Course Outline
Join PRO

What is the difference between unearned revenue and unrecorded revenue?

Author:
Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Unearned Revenue

In financial accounting, unearned revenue refers to money received prior to being earned. It is also referred to as deferred revenue.

Example of Unearned Revenue

Assume that ABC Service Co. receives $24,000 on December 31, 2023 in exchange for promising to provide the client with services for the year January 1 through December 31, 2024. As of December 31, 2023 the entire $24,000 is unearned. Therefore, ABC’s balance sheet as of December 31, 2023 must report a liability such as Unearned Revenues for $24,000. During 2024 ABC must move $2,000 each month from the liability account on its balance sheet to a revenue account on its income statement.

This deferring of revenue to the periods in which it is earned will often be recorded by using the liability account Deferred Revenues. The monthly entry for $2,000 is often described as a deferral adjusting entry.

Definition of Unrecorded Revenue

Unrecorded revenue implies that the revenue has been earned, but not yet recorded in a company’s accounting records.

Example of Unrecorded Revenue

It is common for an electric utility to provide electricity to customers for up to one month before it reads the customers’ meters, calculates the bills and records the billings as revenues and accounts receivable. As a result, the electric utility will have up to one month of expenses (cost of fuel and other operating expenses) without the related revenue being reported. Therefore, at each balance sheet date, the utility must accrue for the revenues it earned but had not yet recorded. This is done through an accurual adjusting entry that debits a balance sheet receivable account and credits an income statement revenue account.

Join PRO to Track Progress
Must-Watch Video

Advance Your Accounting and Bookkeeping Career

  • Perform better at your job
  • Get hired for a new position
  • Understand your small business
  • Pass your accounting class
Watch the Video

Join PRO or PRO Plus and Get Lifetime Access to Our Premium Materials

Read all 2,645 reviews

Features

PRO

PRO Plus

Features
Lifetime Access (One-Time Fee)
Explanations
Quizzes
Q&A
Word Scrambles
Crosswords
Bookkeeping Video Training
Financial Statements Video Training
Flashcards
Visual Tutorials
Quick Tests
Quick Tests with Coaching
Cheat Sheets
Business Forms
All PDF Files
Progress Tracking
Earn Badges and Points
Certificate - Debits and Credits
Certificate - Adjusting Entries
Certificate - Financial Statements
Certificate - Balance Sheet
Certificate - Income Statement
Certificate - Cash Flow Statement
Certificate - Working Capital
Certificate - Financial Ratios
Certificate - Bank Reconciliation
Certificate - Payroll Accounting

About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on AccountingCoach.com.

Learn More About Harold

Certificates of
Achievement

Certificates of Achievement

We now offer 10 Certificates of Achievement for Introductory Accounting and Bookkeeping:

  • Debits and Credits
  • Adjusting Entries
  • Financial Statements
  • Balance Sheet
  • Income Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Working Capital and Liquidity
  • Financial Ratios
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Payroll Accounting
Badges and Points
  • Work towards and earn 30 badges
  • Earn points as you work towards completing our course
View PRO Plus Features
Course Outline
Take the Tour Join Pro Upgrade to Pro Plus