Basic Accounting Equation

What is the Basic Accounting Equation?

Double entry bookkeeping and accounting is based on the basic accounting equation which states that the total assets of a business must equal the total liabilities plus the owners equity in the business.

Assets = Liabilities + Owners Equity

One side represents the assets of the business (buildings, inventory, vehicles etc), and the other side represents how those assets were funded (capital, retained earnings, loans, supplier credit etc.). Notice that owners equity includes amounts invested by the owners (capital) and profits of the business which have been retained.

The basic accounting equation is true at any point in time for a business and is also true for each individual double entry transaction. For example, if the business buys furniture on credit from a supplier for 200 then the basic accounting equation is shown as follows.

Accounting Equation
Assets = Liabilities + Owners Equity
Furniture Purchased = Amount owed to Supplier + None
200 = 200 + 0

The two sides of the basic accounting equation are equal. On one side is the furniture coming into the business as an asset, on the other side is the funding for the asset which in this case is credit from a supplier.

In our examples section we set out typical double entry bookkeeping transactions and show how the accounting equation is affected by each transaction.

The Expanded Accounting Equation

Since owners equity is made up from capital injected and retained earnings of the business, the basic accounting equation can be expanded as follows:

Assets = Liabilities + Capital + Retained Earnings

In addition, retained earnings can be expanded to revenue less expenses less owners drawings, giving the fully expanded accounting equation shown below.

Assets = Liabilities + Capital + Revenue – Expenses – Drawings

The fully expanded accounting equation is summarized in the diagram below.

expanded accounting equation v 1.1
Expanded Accounting Equation (Click to zoom)

The owners drawings represent cash taken out of the business by way of salary, in a corporation this would be represented by dividends paid to the equity holders.

The expanded accounting equation effectively shows that retained earnings is the link between the balance sheet and the income statement.

The expanded accounting equation diagram used in this tutorial is available for download in PDF format by following the link below.

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