What is the provision for bad debts?

Definition of Provision for Bad Debts

The provision for bad debts could refer to the balance sheet account also known as the Allowance for Bad Debts, Allowance for Doubtful Accounts, or Allowance for Uncollectible Accounts. If so, the account Provision for Bad Debts is a contra asset account (an asset account with a credit balance). It is used along with the account Accounts Receivable in order for the balance sheet to report the net realizable value of the company's accounts receivable. The entry to increase the credit balance in these contra accounts is a debit to the income statement account Bad Debts Expense.

Some companies might use the description provision for bad debts on its income statement in order to report the credit losses that pertain to the period of the income statement. In that case, provision for bad debts would be an income statement account. However, the U.S. accounting textbooks are more likely to use Bad Debts Expense or Uncollectible Accounts Expense to describe the amount reported on the income statement.

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