What is an Adjusting Journal Entry?

What is an Adjusting Journal Entry?

An adjusting journal entry is an entry in a company’s general ledger that occurs at the end of an accounting period to record any unrecognized income or expenses for the period. When a transaction is started in one accounting period and ended in a later period, an adjusting journal entry is required to properly account for the transaction.

Adjusting journal entries can also refer to financial reporting that corrects a mistake made previously in the accounting period.

Types of Adjusting Journal Entries

In summary, adjusting journal entries are most commonly accruals, deferrals, and estimates.

1. Accruals

Accruals are revenues and expenses that have not been received or paid, respectively, and have not yet been recorded through a standard accounting transaction. For instance, an accrued expense may be rent that is paid at the end of the month, even though a firm is able to occupy the space at the beginning of the month that has not yet been paid.

2. Deferrals

Deferrals refer to revenues and expenses that have been received or paid in advance, respectively, and have been recorded, but have not yet been earned or used. Unearned revenue, for instance, accounts for money received for goods not yet delivered.

3. Estimates

Estimates are adjusting entries that record non-cash items, such as depreciation expense, allowance for doubtful accounts, or the inventory obsolescence reserve.

Example of an Adjusting Journal Entry

For example, a company that has a fiscal year ending December 31 takes out a loan from the bank on December 1. The terms of the loan indicate that interest payments are to be made every three months. In this case, the company’s first interest payment is to be made March 1. However, the company still needs to accrue interest expenses for the months of December, January, and February.

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Since the firm is set to release its year-end financial statements in January, an adjusting entry is needed to reflect the accrued interest expense for December. To accurately report the company’s operations and profitability, the accrued interest expense must be recorded on the December income statement, and the liability for the interest payable must be reported on the December balance sheet. The adjusting entry will debit interest expense and credit interest payable for the amount of interest.