Deferred Revenue Journal Entry Example

deferred revenue journal entry

As a small business owner, being paid in advance for goods and services can provide a needed boost to cash flow. But as welcome as those funds may be, they’ll need to be handled a little differently than standard revenue. In this journal entry,  the company recognizes $500 of revenue for the bookkeeping service the company has performed in October 2020.

  • The projects typically cost $100,000, and the company collects an initial deposit of $1,000 to start scheduling the work.
  • If you are performing revenue recognition on spreadsheets, it is time to to move to an online accounting software solution that is built for SaaS revenue recognition.
  • Let’s say your cleaning business receives a $10,000 prepayment from one of its customers to pay for the entire year up front.
  • In contrast to accruals, deferrals are cash prepayments that are made prior to the actual consumption or sale of goods and services.

Until those goods and services have been provided, any advance payments should remain in the deferred revenue account. As the recipient earns revenue over time, it reduces the balance in the deferred revenue account (with a debit) and increases the balance in the revenue account (with a credit). Deferred revenue refers to payments customers give you before you provide them with a good or service. Deferred revenue is common in businesses where customers pay a retainer to guarantee services or prepay for a subscription.

Revenue Recognition Principle for the Provision of Services

Likewise, the company needs to properly make the journal entry for this type of advance payment as deferred revenue, not revenue. When a customer gives you an advance payment, you will increase your deferred revenue account. As you deliver goods or services, your deferred revenue account will decrease. But, prepayments are liabilities because it is not yet earned, and you still owe something to a customer.

deferred revenue journal entry

A company reporting revenue conservatively will only recognize earned revenue when it has completed certain tasks to have full claim to the money and once the likelihood of payment is certain. When the cash is paid, an adjusting entry is made to remove the account payable that was recorded together with the accrued expense previously. Note that neither of the entries above will affect the profit and loss statement. The initial recording of deferred revenue only affects the balance sheet. In accounting terms, deferred revenue is classified as a liability because it represents a future obligation. When goods or services are delivered, deferred revenue becomes revenue.

Deferred Revenue Journal Entry

When the fifth criterion is met, at that point revenue may be recognized. Once one month’s rent — $5,000 — becomes realized, it is subtracted from the prepaid rent figure and added to the realized rent expense. For the sake of example, let’s take a sole proprietor jeweler specializing in custom necklaces.

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The pattern of recognizing $100 in revenue would repeat each month until the end of 12 months, when total revenue recognized over the period is $1,200, retained earnings are $1,200, and cash is $1,200. At that point, the deferred revenue from the transaction is now $0. On August 1, Cloud Storage Co received a $1,200 payment for a one-year free lawn care invoice template contract from a new client. Since the services are to be delivered equally over a year, the company must take the revenue in monthly amounts of $100. Below is an example of a journal entry for three months of rent, paid in advance. In this transaction, the Prepaid Rent (Asset account) is increasing, and Cash (Asset account) is decreasing.


When the exact value of an item cannot be easily identified, accountants must make estimates, which are also considered adjusting journal entries. Taking into account the estimates for non-cash items, a company can better track all of its revenues and expenses, and the financial statements reflect a more accurate financial picture of the company. I think everything you said above is a good workaround for the limitations in this area for QuickBooks. The only problem I see is how do you efficiently track the different revenue streams if you have multiple revenue accounts (e.g. products and services)?

Deferred revenue is sometimes called unearned revenue, deferred income, or unearned income. In this case one asset (accounts receivable) increases representing money owed by the customer, this increase is balanced by the increase in liabilities (deferred revenue account). The credit to the deferred revenue account represents a liability as the service still needs to be provided to the customer. Credit The service has not yet been provided to the customer and the service revenue is not treated as recognized revenue, it is credited to the balance sheet deferred revenue account until earned. An adjusting journal entry is usually made at the end of an accounting period to recognize an income or expense in the period that it is incurred. It is a result of accrual accounting and follows the matching and revenue recognition principles.

Popular Double Entry Bookkeeping Examples

For example, a gym that requires an up-front annual fee must defer the amounts received and recognize them over the course of the year, as services are provided. Or, a monthly magazine charges an annual up-front subscription and then provides a dozen magazines over the following 12-month period. As yet another example, a landlord requires a rent payment by the end of the month preceding the rental usage period, and so must defer recognition of the payment until the following month.

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However, if a client delivers an upfront payment for a multi-year deal, the resulting deferred revenue becomes a long-term liability. While invoicing systems have been around since the dawn of written language, in modern times, more businesses than ever receive payments from customers before delivering a good or service. If your small business operates on an asynchronous fulfillment model, you need to acquaint yourself with deferred revenue and how to report it.

As you deliver goods or perform services, parts of the deferred revenue become earned revenue. For example, if you charge a customer $1,200 for 12 months of services, $100 per month will turn into earned revenue while the remaining amount will still be deferred revenue. So, after 3 months, you will have $300 in earned revenue and $900 in deferred revenue. It’s important for a company to understand its future obligations and ensure that it has funds to provide the services or products. Deferred revenue can also be used as an accounting tool to smooth out bumps in income or expenses.

deferred revenue journal entry

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