Accounting Financial Statements – The Balance Sheet

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The balance sheet, also called the statement of financial position, contains three items: assets, liabilities, and stockholders’ equity. It is dated at the moment in time when the accounting period ends. The accounting equation that is a big part of the financial statements is: assets equal liabilities plus stockholders’ equity. When working with a balance sheet: the total assets must equal the total liabilities and equity.

The first part of the balance sheet is assets. There are two main categories of assets: currents and long-term assets. Current assets are expected to be converted to cash in the next twelve months or one business operating cycle (if longer than a year). Cash is the most liquidated asset. Short-term investments are stocks and bonds that a company intends to sell within the next year. Accounts receivable are the amounts the company expects to collect from customers. Notes receivable are amounts that the company expects to collect from a customer who signed a promissory note. A company also includes inventory, which is a current asset, into the balance sheet. Prepaid expenses are also a part of the asset side of the balance sheet because the company will benefit from them in the future.

Long-term assets include plant, property, and equipment, intangibles, and investments. Plant, property, and equipment (PPE) include land, buildings, computers, store fixtures, etc. Accumulated depreciation is also included on the balance in the long-term assets area. It is the amount of depreciation from PPE at the end of the year. It is subtracted from the cost of PPE to determine its book value. Intangibles are assets with no physical form such as patents. Investments are long-term assets because the company does not expect to sell them within the next year.

The second part of the balance sheet is liabilities. Liabilities are also split into two categories: current and long-term liabilities. Current liabilities are debts paid within one year or one operating cycle. Accounts payable is the company promises to pay a debt arising from a credit purchase. Income taxes payable are tax debts owed to the government. Short-term borrowings are notes payable that the company has promised to pay back within one year. Salaries and wages payable are amounts owed to employees. Long-Term liabilities are payable after one year.

The last part of the balance sheet is stockholders’ equity. The Stockholders’ equity is assets minus liabilities. There are two parts to stockholders’ equity: paid-in capital and retained earnings. Paid-in capital is the amount the stockholders have invested in that company. The basic part of paid-in capital is common stock where a company issues stock to the stockholders as evidence of their ownership. Retained earnings are the amount earned by income-producing activities.

I hope this helped explain the parts of the balance sheet.