Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Explanation of T Account, Debit and Credit, and Double Entry Accounting System

In this accounting lecture, we will talk about T-accounts, accounting debits and credits, accounting balances and double entry accounting system.

All accountants know several terms that create basis for any accounting system. Such terms are T-account, debit and credit, and double entry accounting system. Of course, these terms are studied by accounting students all over the world. However, any business person, whether an investment banker or a small business owner, will benefit from knowing them as well. They are easy to grasp and will be helpful in most business situations. Let us take a closer look at these accounting terms.


Accounting records about events and transactions are recorded in accounts. An account is an individual record of increases and decreases in a specific asset, liability, or owner's equity item. Look at accounts as a place for recording numbers related to a certain item or class of transactions. Examples of accounts may be Cash, Accounts Receivable, Fixed Assets, Accounts Payable, Accrued Payroll, Sales, Rent Expenses and so on.

An account consists of three parts:

- title of the account
- left side (known as debit)
- right side (known as credit)

Because the alignment of these parts of an account resembles the letter T, it is referred to as a T account. You could draw T accounts on a piece of paper and use it to maintain your accounting records. However, nowadays, instead of having to draw T accounts, accountants use accounting software (i.e., QuickBooks, Microsoft Accounting, Peachtree, JD Edwards, Oracle, and SAP, among others).

Debit, Credit and Account Balance

In account, the term debit means left side, and credit means right side. These are abbreviated as Dr for debit and Cr for credit. Debit and credit indicate on which side of a T account numbers will be recorded.

An account balance is the difference between the debit and credit amounts. For some types of accounts debit means an increase in the account balance, while for others debit means a decrease in the account balance. See below for a list of accounts and what a debit to such account means:

Asset - Increase
Contra Assets - Decrease
Liability - Decrease
Equity - Decrease
Contribution Capital - Decrease
Revenue - Decrease
Expenses - Increase
Distributions - Increase
Credits to the above account types will mean an opposite result.

Double Entry Accounting System

A double entry accounting system requires that any amount entered into the accounting records is shown at least on two different accounts. For example, when a customer pays cash for your product, an account would show the cash received in the Cash account (as a debit) and in the Sales account (as a credit). All debit amounts equal all credit amounts provided the double-entry accounting was properly followed.

Having a double entry accounting system has benefits over regular, one-sided systems. One of such benefits is that the double-entry system helps identify recording errors. As I mentioned, if one amount is entered only once in error, then debits and credits won't balance and the accountant will know that one or more entries were not posted fully. Note, however, that this check will help spot errors, but will not identify all cases of errors. For example, equal debits and credits will not identify an error when an amount was posted twice, but was posted to wrong accounts. Keep this in mind when analyzing causes of errors in accounting records.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Setting Up Quickbooks - Entering Accounts Part One


Adding accounts to Quickbooks is very easy, the warning here is that it is so easy that making a mistake either in placement of the account or the identification of where to put it may be a little deceiving. It is always advisable that you consult a professional to help you as once you add these accounts and begin using them, it can be a long procedure to correct mistakes. And because each business is unique in it's accounts, it may take a little creative maneuvering to best fit your type of business. Having said that, let's look at your different options in adding accounts.

I. Income Accounts

There may be several ways that your business receives income. (this is where the help of a ProAdvisor comes in) For example if you are a service industry business, let's use a lawn care company as an example. The overall easy way to handle this is to enter ALL income into one account. However, this doesn't help you as a business owner decide which of your services is more profitable than another. You may not care about that, but it only takes another few minutes of effort to get it right, so let's make sure we do so. Create an account for income for lawn maintenance, another for landscape design and yet another for pest control or another similar service. Create a parent account named Lawn Services and a sub account for each of the areas you earn income in. Upon entering these sub-accounts you will see a box labeled sub-account of, check that box and type Lawn Services. The description, note and tax-line mapping boxes are optional, for the best results however, at least utilize the tax-line mapping and an income account will more than likely fit the first category listed which is Income: Gross Sales or Services. Consult your tax professional for more help with this area.

II. Expense Accounts

The expense window looks identical to the income in every way. I highly recommend a wise use of sub-accounts in the expense accounts area as well. For example, grouping your electrical, water and phone bills under utilities is what a lot of businesses do, however, what happens when you add a cell phone?

I would create a parent account for utilities and sub-accounts for power, water, phone, and other utilities. I would also suggest doing the same with advertising expenses, having one parent account for advertising and sub-accounts for signs, yellow pages ads, internet ads, and more so you can keep more careful track of your cash flow.

When you get to payroll expenses, you are definitely going to need to use sub-accounts appropriately and create sub-accounts for FICA payable - Company, Social Security Payable - Company, Worker's Comp, etc. If you do not use Intuit's Payroll services, that's okay, but it increases the risk of mistakes in transmission of information from the payroll companies' to the Quickbooks files.

III. Fixed Assets

There is a step by step procedure in entering fixed assets into Quickbooks and a detailed explanation of how to categorize your fixed assets. Fixed Assets include buildings, land, Machinery, vehicles and Accumulated Depreciation. The only difference in the Fixed Assets window is that the Tax-Line Mapping is automatically entered for you.

IV. Bank Accounts

In Quickbooks a Bank Account isn't always necessarily an actual bank account. When entering a regular bank account whether it's checking or savings, Quickbooks will ask for the opening balance as of a certain date. (If this is a new account, the opening balance isn't necessary, it will be $0.00) For a more accurate picture of your business' financial situation, and to ensure an accurate reconciliation of your bank account, enter the opening balance, which will be the ending balance of the previous month. If this account was used for any business transactions prior to the date you install Quickbooks, it would be a good idea to have a Professional help you enter these transactions accurately.

When is a bank account NOT a bank account? If your business is using petty cash system, (to make change for customers, etc) it is best to set up Petty Cash as a separate bank account so that you can transfer funds from Petty Cash to Undeposited Funds when necessary.
What if you have a customer with whom you have an agreement to trade your services/products with theirs? In this case, you can create a bank account called Trade or Barter and deposit the value of your products/services to offset those of your customers. Neither one are actually bank accounts, but they make it easy to keep track of those 'creative' transactions.

V. Loan

A Loan account keeps track of the amount you owe on loans from those who you owe money to. This is NOT a long term liability account, this is money lent to the business by others and which you intend on paying back within the year. You have use of the funds, which is an asset, and you owe the loaner, which is a liability. If you need to enter a loan for a vehicle, building, etc, it needs to be in the Long Term Liability accounts.

VI. Credit Card Accounts

You must add a credit card to your account list to gain access to the Enter Credit Card Charges feature on the Quickbooks home menu. Credit Cards can be used to pay for expenses, items or bills. When using Credit Cards to pay bills, one common mistake business owners make is not choosing the correct account to pay the bill out of. If you are using more than one Credit Card, take it slow and make sure that your payments and credits to the account are appropriately applied or reconciliations will be a nightmare and a half.

You are given the option of being able to enter the account number, expiration date and more as you are entering the card for the first time. As long as you don't have a situation where innumerable people have access to your Quickbooks files, it is perfectly safe to enter this information, if you do have that situation, consider hiring someone else or restricting access to others on your Quickbooks network.

VII. Equity Accounts

An equity account includes owner's draw, owner's contributions, etc (these categories change names but not function, depending on the legal formation of the company). This is the money the business owner invests in order to begin the company and the subsequent money they have to draw from in order to keep the company running. The retained earnings account is an equity account that is added by Quickbooks at year end when the revenue and expenses are calculated. The description that is given this account by Quickbooks is "undistributed earnings of the company". In the case of a company just beginning to use Quickbooks, the account can be created manually for previous years balances in another accounting software system by creating the account manually and entering in the opening balance from the previous year.

The rest of the accounts are going to be examined in a separate article where we will discuss common mistakes made in entering these accounts and the occasional symbiotic relationship these accounts have with one another.

David Roberts, CFE, CQBPA, MBA, lives in Kissimmee, Florida with four girls, three dogs, two snakes and one wife. He has been a member of the ACFE for four years and has been studying fraud for longer than that. He is the owner of Homesoon Accounting Services which specializes in Quickbooks Consultations and Fraud Prevention and Detection.