Understanding Trial Balance: A Comprehensive Study for Accountants

The accountant will be able to look at
every entry, its description, both sides of the entry (debit and
credit), and any changes made in the entry. This review is
important in determining if any incorrect entry was either a
mistake or fraud. The accountant can see who made the entry and how
the entry occurred in the accounting system. A company will get much better information if it compares the
working capital and current ratio numbers for several years so it
can see increases, decreases, and where numbers remain fairly

These businesses specialize in expensive items that take a long time to assemble and sell, so they can’t raise cash quickly from inventory. They have a very high number of fixed assets that cannot be liquidated and expensive equipment that caters to a specific market. Accuracy and transparency are the norms that genuinely sustainable organizations uphold and trial balance plays an integral role in fulfilling them.

Accounts Payable ($500), Unearned Revenue ($4,000), Common Stock ($20,000) and Service Revenue ($9,500) all have credit final balances in their T-accounts. These credit balances would transfer to the credit column on the unadjusted trial balance. In general, similar companies in similar industries don’t always account for both current assets and liabilities the same internally or on their financial reports.

Interim Reporting in the Grocery Industry

After closing all general ledger accounts, the trial balance is prepared at the end of the financial year. It helps to record the income and expenditures of the business and easily complete the preparation of the balance sheet in the next step. To balance the equation, a double-entry system with debits and credits is used. A debit increases the asset balance while a credit increases the liability or equity. This is required because they are on different sides of the accounting equation. This results in the majority of asset accounts having debit balances, and the majority of liability and equity accounts having credit balances.

  • In this chapter,
    we go into more depth about why a company may choose accrual-basis
    accounting as opposed to cash-basis accounting.
  • The sum of all debits should equal the sum of all credits – indicating balanced books.
  • A meticulous and error-free trial balance can contribute boutifully towards upholding these standards.
  • For instance, in our vehicle sale example the bookkeeper could have accidentally debited accounts receivable instead of cash when the vehicle was sold.

The trial balance supports this by ensuring that for every financial action there is a traceable and corresponding counteraction, confirming that all transactions are recorded honestly. Adjustments can be complex, particularly when they involve estimates or allocations. Recognizing revenue in the correct period may necessitate intricate calculation and careful judgment. It’s not uncommon for these adjustments to cause confusion, leading to mistakes that distort the accuracy of the compiled trial balance. If you like quizzes, crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blank, matching exercise, and word scrambles to help you learn the material in this course, go to My Accounting Course for more. This website covers a variety of accounting topics including financial accounting basics, accounting principles, the accounting cycle, and financial statements, all topics introduced in the early part of this course.

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The land is considered a long-term investment, because it is not
land being used currently by the company to earn revenue. But like any investment, there is the risk that the land
might actually go down in value. Remember, in a cash-basis system you outstanding checks will record the revenue
when the money is received no matter when the service is performed. There was no money received from customers in January or February,
so the company, under a cash-basis system, would not show any
revenue in those months.

Statement of Retained Earnings

They may verify that all transactions have been accurately recorded by comparing the sum of the debits and credits. The total debit and the credit side of the TB are recorded on their respective sides of the debit and credit columns. The example should include all working capital accounts even if their balance was zero in the example. Each element of the working capital should be measured on a consistent manner with past practices even if they do not follow generally accepted accounting principles. Any liabilities not assumed by the buyer should be excluded from the MWC to avoid duplication. Examples of current liabilities are accounts payable, short-term loans, payroll taxes payable, and income taxes payable.

Trial Balance vs. Balance Sheet

The systematic comparison of debits and credits began to take shape in the double-entry bookkeeping system that was popularized in the Renaissance period. The technique has since evolved, incorporating modern computational tools and software to achieve accuracy and efficiency. If the trial balance doesn’t balance, your accounting team should investigate and correct errors.

If you have never followed the full process from beginning to end, you will never understand how one of your decisions can impact the final numbers that appear on your financial statements. You will not understand how your decisions can affect the outcome of your company. Rerun the trial balance after making adjusting entries and again after making closing entries. If they don’t match, further investigation of some errors in your records is necessary. Finally, you complete your working trial balance once everything adds up correctly.

The sum of all debits should equal the sum of all credits – indicating balanced books. If the books don’t balance, the discrepancy needs to be investigated and corrected before moving forward. Your stockholders, creditors, and other outside professionals will use your financial statements to evaluate your performance. If you evaluate your numbers as often as monthly, you will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses before any outsiders see them and make any necessary changes to your plan in the following month. Like all trial balances, the post-closing trial balance has the job of verifying that the debit and credit totals are equal.


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