or delivers its products to customers in May and receives the payment in June.


Since ABC Co. has not transferred any goods or services in exchange, it must record the amount as a liability. Therefore, the accounting treatment for the transaction will be as follows. Here is an example of Beeker’s Mystery Box and what their balance sheet might look like. As you can see, the unearned revenue will appear on the right-hand side of the balance sheet in the current liabilities column.

The company then receives its bill for the utility consumption on March 05 and makes the payment on March 25. The entity should carefully evaluate the circumstances and report the least possible and certain income. Unearned income relies on the quality and timely delivery of future services or goods that may go wrong. By definition, unearned revenue is the revenue that an entity is yet to earn. Deferred revenue is a form of advance payment in business dealings normally. It is a common practice in professional service industries such as online subscriptions, marketing plans, online tutoring, and airline tickets.

Unearned revenue accounts are separately maintained to record all amounts received from customers, which the company has not yet processed. Deferred revenue is a liability because it reflects revenue that has not been earned and represents products or services that are owed to a customer. As the product or service is delivered over time, it is recognized proportionally as revenue on the income statement. It’s categorized as a current liability on a business’s balance sheet, a common financial statement in accounting.

Recall that unearned revenue represents a customer’s advanced payment for a product or service that has yet to be provided by the company. Since the company has not yet provided the product or service, it cannot recognize the customer’s payment as revenue. At the end of a period, the company will review the account to see if any of the unearned revenue has been earned. If so, this amount will be recorded as revenue in the current period. For example, XYZ Company sells insurance, and their customers routinely pre-pay for 12 months of insurance at a time.

The company does not use all six months of insurance immediately but over the course of the six months. At the end of each month, the company needs to record the amount of insurance expired during that month. For example, let’s say a company pays $2,000 for equipment that is supposed to last four years. The company wants to depreciate the asset over those four years equally. This means the asset will lose $500 in value each year ($2,000/four years). In the first year, the company would record the following adjusting entry to show depreciation of the equipment.

Unearned revenues are common in modern business, with almost all established companies taking advances for future sales. For example, below is a snapshot of Apple Inc.’s financial statements showing ‘deferred revenues,’ which represents money they have received for future sales. Creating and adjusting journal entries for unearned revenue will be easier if your business uses the accrual accounting method, of which the revenue recognition principle is a cornerstone. Hence, as per the accrual concept, revenue is going to be recorded as they are earned by the company. When the three-month period ends, there would be no unearned revenue pertaining to this transaction.

This may be from your employer, a self-employment gig, tips, bonuses, and vacation pay. Examples include inheritance money, a financial prize, unemployment benefits, interest on a savings account, and stock dividends. The interest she derives from her investment is considered unearned income and must be reported to the IRS for taxation at the ordinary income rate.

It requires a business to report revenue in the same period the expenses to generate such income are incurred. This is the unearned revenue and can be treated as Other current assets. As the name inidacates Un-earned Revenue (A revenue which has been earned but services/products against it are yet to provided). And when the business wil provide the good and services it will change into revenue. On the balance day, the accrued expense of utility is treated as a current liability owed to the utility company, and an expense incurred by the company in February.

Unearned revenues are more common in insurance companies and subscription-based service providers. Deferred revenue and prepaid expenses are important concepts in accrual accounting. Entities can record advance payments received and made when dealing with long-term contracts. Unearned revenue is important to the accrual method of accounting. On the first of August, the company sells a machine for a total of four thousand dollars.

This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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