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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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|Accountant · Accounting period · Accrual · Bookkeeping · Cash and accrual basis · Cash flow forecasting · Chart of accounts · Convergence · Journal · Special journals · Constant item purchasing power accounting · Cost of goods sold · Credit terms · Debits and credits · Double-entry system · Mark-to-market accounting · FIFO and LIFO · GAAP / IFRS · General ledger · Goodwill · Historical cost · Matching principle · Revenue recognition · Trial balance|
|Fields of accounting|
|Cost · Financial · Forensic · Fund · Management · Tax (U.S.)|
|Balance Sheet · Cash flow statement · Income statement · Statement of retained earnings · Notes · Management discussion and analysis · XBRL|
|Auditor's report · Control self-assessment · Financial audit · GAAS / ISA · Internal audit · Sarbanes–Oxley Act|
|CIA · CA · CPA · CCA · CGA · CMA · CAT · CIIA · IIA · CTP|
Credit and debit are the two aspects of every financial transaction. Their use and implication is the fundamental concept in the double-entry bookkeeping system, in which every debit transaction must have a corresponding credit transaction(s) and vice versa.
Debits and credits are a system of notation used in bookkeeping to determine how to record any financial transaction. In financial accounting or bookkeeping, "Dr" (Debit) means left side of a ledger account and "Cr" (Credit) is the right side of a ledger account.
To determine whether one must debit or credit a specific account we use the modern accounting equation approach which consists of five accounting elements or rules. An alternative to this approach is to make use of the traditional three rules of accounting for: Real accounts, Personal accounts, and Nominal accounts to determine whether to debit or credit an account.
Debits and credits form two opposite aspects of every financial transaction. In basic terms, debit simply means left side, and credit means right side. To put this in context, the accounting equation, Assets = Liabilities + Equity (A = L + E), shows Assets on the left side of the equation, and Liabilities and Equity on the right side of the equation. Thus, for example, if an asset account increases, then one must also either decrease another asset account, or increase a liability account or equity account.
For instance, from a bank customer's perspective, when a person deposits cash into his bank chequing account, this financial transaction has two aspects: the customer's cash-in-hand (the customer's asset) decreases and the customer's chequing account balance (the customer's asset) with the bank increases. The decrease in the cash-in-hand asset is the customer's credit while the increase in the asset balance in the bank chequing account is the customer's debit.
The bank views that transaction using the same rules, but from its different perspective. In that example, the bank's vault cash (asset) increases which is a debit, and the corresponding increase in the customer's chequing account balance (bank's liability) is a credit. This is why a customer's bank statement issued by the bank shows the bank's liability to the customer, with increases (bank deposits) as credits, and decreases (bank withdrawals and cheques) as debits.
In summary: an increase (+) to an asset account is a debit. An increase (+) to a liability account is a credit. Conversely, a decrease (-) to an asset account is a credit. A decrease (-) to a liability account is a debit.
When dealing with one's own business, one must set up various accounts to record all transactions that may take place. When the owner of a business refers to their bank account, they are referring to the business’ account, not to their personal account. In addition, all accounts referred to in bookkeeping belong to the business, not to other businesses, regardless of their title. For instance, if my business expects to receive money from another person or company and the account is labelled "Receivable A", this does not imply that the account in question belongs to “Receivable A”. It is merely a recording of a current asset (a receivable) of one's own business. Therefore, when assessing any transaction, the transaction is from the point of view of one's own business or the business in question.
All accounts must first be classified as one of the five types of accounts (accounting elements). To determine how to classify an account into one of the five elements, the definitions of the five account types must be fully understood i.e. the definition of an asset according to IFRS is as follows, "An asset is a resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity". To understand this definition we can break it down into its constituent parts with an example:
A business will most often have more than one asset account. An essential asset account in any business is the businesses bank account (see: "Accounts pertaining to the five accounting elements" below for more examples) The same applies to liability accounts i.e. if I have borrowed money from two sources (called creditors or payables), then I must open two accounts to represent this present liability, called 'Creditor/Payable A' and 'Creditor/Payable B'. In this manner I may have multiple, different accounts. However all these accounts are all classified as one of the five types of accounts, therefore my entire business can be described in terms of its assets, expenses, liabilities, income and equity/capital (see extended accounting equation). This is the extent of "my" business in relation to accounts, regardless of the business' practices (the business may be a retail franchise, furniture shop, restaurant etc...). With respect to my business, each of the five accounting elements will have a monetary value, and this can be used to assess the financial position of my business at any time (my success, failure, or any other attributes that I might need to know).
Traditionally, transactions are recorded in two separate columns of numbers (known as a ledger or "T-account"): debit transactions in the left hand column and credit transactions in the right hand column. Keeping the debits and credits in separate columns allows each column to be recorded and totalled independently. Accounts within the general ledger are known colloquially as "T-accounts" due to the "T" shape that the table resembles. Each column of a ledger account lists transactions affecting that account.
The words debit and credit are both used differently depending on whether they are used in an accounting sense, or non-accounting sense.
Thus, in a non-accounting sense, "credit" is money that a creditor makes available to a client to borrow. However, "credit" in this sense is not an accounting term, although this word comes up regularly in business and therefore accounting. In the academic field of accounting (bookkeeping), such dictionary definitions are misleading and the words "debit" and "credit" as used in accounting have little connection with the nonprofessional’s understanding of "debit" and "credit". This may seem confusing at first, but one will find when studying accounting that "debit" and "credit" are essential for the double-entry system of bookkeeping.
When recording numbers in accounting, a debit value is placed on the left side of a ledger for a debited account and a credit value is placed on the right side of a ledger for a credited account. A debit or a credit either increases or decreases the total balance in each account, depending on what kind of accounts they are.
Each transaction (say, of value £100) is recorded by a debit entry of £100 in one account and a credit entry of £100 in another account. When people say, "debits must equal credits" they do not mean that the two columns of any ledger account must be equal. If that were the case, every account would have a zero balance (no difference between the columns) which is often not the case. The rule that total debits equal the total credits applies when all accounts are totalled.
More than two accounts may be affected by the same transaction. A transaction for £100 can be recorded as a £100 debit in one account and as multiple credits that total £100 in other accounts.
I owe creditors A and B £100 each. Thus my liability account for Creditor A has a credit balance of £100 and the same for Creditor B. I pay them off from my bank chequing account, which from my point of view is an asset. I withdraw £200 from my bank account and split it to pay off the two liabilities. In my records, "Creditor A" is one account, "Creditor B" is another account, and "Bank" is a third account. The following transactions affect all three-ledger accounts:
When I write two £100 cheques for a total of £200, the balance in my bank account is reduced by £200. In my records, my "Bank" ledger account has an asset debit balance, which is reduced by the credit for £200. Amounts in my records for the two creditors are liabilities, which are reduced by the two debits totalling £200.
Therefore for this transaction, the total amount debited = 200 and the total amount credited = 200. When all three accounts are totalled, the total debits equal the total credits.
At the end of any financial period (say at the end of the quarter or the year), the total debits and the total credits for each account may be different and this difference of the two sides is called the balance. If the sum of the debit side is greater than the sum of the credit side, then the account has a "debit balance". If the sum of the credit side is greater, then the account has a "credit balance". If the two sides do equal each other (this would be a coincidence, not as a result of the laws of accounting), then we say we have a "zero balance".
Debit cards and credit cards are creative terms used by the banking industry to market and identify each card. From the cardholder's point of view, these terms are unrelated to the terms used in formal accounting. A debit card is used to make a purchase with one's own money. A credit card is used to make a purchase by borrowing money.
However, from the bank's point of view, when a debit card is used to withdraw cash from a chequing account, the withdrawal causes a decrease in the amount of money the bank owes to the cardholder. A decrease to the bank's liability account is a debit. Hence using a debit card causes a debit to a chequing (liability) account in the bank. Likewise, when a credit card is used by a cardholder to pay a merchant for something, this increases the amount the bank must credit to the merchant's chequing account. This obligation is the bank's liability and an increase to a liability account is a credit. Hence using a credit card causes a credit to a liability account in the bank.
Definition: The general ledger is the term for the comprehensive collection of T-accounts (so called because there was a pre-printed vertical line in the middle of each ledger page and a horizontal line at the top of each ledger page, like a large letter T). Before the advent of computerised accounting, manual accounting procedure used a book (known as a ledger) for each T-account. The collection of all these books was called the general ledger.
"Day Books" or journals are used to list every single transaction that took place during the day, and the list is totalled at the end of the day. These daybooks are not part of the Double-entry bookkeeping system. The information recorded in these daybooks are then transferred to the general ledgers. Modern computer software now allows for the instant update of each ledger account – for example, when recording a cash receipt in a cash receipts journal a debit is posted to a cash ledger account with a corresponding credit in the ledger account for which the cash was received. Not every single transaction need be entered into a T-account. Usually only the sum of the daybook transactions (a batch total) for the day is entered in the general ledger.
There are five fundamental elements within accounting. These elements are as follows: Assets, Liabilities, Equity, Income and Expenses. The five accounting elements are all affected in either a positive or negative way. It is important to note that a credit transaction does not always dictate a positive value or increase in a transaction and similarly, a debit does not always indicate a negative value or decrease in a transaction. An asset account is often referred to as a "debit account" due to the account's standard increasing attribute on the debit side. When an asset has been acquired in a business such as a delivery vehicle, the transaction will affect the debit side of that asset account illustrated below:
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
Where "X" in the debit column denotes the increasing effect of a transaction on the asset account balance (total debits less total credits), because a debit to an asset account is an increase. The asset account above has been added to by a debit value X, i.e. the balance has increased by £X. Likewise, in the liability account below, the X in the credit column denotes the increasing effect on the liability account balance (total credits less total debits), because a credit to a liability account is an increase.
All "mini-ledgers" in this section show standard increasing attributes for the five elements of accounting.
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
Summary table of standard increasing and decreasing attributes for the five accounting elements:
Each transaction that takes place within the business will consist of at least one debit to a specific account and at least one credit to another specific account. A debit to one account can be balanced by more than one credit to other accounts, and vice versa. For all transactions, the total debits must be equal to the total credits and therefore balance.
The general accounting equation is as follows:
The equation thus becomes A – L – E = 0 (zero). When the total debits equals the total credits for each account, then the equation balances.
The extended accounting equation is as follows:
Both sides of these equations must be equal (balance).
Each transaction is recorded in a ledger or "T" account, e.g. a ledger account named "Bank" that can be changed with either a debit or credit transaction.
In accounting it is acceptable to draw-up a ledger account in the following manner for representation purposes:
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
Accounts are created/opened when the need arises for whatever purpose or situation the entity may have. For example if your business is an airline company they will have to purchase airplanes, therefore even if an account is not listed below, a bookkeeper or accountant can create an account for a specific item, such as an asset account for airplanes. In order to understand how to classify an account into one of the five elements, a good understanding of the definitions of these accounts is required. Below are examples of some of the more common accounts that pertain to the five accounting elements:
All of the accounts listed in this subsection are payables
Quick Services business purchases a computer for ₤500 for the receptionist, on credit, from ABC Computers. Recognize the following transaction for Quick Services in a ledger account (T-account):
Quick Services has acquired a new computer which is classified as an asset within the business. According to the accrual basis of accounting, even though the computer has been purchased on credit, the computer is already the property of Quick Services and must be recognised as such. Therefore, the equipment account of Quick Services increases and is debited:
As the transaction for the new computer is made on credit, the payable "ABC Computers" has not yet been paid. As a result, a liability is created within the entity’s records. Therefore, to balance the accounting equation the corresponding liability account is credited:
|Payable ABC Computers (Liability)|
The above example can be written in journal form:
|ABC Computers (Payable)||500|
The journal entry "ABC Computers" must be indented to indicate that this is the credit transaction (not accurately shown here due to restrictions). It is accepted accounting practice to indent credit transactions recorded within a journal.
In the accounting equation form:
A = E + L
500 = 0 + 500 (The accounting equation is therefore balanced)
|Account||Debit (dr)||Credit (cr)|
The process of using debits and credits creates a ledger format that resembles the letter "T". The term "T-account" is accounting jargon for a "ledger account" and is often used when discussing bookkeeping. The reason that a ledger account is often referred to as a "T" account is due to the way the account is physically drawn on paper (representing a "T"). The left side (column) of the "T" for Debit (dr) transactions and the right side (column) of the "T" for Credit (cr) transactions.
|Debits (dr)||Credits (cr)|
All accounts have corresponding contra accounts depending on what transaction has taken place i.e. when a vehicle is purchased using cash, the asset account "Vehicles" is debited as the vehicle account increases, and simultaneously the asset account "Bank" is credited due to the payment of the vehicle using cash. Some balance sheet items have corresponding contra accounts, with negative balances, that offset them. Examples are accumulated depreciation against equipment, and allowance for bad debts against long-term notes receivable.
Real accounts are assets. Personal accounts are liabilities and owners' equity and represent people and entities that have invested in the business. Nominal accounts are revenue, expenses, gains, and losses. Accountants close nominal accounts at the end of each accounting period. This method is used in the United Kingdom, where it is simply known as the Traditional approach.
Transactions are recorded by a debit to one account and a credit to another account using these three "golden rules of accounting":
|Personal (owner's equity)||Decrease||Increase|
While the actual origin of the terms debit and credit is unknown, the first known recorded use of the terms is Venetian Luca Pacioli's 1494 work, Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita (translated: Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion). Pacioli devoted one section of his book to documenting and describing the double-entry bookkeeping system in use during the Renaissance by Venetian merchants, traders and bankers. This system is still the fundamental system in use by modern bookkeepers.
In its original Latin, Pacioli's Summa used the Latin words debere (to owe) and credere (to entrust) to describe the two sides of a closed accounting transaction. When his work was translated, the Latin words debere and credere became the English debit and credit. The abbreviations Dr (for debit) and Cr (for credit) likely derive from the original Latin.
|Look up debit or credit in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|