What Is Accounts Receivable? Definition & Examples


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Businesses of all sizes must handle their finances carefully and accurately in order to remain competitive. One of the most important financial tools is known as account receivable, which is essentially a company’s ability to collect money owed by customers or clients who have purchased goods or services on credit. Account receivable can be a tricky concept to understand, so in this blog post, we’ll do our best to explain what it is and provide some examples. We’ll also cover some tips for managing your accounts receivable effectively and efficiently.


What Is Accounts Receivable (AR)?


Accounts receivable (AR) is the money owed to a company by its customers for goods or services that have been delivered or used but not yet paid for. Accounts receivable is reported as an asset on a company’s balance sheet because it represents money that the company is expecting to receive.


What Is Included in Accounts Receivable?


When a business provides a service or sells a product, it is common for the customer to pay for the goods or services rendered at a later date. This arrangement is called credit. When a business extends credit to a customer, it records the transaction in an account receivable. An account receivable is an IOU from a customer who has not paid for goods or services that have been provided.


The balance in the accounts receivable account reflects the amount of money that customers owe to the company. The account receivable balance is also known as the open invoices. The accounts receivable turnover ratio (ART) measures how quickly a company collects payments from its customers. A high ART means that a company is collecting payments quickly and efficiently, while a low ART indicates that the company might have difficulty collecting payments from its customers in a timely manner.


Included in accounts receivables are:


  • Outstanding invoices
  • Payments received but not yet recorded
  • Unpaid bills
  • Loans made to employees
  • Unfulfilled services or goods
  • Late fees and interest
  • Deductions from customers due to discounts or returns


How Do I Find and Record AR?


Accounts Receivable


There are a few ways to find and record AR. 


The first way is to look through your sales records. This could be sales invoices, receipts, or anything else that documents a sale. Look for any customers who have not yet paid and make a note of how much they owe. This will give you a good starting point for finding and recording AR.


Another way to find AR is to talk to your sales team. They should be able to tell you who has outstanding payments and how much they owe. This can be a quick way to get up-to-date information on who owes what.


Once you have a list of customers with outstanding payments, you’ll need to record this information in your accounting software. Most accounting software will have an Accounts Receivable module that you can use for this purpose. Simply enter the customer’s name, the amount they owe, and the date the invoice was issued (if applicable).


That’s it! By following these steps, you should be able to find and record all of the Accounts Receivable for your business.


How is Accounts Receivable Presented on the Balance Sheet?


There are a few different ways that accounts receivable can be presented on a balance sheet. The most common method is to list accounts receivable as a current asset. This means that the amount owed by customers is expected to be paid within one year. If the payment is expected to be made after one year, then the account receivable would be classified as a long-term asset.


Another way to present accounts receivable on a balance sheet is to break it down into two categories: trade receivables and non-trade receivables. Trade receivables are amounts owed by customers for goods or services that have been provided. Non-trade receivables are amounts owed by entities such as governments or other companies.


The final way to present accounts receivable on a balance sheet is to show the gross amount of receivables and then deduct any allowances for doubtful accounts. Allowances for doubtful accounts are estimates of the amount of money that will not be collected from customers. The net amount of accounts receivable would be the gross amount minus the allowance for doubtful accounts.


What is Gross vs Net Accounts Receivables?


Accounts Receivable


There are two types of receivables, gross and net. Gross receivables are the total amount of money that a company has billed to its customers for goods or services. Net receivables are the amount of money that a company expects to receive after deducting any allowances for doubtful accounts.


Allowances for Doubtful Accounts is an estimate of the amount of money that a company will not collect from its customers. This estimate is based on past experience and current economic conditions. The allowance is deducted from gross receivables to arrive at the net receivable figure.


What Are Examples of AR?


There are many examples of AR, but some common ones include:


Outstanding invoices: This is when a customer has received goods or services from a company but has not yet paid for them. The company is said to have an outstanding invoice from the customer.


Unpaid bills: This is similar to an outstanding invoice, but usually refers to services that have been rendered, rather than goods that have been received. For example, if a customer has received medical treatment but has not yet paid the bill, the medical provider would have an unpaid bill from the patient.


Past-due payments: This is when a customer has not made a payment by the agreed-upon due date. The company then has the right to take action to collect the debt, such as hiring a collection agency or taking legal action.


Overdue accounts: This is similar to past-due payments, but usually refers to long-term debts that have not been paid back in full by the agreed-upon date. For example, if a customer has taken out a loan and failed to pay it back in the allotted time, the lender would have an overdue account with the customer.


What’s the Importance of AR in My Business?


Accounts Receivable


As a business owner, you know that one of the most important elements to keeping your business afloat is having a consistent cash flow. This is where account receivable comes in. Accounts receivable (AR) is the outstanding balance of money owed to a company by its customers. This could be in the form of goods or services purchased on credit. In order for a business to maintain a positive cash flow, it must continually bring in new revenue through sales while also collecting on any outstanding debts, which is where accounts receivable come into play.


It may seem like accounts receivable are simply money that is owed to your business. However, they actually play a much larger role in the overall health of your company. Accounts receivables are used as collateral for loans, lines of credit, and other financing options. This means that if your business were to ever experience financial difficulties, you could use your accounts receivables as a way to secure funding and keep your business afloat. Additionally, your AR can impact your company’s credit score, which can affect your ability to secure future financing.


Thus, it’s clear that accounts receivable are much more than just outstanding balances owed to your business by customers. They play a vital role in the financial stability and health of your company. As such, it’s important to take steps to ensure that you’re effectively managing your accounts receivable and collecting on outstanding debts in a timely manner.


How Are Accounts Receivable Different from Accounts Payable?


Accounts receivable are the funds a company is owed from its customers for goods or services it has delivered. Accounts payable, on the other hand, are the funds a company owes to its suppliers for goods or services it has received. When a company provides goods or services on credit, you get accounts receivable. Accounts payable, on the other hand, arise when a company purchases goods or services on credit.


The main difference between accounts receivable and accounts payable is that accounts receivable is money owed to the company by customers, while accounts payable is money owed by the company to suppliers. Another key difference is that accounts receivable arises when a company provides goods or services on credit. Accounts payable arise when a company purchases goods or services on credit.


In most cases, companies will have both accounts receivable and account payable. This is because providing goods or services on credit is often necessary to win business. Moreover, purchasing goods or services on credit can help businesses save money. Managing both types of transactions effectively is critical to maintaining a strong cash flow and avoiding financial difficulties.




All in all, account receivables are an important part of any business. Understanding them can be beneficial for both customers and businesses. Account receivables allow businesses to offer customers the option to finance their purchases over a period of time. This is instead of having to pay for them all at once. By doing this, customers get the opportunity to purchase items they wouldn’t have been able to buy upfront. At the same time, businesses also get additional revenue. Accounts receivable is an integral part of any successful business model. The smart choice is to manage it carefully, with both customer satisfaction in mind as well as financial stability.

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Kayla Bloom

Kayla Bloom is a freelance Finance Writer specializing in topics related to Accounting, Bookkeeping, Taxes, and Business Finances. She lives in Miami, Florida.

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