Qustions & Answers Qustions & Answers

Are liabilities always a bad thing?

Answer: Liabilities are obligations and are usually defined as a claim on assets. However, liabilities and stockholders’ equity are also the sources of assets. Generally, liabilities are considered to have a lower cost than stockholders’ equity. On the other hand, too many liabilities result in additional risk.

Some liabilities have low interest rates and some have no interest associated with them. For example, some of a company’s accounts payable may allow payment in 30 days. With those payables it is better to have the liability and to keep your cash in the bank until they become due.

In our personal lives, our first house was probably purchased with a down payment and mortgage loan. That mortgage loan was a big liability, but it allowed us to upgrade our living space. I viewed my mortgage loan liability as a good thing because it allowed me to own a nice home in a beautiful neighborhood.

So some liabilities are good—especially the ones that have a very low interest rate. Too many liabilities could cause financial hardships.

What is the difference between a trial balance and a balance sheet?

Answer: A trial balance is an internal report that will remain in the accounting department. It is a listing of all of the accounts in the general ledger and their balances. However, the debit balances are entered in one column and the credit balances are entered in another column. Each column is then summed to prove that the total of the debit balances is equal to the total of the credit balances.

A balance sheet is one of the financial statements that will be distributed outside of the accounting department and is often distributed outside of the company. The balance sheet is organized into sections or classifications such as current assets, long-term investments, property, plant and equipment, other assets, current liabilities, long-term liabilities, and stockholders’ equity. Only the asset, liability, and stockholders’ equity account balances from the general ledger or from the trial balance are then presented in the appropriate section of the balance sheet. Totals are also provided for each section to assist the reader of the balance sheet. The balance sheet is also referred to as the statement of financial position or the statement of financial condition.

How do you record a check that clears the bank months after it was voided?

Answer: Since you had voided the check months earlier, your general ledger no longer reflects 1) the original credit to the cash account, and 2) the original debit to another account. Now that the voided check has cleared the bank account, you will need to record the check in your general ledger. The entry will be a credit to the general ledger cash account and a debit (or debits) to the appropriate account.

It might be helpful to recall the bank reconciliation rule: Put it where it isn’t. The old check, which you had voided, is now on the bank statement, but it is not in the cash account. Therefore, you need to put the check amount into the general ledger.

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