Bad Debts, Provision for Bad Debts, Debtors Control

by Anonymous
(South Africa)

Q: How does bad debts and the provision for bad debts affect the debtors control account?

bad debtsA:
Let's make sure we fully understand what these terms are before I answer your question.

Bad debts are debts owed to the business that have become bad, meaning it seems they are uncollectable. For example, Joe Shmo, who owed you R1,000 (R = Rands = South African currency), files bankruptcy and informs you of this. So it seems we won't get paid by Joe in future.

The original journal entry to record the sale would have been:
Dr Debtors Control R1,000
Cr Sales R1,000

When we become aware that the debt has become 'bad', we do an entry as follows:
Dr Bad debt (expense) R1,000
Cr Debtors Control R1,000

The provision for bad debts is not the same as bad debts.

The provision for bad debts is an estimate of the debts owed to us that will go bad in the future. We record this future loss of debts as soon as we are aware that we will definitely lose money in the future.

For example, let's say that at the end of the year we have R200,000 in debtors control. We expect 2% of debts owed to us to go bad in future. This amounts to R4,000 of our current debts.

The entry to record this provision for bad debts is:
Dr Bad debts (expense) R4,000
Cr Provision for Bad Debts (like a liability) R4,000

If nothing changes (we continue to expect 2% of all debts to go bad) then we keep our provision - our estimate - of bad debts, for as long as the business is running.

In the meantime, if some actual debts go bad (like the first example above), then we record an additional bad debt expense (as above).

The provision for bad debts is kept as a separate account to the debtors control.

These two accounts are, however, set off against one another in the balance sheet in order to present the true value of debtors. In our example above the "Trade and other debtors" in our balance sheet would be shown as R196,000 (R200,000 - R4,000).

There are full lessons, examples and exercises on bad debts and provision for bad debts in my official accounting book.

Comments for Bad Debts, Provision for Bad Debts, Debtors Control

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Provision for bad debts.
by: Anand John


1) At the time of creating provision:
P/L Acc Dr
To Provision for Bad Debts Acc

2) For actual bad debts:
Bad Debts Acc Dr
To Debtors Acc

Benefits of Creating Provisions
by: Michael

The main benefit of creating a provision is simply that it more accurately represents the value of debts owing to your company.

For example, if you have a debtors account to the value of $300,000, but you realistically expect that some of this may not be received (which is the usual case in business), then you can create a provision for bad debts.

You can choose this to come to 2% of the debtors. 2% X $300,000 = $6,000.

Therefore debtors as shown in the balance sheet will actually come to $294,000 ($300,000 - $6,000). This is a more accurate representation of the real value of the debtors.

If you are a public company that is required to produced audited financial statements then you will most probably have to create a provision. If you are a small business where you don't have a requirement of producing audited financial statements then provisions are optional but recommended.

by: Anonymous

We create a provision in order to avoid uncertainty up to a certain amount and mentally prepare for that part of the debtors and in this way it is easy for us to plan for the contingency in that situation.

Use of Provisions

In general words, provision means system to complete any work. But accounting provides another very technical definition of provision. In small business like shop, general store, there is no need to make any provision, so you will find minimum reference in basic accounting books but from time to time business expands and reaches the corporate level. It needs to understand the real meaning of provision and what is its importance and how can it be implemented in business accounting.

In very simple accounting term, "Provision is that action of business in which business organisation reserves his money for future losses for safeguarding business."

Benefits of Provisions
by: Anonymous

Can anyone please tell me the actual benefits of creating provisions?

Provision for Bad debt
by: Anonymous

Creation entry for provison for Bad debts is

Profit& loss a/c Dr
To Provision for Bad debt a/c

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