Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable: All you need to know about their differences

Accounts receivable vs. accounts payable: All you need to know about their differences

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To assist you in better understanding these two bookkeeping fundamentals, we have put together a detailed comparison of Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable.

Basics of Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable

The terms Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable are sometimes muddled, which makes sense given that they both refer to the money that comes into and leaves your company. Accounts Payable, to put it simply, is the money you owe, and Accounts Receivable is the money you are owed by others.

What is Accounts Receivable?

The category on a firm’s balance sheet or income statement that lists any outstanding sums due to the company by its clients is known as Accounts Receivable.

Accounts Receivable serve two purposes in financial statements. They are revenue accounts that display the company’s earnings or upcoming cash infusions. Additionally, these are current asset accounts that show money that is included in the business’s net working capital.

Difference between Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable

Any items and services for which the business has generated an invoice are detailed on an Accounts Receivable ledger.

For instance, a supplier of automotive batteries might send a pallet of batteries to a car manufacturer, giving them credit for the purchase, and allowing the carmaker to pay once the batteries have been received. The purchase sum continues to be a ledger item in accounts receivable up until the automaker pays its invoice. When the payment is received, the funds are transferred to cash on hand and are reported in a cash flow statement, a financial record of the inflow and outflow of funds for an organization.

Accounts Receivable examples:

  • A merchant sold 1,000 candles valued at $10 each ($10,000 in total) to company A. Company A paid $3,000 upfront and agreed to pay the rest of the balance within three months. This means a balance of $7,000 will be shown in the Accounts Receivable until the full payment is made.
  • Suppose a customer named Stephanie pays a one-year subscription fee for a beauty subscription box service on a monthly basis. Here, the money listed in Accounts Receivable is classified as “deferred revenue” because goods and services are paid in advance.
  • Homeowners hire a roofing service for a roof inspection, roof cleaning or maintenance. The total contract price is $10,000 and the contractor received two out of five instalments. However, additional costs incurred include roofing materials worth $5,000. In this case, the contractor has to determine the full amount it should receive from the homeowner based on the services rendered.

When To Use Accounts Receivable

Accounts Receivable is a tool used by businesses to monitor outstanding payments from clients.

The ledger records a receivable balance as an asset. The account gets deleted from the Accounts Receivable list once complete payment has been received. Finance may issue a reminder along with the first invoice and any late penalties accrued if payments are not received on time.

What is Accounts Payable?

A balance sheet’s Accounts Payable ledger lists upcoming transactions where the corporation must make a payment to a third party.

Accounts Payable is a Liability Account since it reflects the money that will shortly leave the company and reduce its net worth on the balance sheet.

Difference between Accounts Receivable and Account Payable

Similar to Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable keeps track of ledger items for which an invoice has been generated, with the exception being this time, the invoice is sent to the business. A marketing firm, for instance, may maintain an ongoing relationship with the business and bill it once a month for services provided. The expense is held in Accounts Payable until the marketer’s bill is paid. Once the funds are actually disbursed, the transaction is recorded on a cash flow statement by the firm bookkeepers.

Accounts Payable examples:

  • A jewelry merchant buys beads and stones in large quantities to produce several charm necklaces and bracelets on credit. The credit period is net-60 so the items will be listed on accounts payable until the credit is paid.
  • A tech company manufacturing laptops and smartphones may subcontract factories based in Taiwan or Vietnam to assemble the parts. Payments to subcontractors for services rendered will be considered accounts payable.
  • An e-commerce brand uses transportation and logistics services to get its products shipped to its customers plus a warehouse to store its products. Since payment is made at a later date, costs are included in the accounts payable.

When To Use Accounts Payable

Accounts Payable is the best tool for managing costs and amounts owing to suppliers for crucial business operations.

For instance, after selecting a supplier, a business will issue a formal purchase order, terms and conditions, and delivery date. It might also agree to make partial payments—say, 50% in credit and 50% in debit—upfront and the remaining payments once the services are rendered.

If the business is pleased with the goods and services, it will issue an invoice within the specified payment window (e.g., net-30 or net-90). The outstanding payments will continue to be kept in accounts payable until then.

Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable: What are the key differences?

Difference between Accounts Receivable and Account Payable
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There are several similarities between the accounting procedures for Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable. Accounts Payable depicts money that will shortly leave the organization, whereas Accounts Receivable explains money that is anticipated to flow into the company. Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable – they are so different in the following ways:


Accounts Payable is a Current Liability account –  it reports money that should soon flow into the company. Accounts Receivable is a Current Asset account—it describes money that will soon leave the company.

Offset allowances

Sometimes a running amount known as an offset allowance is involved with Accounts Receivable—but not Accounts Payable. Offset allowances are based on the notion that some Accounts Receivable balances might never be paid. These are known as “Doubtful accounts” in Accounting.

An offset allowance is the amount of money that the business will lose if dubious accounts fail to make their payments on time. The business will suffer a loss, which will have an impact on its total bottom line.

Accountants and bookkeepers are not allowed to make offset adjustments for accounts payable. The company may not have the intention to pay its debts if it makes an offset provision for bills it (the company) owes. Multiple Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that govern business finance are broken by this activity.


Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable are both examined by auditors to ensure openness and honesty, but they are searching for distinct things in each ledger.

How to do Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable?

During the audit of Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable, they make sure that each ledger item corresponds to actual bills. They also search for questionable accounts and bills that are most likely not to be paid. They check to make sure that a company’s bookkeepers aren’t inflating the company’s net worth by reporting potential future income that will never happen. The balance of a customer’s account must be transferred from accounts receivable to current expenses if it appears that they will never pay their invoices. Additionally, auditors attest that the organization accurately records all of its payables.

In fact, when auditing Accounts Payable, corporations can exaggerate their net worth by missing bills from Accounts Payable, which is what auditors are searching for when they audit Accounts Payable. By doing this, it effectively shields its shareholders, creditors, and potential investors.

Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable FAQ

What are Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable examples?

Accounts Payable examples

During routine business activities, a corporation may create numerous open Accounts Payable. Examples include payments owing to marketers, caterers, product suppliers, accountants, and governments are a few examples (in the form of taxes).

Difference between Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable

Accounts Receivable examples

Clients of lawn care services who pay at the end of each month are examples of Accounts Receivable, as are factories that pay after receiving a piece of machinery. Promissory notes are also kept on file with Accounts Receivable by bookkeepers. These notes are IOUs because they guarantee payment of a specific sum of money by the specified date.

Why are Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable important?

Worldwide, late payments are a major problem for many small firms. Why? Because significant cash flow issues brought on by late payments might cause working capital to become locked up on your balance sheet.

It’s crucial to think about why these Accounting procedures are genuinely significant after you’ve grasped the fundamentals of Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable as well as the distinction between Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable.

The average business in the UK is waiting for £32,185 in past-due payments, according to Bacs, which claims that nearly half of small- to medium-sized businesses are receiving late payments. 42% of those businesses spend up to four hours every week pursuing unpaid invoices. That’s a sizable sum, especially in light of the fact that it may be used to finance new goods, make expansion investments, or increase shareholder payments.

You can make sure that your company can maintain a healthy cash flow by streamlining the Accounts Receivable procedure. This indicates that you’ll have plenty of money flowing in to support your company’s needs. Additionally, you won’t have to struggle day in and day out to exist, allowing you to focus on long-term progress.

How to handle Accounts Payable and Receivable

Do you have questions about managing Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable? It is best to optimize both Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable in order to prevent the cash flow issues that might be brought on by inefficient Accounting procedures. Our top three suggestions for managing Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable are as follows:

  1. Take into account automating Accounts Receivable. You can utilize a cloud-based payments platform like GoCardless in conjunction with a variety of accounting software packages, like Xero and QuickBooks, to automate your Accounts Receivable process.
  2. Simplify billing – A wide variety of errors can be introduced during the invoicing process, from an inaccurate client address to invoices that merely get lost in the hustle. To guarantee you’re including all the necessary information, use an invoice template. To ensure speedier payment, you should also send the invoice as soon as the service is finished.
  3. Negotiate fair terms of payment. Also, remember to maximize Accounts Payable. Negotiating longer payment terms for your bur business, which helps to free up cash and increase working capital, is one of the finest methods to achieve this.

Accounts Payable: Is It A Debit Or A Credit?

Difference between Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable

The foundation of double-entry accounting systems is debits and credits. Entry into a general ledger of a company is really challenging if you don’t know how they operate.

Debits and credits are used by accountants and bookkeepers to balance each entry made for the accounts on a company’s balance sheet and income statement. The accounting formula, Assets = Liabilities + Owners’ Equity, includes both double-entry credits and debits.

Most businesses record their Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable debits or credits using the double-entry bookkeeping method. Debits and credits must be used as a double-entry bookkeeping system.

The challenge factor is figuring out if a given transaction is debit or credit.

If a company buys additional goods or services on credit rather than paying with cash, the company needs to credit Accounts Payable so that the credit balance increases accordingly.

If a company pays one of its suppliers the amount that is included in Accounts Payable, the company needs to debit Accounts Payable so the credit balance is decreased.

Read more» Is Accounts Payable Credit or Debit?

Tracking Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable

For accurate records, it’s important to keep track of how transactions are entered into each sort of account. For you, accounting software can make this simpler.

Recording Credits and Debits as Journal Entries

Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable tracking is done through Accounting journal entries. When recording both debits and credits, there is a certain procedure to construct an Accounting journal entry. Debits and credits always going to appear in adjacent columns on a page in an Accounting journal. On the left will be Debits and on the right, Credits. Always, entries are made in the appropriate column for the transaction being entered.

See more» Account Payable Journal Entries: Explanation and Examples

Recording Credits and Debits for Liability and Owner’s Equity Accounts

Any sums listed as liabilities on the balance sheet represent money owed by the business to creditors or suppliers. They may be short-term obligations like bonds or mortgages, or they may be long-term obligations like accounts payable and accruals.

Retained earnings and common stock are examples of the owner’s equity accounts that are listed on the balance sheet’s right side. When it comes to journal entries, they are handled in the same way as liability accounts.

The liability rule is as follows: Liabilities that grow are recorded as credits. Liabilities that decrease are reported as debits.

How Accounting Software and Automation can help

Accounting and automation software helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how accounting and automation software can help you pay your unscheduled or recurring payments now!

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When businesses expand, they typically engage in credit sales, where transactions are completed before funds are transferred from one party to another. These businesses employ Accrual Accounting, which keeps track of funds coming in and going out even before transactions take place. This is made possible by two unique types of bookkeeping accounts: Accounts Payable, which represents the money that the firm owes to other parties, and Accounts Receivable, which represents the money that other parties owe to the company.

The yin and yang of business are Accounts Receivable vs. Accounts Payable. The organization can seize development opportunities and maintain great relationships with customers and suppliers when revenues and expenses maintain a healthy equilibrium.

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