What Are Debits and Credits?
Debits and credits form the basis of the double-entry accounting system of a business. Debits represent money that is paid out of an account and credits represent money that is paid into an account. Each financial transaction made by a business firm must have at least one debit and credit recorded to the business’s accounting ledger in equal, but opposite, amounts.
Bookkeepers and accountants use debits and credits to balance each recorded financial transaction for certain accounts on the company’s balance sheet and income statement. Debits and credits, used in a double-entry accounting system, allow the business to more easily balance its books at the end of each time period.
What Are Debits and Credits?
Debits, abbreviated as Dr, are one side of a financial transaction that is recorded on the left-hand side of the accounting journal. Credits, abbreviated as Cr, are the other side of a financial transaction and they are recorded on the right-hand side of the accounting journal. There must be a minimum of one debit and one credit for each financial transaction, but there is no maximum number of debits and credits for each financial transaction.
The business’s Chart of Accounts helps the firm’s management determine which account is debited and which is credited for each financial transaction. There are five main accounts, at least two of which must be debited and credited in a financial transaction. Those accounts are the Asset, Liability, Shareholder’s Equity, Revenue, and Expense accounts along with their sub-accounts.
A debit increases both the asset and expense accounts. The asset accounts are on the balance sheet and the expense accounts are on the income statement. A credit increases a revenue, liability, or equity account. The revenue account is on the income statement. The liability and equity accounts are on the balance sheet.
Concept of Double Entry
Every transaction has two effects. For example, if someone transacts a purchase of a drink from a local store, he pays cash to the shopkeeper and in return, he gets a bottle of dink. This simple transaction has two effects from the perspective of both, the buyer as well as the seller. The buyer’s cash balance would decrease by the amount of the cost of purchase while on the other hand he will acquire a bottle of drink. Conversely, the seller will be one drink short though his cash balance would increase by the price of the drink.
Accounting attempts to record both effects of a transaction or event on the entity’s financial statements. This is the application of double entry concept. Without applying double entry concept, accounting records would only reflect a partial view of the company’s affairs. Imagine if an entity purchased a machine during a year, but the accounting records do not show whether the machine was purchased for cash or on credit. Perhaps the machine was bought in exchange of another machine. Such information can only be gained from accounting records if both effects of a transaction are accounted for.
Traditionally, the two effects of an accounting entry are known as Debit (Dr) and Credit (Cr). Accounting system is based on the principal that for every Debit entry, there will always be an equal Credit entry. This is known as the Duality Principal.
Debit entries are ones that account for the following effects:
- Increase in assets
- Increase in expense
- Decrease in liability
- Decrease in equity
- Decrease in income
Credit entries are ones that account for the following effects:
- Decrease in assets
- Decrease in expense
- Increase in liability
- Increase in equity
- Increase in income
In the double-entry accounting system, at least two accounting entries are required to record each financial transaction. These entries may occur in asset, liability, equity, expense, or revenue accounts. Recording of a debit amount to one or more accounts and an equal credit amount to one or more accounts results in total debits being equal to total credits when considering all accounts in the general ledger. If the accounting entries are recorded without error, the aggregate balance of all accounts having Debit balances will be equal to the aggregate balance of all accounts having Credit balances. Accounting entries that debit and credit related accounts typically include the same date and identifying code in both accounts, so that in case of error, each debit and credit can be traced back to a journal and transaction source document, thus preserving an audit trail. The accounting entries are recorded in the “Books of Accounts”. Regardless of which accounts and how many are involved by a given transaction, the fundamental accounting equation of assets equal liabilities plus equity will hold.
What is a T-account?
A T-account is a visual way of displaying the transactions occurring within a single account. Any transaction a business makes will need to be recorded in the company’s general ledger. The general ledger is divided up into individual accounts which categorise similar transaction types together.
The reason it’s called a T-account is simply that it is shaped like a T.
- When you debit an asset or expense account, you increase its value.
- When you debit a liability, equity or revenue account, you decrease its value.
- When you credit an asset or expense account, you reduce its value.
- When you credit a liability, equity or revenue account, you increase its value.
- When a company records a transaction, at least one account will always be debited, whilst at least one other will always be credited, hence the name “double-entry”. These entries show the movement of value around the business.
Accounting equation approach
This approach is also called the American approach. Under this approach transactions are recorded based on the accounting equation, i.e., Assets = Liabilities + Capital. The accounting equation is a statement of equality between the debits and the credits. The rules of debit and credit depend on the nature of an account. For the purpose of the accounting equation approach, all the accounts are classified into the following five types: assets, capital, liabilities, revenues/incomes, or expenses/losses.
If there is an increase or decrease in a set of accounts, there will be equal decrease or increase in another set of accounts. Accordingly, the following rules of debit and credit hold for the various categories of accounts:
- Assets Accounts: debit entry represents an increase in assets and a credit entry represents a decrease in assets.
- Capital Account: credit entry represents an increase in capital and a debit entry represents a decrease in capital.
- Liabilities Accounts: credit entry represents an increase in liabilities and a debit entry represents a decrease in liabilities.
- Revenues or Incomes Accounts: credit entry represents an increase in incomes and gains, and debit entry represents a decrease in incomes and gains.
- Expenses or Losses Accounts: debit entry represents an increase in expenses and losses, and credit entry represents a decrease in expenses and losses.
These five rules help learning about accounting entries and also are comparable with traditional (British) accounting rules.