Balance Sheets 101: What Goes on a Balance Sheet? - Petroleum County Prevention


September 2021

Assets that have a physical existence are known as tangible assets, which include inventory, market securities, land and building, office supplies, and much more. These are liquid and easily convertible to cash or equivalent resources generally within one year. Some examples include short-term deposits, stock market securities, and cash equivalents. Additionally, they may assist in cost reductions, generate higher cash flows, and increase profitability. Broadly, all receivables are considered as assets while all payables are classified under liabilities.

  1. Debt is a liability, whether it is a long-term loan or a bill that is due to be paid.
  2. As the company pays off its AP, it decreases along with an equal amount decrease to the cash account.
  3. Since the owner is also alien to business and the owner’s contribution is to be treated as a liability we can say that total liabilities is equal to total capital.
  4. We could also use the expanded accounting equation to see the effect of reinvested earnings ($419,155), other comprehensive income ($18,370), and treasury stock ($225,674).

Below liabilities on the balance sheet is equity, or the amount owed to the owners of the company. These are listed at the bottom of the balance sheet because the owners are paid back after all liabilities have been paid. Since the balance sheet is founded on the principles of the accounting equation, this equation can also be said to be responsible for estimating the net worth of an entire company. The fundamental components of the accounting equation include the calculation of both company holdings and company debts; thus, it allows owners to gauge the total value of a firm’s assets. With an understanding of each of these terms, let’s take another look at the accounting equation. A liability occurs when a company has undergone a transaction that has generated an expectation for a future outflow of cash or other economic resources.

Liabilities and assets need to be in the right proportions to maintain business profitability. Companies should have adequate assets to ensure they are able to repay their debts. These are also known as long-term liabilities and comprise financial obligations that are beyond one year.

What are Assets?

The treatise was published in Venice in 1494, and was reprinted at Toscolano in 1523. This work is one of the most important books on mathematics and has had an enormous impact on the field of accounting ever since. Below is a portion of Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (XOM) balance sheet as of September 30, 2018.

If a company wants to manufacture a car part, they will need to purchase machine X that costs $1000. It borrows $400 from the bank and spends another $600 in order to purchase the machine. Its assets are now worth $1000, which is the sum of its liabilities ($400) and equity ($600). Assets are generally classified based on their liquidity, which means how quickly they can be converted to cash.

If you are new to HBS Online, you will be required to set up an account before starting an application for the program of your choice. No, all of our programs are 100 percent online, and available to participants regardless of their location. We expect to offer our courses in additional languages in the future but, at this time, HBS Online can only be provided in English. Metro issued a check to Office Lux for $300 previously purchased supplies on account. The concept behind it is that everything the business has came from somewhere — either a third party, such as a lender, or an owner, such as a stockholder.


The major and often largest value assets of most companies are that company’s machinery, buildings, and property. Debt is a type of liability and is generally the most dangerous type. They can be a vital part of a company’s operations, in both day-to-day business and long-term plans. Owner contributions and income result in an increase in capital, whereas withdrawals and expenses cause capital to decrease. Investors are advised to check the list of assets and liabilities held by companies while making financial decisions. The following ratios can help in determining a company’s capability to repay its debt obligations.

The total idea of accounting is built around a mathematical equation called the Fundamental Accounting Equation. For example, if one company buys federal filing requirements for nonprofits a computer to use in its office, the computer is a capital asset. If another company buys the same computer to sell, it is considered inventory.

Other formulas for assets, liabilities, equity

This is the total amount of net income the company decides to keep. Any amount remaining (or exceeding) is added to (deducted from) retained earnings. Property, Plant, and Equipment (also known as PP&E) capture the company’s tangible fixed assets. Some companies will class out their PP&E by the different types of assets, such as Land, Building, and various types of Equipment. Enter your name and email in the form below and download the free template now! You can use the Excel file to enter the numbers for any company and gain a deeper understanding of how balance sheets work.

Once all assets have been classified and listed in their appropriate spots on the balance sheet, the sum of all their valuations is added together to get total assets. The balance sheet is sometimes called the statement of financial position since it shows the values of the net worth of the entity. Total assets refers to the total amount of assets owned by a person or entity. Assets are items of economic value, which are expended over time to yield a benefit for the owner. If the owner is a business, these assets are usually recorded in the accounting records and appear in the balance sheet of the business. Your net worth equals your total liabilities subtracted from your total assets.

Capital assets are significant pieces of property such as homes, cars, investment properties, stocks, bonds, and even collectibles or art. For businesses, a capital asset is an asset with a useful life longer than a year that is not intended for sale in the regular course of the business’s operation. The expanded accounting equation is a form of the basic accounting equation that includes the distinct components of owner’s equity, such as dividends, shareholder capital, revenue, and expenses. The expanded equation is used to compare a company’s assets with greater granularity than provided by the basic equation. As you can see, no matter what the transaction is, the accounting equation will always balance because each transaction has a dual aspect. The balance sheet is also known as the statement of financial position and it reflects the accounting equation.

As inventory (asset) has now been sold, it must be removed from the accounting records and a cost of sales (expense) figure recorded. The cost of this sale will be the cost of the 10 units of inventory sold which is $250 (10 units x $25). The difference between the $400 income and $250 cost of sales represents a profit of $150. The inventory (asset) will decrease by $250 and a cost of sale (expense) will be recorded. (Note that, as above, the adjustment to the inventory and cost of sales figures may be made at the year-end through an adjustment to the closing stock but has been illustrated below for completeness).

Assets are those that are owned by a company and provide future economic benefits. On the other hand, liabilities are owed by the company to other parties. In simple terms, assets put money in the organization’s pockets while liabilities take it out. One the ownership of the business (which we call owned capital) and two from non-owners as liabilities (which we call loaned capital). The assets of the business will increase by $12,000 as a result of acquiring the van (asset) but will also decrease by an equal amount due to the payment of cash (asset). $10,000 of cash (asset) will be received from the bank but the business must also record an equal amount representing the fact that the loan (liability) will eventually need to be repaid.

The Basic Accounting Equation

Essentially, the representation equates all uses of capital (assets) to all sources of capital, where debt capital leads to liabilities and equity capital leads to shareholders’ equity. The accounting equation is a concise expression of the complex, expanded, and multi-item display of a balance sheet. Say your business earns a $5 profit that you put into a checking account. That profit is both an asset (cash) and equity (business profit held for future use). If your business collapsed tomorrow, the equity would be split between the owners. This equation is important because it reflects the relationship between assets, equity, and liabilities, which are the components of a balance sheet.

In this example, the owner’s value in the assets is $100, representing the company’s equity. Current liabilities are obligations that the company should settle one year or less. They consist, predominantly, of short-term debt repayments, payments to suppliers, and monthly operational costs (rent, electricity, accruals) that are known in advance.

The total asset figure is based on the purchase price of the listed assets, and not the fair market value. The basic accounting equation is used to provide a simple calculation of a company’s value, based on a comparison of equity and liabilities. For a more specific breakdown of the components of equity, use the expanded equation instead.

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