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What Are Liabilities in Accounting? With Examples

Types of Liability Accounts

Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. Contingent liabilities are only recorded on your balance sheet if they are likely to occur. Liabilities and equity are listed on the right side or bottom half of a balance sheet.

In simpler terms, liabilities are what a company owes, while assets are what a company owns. Non-current liabilities are debts that have a maturity period that exceeds twelve months or the operating cycle of a company. In turn, this means that they are expected to be settled over an extended period. Firstly, liabilities provide important information about a company’s financial health. They act as indicators for any outstanding debts and obligations, which helps a company assess its ability to meet its financial commitments. Generally, creditors and investors can use this information to evaluate a company’s solvency and creditworthiness.


One of the few examples of a contra liability account is the discount on bonds payable (or notes payable) account. On the other hand, a mortgage is a type of liability that you have to pay back as you have https://quickbooks-payroll.org/accounting-for-a-non-profit-organization/ received an asset in return for this. It has increased the assets of your company, while utility bills is supporting your business operations only without increasing your tangible or intangible assets.

Types of Liability Accounts

However, it should disclose this item in a footnote on the financial statements. The primary classification of liabilities is according to their due date. The classification is critical to the company’s management of its financial obligations. As a practical example of understanding a firm’s liabilities, let’s look at a historical example using AT&T’s (T) 2020 balance sheet. The current/short-term liabilities are separated from long-term/non-current liabilities on the balance sheet. Liabilities are a vital aspect of a company because they are used to finance operations and pay for large expansions.

How Liabilities Work

That said, if the lawsuit isn’t successful, then your business would not have any liability. A contingent liability only gets recorded on your balance sheet if the liability is probable to happen. When this happens, you can reasonably estimate the amount of the resulting liability.

You’ll see them shown next to each other on the business’s balance sheet, which shows a snapshot of what the business owes, and what it owns. It’s the value of the assets once the liabilities have been deducted. A contingent liability is an obligation that might have to be paid in the future, but there are still unresolved matters that make it only a possibility and not a certainty.

Examples of Liabilities

High levels of debt or significant financial obligations can increase the company’s risk of insolvency, which can potentially impact its operations and profitability. Generally, liabilities can be in the form of monetary amounts owed to suppliers, lenders, or employees. They can also be in the form of other obligations like warranties, legal claims, or unearned revenue. Both short-term and long-term liabilities include several types of liabilities which you will need to become familiar with in order to record them properly. An asset is anything a company owns of financial value, such as revenue (which is recorded under accounts receivable). There are two types of liabilities that are categorised on the balance sheet of every company.

Expenses can be paid immediately with cash, or the payment could be delayed which would create a liability. The accurate recording and management of liability accounts offer several key benefits. They enable businesses to maintain transparency and accountability in their financial dealings, fostering trust among stakeholders. Liability accounts also aid in strategic decision-making by providing insights into a company’s financial health, risk exposure, and creditworthiness.

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These can play a critical role in the long-term financing of your business and your long-term solvency. If you’re unable to repay any of your non-current liabilities when Nonprofit Accounting Best Practices and Essential Tips they’re due, your business could end up in a solvency crisis. Usually, you would receive some type of invoice from a vendor or organization to pay off any debts.

Types of Liability Accounts

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