Definition of Prepaid Expenses
Prepaid expenses are future expenses that have been paid in advance. In other words, prepaid expenses are costs that have been paid but are not yet used up or have not yet expired.
Generally, the amount of prepaid expenses that will be used up within one year are reported on a company's balance sheet as a current asset. As the amount expires, the current asset is reduced and the amount of the reduction is reported as an expense on the income statement.
Example of Prepaid Expenses
A common prepaid expense is the six-month insurance premium that is paid in advance for insurance coverage on a company's vehicles. The amount paid is often recorded in the current asset account Prepaid Insurance. If the company issues monthly financial statements, its income statement will report Insurance Expense which is one-sixth of the six-month premium. The balance in the account Prepaid Insurance will be the amount that is still prepaid as of the date of the balance sheet.