Financing a Purchase? Follow These Accounting Basics

Accounting for financed asset purchases is likely the most complicated bookkeeping procedure to untangle.

Where should you start? To avoid missing vital details in your books, you must record the entire cost of an asset, including the part you pay in the future as loan payments. This allows you to deduct asset costs appropriately and sidestep future errors when recording loan payments.

Use the following procedures to keep your books in order.

Lingering Liability

Loan payments do not belong on your Income Statement, which includes revenue and expenses. Repayment of loan principal applies to a liability on the Balance Sheet. Only the interest portion of a loan payment is recorded on the Income Statement as an expense.

For this structure to function correctly, the loan liability must appear on the Balance Sheet when the money is initially borrowed. Without this element, you have no Balance Sheet liability to reduce as the loan principal is repaid.

Judicious accounting of your loan payments ensures that the liability account on your business Balance Sheet precisely matches the lender’s record of what you owe. Periodically reconciling the loan balance on your books to a report from the lender is as essential as reconciling your checking account balance to a monthly statement from the bank.

Capitalized Curiosities

Most costs of doing business are recorded as expenses on the Income Statement. However, a capitalized cost is a special exception.

Capitalized costs are assets such as equipment, furniture, machinery, buildings, and improvements to rented business space. Some of these items, however, may cost so little that they are accounted for as expenses. Rely on your tax accountant to determine the cost threshold that requires you to capitalize a purchase.

Capitalized costs are recorded in an account on the Balance Sheet. The amount spent is deducted over time as depreciation. When this happens, your financial statements simultaneously document depreciation expense on the Income Statement and a reduction of capital costs on the Balance Sheet.

Financing Formalities

Cash that leaves the business bank account for a purchase is recorded as either an expense on the Income Statement or a capitalized asset on the Balance Sheet. Accounting software automatically deploys this double-entry process.

Since capitalized costs are typically larger than ordinary expenses, their purchase often involves borrowed money. Funding from a lender must be identified along with the amount spent by the business. Paying a capitalized cost with borrowed money does not change the amount paid for the asset. You depreciate the total cost, regardless of how much company cash is spent at the time of purchase.

Journal entries are used with computer bookkeeping programs to record the full cost for a capitalized asset along with the borrowed part of that purchase, which creates a new liability. Consequently, business owners must provide bookkeepers with all the information about the cost for an asset purchase and any loans incurred to buy it. This will allow for accurate accounting of your financed purchase.