How to Report Interest-Bearing Debt

By John A. Tracy

Interest bearing debt that is due in one year or less is included in the current liabilities section of the balance sheet. The reason is that financial reporting standards require that external balance sheets report the amount of current liabilities so the reader can compare this amount of short-term liabilities against the total of current assets.

The ending balances of short-term and long-term debt that are reported in the external balance sheet are not nearly enough information for the manager. The best practice is to lay out in one comprehensive schedule for the manager all the interest-bearing obligations of the business.

The obligations should be organized according to their due (maturity) dates, and the schedule should include other relevant information such as the lender, the interest rate on each debt, the plans to rollover the debt (or not), the collateral, and the main covenants and restrictions on the business imposed by the lender.

Recall that debt is one of the two sources of capital to a business. The sustainability of a business depends on the sustainability of its sources of capital. The more a business depends on debt capital, the more important it is to manage its debt well and maintain excellent relations with its lenders.