Assuming there is no preferred stock issued, a business does not have to pay dividends, there is no liability until there are dividends declared. As soon as the dividend has been declared, the liability needs to be recorded in the books of account as dividends payable.
Suppose a business had dividends declared of 0.80 per share on 100,000 shares. The total dividends payable liability is now 80,000, and the journal to record the declaration of dividend and the dividends payable would be as follows.
Dividends Declared Journal Entry
The dividends declared journal entry is shown in the accounting records using the following bookkeeping entries:
Dividends Declared Journal Entry Bookkeeping Explained
The debit is a charge against the retained earnings of the business and represents a distribution of the retained earnings to the shareholders. The debit entry is not an expense and is not included as part of the income statement, and therefore does not affect the net income of the business.
The credit entry to dividends payable represents a balance sheet liability. At the date of declaration, the business now has a liability to the shareholders to pay them the dividend at a later date.
The Accounting Equation
The Accounting Equation, Assets = Liabilities + Equity means that the total assets of the business are always equal to the total liabilities and equity of the business This is true at any time and applies to each transaction. For this transaction the accounting equation is shown in the following table.
With the the dividends declared entry, a liability (dividends payable) is increased by 80,000 representing an amount owed to the shareholders in respect of the dividends declared. This is balanced by a decrease in the retained earnings which in turn results in a decrease in the owners equity, as part of the retained earnings has now been distributed to them.
Popular Double Entry Bookkeeping Examples
The dividends declared journal entry is one of many accounting journals, discover another double entry bookkeeping example at the links below:
About the Author
Chartered accountant Michael Brown is the founder and CEO of Double Entry Bookkeeping. He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years in all types of industries. He has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a BSc from Loughborough University.