All About Suspense Account

All About Suspense Account

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Jaya
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Jan 12, 2024 18:30 IST

A suspense account is an account of the general ledger used to temporarily record business transactions. When there is an influx and outflow of money and accountants do not know where to put it, they place it in the suspense account.

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Table of Contents

What is a Suspense Account?

It is a temporary holding place within the accounting framework. It comes into play when there’s uncertainty about where a particular transaction belongs. The primary purpose of this account is to ensure that the fundamental accounting equation remains balanced, even amidst this uncertainty.

Example

A client remits a payment of ₹1,000 without indicating the specific outstanding bills it covers. Until the accounting team can determine the exact invoices the payment relates to, they temporarily allocate the ₹1,000 to the suspense account. In this situation, the preliminary entry to position the amount is:

Type Debit Credit
Cash ₹1,000  
Suspense account   ₹1,000

The accounting team reaches out to the client, determines the specific invoices the ₹1,000 is intended for, and then transfers the amount from the account using the following entry:

Type Debit Credit
Suspense account ₹1,000  
Accounts receivable   ₹1,000

In another scenario, a vendor sends a bill for ₹2,500 worth of services, with payment due in 30 days. The accounting team is unsure about which department should bear the cost of the invoice. Hence, they make the following preliminary entry while department heads discuss and determine which one will handle the payment:

Type Debit Credit
Suspense account ₹2,500  
Accounts payable   ₹2,500

The first entry promptly logs the invoice into the accounts payable system, ensuring the company can settle it within a 30-day timeframe. After some deliberation, the department heads determine that the expense should be attributed to the sales department’s office supplies account. Consequently, the accounting team makes the subsequent entry:

Type Debit Credit
Supplies – Sales dept. ₹2,500  
Suspense account   ₹2,500

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When is a Suspense Account Created?

A suspense account is used when you encounter an ambiguous transaction in your bookkeeping that you cannot immediately place in the appropriate account. It serves as a temporary holding place for these uncertain entries until you gather more information and determine their rightful destination. There are several situations where creating a suspense account is helpful:

1. Missing or incomplete information

  • You receive a payment without a clear explanation or reference number, making it difficult to identify the source or purpose.
  • An invoice arrives with discrepancies in the amount or details, requiring further verification.
  • You record a transaction based on verbal communication, waiting for written confirmation to validate it.

2. Errors or inconsistencies

  • You suspect an error in a recorded transaction, like a typo in the amount or incorrect account selected.
  • Two similar transactions appear from different sources, needing clarification to avoid duplication.
  • A bank statement shows a charge you cannot reconcile with your internal records, calling for investigation.

3. Complex or unusual transactions

  • You deal with a new type of transaction you have not encountered before, unsure of its proper accounting treatment.
  • Split payments or multi-stage contracts require temporary holding until all phases are completed.
  • You expect a refund or credit but have not received it yet, needing space to track its final outcome.

Importance of Suspense Account

  1. Purpose of the Tool: It is used for handling unclear transactions.
  1. Protecting the Books: It makes sure everything adds up, even when some details are missing.
  1. Dealing with Unclear Details: This account holds these transactions until we figure them out.
  1. Keeps Things Accurate: It is essential to have correct and clear records in accounting. The suspense account helps with this by making sure every transaction, clear or not, is noted down.
  1. Making Sure Everything is Counted: With the suspense account’s help, every bit of money, clear or unclear, is included in the records. This way, the financial reports are complete and trustworthy.

Suspense Accounts vs Other Accounts 

Here is a table of the difference in account types, key features, and purposes that you have provided:

Account Type Key Features Purpose
Suspense Account Special account for unclear transactions; Holds unclear details. To temporarily hold transactions until their correct place is determined.
Accounts Receivable Tracks money owed by customers. To record amounts expected to be received in the future.
General Ledger Main diary of all financial activities. To document every financial transaction, clear or unclear.

Presentation of Suspense Account in Financial Statements

1. Nature of Suspense Account: It is a temporary account used in the ledger to record transactions when there’s uncertainty about their classification. It acts as a placeholder until the correct account for a particular transaction can be determined.

2. Financial Statements and Suspense Account: Financial statements, such as balance sheet and income statement provide an accurate picture of the financial position of a company and its performance. Ideally, by the time these statements are prepared, all uncertainties should have been resolved, and the account should have a zero balance.

3. Presentation in the Balance Sheet: If there are still amounts in the account when financial statements are being prepared, it will appear on the balance sheet. Specifically if the suspense account:

  • Has a debit balance (meaning more debits than credits were posted to it), it will be shown under the ‘Current Assets‘ section.
  • Has a credit balance (meaning more credits than debits were posted to it), it will be presented under the ‘Current Liabilities‘ section.

4. Implications in Final Statements: The presence of a suspense account in the final financial statements is not ideal. It indicates that there are unresolved transactions, which can be a cause for concern for stakeholders, including investors, auditors, and creditors. It suggests potential inaccuracies or discrepancies in the financial records.

5. Resolving and Clearing the Suspense Account: Post the finalization of financial statements, it’s crucial for the accounting team to investigate and clear out this account. This involves identifying the nature of each transaction in the account and transferring it to the appropriate account. Once all transactions are correctly classified, the account should be cleared, and it should not appear in subsequent financial statements.

6. Auditor’s Role: If a company’s financial statements are audited, the auditor will pay special attention to the account. They will seek explanations for the transactions in the account and will expect the company to resolve them promptly. The presence of a suspense account can lead to additional queries and might be highlighted in the auditor’s report if not adequately addressed.

Particulars Financial Statement Presentation
Debit balance in Suspense A/c ( Total of Debit side >  Credit side) Balance Sheet Current Assets
Credit balance in Suspense A/c (ie. Total of Credit side > Debit side) Balance Sheet Current Liabilities

Here is a representation on the Balance sheet:

Balance Sheet On 31/12/2022

Particulars Amount
Current Assets xxxx
Cash in hand/at bank xxxx
Sundry Debtors xxxx
Inventory xxxx
Suspense A/c xxxx

FAQs

How is a suspense account different from a forfeiture account?

A suspense account is typically used to temporarily hold amounts until the appropriate account can be determined. On the other hand, a forfeiture account holds the non-vested portion of a participantu2019s account that they leave behind when taking a plan distribution. While you can use a forfeiture account to hold overfunded amounts, it's essential to differentiate between the purposes of these two accounts.

How does a suspense account relate to a trial balance?

Trial balance refers to a statement that ensures the arithmetical accuracy of books of accounts. If there's a discrepancy between the debit and credit columns of a trial balance, the difference is often recorded in a suspense account. Once the errors causing the discrepancy are identified and rectified, the suspense account is closed by passing an adjustment entry.

What happens when there's an overfunding in a plan?

If there's an accidental over-funding of company matching or profit-sharing contributions, the excess amounts are typically transferred to a plan suspense account. Suspended amounts must generally be allocated to participants as contributions no later than the last day of the plan year in which they are deposited.

Can suspended amounts be mixed with forfeitures?

While there's nothing inherently wrong with co-mingling forfeitures and suspense dollars in the same holding account, doing so can lead to complications in tracking how much is available for different purposes.

About the Author
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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio