Accounting Equation Definition

What Is the Accounting Equation ?

The account equality states that a company ‘s total assets are equal to the sum of its liabilities and its shareholders ‘ fairness .

This square kinship between assets, liabilities, and equity is considered to be the initiation of the double-entry account arrangement. The accounting equation ensures that the balance sheet remains poise. That is, each introduction made on the debit side has a equate submission ( or coverage ) on the credit english.

The accounting equation is besides called the basic accounting equation or the balance sheet equality .

Key Takeaways

  • The accounting equation is considered to be the foundation of the double-entry accounting system.
  • The accounting equation shows on a company’s balance that a company’s total assets are equal to the sum of the company’s liabilities and shareholders’ equity.
  • Assets represent the valuable resources controlled by the company. The liabilities represent their obligations.
  • Both liabilities and shareholders’ equity represent how the assets of a company are financed.
  • Financing through debt shows as a liability, while financing through issuing equity shares appears in shareholders’ equity.


Accounting Equation

Understanding the Accounting equation

The fiscal position of any business, large or minor, is based on two identify components of the balance sheet : assets and liabilities. Owners ’ equity, or shareholders ‘ fairness, is the third base section of the balance sail .

The account equality is a representation of how these three crucial components are associated with each other .

Assets represent the valuable resources controlled by the company, while liabilities represent its obligations. Both liabilities and shareholders ‘ equity represent how the assets of a company are financed. If it ‘s financed through debt, it ‘ll show as a liability, but if it ‘s financed through issuing equity shares to investors, it ‘ll show in shareholders ‘ fairness .

The accounting equality helps to assess whether the business transactions carried out by the company are being accurately reflected in its books and accounts. Below are examples of items listed on the remainder sheet .


Assets include cash and cash equivalents or fluent assets, which may include Treasury bills and certificates of down payment .

Accounts receivables list the amounts of money owed to the company by its customers for the sale of its products. stock is besides considered an asset .

The major and often largest value asset of most companies be that company ‘s machinery, buildings, and place. These are fixed assets that are normally held for many years .


Liabilities are debts that a ship’s company owe and costs that it needs to pay in regulate to keep the company running .

debt is a liability, whether it is a long-run loanword or a beak that is due to be paid .

Costs include rent, taxes, utilities, salaries, wages, and dividends collectible .

Shareholders ‘ equity

The shareholders ‘ equity numeral is a party ‘s sum assets minus its full liabilities .

It can be defined as the total number of dollars that a company would have left if it liquidated all of its assets and paid off all of its liabilities. This would then be distributed to the shareholders .

Retained earnings are depart of shareholders’ equity. This number is the sum of total earnings that were not paid to shareholders as dividends .

think of retained earnings as savings, since it represents the total profits that have been saved and put aside ( or “ retained ” ) for future use .

Accounting Equation Formula and Calculation

Assets = ( Liabilities + Owner ’ s Equity ) \text { Assets } = ( \text { Liabilities } +\text { Owner ‘s Equity } ) Assets= ( Liabilities+Owner ’ s Equity )

The balance wheel sheet holds the elements that contribute to the accounting equation :

  1. Locate the company’s total assets on the balance sheet for the period.
  2. Total all liabilities, which should be a separate listing on the balance sheet.
  3. Locate total shareholder’s equity and add the number to total liabilities.
  4. Total assets will equal the sum of liabilities and total equity.

As an example, say the leading retailer XYZ Corporation reported the following on its counterweight sheet for its latest wax fiscal year :

  • Total assets: $170 billion
  • Total liabilities: $120 billion
  • Total shareholders’ equity: $50 billion

If we calculate the right english of the accounting equality ( equity + liabilities ), we arrive at ( $ 50 billion + $ 120 billion ) = $ 170 billion, which matches the measure of the assets reported by the company .

About the Double-Entry System

The report equation is a concise expression of the complex, expanded, and multi-item display of a symmetry tabloid .

basically, the representation equates all uses of capital ( assets ) to all sources of capital, where debt capital leads to liabilities and equity capital leads to shareholders ‘ fairness .

For a company keeping accurate accounts, every commercial enterprise transaction will be represented in at least two of its accounts. For example, if a commercial enterprise takes a loanword from a bank, the borrowed money will be reflected in its libra sheet as both an increase in the ship’s company ‘s assets and an increase in its loan liability .

If a commercial enterprise buys raw materials and pays in cash, it will result in an increase in the company ‘s inventory ( an asset ) while reducing cash capital ( another asset ). Because there are two or more accounts affected by every transaction carried out by a ship’s company, the accountancy system is referred to as double-entry report .

The double-entry practice ensures that the report equation constantly remains balance, meaning that the left side value of the equality will always match the good slope value .

In other words, the sum measure of all assets will always equal the sum of liabilities and shareholders ‘ equity .

The global adhesiveness to the double-entry account system makes the account keeping and tallying processes more standardized and more fool-proof .

The account equation ensures that all entries in the books and records are vetted, and a confirmable relationship exists between each liability ( or expense ) and its represent source ; or between each item of income ( or asset ) and its source .

Limits of the Accounting equation

Although the balance sail constantly balances out, the accounting equality ca n’t tell investors how well a company is performing. Investors must interpret the numbers and decide for themselves whether the party has excessively many or besides few liabilities, not enough assets, or possibly besides many assets, or whether its finance is sufficient to ensure its long-run growth .

Real-World exercise

Below is a part of Exxon Mobil Corporation’s ( XOM ) balance wheel sheet in millions as of Dec. 31, 2019 :

  • Total assets were $362,597
  • Total liabilities were $163,659
  • Total equity was $198,938

The account equation is calculated as follows :

  • Accounting equation = $163,659 (total liabilities) + $198,938 (equity) equals $362,597, (which equals the total assets for the period)

image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2020

Why Is the Accounting Equation Important?

The account equation captures the kinship between the three components of a balance sheet : assets, liabilities, and equity. All else being equal, a company ’ mho equity will increase when its assets increase, and vice-versa. Adding liabilities will decrease equity while reducing liabilities—such as by paying off debt—will increase equity. These basic concepts are essential to modern account methods .

What Are the 3 Elements of the Accounting Equation?

The three elements of the accounting equality are assets, liabilities, and shareholders ‘ equity. The formula is straightforward : A company ‘s full assets are equal to its liabilities plus its shareholders ‘ equity. The double-entry bookkeeping organization, which has been adopted globally, is designed to accurately reflect a company ‘s sum assets .

What Is an Asset in the Accounting Equation?

An asset is anything with economic value that a company controls that can be used to benefit the commercial enterprise nowadays or in the future. They include fixed assets such as machinery and buildings. They may include fiscal assets, such as investments in stocks and bonds. They besides may be intangible assets like patents, trademarks, and good will .

What Is a Liability in the Accounting Equation?

A company ‘s liabilities include every debt it has incurred. These may include loans, accounts account payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, bond issues, warranties, and accrued expenses.

What Is Shareholders’ Equity in the Accounting Equation?

Shareholders ‘ equity is the total respect of the company expressed in dollars. Put another way, it is the amount that would remain if the company liquidated all of its assets and paid off all of its debts. The end is the shareholders ‘ fairness, which would be returned to them .

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Category : Finance

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