Liability: Definition, Accounting Reporting, & Types

Liabilities Meaning & Examples in Accounting

A solvent company is one whose total assets exceed its liabilities. Long-Term Lease ObligationsThe lease obligations refer to contractual agreements where a company can lease its fixed assets (i.e. PP&E) for a specified period in exchange for regular payments. In contrast, the table below lists examples of non-current liabilities on the balance sheet. Liabilities are categorized as either current or long-term and identified separately on most balance sheets before being added together as total liabilities. A Credit BalanceCredit Balance is the capital amount that a company owes to its customers & it is reflected on the right side of the General Ledger Account. Usually, Liability accounts, Revenue accounts, Equity Accounts, Contra-Expense & Contra-Asset accounts tend to have the credit balance. On a balance sheet, liabilities are listed according to the time when the obligation is due.

Liabilities Meaning & Examples in Accounting

Recorded on the right side of the balance sheet, liabilities include loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, bonds, warranties, and accrued expenses. Considering the name, it’s quite obvious that any liability that is not near-term falls under non-current liabilities, expected to be paid in 12 months or more.


A liability is something a person or company owes, usually a sum of money. Liabilities are settled over time through the transfer of economic benefits including money, goods, or services. Compare the current liabilities with the assets and working capital that a company has on hand to get a sense of its overall financial health. If, on the other hand, the notes payable balance is higher than the total values of cash, short-term investments, and accounts receivable, it may be cause for concern. Another important current liability is deferred income, also known as deferred revenue or unearned revenue, which is when a company receives payment in advance of delivery of its goods or services. The difference between your total assets and total liabilities is the net worth of your business. Net worth or owner’s equity indicates the value of a business.

Liabilities Meaning & Examples in Accounting

In finance and accounting, a liability is a debt that is owed by a person or entity. Financial liabilities can also represent legal obligations to pay money into the future, such as a lease agreement.

What Are the Categories of Liabilities?

Force majeure is French for ‘superior force.’ In contracts, it refers to unforeseeable events. These events prevent a party in a contract from fulfilling its obligation. A pension liability is the difference between how much money is due to retirees and the actual amount the company has on hand to meet those payments. An entity’s duty to provide a future transfer of assets at a specific date, i.e., on demand, to another party.

  • Having liabilities can be great for a company as long as it handles them responsibly.
  • The other two types of contingent liabilities — possible and remote — do not need to be stated in the balance sheet because they are less likely to occur and much harder to estimate.
  • Bookkeepers keep track of both liabilities and expenses, and more.
  • Fixed assets, also known as non-current assets or long-term assets, help you run your business in the long term.
  • Accounts payable –are payables to suppliers concerning the invoices raised when the company utilizes goods or services.

They’re usually salaries payable, expense payable, short term loans etc. For instance, assume a retailer collects sales tax for every sale it makes during the month. The sales tax collected does not have to be remitted to the state until the 15th of the following month when the sales tax returns are due. If the company Liabilities Meaning & Examples in Accounting does not remit the sales tax at the end of the month, it would record a liability until the taxes are paid. The sales tax expense is considered a liability because the company owed the state the money. Liabilities expected to be settled within one year are classified as current liabilities on the balance sheet.

Liabilities Definition

After the purchase, the net worth – which is the asset value ($30k) less the liability ($20k) – remains at $10,000. All debts or other liabilities the company has are subtracted from the total value of assets to determine the net worth. In concept, a company’s net worth is the amount that would remain if the company liquidated all its assets and paid off all its debts. Bonds PayableBonds payable are the company’s long-term debt with the promise to pay the interest due and principal at the specified time as decided between the parties.

What are 10 current liabilities?

  • #3 – Bank Account Overdrafts.
  • #4 – Current portion of long-term debt.
  • #5 – Current Lease payable-
  • #6 – Accrued Income Taxes or Current tax payable.
  • #7 – Accrued Expenses (Liabilities)
  • #8 – Dividend Payable-
  • #9 – Unearned Revenue-

As a practical example of understanding a firm’s liabilities, let’s look at a historical example using AT&T’s balance sheet. Liabilities refer to things that you owe or have borrowed; assets are things that you own or are owed. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader.

What Are Liabilities? Definition and Examples

Debt can be either current or non-current, depending on the length of maturity. Debt of a year or less can be quicker to convert into cash, while a company may hold longer onto debt with maturities exceeding one year.

  • As long as you haven’t made any mistakes in your bookkeeping, your liabilities should all be waiting for you on your balance sheet.
  • Accounts payable are the opposite of accounts receivable, which is the money owed to a company.
  • The most common example of a contingent liability is legal costs related to the outcome of a lawsuit.
  • Companies, and Apple is no exception despite its large cash pile, take on debt as part of financing their operations.

In accounting and bookkeeping, the term liability refers to a company’s obligation arising from a past transaction. Anything your business owns that can help you generate cash in the near or far future is an asset. For example, if you put money in the stock market, you can sell those stocks to generate cash.

Liabilities in the accounting equation

Simultaneously, in accordance with the double-entry principle, the bank records the cash, itself, as an asset. The company, on the other hand, upon depositing the cash with the bank, records a decrease in its cash and a corresponding increase in its bank deposits . Liabilities are debts and obligations of the business they represent as creditor’s claim on business assets. See some examples of the types of liabilities categorized as current or long-term liabilities below. When a company’s total liabilities exceed its total assets,it is insolvent.

What is liability?

A liability is an obligation of the business to repay the money or deliver goods or assets in return for value already received. Sometimes liabilities can be transferred, but they still represent a future obligation for the business.

In simple terms, having a liability means that you owe something to somebody else. However, there is a lot more to know about liabilities before you can say you know what the word “liability” means in corporate finance.