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Accrued Expense


Accrued expense refers to an expense that has been incurred but not yet paid. It represents a company’s obligation to make a future payment for goods or services already received. In financial reporting, accrued expenses are recorded as liabilities on the balance sheet and recognized as expenses on the income statement.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Accrued Expense” is: əˈkruːd ɪkˈspɛns

Key Takeaways

  1. Accrued expenses are expenses that a company has incurred but not yet paid for. These expenses are recorded as liabilities on the balance sheet because they represent obligations that the company must fulfill in the future.
  2. Accrual accounting method helps companies to recognize their financial activities more accurately, as expenses are recorded in the same accounting period in which they are incurred, regardless of whether the payment has occurred or not.
  3. Common examples of accrued expenses include salaries, interest on loans, taxes, and utilities. These expenses must be estimated and recorded at the end of each accounting period to ensure accurate financial statements and compliance with the matching principle.


Accrued expenses are important in business and finance because they represent the financial obligations a company has incurred for goods or services that it has not yet paid for or received an invoice for. These unpaid expenses need to be recognized and recorded in the financial statements to provide a clear and accurate portrayal of a company’s financial health, ensuring that expenses are matched with the revenues they generate in the same reporting period. By tracking accrued expenses, businesses can maintain better cash flow management, make informed financial decisions, and demonstrate an accurate reflection of their financial performance to investors and stakeholders.


Accrued expenses serve a vital purpose in financial accounting and business operations by accurately reflecting the company’s financial position within a specified reporting period. Essentially, these are expenses that a company has incurred but not yet paid for. By acknowledging accrued expenses, organizations can ensure a more precise representation of their liabilities and financial performance. The process assists in appropriately assigning expenses to the relevant period, facilitating a fair assessment of the company’s profitability and financial health. Furthermore, the concept underpins the accrual accounting method, which systematically records revenue and expenses as they are earned or incurred, irrespective of actual cash transactions. This method provides a more comprehensive view of the company’s financial status, enabling investors and decision-makers to make informed judgments about the organization’s performance and outlook. Accrued expenses are commonly utilized across various aspects of financial management, including financial statement preparation, budgeting, and cash flow analysis. By incorporating accrued expenses in financial statements – such as income statements and balance sheets – businesses can paint an accurate picture of their expenses within an accounting period. This incorporation promotes transparency and consistent evaluation of the company’s financial performance, as well as compliance with regulatory requirements, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Moreover, acknowledging accrued expenses supports the establishment of practical budgets and the management of cash flow, as they allow organizations to anticipate and account for upcoming payments, facilitating more informed cash allocation decisions and financial planning. In essence, accrued expenses play a pivotal role in ensuring that businesses maintain an accurate, comprehensive, and functional understanding of their financial position and obligations.


1. Employee Salaries: A company has its employees on a monthly salary payment system. By the end of the month, work has been performed by the employees, but they haven’t received their paycheck yet. The salaries for the month become an accrued expense as the company owes the money to the employees and will pay them in the following month. 2. Utility Bills: A manufacturing company uses electricity, gas, and water throughout the month to keep its operations running. At the end of the month, the company has consumed these utilities but has not yet received the bill from the utility providers. The cost of the utilities for that month becomes an accrued expense, which will remain on the company’s financial statements until the bills are received and paid in the following month. 3. Interest on Loans: A business takes out a loan with a financial institution, with interest payable on a quarterly basis. Throughout the quarter, the interest expense on the loan continues to accrue, even though it may not be due and payable until the end of the quarter. At the end of each month, the company would record an accrued interest expense for the portion of the interest that has been incurred but not yet paid.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Accrued Expense?
An accrued expense is a financial term that represents an expense that has been recognized within a specific accounting period but hasn’t yet been paid. These expenses are reported on a company’s income statement and balance sheet.
How is an Accrued Expense recorded in the financial statements?
Accrued expenses are recorded as a liability on the balance sheet and are recognized as an expense on the income statement. An adjusting journal entry will be made at the end of an accounting period to record these unpaid expenses properly.
Why is it important to track Accrued Expenses?
Tracking accrued expenses allows a company to have a clearer understanding of its financial position and a more accurate representation of its expenses during a given accounting period. This practice ensures that a company’s financial statements follow the accrual accounting method and comply with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
What is the difference between Accrued Expenses and Accounts Payable?
While both represent financial obligations, accrued expenses refer to the expenses that a company has incurred but not yet paid. In contrast, accounts payable represent the amounts owed to suppliers or vendors for goods or services that have already been received or delivered but have not yet been paid.
How are Accrued Expenses different from Prepaid Expenses?
Accrued expenses are the costs incurred but not yet paid, whereas prepaid expenses are the costs paid in advance for goods or services that will be consumed or used in the future. Prepaid expenses are recorded as an asset on the balance sheet, while accrued expenses are recorded as a liability.
Can Accrued Expenses be related to the revenue?
Yes, accrued expenses can be related to revenue items. For example, if a company recognizes revenue for a service rendered but has not yet paid its employees for their work during that period, the wages owed to those employees would be considered an accrued expense.
When are Accrued Expenses eventually paid off?
Accrued expenses are usually paid off in the next accounting period, depending on when the invoice for the expense is received or when the expense becomes due. When the payment is made, the accrued expense liability account is reduced, and the cash account is debited.

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