What Are Provisions in Accounting?

An accounting provision is an amount of money that a company sets aside to pay for future expenses or liabilities, depending on the accounting guidelines followed.

In the accounting world, the term “provision” is used to refer to a liability that has been recorded in a company’s financial statement due to an item that has a degree of uncertainty associated with it. This uncertainty can arise from a variety of sources and can be difficult to accurately assess. Thus, accounting provisions help to account for potential liabilities that have either not yet been realized or are difficult to measure. This blog post will delve into the complexities of accounting provision and discuss the various methods used to calculate, estimate, and account for a company’s liabilities. We will explore different concepts related to provisions, such as the recognition of a provision, disclosure of a provision, and the different types of provisions that can exist. We will also discuss the best practices for creating and maintaining accounting records, as well as the potential issues associated with accounting for provisions. By the end of this post, readers should have a better understanding of accounting provisions and how they can be applied to their specific business or financial

IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets – summary

How do accounting provisions work?

On a company’s income statement, the appropriate estimated amount of the expense is typically recorded to establish provisions. Companies list accounting provisions from here in the current liabilities section of their balance sheet. It’s crucial to remember that companies can only record provisions if they comply with certain requirements. The following standards must be met by an expense in order for it to be recognized as an accounting provision under IFRS:

Making provisions enables businesses to account for current or upcoming expenses, which helps them better understand the scope of their financial health. Provisions are crucial because they help businesses maintain accuracy when drafting their financial statements. Provisions safeguard a company’s future assets and set deadlines for fulfilling existing obligations. Typically, the accounting department of a company is in charge of routinely reviewing the status of provisions in case they need to be revised or re-estimated for any reason.

What is an accounting provision?

Depending on the accounting principles used, an accounting provision is a sum of money that a business sets aside to pay for potential liabilities or expenses in the future. A provision is a liability according to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), but the U S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), a provision is an expense.

Companies who set aside such funds acknowledge a potential expense before having complete knowledge of the expense’s final cost. Companies frequently have to estimate the amount of a provision because of this timing and amount uncertainty.

The difference between accounting provisions and other line items

There are numerous financial statement line items that are frequently mistaken for accounting provisions, including accrued expenses and other provisions. To help you understand the distinction between accounting provisions and these other line items, the following information should be helpful:

Tax provisions

Tax provisions, like accounting provisions, are sums set aside to cover a company’s income tax-related costs. Since tax provisions are estimated through the tax deductions a company claims in relation to its gross income, they are recognized separately from accounting provisions. A business may factor tax deductions like meals, interest costs, depreciation allowances, and more into the calculation of tax provisions. From this point, a business can determine the amount of taxes due and set aside the necessary funds as a provision.

Loan loss provisions

When businesses set money aside as a reserve for unpaid debt or loan repayments that are due but are not made by borrowers, it is known as a loan loss provision. Companies can be protected from a variety of losses associated with money lending by loan loss provisions. When establishing their lending policies, banks frequently incorporate loan loss provisions to take potential loan defaults and loan origination into account.

Accounting provisions vs. savings, reserves and operational costs

Savings and reserves are very accessible funds that a business can use right away to make purchases or pay for unforeseen costs like equipment repairs. Savings and reserve funds differ from accounting provisions in this way. Companies establish reserve funds without knowing exactly how they will use the funds; all they know is that they will require cash at some point in the future to cover the costs of maintaining their processes. Additionally, until they are withdrawn, reserve and savings funds typically earn interest.

Similar to that, operational costs are predictable costs that an entity will have to pay in order to continue operating. Provisions are not typically recognized as operational costs. Provisions are funds set aside to cover a specific and somewhat certain future cost or obligation; however, they are not savings, reserves, or operational costs and lower a company’s overall equity. A company will treat the money set aside for provisions as spent money and the funds will not earn interest because provisions are allocated as future expenses.

Accounting provisions vs. accrued expenses

Due to the varying levels of certainty, accrued expenses and accounting provisions are distinguished by accountants. Accrued expenses are those that a business acknowledges as certain and known future costs, such as unpaid credit transactions, interest payments on loans, payments for services received, wages and salary costs incurred, and taxes incurred. Companies predetermine these expenses and accept them as definite.

Comparatively, accounting provisions are less certain than accrued expenses. While businesses make predetermined provisions, they frequently change and are not precise estimates of future costs. Instead, provisions offer broader protection against potential future losses that might adversely impact a company’s operations.

Examples of accounting provisions

There are many reasons for a company to make accounting provisions, especially as an enterprise experiences growth. Predictable future economic obligations are a common occurrence in business. A company may make the following accounting provisions, as examples:

Accrual charges

Charges for work or purchases that have been completed but have not yet been invoiced are known as accruals. Companies can set up provisions for accruals to account for the money they will owe once they receive the required invoice.

Asset impairments

When an asset’s market value unexpectedly falls below its listed value on a company’s balance sheet, an asset impairment occurs. A company’s balance sheet must reflect assets that are recognized as being impaired in order to prevent overstatement and create a financial obligation.

Bad debts

When payments that are necessary are not made despite financial obligations, it results in bad debts or doubtful debts. Bad debt comes in two flavors: specific allowance and general allowance. The term “specific allowance” refers to the particular receivables that a business recognizes as being problematic financially and unable to make debt payments.

General allowance, in contrast, refers to the proportion of debts that may need to be written off based on a company’s financial history. To accurately assess a company’s working capital position, provisions are made for bad debts.


Depreciation is a scheduled event that takes into account the typical use and abuse an asset may encounter over time that reduces its market value. Companies frequently make depreciation provisions when depreciation occurs in order to accurately recognize the current value of the investments they made in fixed assets. A depreciation provision shows the cumulative or overall depreciation that a specific asset has undergone.

Guarantees or warranties

Guarantees or warranties refer to the infrastructure for repair or replacement that businesses incorporate into the purchases that their customers make. Customers are likely to use their warranty protections, so businesses must prepare for the financial obligations associated with providing those protections. As a result, businesses frequently calculate the warranties that will be paid at the time of sale and make a provision to cover any potential future costs associated with fulfilling warranty obligations.

Inventory obsolescence

Inventory that has reached the end of its product life cycle is referred to as obsolete inventory, and it may need to be written off by a business or written down as a debited expense. To determine the dollar amount of loss anticipated from inventory obsolescence, businesses create provisions for obsolete inventory. In order to prevent inventory obsolescence in the future, companies can adjust their purchasing strategies and stock levels by setting this amount.


Employers are required to make regular financial contributions on behalf of their employees to pensions, which are employer-sponsored retirement plans. Frequently, the employer invests the money on the employee’s behalf, and the profits produce income that the employee will receive upon retirement. Many businesses will establish pension provisions for future financial benefits because pensions impose expense obligations on businesses.

Restructuring liabilities

Companies frequently restructure their financial liabilities, such as debt, when they reorganize or restructure. This protects businesses from suffering losses as a result of existing debt default. Companies may make provisions for restructuring liabilities to take into account the modifications made to these liabilities and any other liabilities incurred through the reorganization itself. These rules can assist them in properly allocating funds and sustaining their financial health over time.

Sales allowance

A sales allowance is a price cut imposed by a business, vendor, or distributor in response to a problem with the good or service. These issues can relate to the caliber of the product, the quantity of the product, or the original price. When sales allowances are calculated, a financial obligation is created for businesses because they are established after the initial billing for the good or service. Companies can set up sales allowance provisions to accurately account for obligations like deductions.


What are accounting provisions?

Provisions in Accounting are an amount set aside to cover a probable future expense, or reduction in the value of an asset.

Examples of provisions include:
  • Accruals.
  • Asset impairments.
  • Bad debts.
  • Depreciation.
  • Doubtful debts.
  • Guarantees (product warranties)
  • Income taxes.
  • Inventory obsolescence.

What is the accounting entry for provision?

In accounting, the term “provisions” refers to the sum that is typically set aside from the profit to cover a potential future expense or a decline in asset value, though the exact sum is unknown.

Is a provision an expense?

The relevant loss or expense must be deducted from the provision account after a provision is made. Reversing the provision entry and recording the expenditure in the following accounting period is not a good accounting practice.

What are the three types of provision?

The amount of an expense that an entity chooses to recognize now, without having complete knowledge of the expense’s exact amount An organization might regularly record provisions for bad debts, sales allowances, and inventory obsolescence, for instance.

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