Net Accounts Receivable: Direct Write-off Method Video Tutorial & Practice

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What Is The Direct Write Off Method?

Reputable Publishers are also sourced and cited where appropriate. Learn more about the standards we follow in producing Accurate, Unbiased and Researched Content in our editorial policy. Doing this will offset the amount of debt found to be uncollectible. The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters. Get started with one of our top business credit card picks of 2022 today. However, you’ll find a lot of disadvantages to using the direct write-off method, which will be covered in more detail later.

  • Therefore, under the direct write-off method, a specific dollar amount from a customer account will be written off as a bad debt expense.
  • Therefore, most companies use the direct write‐off method on their tax returns but use the allowance method on financial statements.
  • Bad debt, or the inability to collect money owed to you, is an unfortunate reality that small business owners must occasionally deal with.
  • Under the allowance method, a write‐off does not change the net realizable value of accounts receivable.

The direct write-off method does not set up an allowance for uncollectibles. The direct write-off method does not match expenses against revenue very well. An example of this would be an auto parts business that has a credit sale of $5,000. The allowance method is the more generally accepted method due to the direct write-off method’s limitations. Bad debt expense is used to reflect receivables that a company will be unable to collect.

Purpose of Adjusting Entries in a General Ledger

This is why GAAP doesn’t allow the direct write-off method for financial reporting. The direct write-off method is used only when we decide a customer will not pay.

What Is The Direct Write Off Method?

In a write-down, an asset’s value may be impaired, but it is not totally eliminated from one’s accounting books. Let’s try and make accounts receivable more relevant or understandable using an actual company. In the direct write-off method example above, what happens if the client ends up paying later on? D) Expenses are a negative factor in the computation of net income.


Businesses can only take a bad debt tax deduction in certain situations, usually using what’s called the “charge-off method.” Read more in IRS Publication 535, Business Expenses. David Kindness is a Certified Public Accountant and an expert in the fields of financial accounting, corporate and individual tax planning and preparation, and investing and retirement planning. David has helped thousands of clients improve their accounting and financial systems, create budgets, and minimize their taxes. Consider a roofing business that agrees to replace a customer’s roof for $10,000 on credit. The project is completed; however, during the time between the start of the project and its completion, the customer fails to fulfill their financial obligation. The GoCardless content team comprises a group of subject-matter experts in multiple fields from across GoCardless. The authors and reviewers work in the sales, marketing, legal, and finance departments.

What Is The Direct Write Off Method?

This violates the matching principle of accounting because it recognizes bad debt expense which may be related to the previous accounting period. This is evident from the above example where the credit sale takes place in 2016, and the bad debt is discovered in 2017. In contrast, the allowance method requires you to report bad debt expenses every fiscal year. When What Is The Direct Write Off Method? a business is unable to collect payment on goods and services that were sold on credit to its customers, it «writes off,» or recognizes this loss on its books. The direct write-off of bad debt is a method commonly used by small businesses and companies that are not required to use generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, to maintain their books.

Resources for Your Growing Business

To keep the business’s books accurate, the direct write-off method debits a bad debt account for the uncollectible amount and credits that same amount to accounts receivable. The amount of bad debt expense can be estimated using the accounts receivable aging method or the percentage sales method. This journal entry eliminates the $500 balance in accounts receivable while creating an account for bad debt. The balance of the Allowance for Bad Debt account is subtracted from your revenue account to reduce the revenue earned. This means that, regardless of when the actual transaction is made, the expenses that are entered into the debit side of the accounts should have a corresponding credit entry in the same period.

Bad Debt Expense Definition – Investopedia

Bad Debt Expense Definition.

Posted: Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:07:45 GMT [source]

The Internal Revenue Service permits companies to take a tax deduction for bad debts only after specific uncollectible accounts have been identified. Unless a company’s uncollectible accounts represent an insignificant percentage of their sales, however, they may not use the direct write‐off method for financial reporting purposes. Therefore, most companies use the direct write‐off method on their tax returns but use the allowance method on financial statements. The allowance method records an estimate of bad debt expense in the same accounting period as the sale.

Example of the Percentage of Sales Method

The direct write-off method is an accounting method used to record bad debt. Bad debt expense is the way businesses account for a receivable account that will not be paid. Bad debt arises when a customer either cannot pay because of financial difficulties or chooses not to pay due to a disagreement over the product or service they were sold. A company that ends the year with bad debt can write that bad debt off on their tax return. In fact, The IRS requires businesses with bad debt to use the direct write-off method for their return, even though it does not comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles . The direct write-off method lets you charge bad debts directly to an expense such as the Allowance for Bad Debt account used in the journal entries above.