What Is the Accounting Allowance Method? And How It Differs from the Write-Off Method

What is the allowance method in accounting?

Allowance Method for Uncollectible Accounts | Principles of Accounting

How to calculate your debt allowance

There are multiple ways to calculate your debt allowance. Start with historical data and try the following percentage calculations to determine how much to “allow” in your budget for bad debt during a sales period:

Percentage of sales

To find a pattern of debt by amount, start by reviewing financial reports from prior quarters and/or years. Determine the typical ratio of uncollectible debt to sales income for those time periods. Calculate the percentage of projected annual sales that will be made up of unrecoverable debt using the same percentage.

Example: A company examines their financial income from the prior year and learns that 3% of credit transactions were not recoverable. The annual sales income for that year was $210,000. They determine that $6,300 was unpaid debt. The business can estimate its year-end bad debt at $6,300 if it anticipates roughly the same sales as it did last year.

The calculation would look like the following:

$210,000 x 3% = $6,300

Bad debt: -$6,300

Credit allowance for bad debt: $6,300

Percentage of accounts receivable

Examine previous financial records for other patterns, such as when bad debt occurred or how it occurred, rather than using sales total percentages to forecast your debt allowance.

A company examines its financial statements from the previous year and notices a pattern that 60% of credit transactions take place over a period of 90 days and 0 7% of credit transactions over 30 days were unpaid. You project the same allowance percentages for the current year based on these findings. According to this past information, the company would set aside 60% and 0 7% of sales, respectively, to account for the projected loss in the future.

Accounts receivable are balanced with the allowance calculated for unrecoverable debt, which aids in determining the net realizable value.

What is the allowance method?

The allowance method is used by companies that sell goods and services to spot debt that is not in good standing. In order to cover bad debts, or money that is likely to not be repaid to them, a business will set aside a certain amount of money, which is typically calculated as a percentage based on company sales (in a previous sales period) and particular customer risk assessment Businesses can better predict their profits at the end of a sales period by preparing themselves for this loss.

Allowance method example

On January 1, a company offers a customer services with a net 30-day credit cycle; the credit must be repaid within 30 days. Historically, 0. 4% of business credit transactions have gone unpaid.

To calculate its debt allowance, the business calculates 0. 4% of $500,000—January’s credit transactions:

0.4% x $500,000= $2,000

The company records a $2,000 debt allowance at the end of the month and deducts it from all credit transactions:

$500,000 – $2,000= $498,000

Using the allowance method

To determine how much cash a company should set aside for potential future bad or unrecoverable customer debt, the allowance method is used.

It takes into account the price of the losses a business anticipates from giving customers credit. When a company discovers that a client has no intention of repaying them for the credit given, they mark the debt as being uncollectible. The company then bills its bad debt allowance or the funds set aside for it as a receivable and records it as an account.

The allowance method vs. the direct write-off method

The allowance method does, in fact, “write-off” the debt as “bad debt,” but it does so in advance to prevent the company from being financially or emotionally impacted by unrecovered debts. For a business, the allowance method may be superior to the direct write-off method because:

Account write-off using the allowance method

A company will frequently write off a bad debt as part of their debt allowance when it cannot be recovered and the customer cannot pay it back. Because an uncollectible account receivable can be written off in advance, it is not recorded as a loss on the balance sheet.

Example: A customer uses credit to purchase $2,500 worth of goods from Johns Corner Store. After three weeks, the same buyer notifies Johns Corner Store that they have filed for bankruptcy and that their financial institution has frozen all of their assets.

The client informs the shop that Johns Corner Store will not receive anything close to the $2,500 owed because the liquidation value of those assets is less than what they owe their bank. The $2,500 remaining on the customer’s account will be eliminated by Johns Corner Store.

Example of account recovery using the allowance method

A bad debt is frequently recoverable or repayable in full or in part. A business anticipates debt in an account recovery and makes an allowance for it. Depending on the length of the debt, they can file a lawsuit, threaten legal action, and frequently recover a portion of each account balance or bad debt that was written off. The business can then choose to:

The account would then appear in the merchant’s financial records as having been fully paid and restored to good standing. By doing this, the business is guaranteed to be able to work with this client again in the future.

Consider, for illustration’s sake, that the customer who received the $2,500 credit from John’s Corner Store is able to repay it one month after it was given. As a result of the debt being settled, the customer’s account is then restored. At this point, John’s Corner Store has the option of allowing the client to make another credit purchase or not.


How do you calculate allowance method?

Methods for estimating the allowance for doubtful accounts The accounts receivable are multiplied by the appropriate percentage for the aging period, and the two totals are then added. For example: 2,000 x 0. 10 = 200. 10,000 x 0. 05 = 500.

Why is the allowance method used?

To determine how much cash a company should set aside for potential future bad or unrecoverable customer debt, the allowance method is used. It takes into account the price of the losses a business anticipates from giving customers credit.

What company uses the allowance method?

For uncollectible accounts, Newton Company uses the allowance method of accounting.

What is the difference between direct method and allowance method?

Direct write off method records the accounting entry when bad debts manifest, whereas allowance method sets aside an allowance for potential bad debts, which is a portion of credit sales made throughout the year. This is the main distinction between the two methods.

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