Accrued expenses are expenses that have occurred but are not yet recorded in the company's general ledger. This means these expenses will not appear on the financial statements unless an adjusting entry is entered prior to issuing the financial statements.
Example of an Accrued Expense
To illustrate an accrued expense, let's assume that a company borrowed $200,000 on December 1. The agreement requires that the company repay the $200,000 on February 28 along with $6,000 of interest for the three months of December through February. As of December 31, the company will not have an invoice to process and will not be paying the interest until it is due on February 28.
Recording an Accrued Expense
Without an adjusting entry to accrue the interest expense that was incurred by the company in December, the company's financial statements as of December 31 will not be reporting the $2,000 of interest (one-third of the $6,000) that the company has incurred in December. In order for the financial statements to be correct on the accrual basis of accounting, the accountant must record an adjusting entry dated as of December 31. The adjusting entry will consist of a debit of $2,000 to Interest Expense (an income statement account) and a credit of $2,000 to Interest Payable (a balance sheet account).