loss contingency journal entry

Liabilities that grow gradually because of the passage of time; common examples include salaries and interest. Indicate the appropriate timing for the recognition of a liability. retained earnings balance sheet A _________ allows a company to borrow cash without having to follow formal loan procedures and paperwork. Probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated.

However, suppose your business relates to products that have high rates of obsolescence. In that case, a provision for inventory obsolescence will be created to write-off the amount in every financial year.

loss contingency journal entry

When a contingent liability results in an actual loss, the largest effect on stock price should be in those cases where disclosure was insufficient or there was no disclosure. If the probability of an unfavorable outcome were remote, no accrual or disclosure would be required. At the other end of the spectrum, if an unfavorable outcome was probable of occurring, the entity would need to determine if they had the ability to estimate the amount of the loss. The area of the spectrum between remote and probable is defined by FASB as reasonably possible, meaning an unfavorable outcome is more than remote but less than likely. If an unfavorable outcome is reasonably possible, accrual is not required, however the entity should still disclose the contingency. In a business combination, the acquiring company either transfers cash to the target company or issues its own common stock or preferred stock to the shareholders of the target company. In most cases, the purchase consideration is fixed in terms of the sum of cash transferred or the number of shares allotted.

Journal Entry For Accrual Of A Loss Contingency

Consequently, no change is made in the $800,000 figure reported for Year One; the additional $100,000 loss is recognized in Year Two. The amount is fixed at the time that a better estimation is available.

loss contingency journal entry

When both of these criteria are met, the expected impact of the loss contingency is recorded. To illustrate, assume that the lawsuit above was filed in Year One. They believe that a loss is probable and that $800,000 is a reasonable estimation of the amount that will eventually have to be paid as a result of the damage done to the environment. Although this amount is only an estimate and the case has not been finalized, this contingency must be recognized.

An example of determining a warranty liability based on a percentage of sales follows. The sales price per soccer goal is $1,200, and Sierra Sports believes 10% of sales will result in honored warranties. The company would record this warranty liability of $120 ($1,200 × 10%) to Warranty Liability and Warranty Expense accounts. What happens if your business anticipates incurring a loss or debt? What if you know the loss or debt will occur but it has not happened yet? These are questions businesses must ask themselves when exploring contingencies and their effect on liabilities.

Not Reporting Or Disclosing A Contingent Liability

Both represent possible losses to the company, yet both depend on some uncertain future event. If the contingent loss is remote, meaning it has less than a 50% chance of occurring, the liability should not be reflected on the balance sheet. Any contingent liabilities that are questionable before their value can be determined should be disclosed in the footnotes to the financial statements. The FASB notes that a reasonable estimate can be established even if only a range of amounts can be estimated. In such a case the minimum amount or the better estimate in the range should be accrued and the full range disclosed in notes. An illustration of this would be a situation in which a company has lost a lawsuit but the amount of the damages remains unresolved. However, a company may be reluctant to accrue an amount because reporting of possible claims could result in changing the probability that such claims will be asserted (see Thornton, 1983, p. 82).

  • “Debit Lawsuit Expense.” “Credit Estimated Lawsuit Liability.” Use the highlighted amount for both parts of the entry.
  • According to the full disclosure principle, all significant, relevant facts related to the financial performance and fundamentals of a company should be disclosed in the financial statements.
  • When a company receives cash in advance, it debits Cash and credits a revenue account called Deferred Revenue.
  • Contingent gains are only reported to decision makers through disclosure within the notes to the financial statements.
  • Contingent consideration must be recorded on the acquisition date at its fair value either as equity or a liability.
  • Here, the company should rely on precedent and legal counsel to ascertain the likelihood of damages.

As long as the loss contingency is probable, and the loss can be reasonably estimated, you should always go with the lowest number on the range. Communicate with your attorney as you determine whether to record a liability or not.

If it is determined that not enough is being accumulated, then the warranty expense allowance can be increased. Companies operating in the United States rely on the guidelines established in the generally accepted accounting principles . Under GAAP, a contingent liability is defined as any potential future loss that depends on a “triggering event” to turn into an actual expense. A loss contingency which is possible but not probable will not be recorded in the accounts as a liability and a loss. Rather, it will be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements. Under the provisions of ASC 450, general or unspecified business risks are not loss contingencies and, therefore, no accrual is necessary. Appropriations of retained earnings may be used for these risks as long as no charge to income is made to establish the appropriation.

How To Manage Earnings By Accruing A Contingent Liability

Disclosures were extensive in the 1982 report, but no liability was recorded because “the eventual disposition of the Claims cannot be predicted at this time” (p. 10). This was a consistent position maintained by the company for several years until bookkeeping the company emerged from bankruptcy in 1988 and recorded a $1.28 billion charge in that year. Just like our loss contingency above, if the possibility of loss is greater than 50% and the amount of loss can be estimated, we would record a liability.

Many companies incur contingent liabilities as a result of product warranties. If the warranty is given to a customer along with a purchased item, an anticipated expense should be recognized at that time as well as the related liability. If the cost of this type of embedded warranty loss contingency journal entry eventually proves to be incorrect, the correction is made when discovered. Companies also sell extended warranties, primarily as a means of increasing profits. These warranties are recorded initially as liabilities and are reclassified to revenue over the time of the obligation.

loss contingency journal entry

When determining if the contingent liability should be recognized, there are four potential treatments to consider. bookkeeping For example, Sierra Sports has a one-year warranty on part repairs and replacements for a soccer goal they sell.


Assume for the sake of our example that in 2020 Sierra Sports made repairs that cost $2,800. Following are the necessary journal entries to record the expense in 2019 and the repairs in 2020. The resources used in the warranty repair work could have included several options, such as parts and labor, but to keep it simple we allocated all of the expenses to repair parts inventory. Since the company’s inventory of supply parts went down by $2,800, the reduction is reflected with a credit entry to repair parts inventory. First, following is the necessary journal entry to record the expense in 2019. Let’s expand our discussion and add a brief example of the calculation and application of warranty expenses. On the other hand, if it is only reasonably possible that the contingent liability will become a real liability, then a note to the financial statements is required.

This amount could be a reasonable estimate for the parts repair cost per soccer goal. Since not all warranties may be honored , the company needs to make a reasonable determination for the amount of honored warranties to get a more accurate figure.

Recording A Contingent Liability

Unlike gain contingencies, losses are reported immediately as long as they are probable and reasonably estimated. They do not have to be realized in order to report them on the balance sheet. At least a minimum amount of the loss expected to be incurred is accrued. For losses that are material, but may not occur and their amounts cannot be estimated, a note to the financial statements disclosing the loss contingency is reported. Contingent liabilities are liabilities that may be incurred by an entity depending on the outcome of an uncertain future event such as the outcome of a pending lawsuit. These liabilities are not recorded in a company’s accounts and shown in the balance sheet when both probable and reasonably estimable as ‘contingency’ or ‘worst case’ financial outcome. A footnote to the balance sheet may describe the nature and extent of the contingent liabilities.

To simplify our example, we concentrate strictly on the journal entries for the warranty expense recognition and the application of the warranty repair pool. If the company sells 500 goals in 2019 and 5% need to be repaired, then 25 goals will be repaired at an average cost of $200. The average cost of $200 × 25 goals gives an anticipated future repair cost of $5,000 for 2019.

During 20X7, the company sold 52,000 pairs of eyeglasses for $1,000,000. Customers who purchased 75 percent of those pairs also purchased the one-year extended warranty. Determine if Ingalls needs to record a journal entry on December 31, 20X4, and if so, record it. An obligation whereby the buyer of a product pays the seller for the equivalent of an insurance policy to protect against breakage or other harm to the product for a specified period of time.