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A post-closing trial balance is created at the end of a reporting period. It is a list of all the balance sheet accounts that do not have a zero balance. Post-closing trial balances are used to verify whether the debit balance total is equal to the credit balance total. Preparing the post-closing trial balance is an important part of the accounting cycle. The process of creating the post-closing trial balance is completed after entry closing and prepares the accounts for the next period.

The post-closing trial balance is the last trial balance to be prepared before the next accounting period begins. It is useful for making sure the next period’s beginning balances are accurate. A post-closing trial balance also ensures debits and credits stay balanced after all closing entries are complete.

What is a Post-Closing Trial Balance?

The post-closing trial balance is a report that is created to verify all of a company’s temporary accounts are closed and their new beginning balance has been reset to zero. For companies that use accounting software, this will be done automatically. But for those using spreadsheets or ledgers to manually record accounting transactions, it’s essential to make sure each temporary account balance is set to zero when the new accounting period begins.

Accountants who do not use an accounting software program typically use a trial balance worksheet which is used to calculate all the account totals. Having the information well-organized makes it easier to present as well as create accurate financial statements. Trial balance worksheets contain columns for income statements and balance sheet entries. This makes it easier to combine multiple entries into one amount. This makes certain the next accounting cycle’s beginning balances are accurate.

What is in the Post-Closing Trial Balance?

The post-closing trial balance contains all accounts that are currently recorded in the general ledger. Each account is listed with its debit or credit balances. The balances for each account are added together to show that the debit and credit balance is equal.  The original trial balance contains recorded transactions in accounts as they take place. There are some business transactions, such as accruals and prepayments that have to be adjusted at the end of each accounting period. This adjustment reflects earned revenue and incurred expenses for the period. The adjusted trial balance has to be expanded to include any adjusted accounts. At the end of a period, revenue, and expense ledger accounts are removed and closed. The balances are then reported on the income statement. The post-closing trial balance is just a list of the remaining accounts. 

What is the Purpose of the Post-Closing Trial Balance?

A trial balance isn’t a financial statement. It is an accounting department document that will not be distributed. Like other trial balances, the post-closing trial balance doesn’t list the accounts with zero balances. It will only include general ledger balance sheet accounts with balances other than zero. The purpose of a post-closing trial balance is to check debits and credits after the closing entries have been made.

What Accounts are Included in a Post-Closing Trial Balance?

The post-closing trial balance contains three columns: account names, debits, and credits. The accounts are listed in the same order as they appear on the balance sheet or by their account numbers. The assets are listed first, then liabilities, and finally equity. The totals of the credit and debit columns are calculated at the bottom. These two should balance or be equal. If not, an error has occurred. 

    • Assets: Assets, which are listed on the left side, include items that bring value or potentially bring value to the company. It can include cash, equipment, and inventory.
    • Liabilities: Liabilities, which are listed on the right, include things the company owes. Debts, utilities, and expenses are examples.
    • Equity: Equity is also listed on the right-hand side of the balance sheet. This includes any stake the owners or shareholders have in the business. 

1. Assets

The company’s assets are listed in the left column. These include accounts receivable, inventory, cash, investments, vehicles, furnishings, and other assets. Add all the asset values together and write the total at the bottom. 

2. Liabilities

Liabilities are listed on the right-hand side of a balance sheet. Liabilities include things like loans, mortgages, accounts payable, accrued expenses, warranties, bonds, and more. The liabilities are contracted with the assets listed in the left column. Total the liabilities by adding all the values and write the sum at the bottom.

3. Equity

The owner equity is listed on the right side (credit side) of the trial balance sheet. The owner’s equity is the proportion of the assets that the owners claim and the shareholders. The equity is calculated by subtracting the liabilities total from the assets total. 

Who Prepares the Post-Closing Trial Balance?

A successful company monitors its finances and keeps track of all its credits and debits. This is essential for owners and stakeholders who need the information to make strategic business decisions. The post-closing trial balance is only one of the many sheets and statements that must be completed. An accountant usually prepares the post-closing trial balance sheets. However, in larger companies, an accountant may oversee other well-trained financial professionals who prepare these and other documents. 

When Should You Prepare the Post-Closing Trial Balance?

The post-closing trial balance should be prepared at the end of a period. Post-closing trial balances are completed before a new accounting period begins. It is used to ensure the balances are correct before entering into the new period.

How Should a Post-Closing Trial Balance be Prepared?

Before preparing a post-closing trial balance, it’s important to ensure all the adjusting journal entries have been entered. Preparing all trial balances uses the same procedures. To prepare a post-closing trial balance, each account balance is transferred from the ledger accounts. Accounts that have a debit balance are listed in the left column. Accounts with credit balances are listed in the right column. The two columns are totaled, so they can be compared. 

Does the Post-Closing Trial Balance Need to be Equal?

The post-closing trial balance ends with totals for both credits and debits at the bottom of the sheet. When all assets, liabilities, and equity have been accounted for, the credit and debit totals should be equal. If the two totals are not equal, then something is wrong. Either the sheet was prepared incorrectly, or all the line items were not properly accounted for. 

Is the Post-Closing Trial Balance the Last Step in the Accounting Process?

The post-closing trial balance isn’t the last step in the accounting process since the process is ongoing. However, preparing a post-closing trial balance is the last step in an accounting cycle. It is useful for helping to prepare the general ledger for the upcoming new accounting period. It closes out expense and revenue account balances, enabling an accountant to start tracking the totals again in the new accounting period.

What are the Other Types of Trial Balances?

There are three different types of trial balances used in accounting. Each of them is used at different times during the full accounting cycle. Besides the post-closing trial balance, there are two other types.

Trial Balance Type Definition and Use
Adjusted Trial Balance An adjusted trial balance is prepared following the unadjusted trial balance. It accounts for depreciation and prepaid expenses, and other line items. It is used to check debits and credits after all entries have been adjusted.
Unadjusted Trial Balance An unadjusted trial balance is the first trial balance prepared during an accounting period. It is used to determine how equal the business’s debits and credits are before month-end adjustments.