• Home
  • Testing
  • SAP
  • Web
  • Must Learn!
  • Big Data
  • Live Projects
  • Blog

The words “asset” and “liability” are two very common words in accounting.

Some people simply say an asset is something you own and a liability is something you owe. In other words, assets are good and liabilities are bad. That’s not wrong, but there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s look at a more complete definition.

Assets

Assets are something that your business uses to help generate a profit.

To make your famous cream cake, you need your oven. These two things are examples of assets.

To be an asset it has to satisfy 3 requirements:

  • It’s something you have control over
  • You have control as a result of a past event
  • It has a future economic benefit

Now, let’s say after you got your loan of $10,000, you went out and bought a new oven. But not just any oven. You bought the latest and greatest model. You bought the Bakemaster X Series 3000.

Let’s see if your new Bakemaster fits the requirements of an asset.

Something you have control over?

You paid for it didn’t you? You can keep it, you can sell it, you can even bake your shoes in it if you want to! Yep, it’s definitely in your control.

As a result of a past event?

In this case, going to the store and handing over your cash will constitute a past event.

Has a future economic benefit?

With your new Bakemaster, you’re definitely going to be baking some serious cream cakes which customers are going to pay top dollar for. That’s definitely a future economic benefit.

Because your new oven meets above 3 requirements, it’s definitely an asset.

Now let’s take a look at an example, where something might not fit the definition of an asset.

Example B

A customer calls your store and says he had a dream about your cakes. He says he’s coming in tomorrow to spend $1,000 in your bakery on every lemonade butter cream flavoured treat he can find.

You think the $1,000 should be recorded as an asset in your records.

Let’s see if it fits the definition of an asset.

Something you have control over?

Sorry, you don’t have the $1,000 yet. You can’t spend it. You can’t even touch it! Definitely not in your control.

As a result of a past event?

The event needed for you to gain control of that cash will be when he comes in and hands it to you. Hasn’t happened yet though! So in this case, no event has taken place.

Has a future economic benefit?

$1,000 can buy a lot of things. Of course it has a future economic benefit.

Sorry, but this time you’re only 1 for 3. The $1,000 holds a future benefit, however you do not have control of the money and the past events needed for you to gain control have not occurred yet.

 Therefore, the $1,000 is not an asset.

Another example:

Your friend lets your borrow his car as a delivery vehicle. However, one night the road is slippery and your driver crashes into a tree. The car is completely damaged and is no longer drivable. Let’s see if the car is an asset:

Something you have control over?

The car doesn’t belong to you. It was lent to you by a friend, and you didn’t sign a lease or contract giving you any rights to the car. Therefore, the car is not in your control.

As a result of a past event?

The event needed for you to gain control of the car is you signing an agreement and paying to purchase the car or rent it. Sorry, but no such event has taken place.

Has a future economic benefit?

The car is completely damaged and cannot be driven. It won’t be providing a future economic benefit for anyone.

Sorry, but this time you’re 0 for 3. The car is definitely not an asset.

Hopefully that gives you an understanding of assets and when you recognize them. But what about liabilities?

Let’s take a look.

 

Liability

A liability requires 3 things:

  • Presents the business with an obligation
  • Obligation is a result of past events
  • Settling the obligation will require an outflow of valuable resources

Remember when Anne decided to give you that loan? Well, before you walked out of the bank she said to you, “You’re going to need to pay $1,000 each month until the whole $10,000 is paid back!”

Let’s see if the loan from Anne fits the definition of a liability.

Presents the business with an obligation?

You took the money. Now you’re required to pay it back! Definitely presents an obligation.

 

As a result of past events?

You signed the loan agreement. The obligation comes as a result of this past event.

Requires an outflow of valuable resources?

Paying back the loan requires the outflow of money. Money is valuable! That’s certainly an outflow of valuable resources.

Bingo! The loan satisfies all the requirements, so we’ll be recording it in our books as a liability.

Example B:

The sink in your store is leaking. One of your staff takes a look at it and tells you that you’ll definitely need a plumber to come in and fix it, which will cost you around $200. You want to list the $200 as a liability in your records.

Let’s see if the $200 fits the definition of a liability.

 

Presents the business with an obligation?

You are not obliged to pay anybody at this stage. The leaking sink is simply an inconvenience which you can either choose to fix or not to fix. Therefore there’s no obligation to the business...yet.

As a result of past events?

You’ll need to actually call the plumber and receive the $200 invoice before any liability can be recognised. This event hasn’t occurred yet!

Requires an outflow of valuable resources?

With no obligation to pay anybody just yet, no outflow of resources should be expected.

Luckily for you, the $200 doesn’t fit the requirements for a liability. You can keep this one off your records!

Activity:

Think about the stuff you have in your life. Perhaps you drive a Ferrari, or maybe you simply ride a bicycle. Maybe you own a mansion or maybe you live at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine. Either way, you probably needed a mortgage for it. In this case, your Ferrari would be an example of an asset whereas your mortgage is a liability. Use the worksheet below and list at least 3 assets and 3 liabilities you have in your business or your personal life. Use the checklist to make sure they fit the definition of an asset.

  Assets Interactivity

Enter name of asset:
Is under your control?Yes No
Do you own as a result of past event ?YesNo
Will provide a future economic benifits?YesNo
Sorry! is not an Asset.
Congratulation! is an Asset


Liability Interactivity

Enter name of LIABILITY:
Does impose a present obligation?Yes No
Do you owe as a result of past event ?YesNo
Will result in outflows of resources that have economic value?YesNo
Hi,
Sorry! is not an LIABILITY.
Congratulation! is an LIABILITY

  Below is a list of everyday thing you come across. Classify them as Asset, Liability or perhaps neither

     Assets Liability Neither Status
  1. Bank
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Loan
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Building
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Hired furniture
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Rented property
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Mortgage
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Car
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Lawyer’s fees
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Bank account
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Credit Debit Card
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Investments
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Bonds
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Job
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Unpaid bills
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. House
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Hire purchase contracts
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Future bills
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Computer
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Cellphone
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Past bills
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Television
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.
  1. Furniture
Correct.
Sorry, not correct.

 

YOU MIGHT LIKE: