Account Payable vs Receivable: Understand the Differences

Account Payable vs Receivable: Understand the Differences

4 mins readComment
clickHere
Chanchal
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Dec 14, 2023 02:02 IST

Accounts payable represents the amount a company owes to its suppliers or creditors for goods or services received, whereas accounts receivable refers to the money that is owed to the company by its customers for goods or services delivered.

Account Payable vs Receivable

Account Payable vs Receivable

Accounts payable is the amount a company owes for goods or services it has received but not yet paid for. For example, if a company orders office supplies on credit, the amount owed to the supplier is recorded as accounts payable. Accounts receivable, on the other hand, is the money owed to the company for goods or services it has delivered. For instance, if the company sells products to a customer on credit, the amount the customer owes is recorded as accounts receivable. Accounts payable are a liability, while accounts receivable are an asset. They both are significant concepts in accounting. Let's understand the difference between Account Receivable vs Payable. 

Explore: Top Accounting Courses and Certifications

Table of Content

Account Payable vs Receivable: Comparative Table

Aspect

Accounts Payable (AP)

Accounts Receivable (AR)

Nature

Liability (money the company owes)

Asset (money owed to the company)

Type of Transaction

Arises from purchasing goods/services on credit

Originates from selling goods/services on credit

Balance Sheet Entry

Listed under current liabilities

Listed under current assets

Impact on Cash Flow

Represents future cash outflow

Represents future cash inflow

Management Objective

Manage cash outflows, negotiate payment terms

Accelerate cash inflows, manage credit risk

Examples

Payments to suppliers for inventory, services

Amounts due from customers for products sold or services rendered

Let's check the video below to learn about the difference between Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable

Source: SahebAcademy

Difference Between Debit and Credit
Difference Between Debit and Credit
The main difference between debit and credit lies in their accounting context. Debit refers to an entry on the left side of an account, representing an increase in assets or...read more

Difference Between Balance Sheet and Financial Statement
Difference Between Balance Sheet and Financial Statement
A balance sheet offers a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a specific moment, detailing assets, liabilities, and equity. On the other hand, financial statements comprise a broader set...read more

What is Depreciation? How to Calculate Depreciation for Your Business?
What is Depreciation? How to Calculate Depreciation for Your Business?
Each asset suffers wear and tear according to its specifications, which reduces its operational life until it finally becomes obsolete or unusable. Some assets wear out faster than others, and...read more

What is Account Payable?

Accounts Payable (AP) is a key accounting entry that represents a company's obligation to pay off short-term debts to its suppliers or creditors. Essentially, it's the amount the company owes for goods or services it has received but hasn't paid for yet. These are typically due within a year and are listed as a current liability on the company's balance sheet. For example, when a business receives office supplies but defers payment to a later date, the owed amount becomes part of accounts payable. Managing AP efficiently is crucial for maintaining good supplier relationships and effective cash flow management.

What is Account Receivable?

Accounts Receivable (AR) represents the money owed to a company by its customers for goods or services delivered on credit. It's a key financial component, categorized as a current asset on the balance sheet. AR arises when a company provides a service or product but allows the customer to pay at a later date. For instance, if a company sells a product to a customer on a 30-day credit, the amount the customer owes the company is recorded under accounts receivable. Efficient AR management is crucial for ensuring healthy cash flow and assessing a company's financial health.

Account Payable vs Receivable: Main Differences

Nature: Accounts Payable (AP) are liabilities; money the company owes, while Accounts Receivable (AR) are assets; money owed to the company.

Type of Transaction: AP arises from purchasing goods or services on credit, whereas AR originates from selling goods or services on credit.

Balance Sheet Representation: AP is listed under current liabilities, while AR is listed under current assets.

Cash Flow Impact: AP represents an outflow of cash in the future, whereas AR represents an inflow of cash in the future.

Management Objective: The goal with AP is to manage cash outflows efficiently, whereas with AR, the focus is on accelerating cash inflows and minimizing credit risk.

Examples: AP includes payments due to suppliers or vendors, while AR includes amounts due from customers for sales made on credit.

Top FAQs on Account Payable vs Account Receivable

What are Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable?

Accounts Payable (AP) is the amount a company owes to its suppliers for goods or services received but not yet paid for, classified as a liability. Accounts Receivable (AR) is the amount owed to a company by its customers for goods or services provided, classified as an asset.

How do Accounts Payable and Receivable affect a company's cash flow?

Accounts Payable represent future cash outflows as they are amounts the company will have to pay. Accounts Receivable indicate future cash inflows as they are funds the company expects to receive from customers.

Why is the management of Accounts Payable and Receivable important?

Effective management of AP helps maintain good supplier relationships and manage cash outflows, while efficient AR management ensures timely cash inflows, minimizing credit risk and improving liquidity.

Can Accounts Payable and Receivable impact a company's profitability?

Yes, proper management of AP and AR can significantly impact profitability. Efficient AP management can optimize payment terms and cash flow, while effective AR management can enhance revenue collection and reduce bad debts.

How are Accounts Payable and Receivable recorded in financial statements?

AP is recorded as a current liability on the balance sheet, indicating money the company owes. AR is recorded as a current asset, reflecting money owed to the company.

About the Author
author-image
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content

Chanchal is a creative and enthusiastic content creator who enjoys writing research-driven, audience-specific and engaging content. Her curiosity for learning and exploring makes her a suitable writer for a variety ... Read Full Bio

Comments