Corporate Finance For Dummies
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Current liabilities are those that must be paid back, fully or in part, in less than one year. Following are the current liabilities you find on the balance sheet in order from those that must be paid in the shortest period from when they were incurred to those that can be paid off in the longest period from when they were incurred.

Accounts payables category of a balance sheet

Accounts payables include any money that’s owed for the purchase of goods or services that the company intends to pay within a year. Say, for instance, that a company purchases $500 in paper clips and plans to pay that amount off in six months. The company adds $500 to the value of its accounts payables.

But after the company pays an invoice for the money it owes, it removes the value of that invoice from the accounts payables.

Unearned income on a balance sheet

When a company receives payment for a product or service but has yet to provide the goods or services it was paid for, the value of what the company owes the customer contributes to its unearned income. Imagine that you own a dog polishing business that charges $10 per session.

One of your customers pays $120 for monthly sessions, so your unearned income for that customer is $120 at the start. That value decreases by $10 every month as you provide the services that the customer paid for in advance.

Accrued compensation and accrued expenses on a balance sheet

As a company utilizes resources such as labor, utilities, and the like, it must eventually pay for these resources. However, most companies make such payments once every week, two weeks, three weeks, month, and so on, not upon receipt of the resource.

Accrued compensation refers to the amount of money that employees have earned by working for the company but haven’t been paid yet. Not that the company is refusing to pay, necessarily, just that people tend to get paid once every one to four weeks. So until these people receive their paychecks, the amount that the company owes them is considered a liability.

Accrued expenses work in a similar way and are applied to such things as rent, electricity, water, and any other expenses that a company incurs and pays at regular intervals.

Deferred income tax on the balance sheet

For tax purposes, sometimes a company chooses to report its income in a different period than when it actually earned the income. Although deferred income tax, as it’s called, can be quite useful for businesses in their attempt to reduce tax expenses in any given year, it does provide an additional concern for analysts.

To clarify just how much a company owes in deferred income taxes, the company reports this amount in the liabilities portion of the balance sheet.

Current portion of long-term debt category on the balance sheet

Often companies pay long-term debt in small portions over the course of several years. The current portion of long-term debt that a company has to pay in the next year is subtracted from long-term liabilities (see the next section) and added as a part of the short-term liabilities. Not all companies include this category on their balance sheets, but it’s extremely common.

Other current liabilities balance sheet category

Companies include any liabilities that they have to pay within the next year and that they don’t specify elsewhere on the balance sheet in the liability category creatively called other current liabilities. This category can include a wide variety of things from royalties to interest to rebates and everything in between.

About This Article

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Kenneth W. Boyd has 30 years of experience in accounting and financial services. He is a four-time Dummies book author, a blogger, and a video host on accounting and finance topics.

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