A Complete Guide To Line Item Accounting: Definition, Benefits and Examples

Line item accounting is an accounting practice that segments each category of income and expenses into separate areas, or lines, on a balance sheet. Each line item represents a distinct type of revenue, expense, asset, liability or equity that may affect the account’s value.

SAP GL Account Line Item Display (Account Ledger)

The differences between line item accounting and other accounting methods

A single entry system of accounting is another name for line item accounting. The other primary type of accounting is double-entry accounting. Line item accounting involves recording transactions on a balance sheet or statement with a single entry. To determine the bottom line, or net profit, accountants or owners use a single system to calculate profits and losses.

Each transaction must have two entries in a double-entry system: debit and credit. These are distinct accounts that aid in making sure a business’s books are in order at the end of an accounting period.

The following are some ways that line item accounting differs from double-entry accounting:

What is line item accounting?

In line item accounting, each category of income and expense is divided into its own areas, or lines, on a balance sheet. Each line item denotes a specific type of income, expense, asset, liability, or equity that could have an impact on the account’s value.

You can add numerous sub-line items beneath each line item to further distinguish between money received and money spent by a person or organization. For instance, you might include sub-line items like office supplies, salaries, and telecommunications under the line item for administration expenses.

What should you include in line item accounting?

In line item accounting, you should include all pertinent revenue and expense categories. Depending on the nature of your business, these items may vary, but line item accounting frequently includes subcategories like:

You can include the appropriate sub-line items under these line items to account for all transactions over a specific time period, such as a quarter or year. You can calculate net income, also known as “the bottom line,” using these numbers along with any additional pertinent income and expenses specific to your organization. This is because it typically appears as the last line on your company’s balance sheet.

What are the benefits of line item accounting?

Using line item accounting helps organize income and expenses. Accountants employ this technique to present a more precise and in-depth picture of a company’s finances. Keeping categories separate is clearer and more thorough. Owners, stakeholders, and potential investors can use the breakdown of costs and revenue to assess an organization’s health and make future planning decisions.

Other benefits include:

What is above the line?

Any revenue and income that pertains to a company’s regular, everyday operations is referred to as being “above the line.” These transactions take place frequently and are connected to the essential operations of the company. When calculating profits and losses for a given time period, accountants take into account above-the-line items.

Additionally, some financial experts use the term “above the line” to describe an organization’s gross profit. Cost of goods sold (COGS), or typical daily operating expenses, are subtracted from revenues to determine gross profit.

The creation of future budgets by an organization’s leaders and stakeholders requires the use of above-the-line figures.

What is below the line?

Line items on a statement that don’t relate to regular business operations are referred to as being “below the line” Unusual or unexpected expenses or income that happen during a specific accounting period can be considered “below-the-line items.” When calculating general profits and losses for the period in which they occurred, accountants exclude these items. Items that appear separately from gross or net profit, or below it, are referred to as below-the-line items.

To give owners, investors, and regulatory authorities the most accurate picture of an organization’s financial standing, it is crucial to distinguish these items from regular income and expenses. A significant increase in income can falsely indicate the company’s success, while the addition of a sizable expense to an accounting period can give the impression that it is less financially stable.

Transactions can typically be categorized as below the line if they satisfy the following requirements:

Line item accounting example

Consider a marketing firm that is preparing its annual statement. The business received $800,000 in new business and $2 in renewal fees from existing clients. 5 million. Additionally, the business organized a local marketing conference and earned $200,000 from ticket sales.

Regular operating expenses for the business total $1,245,000 and include wages, office supplies, facility cleaning and maintenance, rent, and utilities. The business also pays $60,000 in taxes for the year on top of operating costs.

Here is an example of how to track revenue and expenses for the marketing company over the course of a year using line item accounting. Every category has its own line, which is divided into sub-line items. After deducting all costs from the total gross revenue, the net profit, also known as the bottom line, is determined:

Sales revenue: $3,300,000

Other revenue: $200,000

Total gross revenue: $3,500,000

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses: $1,245,000

Tax expenses: $60,000

Annual net profit: $2,195,000


What is a line item?

Line item is defined as an expense that is listed separately on a budget line.

What is line items example?

Definition of a line item A line item is something that appears in a budget. The price of electricity in a budget is an illustration of a line item. noun. 1. any item in a schedule of information that only has one line

What are line item expenses?

A line-item budget is one in which each item on the financial statement is categorized. It displays a comparison between past accounting or budgeting periods’ financial data and anticipated amounts for the present or the following period.

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