contra account definition
An account with a balance that is the opposite of the normal balance. For example, Accumulated Depreciation is a contra asset account, because its credit balance is contra to the debit balance for an asset account. Another example is the owner's drawing account. This is an owner's equity account and as such you would expect a credit balance. However, the drawing account has a debit balance. Other examples include (1) the allowance for doubtful accounts, (2) discount on bonds payable, (3) sales returns and allowances, and (4) sales discounts. The contra accounts cause a reduction in the amounts reported. For example net sales is gross sales minus the sales returns, the sales allowances, and the sales discounts. The net realizable value of the accounts receivable is the accounts receivable minus the allowance for doubtful accounts.