Skip to main content

Accounts Payable is a specific account inside a company’s ledger. It represents short-term debts that need to be paid off either to the company’s suppliers or its creditors. At some point, the total accounts payable balance will be listed on the balance sheet under its “current liabilities” section. To avoid default, companies must pay off their accounts payable debts. Basically, they are a short-term debt similar to an IOU made from one business to another. 

Using double-entry bookkeeping methods requires entries for debits and credits in the general ledger. Accountants will credit the account payable entry once the invoice or bill is received. The debit offset is placed in an expense account to show that the purchase was made on credit. If the item is a capitalized asset, it would also be a debit in the asset account. A credit to offset it is recorded in the company’s cash account, which will also decrease the cash balance.

An example is a business that receives an invoice in the amount of $500 for office supplies. The accountant records the $500 as a credit in accounts payable and as a $500 debit toward office supply expenses. The debit will flow through to the income statement since it has not been paid yet. In accrual accounting, expenses are recognized when they are incurred and not when they are actually paid. Once the company pays the bill, the accountant will enter a $500 credit to the business’s cash account and add a debit of $500 to the accounts payable.

What are Accounts Payable?

Accounts Payable is an accounting term. It refers to money the business or organization owes suppliers or vendors for goods or services that were purchased on credit. These outstanding payments owed to suppliers are recorded on the company’s balance sheet. The increase and decrease brought forward from the prior period are computed and appear on the cash flow statement. 

Businesses must pay close attention to their accounts payable expenditures and consistently maintain internal controls. This helps protect their cash and assets and ensures invoices are paid correctly. Accounts Payable (AP) does have an effect on a business’s bottom line so those handling the AP process must ensure it is maintained properly, well organized, and well-run.

What are the Examples of Accounts Payable?

Accounts payable is a different type of liability. They differ from things like accruals and short-term loans. Some examples of expenses recorded in AP may include, but are not limited to:

  • Transportation
  • Leasing
  • Subcontracting
  • Products
  • Equipment
  • Office supplies

These and other similar services or products purchased using credit should be recorded appropriately in accounts payable. This ensures the balance sheets remain up-to-date and that reports are accurate regarding the amount owed to vendors. Accurately recording AP expenses helps provide transparency in bookkeeping efforts and accounting processes.

What is the Use of Accounts Payable?

Accounts Payable is useful for a wide variety of reasons. It can provide a real-time snapshot of what the company currently owes and make sure there is enough money available to meet all the liabilities. This can be useful for preventing overspends. AP includes important information on the balance sheet and income statement. 

AP is a lot more than just managing and paying invoices. It has a much larger reach for a company and impacts the business greatly. AP serves as a liaison between a company and vendors. The way vendors are paid can influence the level of service the company receives from them. That ultimately affects how the company is able to serve their own customers. The Accounts payable team that pays invoices proficiently helps maximize the benefits of short-term cash flow. It’s also useful for documentation that may be needed during an audit. 

What is a Good Ratio of Accounts Payable?

The turnover ratio on Accounts Payable measures how quickly businesses pay their invoices or bills. Accountants find the ratio by finding the average number of times the business paid its invoices in a certain time period. The AP ratio is included on the balance sheet and is a key indicator of how the company manages its cash flow. The higher the ratio, the better. Higher ratios demonstrate that the company pays its bills quicker than a low ratio. 

What is a Low Ratio of Accounts Payable?

A ratio of 1:1 or lower is risky. It may indicate that the business only pays their bills if and only if everyone who owes them pays them on time. However, a low ratio doesn’t always mean the company is having a hard time paying bills. Many companies use cash strategically. 

Who Credits Accounts Payable when a Bill or Invoice is Received

When the company receives either a bill or an invoice for services or products, the accountant records it. In some cases, larger companies have an entire staff who work as part of the Accounts Payable team. In these cases, a qualified member of the AP team records the proper amount. 

Is Accounts Payable Considered as a Business Expense?

No. Accounts Payable does not refer to a company’s routine expenses. Expenses found are recorded on the company’s income statement. Payables are recorded as a liability on the company’s balance sheet.

Is Accounts Payable Considered a Debt?

Yes, Accounts Payable is a type of short-term debt. When products or services are purchased using credit, without immediate payment or cash changing hands, it’s accounts payable. Accountants use them to track outstanding short-term debts. Accounts Payable records invoices and bills that will be paid within the next month or period.

What is the Difference Between Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable? 

An Accounts Payable ledger is used to record short-term liabilities for a company. These are obligations for items or services purchased on credit from suppliers. In other words, it represents money owed to creditors or vendors. Accounts Payable are listed as liabilities on the balance sheet.  Accounts Receivable are funds the business expects to receive from its partners or customers. These are listed as assets on the balance sheet.