Accounts Receivable (AR) Definition

What is Accounts Receivable (AR)?

Accounts Receivable (AR) is the balance of money owed to a business for goods or services delivered or used but not yet paid for by customers. Trade receivables are recorded on the balance sheet as current assets. AR is any amount of money owed by customers for purchases made on credit.

Key points to remember

  • Accounts Receivable is an asset account on the balance sheet that represents money owed to a business in the short term.
  • Accounts receivable are created when a business allows a buyer to purchase its goods or services on credit.
  • Accounts Payable is similar to Accounts Receivable, but instead of money receivable, it’s money owed.
  • The strength of a company’s RA can be analyzed with the accounts receivable turnover rate or the number of days of sales outstanding.
  • A churn rate analysis can be performed to get an estimate of when the RA will actually be received.

Understanding Customer Accounts

Accounts receivable refers to outstanding bills a business or the money that customers owe the business. The phrase refers to accounts that a company is entitled to receive because it has delivered a product or service. Accounts receivable, or receivables, represent a line of credit extended by a business and normally have terms that require payments to be due within a relatively short period of time. This usually ranges from a few days to a fiscal or calendar year.

Businesses record accounts receivable as an asset on their balance sheet because the customer is legally obligated to pay the debt. They are considered a cash, as they can be used as collateral to secure a loan to meet short-term obligations. Receivables are part of a company’s assets working capital.

In addition, accounts receivable are current assets, which means that the account balance is due from the debtor in one year or less. If a company has receivables, it means that it has made a sale on credit but has not yet received the money from the buyer. Essentially, the company accepted a short-term mandate acknowledgment of debt of his client.

Many companies use customer account aging calendars to keep tabs on the status and well-being of AR accounts.

Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable

When a company has debts to its suppliers or other parties, these are accounts payable. Accounts Payable is the opposite of Accounts Receivable. To illustrate, imagine Company A cleans Company B’s carpets and sends an invoice for the services. Company B owes them money, so it records the invoice in its accounts payable column. Company A is waiting to receive the money, so it records the invoice in its accounts receivable column.

Benefits of Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable is an important aspect of a company’s fundamental analysis. Accounts receivable are a short-term asset, so they measure a company’s liquidity or ability to cover short-term obligations without additional cash flow.

Fundamental analysts often evaluate accounts receivable in the context of revenue, also referred to as customer account turnover rate, which measures the number of times a company has collected its accounts receivable balance during an accounting period. Further analysis would include the assessment Days of incredible deals (DSO), the average number of days it takes to collect payment after a sale is made.

Example of Accounts Receivable

An example of accounts receivable includes a power company that bills its customers after the customers have received electricity. The electricity company records an account receivable for unpaid bills while waiting for its customers to pay their bills.

Most businesses operate by allowing part of their sales on credit. Sometimes businesses offer this credit to frequent or special customers who receive recurring bills. This practice allows customers to avoid the hassle of physically making payments with each transaction. In other cases, companies routinely offer all their customers the option to pay after receiving the service.

What are examples of claims?

A receivable is created whenever money is owed to a business for services rendered or products provided that have not yet been paid for. This may be a sale to a customer on store credit, or a subscription or installment payment that is due after receipt of the goods or services.

Where can I find a company’s customer accounts?

Accounts receivable appear on a company’s balance sheet, and because they represent funds owed to the company, they are recorded as an asset.

What if customers never pay what’s owed?

When it becomes clear that a customer account will not be paid by a customer, it should be removed like a bad debt or a single charge.

How are receivables different from accounts payable?

Receivables represent funds due to the company for services rendered and are capitalized. Accounts Payable, on the other hand, represents funds that the business owes to others. For example, payments due to suppliers or creditors. Debts are recognized as liabilities.