Accrued Revenue vs Deferred Revenue: What You Should Know

As accrued revenues are identified during the closing period, they are entered into the system. Meanwhile, revenue accounts are reviewed to verify that there aren’t any unearned deposits that need to be recategorized as a liability. Commonly, this shift is tracked via a journal entry that debits regular revenue and credits the liability account.

  1. The difference in accrued revenue vs. deferred revenue primarily relates to whether the cash receipt was received after or before the product was shipped to the customer or the services were performed.
  2. As a heuristic for communicating this idea in class, the following representative formula is used.
  3. Deferred revenues are not “real revenues.” They don’t affect net income or loss at all.

Accrued revenue is recognized as earned revenue in the receivables balance sheet, despite the business not receiving payment yet. In all subsequent months, cash from operations would be $0 as each $100 increment in net income would be offset by a corresponding $100 decrease in current liabilities (the deferred revenue account). An accrual system recognizes revenue in the income statement before it’s received. A deferral system aims to decrease the debit account and credit the revenue account.

Accrued Revenue Vs Deferred Revenue – Key Differences

In the competitive landscape of SaaS businesses, integrating your accounting system, QuickBooks, with your CRM platform, Pipedrive, through ScaleXP, can significantly elevate your financial management. Through a series of complex natural language algorithms, revenue is categorised by month and then by day. The schedule references and links to each invoice in the accounting system, creating an accurate and auditable schedule. Intangible assets that are deferred due to amortization or tangible asset depreciation costs might also qualify as deferred expenses. In all the scenarios above, the company must repay the customer for the prepayment. Of course, for smaller, privately-owned businesses, there are no current regulations to meet these GAAP standards.

Deferred revenues are not “real revenues.” They don’t affect net income or loss at all. The timing of customers’ payments can be volatile and unpredictable, so it makes sense to ignore the timing of the cash payment and recognize revenue when it is earned. When the bill is paid, the entry would be adjusted by debiting cash by $10,000 and crediting accounts receivable by $10,000. When the services have been completed,  you would debit expenses by $10,000 and credit prepaid expenses by $10,000. The remaining $150 sits on the balance sheet as deferred revenue until the software upgrades are fully delivered to the customer by the company.

Robert Trivedi has signed the rental agreement with Taylor for 2,200 USD per month for the coffee shop. As mentioned earlier, that Taylor pays the rent on the 1st of every following month. By December 31st, Taylor had not paid the rent, but Mr. Trivedi already earned it. Therefore he will make deferred revenue vs accrued revenue two adjusting entries in his books to follow the accrual-based accounting system. Robert Trivedi prepares his annual financial statements every year by ending the period on December 31st. Every December 31st, the coffee owner has used the storefront for the whole month but has not paid yet.

Everything You Need To Master Financial Modeling

Its example can include; utility bills, rent paid in advance, interest, purchase on credit, etc. DebitCreditUnearned Revenue$1,000Revenue$1,000Why is deferred revenue considered a liability? The journal entry to recognize a deferred revenue is to debit or increase cash and credit or increase a deposit or another liability account. Deferred revenue is common with subscription-based products or services that require prepayments.

What Deferred Revenue Is in Accounting, and Why It’s a Liability

Sometimes our revenue may not be tangible, leading to a false impression of our business’ financial health. Accrual Accounting is an accounting method that instantly records revenues & expenditures after a transaction occurs, irrespective of when the payment is received or made. Accrual SystemAccrual Accounting is an accounting method that instantly records revenues & expenditures after a transaction occurs, irrespective of when the payment is received or made. For example, ABC International receives a $10,000 advance payment from a customer. Salaries payable are wages earned by employees in one accounting period but not paid until the next, while interest payable is interest expense that has been incurred but not yet paid. Accrual of something is, in finance, the adding together of interest or different investments over a period of time.

Form Of Accounts ReceivablesAccounts receivables refer to the amount due on the customers for the credit sales of the products or services made by the company to them. Accrual is an adjustment made to accounts to make sure revenue and expenses are properly matched. Regardless of whether cash has been paid or not, expenses incurred to generate revenue must be recorded. Accrual and deferral methods keep revenues and expenses in sync — that’s what makes them important.

Accrued income is an important concept for businesses working on long-term projects. Andy A. Torosyan, CPA, is a tax partner at Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt LLP, based in Los Angeles. Rob Razani, CPA, MST, is a revenue agent in the Large Business & International business unit of the IRS and an adjunct professor in taxation at California State University, Northridge, Calif. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.

How Accrual Accounting Affects Business

Deferred revenue is typically reported as a current liability on a company’s balance sheet, as prepayment terms are typically for 12 months or less. Deferred revenue is recognized as a liability on the balance sheet of a company that receives an advance payment. This is because it has an obligation to the customer in the form of the products or services owed. The payment is considered a liability to the company because there is still the possibility that the good or service may not be delivered, or the buyer might cancel the order.

In the case of accounts receivable, the company sells the goods, but the customer is yet to pay. Accounts payable, on the other hand, is the expense that the company is yet to pay. While accrued expenses are expenses that have not been paid but has already been incurred, deferred expenses are expenses that have not been incurred but payment has been made.

For a common example, most insurance premiums serve as deferred expenses since the customer routinely pays at the start of the coverage period. For long-term projects, a business should only record a proportion of the total revenue in the relevant accounting period. In other words, it should spread the total revenue across the length of the project. Accrual accounting is more accurate in terms of net income because it matches income with the expenses incurred to produce it.


The four common types of accruals are unearned revenues, accrued revenues, accrued expenses, prepaid expenses. A company’s net income will increase when revenues are accrued or when expenses are deferred and decrease when revenues are deferred or when expenses are accrued. The purpose of adjusting entries is to allocate revenue and expenses among accounting periods in accordance with the realization and matching principles. Accrual and Deferral are a part of those types of accounting adjustment entries where there is a time lag in the reporting and realization of income and expense. Accrual occurs before a payment or a receipt and deferral occur after a payment or a receipt.

After the services are delivered, the revenue can be recognized with the following journal entry, where the liability decreases while the revenue increases. Deferred revenue (or “unearned” revenue) arises if a customer pays upfront for a product or service that has not yet been delivered by the company. If you’re interested in discovering more about accrued revenue, deferred revenue, or any aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts. It’s crucial to understand the difference between accrued and deferred revenue and how to factor them into our accounting.

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