what is deferred revenue? – Before We Get Into The Topic, let’s Learn Some Basic Of This Topic

The deferred revenue account appears to be revenue, or income, account that would appear on a company’s income statement at first glance. Deferred revenue, on the other hand, is recorded as a liability on a company’s balance sheet. When clients pay for services before they are rendered, deferred revenue is often reflected on the balance sheets of service companies. Landscapers, lawyers, and contractors are examples of service businesses. When a company receives payment before shipping goods that have been ordered, it is also reported as deferred revenue.

Definition of Deferred Revenue

Deferred revenue is income that has been received but has not yet been earned. When a landscaping firm invoices a customer $200 on the first of the month for services to be done that month, the landscaper will report $200 in deferred revenue. Although the consumer has paid for a service, the landscaper has done nothing to earn it. As a result, revenue cannot be represented on the balance sheet of the corporation.

Deferred Revenue Is a Liability

A company’s liabilities are listed on its balance sheet. They reflect the amount of money due to another individual or business. Accounts payable, loans, and mortgages are examples of common liabilities. Even if money has been collected, deferred revenue is recorded as a liability since items have not been received by the client or the company has not delivered the agreed service. Deferred income can be categorized as either a current or long-term liability. This classification is based on how long the company will take to generate income. If the services or goods will be delivered within a year, the deferred revenue is a current liability. Deferred revenue is a long-term liability if services or goods will be provided over a period of longer than one year.

When Deferred Revenue Becomes Earned Revenue

Deferred revenue is recorded as earned revenue once services or goods are delivered.

Revenue recognition is an accounting concept that states that revenue is recognized when it is earned. In the case of the landscaper, no landscaping services had been performed when the $200 payment was received. As the landscaper performs weekly maintenance services, $50 will be transferred from deferred revenue to earned revenue on the balance sheet. A portion of the contracted services has now been completed, necessitating the transition.

Deferred Revenue Analysis

Although deferred revenue is listed as a liability and isn’t typically thought of as a positive item on a balance sheet, it can provide useful information about a company. A company’s balance sheet, for example, can be compared over three years to see if deferred revenue is rising, falling, or staying the same. Increases in deferred revenue could imply that the company’s earnings may rise when more services or commodities are delivered. A drop in delayed revenue could imply that a company isn’t as busy as it was in previous years.

What Is Deferred Revenue?

Cash is essential for all businesses, but it is especially important for small businesses that have limited access to capital. Your business requires cash to pay bills and meet other short-term obligations. The sooner you can get cash in, the better your operating cash flow will be. Collecting customer deposit prepays, and advance installment payments are one way to bring in cash sooner. All of this is referred to as deferred revenue.

Deferred Revenue

Revenues are recognized when they are earned in accrual accounting. Deferred revenue is a liability because you’ve been paid for goods or services you haven’t yet delivered. The cash received is recorded as an asset, while the services owed are recorded as a deferred revenue liability. When you perform the services or provide the goods required to receive the revenue, you recognize revenue. When you perform the service or deliver the goods, you eliminate deferred revenue. As a result, unearned revenue is another name for deferred revenue.

Deferred Revenue Calculation

Calculating deferred revenue is relatively simple. It’s the total of all deposits, retainers, and other advance payments made by customers. Any further deposits and advance payments raise the deferred revenue amounts, while revenue collected during the accounting period decreases them.

Customer Deposits

When clients pay a deposit for a product or service, the full value of the deposit is recorded as deferred revenue. For as long as the money is deemed a deposit, it is considered delayed revenue. For example, suppose you offer IT services for $3,000 per month for 36 months and require a two-month deposit of $6,000, which is refunded when the contract ends. For the whole 36-month term, that $6,000 deposit is recorded as deferred revenue on your company’s balance sheet. If you have 100 contracts like this, you’ll have $600,000 in customer deposits on your balance sheet as a liability.

Retainers and Advance Payments

A retainer is a payment made in advance for services to be provided in the future. For example, a company may pay a retainer fee to a law firm to ensure that the firm will represent it in the event of a legal dispute. Any payment made before the delivery of a commodity or service — usually a few weeks to several months — is referred to as an advance. The amount of the retainer or advance payment is equivalent to the deferred revenue.

Example: Retainer

A company pays a $2,000 monthly retainer charge for the services of a law firm as needed. It does not require the firm’s legal services for four months. The retainer shown on the firm’s balance sheet for the first month is $2,000 The second month’s balance sheet shows $4,000, the third month’s balance sheet $6,000, and the fourth month’s balance sheet $8,000. The client requests services in the middle of the fourth month and is charged $5,000. The $8,000 in retainer payments minus the $5,000 in services performed reduces the retainer reported on the law firm’s balance sheet to $3,000 on the balance sheet.

Purpose of Adjusting Entries in a General Ledger

Internal entries are the fundamental, necessary components of a company’s balance sheet and income statement. Adjusting journal entries are used by all companies that follow generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, to adjust a company’s revenue and expense accounts to ensure that all business activity has been included in the company’s financial results, even if no cash exchange occurred or the transaction was not processed through accounts payable and receivable.

Unearned Revenue

The accrual foundation of accounting mandates that a corporation reports revenue only after the task is completed. If a corporation gets payment in advance for goods or services provided to a client, an adjustment entry to unearned revenue, a balance sheet liability account, is made to record the commitment. When the task is eventually completed and “earned,” an adjustment entry is made because the amount is no longer a liability but earned revenue that must be recognized as such.

Accrued Revenue

Even if no cash is received, a company that provides goods or services to a customer on credit may update its books with a gain in income as the sale is complete. If a sale is made during one period but the customer isn’t invoiced until the next, the company will still record the revenue in the previous period.

Deferred Expenses

When a corporation pays its vendors and suppliers in advance for services that will be provided in the future, the cash payment increases the prepaid expense account, which is an asset account. Insurance premiums are frequently required to be paid six months to one year in advance, hence this is a common prepayment. As the corporation uses the benefits, the prepaid asset account is updated, or reduced, to reflect the percentage of the general ledger that is “used up.”

Accrued Expenses

When a corporation obtains products or services on credit from a supplier and does not pay or is not invoiced by the supplier by the balance sheet date, the general ledger must be modified to reflect the liability. This happens when the liability account — accounts payable — receives a credit or an increase. The adjusting entry is reversed once the company has paid for the goods or services, as the amount owed is no longer outstanding.

What Is Considered Unearned Service Revenue?

Service businesses that utilize the accrual method of accounting will have to register unearned service income regularly. When a consumer pays for services in advance, it generates unearned revenue, also known as delayed revenue. There are no expensive items to match the revenue because you have not yet executed the required services. You must record the revenue as a liability on the company’s general ledger until it can be acknowledged.


If a customer pays for services before they are delivered, the money must be recorded as unearned revenue. You may, for example, give a discount to consumers who pay in advance for a specific period of time. Unearned money is not exclusive to service businesses, though it is more typical in industries that deal with long-term contracts regularly. Because the corporation now owes the customer services the same amount as the payment, unearned service income is a liability. The company still profits from the payment since it now has cash on hand to invest in dividends and interest. Cash flow is crucial to the health of your company, especially if you’re just getting started.

Types of people

Magazine subscriptions, meal delivery services, property management contracts, and building jobs are just a few instances of unearned service revenue. Airline or bus tickets purchased before the trip date, consulting contracts, and health club memberships are all examples of delayed revenue. Unearned money can also be generated by prepaid insurance premiums and retainers for accounting, legal, and other professional services.

Initial Accounting

In your general ledger software, create a new liability account named “unearned” or “delayed” revenue. Debit the amount of the customer’s prepayment in cash. If no services have been performed for the customer yet, credit the new liability account for the full amount of the payment. Unearned revenue is recorded as a liability to avoid overstating the company’s position by declaring a financial asset equal to the value of services owing to consumers.

Revenue Recognition

Unearned revenue does not affect the income statement until the services are rendered and revenue is recognized. After the consumer has received services, you must convert a comparable amount of unearned money to current revenue. The share of the money earned might be calculated depending on the length of the contract or the customer’s actual usage. For example, if your contract stipulates that the client receives 10 hours of IT repair work for $1,500 each year, but the customer only utilizes two hours in the current month, you would deduct $300 from unearned revenue and credit the same amount to the current revenue.

How to Allocate Revenue?

To apportion incoming revenue and departing expenditure in the company records, businesses employ either a cash or accrual accounting method. The cash method necessitates revenue reporting only once a payment has been received. Revenue occurs in a few distinct areas on the balance sheet in the accrual accounting method. Payments for products and services received in advance are documented as a liability, but payments expected for already delivered items are recorded as assets. Adjusting entries must be made as transactions are performed throughout a reporting period to keep the books up to date.

1.Orders fulfilled without payment in advance should be included in the company’s balance sheet under “Accounts Receivable.” Even if an invoice or bill hasn’t been provided to the customer, orders should be added to the balance sheet as an adjusting item after the accounting period. On the balance sheet, the “Accounts Receivable” account entries are considered company assets because they reflect income, or revenue, that a company has already received and expects to receive according to its credit guidelines.

2..When a payment is received on a previously completed order, make an additional adjustment entry. On the balance sheet, the adjusting entry transfers funds from the “Accounts Receivable” account to the “Cash” account.

3.In the liabilities part of the balance sheet, record money received for items not yet delivered or services not yet given as “Unearned Revenue.”

4.When some of the items or services that were paid for in advance are delivered or completed, make an adjustment entry in “Unearned Revenue.”

5.Make the adjusting entry a deferred adjustment for “Service Revenue.” Some modifications will be for one-time payments based on the delivery of items, while others would be postponed at a set rate, such as $100 per month, for services rendered regularly. The deferred revenue becomes an asset in the company’s “Cash” account as the monies are generated.

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