allowance for doubtful accounts

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is a contra current asset account associated with Accounts Receivable. When the credit balance of the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts is subtracted from the debit balance in Accounts Receivable the result is known as the net realizable value of the Accounts Receivable.

The credit balance in this account comes from the entry wherein Bad Debts Expense is debited. The amount in this entry may be a percentage of sales or it might be based on an aging analysis of the accounts receivables (also referred to as a percentage of receivables).

When the allowance account is used, the company is anticipating that some accounts will be uncollectible in advance of knowing the specific account. As a result the bad debts expense is more closely matched to the sale. When a specific account is identified as uncollectible, the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts should be debited and Accounts Receivable should be credited.