How to Track Prepaid Expenses for Your Business


Once you receive the good or service, reduce your prepaid balance sheet account with a credit and increase your expense with a debit. This asset accrues, or accumulates, over a period of time using this method of recording the transaction. This system assumes that you pay for the product or service in advance, receiving it at a later date. When managing a business, you have to pay for some assets in advance, such as rent or insurance. In the accounting cycle, these advance payments are recorded as prepaid expenses. The adjusting entry for prepaid expense will depend upon the initial journal entry, whether it was recorded using the asset method or expense method.

Proper allocation ensures that the expenses are matched with the periods they benefit, providing a true reflection of the company’s profitability. It also helps in preventing errors and misstatements, promoting the overall accuracy and reliability of the financial statements. By recording prepaid expenses in QuickBooks Online, businesses ensure that their financial statements accurately reflect their current financial position. This process allows for the appropriate allocation of expenses over the periods to which they relate, thereby ensuring that financial reports provide an accurate representation of the business’s performance. One common mistake is failing to adjust the prepaid expense account as the expense is used.

For example, you move into a new building at the end of December, with your first month’s rent due Jan. 1. Because your new landlord allowed you to move in early, he’s now requesting you pay rent for the entire year, in advance. If that happens, it can be difficult to get in touch with the beneficiary and ask them to return the payment. Paying in full for a service can sometimes come with the risk of it not being delivered as promised.

  1. At the end of the year, you will have expensed the entire $24,000, and your prepaid rent account will have a $0 balance.
  2. Other less common prepaid expenses might include equipment rental or utilities.
  3. Prepaid Expenses refer to payments made in advance for products or services expected to be received on a later date, most often related to utilities, insurance, and rent.
  4. Prepaid expenses can have a significant impact on a company’s financial statements, and incorrect accounting can lead to misleading financial information.

When January comes around, you would then debit $2,000 as rent expense for January and credit your prepaid rent expense account for $2,000, leaving you with a balance of $22,000. The $2,000 you expensed for January’s rent appears on your income statement as rent expense, while your prepaid rent asset account is reduced by $2,000 on your balance sheet. At the end of the year, you will have expensed the entire $24,000, and your prepaid rent account will have a $0 balance.

Are Prepaid Expenses a Current Asset?

As time goes by and the supplies get used, you have to make adjusting entries on your financial statements to convert these supplies into an expense. Because prepaid insurance is an asset account, and as we mentioned, assets are increased by debits. A company’s prepaid expenses are usually minuscule in relative size and rarely have a significant impact on its valuation. Therefore, the expense is often aggregated with the “Other Current Assets” line. For example, the following screenshot from the balance sheet of Tesla (TSLA) for fiscal year 2022 illustrates where to find prepaid expenses.

The debit to the prepaid expense account increases the prepaid asset in the balance sheet. The credit to the cash account decreases the cash asset in the balance sheet. Accounting prepaid expenses are the expenses that are paid before they are incurred. The process of recording prepaid expenses only takes place in accrual accounting. If you use cash-basis accounting, you only record transactions when money physically changes hands.

Definition of Accrued Expenses

As you operate your business, three classic examples of prepaid expenses you might encounter are rent, insurance, and subscriptions. Accountants consider prepaid rent as an asset on your financial statements, and prepaid insurance is a current asset, too. With insurance prepayments, you’re buying protection for potential future damage, such as motor vehicle collisions, fires, or floods. Other examples of prepaid expenses you might incur include legal retainer fees, healthcare coverage, property taxes, and maintenance services. At the end of the year, it is crucial to adjust the prepaid expenses to reflect the portion that has not yet been consumed. This adjustment ensures that your financial statements accurately represent your financial position.

Either method for recording prepaid expenses could be used as long as the asset account balance is equal to the unexpired or unused cost as of each balance sheet date. The initial journal entry for a prepaid expense does not affect a company’s financial statements. The initial journal entry for prepaid rent is a debit to prepaid rent and a credit to cash.

Learn more about prepaid expenses, how they impact your financial statements, and why they need to be recorded differently from regular expenses. When creating a budget sheet, it’s crucial to include prepaid and accrued expenses. To ensure accuracy, incorporate them into your budget sheet preparation tips to get a clearer picture of your overall financial standing. Using the concept of the journal entry for prepaid expenses below is the journal entry for this transaction in the books of Company-B at the end of December. Then, as each month passes, you can reduce this asset by one-sixth of the total cost and recognize it as an expense on the income statement. However, these expenses have a debit balance which keeps reducing as the asset gets utilised over the financial year.

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QuickBooks Online provides a streamlined way to record and manage prepaid expenses, ensuring that your financial records are up-to-date and accurate. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of prepaid expenses, why they are recorded in QuickBooks Online, and step-by-step instructions on how to record prepaid expenses in various scenarios. This process is crucial as it maintains the adherence to accounting standards and regulations, which are essential for transparent financial reporting. By deferring recognition of prepaid expenses, it accurately reflects the company’s financial position, avoiding distortions and misrepresentation.

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Once the journal entry for prepaid expenses has been posted they are then arranged appropriately in the final accounts. First, review your current expenses, invoices, and statements for any items paid in advance. Then determine what type of expense it is, either one-time how to record a prepaid expense or ongoing, and calculate the amount that needs to be recognized as an asset and expense each month. The 12-month rule for prepaid expenses allows taxpayers to deduct the prepaid amount in the current year if the asset does not extend beyond the one-year period.

Want to learn more about the different types of accounts that come in useful for today’s small business? Here, we’ll assume that a company has paid for insurance coverage in advance due to the incentives offered by the provider. Company-B paid 60,000 rent (5,000 x 12 months) in the month of December which belongs to the next year and doesn’t become due until January of the following year.

Additional expenses that a company might prepay for include interest and taxes. Interest paid in advance may arise as a company makes a payment ahead of the due date. Meanwhile, some companies pay taxes before they are due, such as an estimated tax payment based on what might come due in the future. Other less common prepaid expenses might include equipment rental or utilities.

Accounting Prepaid Expenses vs Accounting Accrued Expenses

Businesses often purchase insurance policies in advance to cover their operations for a set period. The cost is recorded as an asset until the policy is used and adjusted to reflect the amount incurred. When you buy the insurance, debit the Prepaid Expense account to show an increase in assets. Prepaid expenses are classified as assets as they represent goods and services that will be consumed, typically within a year. This final entry will close out your Prepaid Insurance balance to $0, while your Insurance Expense for the year will be $12,000.