Allowance For Bad Debts
allowance for bad debtsYour best guess at how much of your accounts receivable will not be collectable. In other words, your best guess at how much of your accounts receivable will be "bad debts." An "allowance for bad debts" account is kind of like a savings account for bad debts. Your company puts money into it on a periodic basis (usually monthly) as an expense of the company. When you decide that a particular account is not collectable, you tap the allowance for bad debts account to pay for the bad debt. Because you already made the allowance for bad debts, your profit and loss statement will not be out of whack in the particular month that you decide to "write-off" a particular account. Your company's accounting entries to "write off" a $500 account that you have decided is not collectable would look something like this: a debit to your allowance for bad debts account in the amount of $500 and a credit to your accounts receivable account for $500.
Related Terms from the Bankruptcy and Debt Law Glossary