Liabilities in Accounting: Definition & Examples


FreshBooks’ accounting software makes it easy to find and decode your liabilities by generating your balance sheet with the click of a button. In the U.S., only businesses in certain states have to collect sales tax, and rates vary. The Small Business Administration has a guide to help you figure out if you need to collect sales tax, what to do if you’re an online business and how to get a sales tax permit. All businesses have liabilities, except those that operate solely with cash.

What are 10 examples of liabilities?

Some examples of current liabilities that appear on the balance sheet include accounts payable, payroll due, payroll taxes, accrued expenses, short-term notes payable, income taxes, interest payable, accrued interest, utilities, rental fees, and other short-term debts.

This company’s current ratio may be cause for concern among analysts, because a current ratio value of 2.0 is a generally used “rule of thumb” requirement for healthy liquidity. In such cases, potential lenders will probably view the highly leveraged firm as a poor credit risk.

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With smaller companies, other line items like accounts payable and various future liabilities likepayroll, taxes will be higher current debt obligations. Virtually every business has at least some level of debt, continuously. Nearly all firms carry a non-zero accrued wages balance, for instance. This debt means they have not yet fully paid all employees, up to the minute, for all completed work.


As an overall view, liabilities directly represent any creditor claims on the assets of the entity. Liability gives important information helpful in analyzing the liquidity and solvency of the organization. It also includes the ability of the organization to repay loans, long-term debt, and interest. Fundamental investors prefer companies with lesser liabilities as compared to assets. Usually, companies that owe more money than they bring in business are in trouble situations and are not considered by investors. Long-term liabilities show the long-term solvency of the organization, i.e. its ability to pay off its long-term debt.

Advantages of Liabilities

The accountin equation is also the “Balance Sheet Equation” because Assets, Liabilities, and Owner’s equities are the three top level sections of the Balance sheet. Exhibit 1, below, is a simple Balance sheet example showing how these terms provide structure for the statement.

  • Current liabilities are usually considered short-term and non-current liabilities are long-term .
  • A company’s liabilities are critical factors in any industry in which it is involved to assess the viability of any company.
  • This article will focus on liabilities and their accounting treatment under GAAP, covering current liabilities and long-term bond issuances.
  • In this case, the bank is debiting an asset and crediting a liability, which means that both increase.
  • Current liabilities appear under Liabilities on the Balance sheet where they contrast with Long-term liabilities.

Another popular calculation that potential investors or lenders might perform while figuring out the health of your business is the debt to capital ratio. The outstanding money that the restaurant owes to its wine supplier is considered a liability. In contrast, the wine supplier considers the money it is owed to be an asset. Anderson is CPA, doctor of accounting, and an accounting and finance professor who has been working in the accounting and finance industries for more than 20 years. Her expertise covers a wide range of accounting, corporate finance, taxes, lending, and personal finance areas. Successful branding is why the Armani name signals style, exclusiveness, desirability.

What about contingent liabilities?

Generally speaking, the lower the ratio for your business, the less leveraged it is and the more capable it is of paying off its debts. The higher it is, the more leveraged it is, and the more liability risk it has. But there are other calculations that involve liabilities that you might perform—to analyze them and make sure your cash isn’t constantly tied up in paying off your debts. “Accounts payable” refers to an account within the general ledger representing a company’s obligation to pay off a short-term obligations to its creditors or suppliers.

Of course, some liabilities are expenses that you just haven’t paid yet. Items such as vendor invoices, tax liability, and owed wages fall into this category. These liabilities may simply represent short-term claims against a company’s assets – money that accounting records are indicating will be outlaid soon , so it is excluded from a company’s net value . Liabilities in accounting are the values of any money or other items that your business owes to a person or another business.

Find here the proven principles and process for valuing the full range of business benefits. Ability to service (i.e., pay interest on) its long-term debt and still earn acceptable margins and profits.

  • The primary classification of liabilities is according to their due date.
  • The following are examples of transactions and other events and circumstances that result in liabilities.
  • Current liabilities include all liabilities that are expected to be paid within one year.
  • In contrast, the wine supplier considers the money it is owed to be an asset.
  • Liabilities are the financial obligations owed by a business to other persons, businesses, and governments.

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