How to Use the Direct Write-Off Method in 2023

If an old debt is paid, the journal entry can simply be reversed and the payment posted to the customer’s account. A business has $10,000 in sales for a period, and it writes off $1,000 in bad debts. The business’s profits would be reduced by the $1,000 write-off, meaning that it would only show $9,000 in profits for the period. Let’s look at what is reported on Coca-Cola’s Form 10-K regarding its accounts receivable. In exchange for $ 5,000, an accounting firm compiles a company’s financial accounts in accordance with applicable legislation and delivers them over to the company’s directors. The firm is following up with the Company’s directors on a regular basis, but they are not responding.

  • Let’s try and make accounts receivable more relevant or understandable using an actual company.
  • The Internal Revenue Service allows individuals to claim a standard deduction on their income tax returns.
  • To keep the business’s books accurate, the direct write-off method debits a bad debt account for the uncollectible amount and credits that same amount to accounts receivable.
  • For these reasons, the accounting profession does not allow the direct write-off method for financial reporting.

The specific action used to write off an account receivable under this method with accounting software is to create a credit memo for the customer in question, which offsets the amount of the bad debt. Creating the credit memo creates a debit to a bad debt expense account and a credit to the accounts receivable account. Directly writing off bad debt is only done when you are confident that the invoice is uncollectible. The direct write-off approach is simpler for organisations with less accounting knowledge because it simply requires a single journal entry. However, it distorts revenue and outstanding amounts for the invoice’s accounting period, as well as bad debts.


Businesses and individuals have the opportunity to claim certain deductions that reduce their taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service allows individuals to claim a standard deduction on their income tax returns. Individuals can also itemize deductions if they exceed the standard deduction level. A company that ends the year with bad debt can write that bad debt off on their tax return. In fact, The IRS requires businesses with bad debt to use the direct write-off method for their return, even though it does not comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Beginning bookkeepers in particular will appreciate the ease of the direct write-off method, since it only requires a single journal entry.

Tally’s receivable and payables management reports help you keep track of the debtor’s capabilities and payment performance. It also enables you to easily keep track of and perform a bills aging analysis of all outstanding invoices. Tally is an essential tool to help businesses track and reduce the occurrence of bad debts that have to be written off.

Refers to accounts receivable from credit sales to customers
that a business will not be able to collect (or not collect in full). In hindsight,
the business shouldn�t have extended credit to these particular
customers. Since these amounts owed to the business will not be collected,
they are written off. The accounts receivable asset account is
decreased by the estimated amount of uncollectible receivables, and the
bad debts expense account is increased this amount.

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This estimated amount is then debited from the account Bad Debts Expense and credited to a contra account called Allowance for Doubtful Accounts, according to the Houston Chronicle. But, the direct write off method does not always consider the bad debt in the exact same accounting period. It is expensed only at the time when the business decides that the specific invoice will not be paid and classifies it as uncollectible. This decision may be made at any time and is more often well out of the accounting period of the invoice. Unfortunately, not all customers that make purchases on credit will pay companies the money owed.

Drawbacks of the direct write-off method

The IRS mandates that small businesses compute their deductions using the direct write-off technique. This journal entry eliminates the $500 balance in accounts receivable while creating an account for bad debt. The balance of the Allowance for Bad Debt account is subtracted from your revenue account to reduce the revenue earned. As an alternative to the direct write-off technique, you might make a provision for bad debts based on an estimation of future bad debts in the same period that you recognise revenue. This system aligns income and expenses, making it the more palatable accounting technique.

FIFO method (of process costing)

The Direct Write Off Method is straightforward and easy to understand, making it an attractive option for small businesses with limited resources. Shaun Conrad is a Certified Public Accountant and CPA exam expert with a passion for teaching. After almost a decade of experience in public accounting, he created to help people learn accounting & finance, pass the CPA exam, and start their career.

Normalizing method

Assets and liabilities valued at historical cost (market cost) are translated at
the historical (current market) rate. A method of allocating the purchase price for the acquisition of another firm among the
acquired assets. A method of cash budgeting based on detailed estimates of cash receipts and cash
disbursements category by category. As per the prudence concept of accounting which is also referred to as the conservatism principle, revenue shall only be recognized when certain, and expense shall be booked when probable. In a write-down, an asset’s value may be impaired, but it is not totally eliminated from one’s accounting books.

Allowance method:

Expert support helps in responsible decision-making and safeguarding the stakeholders’ interests. GAAP urges that revenue and expenses be treated within the same accounting period. If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. If Wayne allows this entry to remain on his books, his accounts receivable balance will be overstated by $500, since Wayne knows that it’s not collectible. Your small business bookkeeper or accountant needs to manage bad debt properly.