Is deferred revenue a liability and how does one account for it?

Corporations receive unearned revenue or deferred income in the form of an advanced payment…

Read More

Corporations receive unearned revenue or deferred income in the form of an advanced payment for products or services which have not yet been delivered or earned. Revenue coming in and revenue being expected in the future should be differentiated in accounting. The deferred revenue impacts on the financial statements and KPIs of the company.

This article is about deferred revenues, their accounting treatment, and their impact on financial statements. Moreover, we will further discuss deferred revenue recognition and management accounting principles together with real life examples.

Understanding deferred revenue

Customers pay a corporation upfront when they receive products or services, creating receivable income. Subscriptions, software licenses, advance ticket sales, prepaid insurance premiums, and maintenance contracts generate deferred revenues. The corporation is collecting cash or other rewards upfront and then does not meet its consumer responsibilities.

Deferred revenue is a balance sheet liability until the products and services have been provided. The company cannot recognize revenue until first having fulfilled its customer commitments. So, deferred revenue means that the company remains to provide value at some point in the future.

Is deferred revenue a liability?

Accounting specialists cannot agree whether deferred revenue is a liability. It is a liability because it needs future unredeemed economic sacrifices but it differs from usual debts in some aspects.

Deferred income, on the other hand, does not depend on cash or asset transfers, but on accounts payable or loans. Rather, it reflects an obligation to provide goods or services, or generate revenue, in the future. By the time the product or service is delivered, liability is gone and revenue is recorded.

The fact that there is neither financial risk nor payback makes it a “soft” debt, hence the term. Deferred revenue changes only the recognition of revenue but not the necessity of expenditures such as debt repayment.

Nevertheless, deferred revenue is considered a liability according to GAAP and IFRS because an obligation hasn’t been completed yet.

Accounting for deferred revenue

Next, the corporation registers the cash as a liability and then as revenue as it meets its client’s obligations. Accounting for deferred revenue typically follows these steps:

1. Initial recognition

Companies post to the balance sheet the cash which they receive on an unprovided merchandise or services as a liability under deferred revenue. The stock price will rise and will need to be justified in the years to come.

2. Amortization or recognition

Revenue is recognized on the income statement as items or services are delivered throughout the period. Income, that is, the part of the obligation met. This is known as “amortizing” or “recognizing” deferred revenues.

3. Adjustments

The corporation may constantly make adjustments to the deferred revenue balance in order to take into account changes in revenue recognition timing or amount. When a consumer is canceling a subscription or returning a product then the company should reduce its deferred revenue amount.

4. Final recognition

Once the outstanding balance under the deferred revenue clause is settled, the residual amount vanishes and the whole income is recorded on the income statement.

The terms of the arrangement and the company’s precise performance obligations determine the time of deferred revenue recognition. The recognition of revenue may vary either across the contract time or at milestones or contract features.

Implications for financial statements

The existence of deferred revenue impacts a company’s balance sheet and income statement. Investors, analysts and other interested parties must comprehend (explain) these ramifications to properly assess the financial health and performance of a given company.

1. Balance sheet

Deferred revenue is shown as current or non-current liabilities on the balance sheet as per revenue recognition schedule. An abnormally high deferred revenue balance can mean that customers have made significant advance payments, which can be expected to increase future revenue. On the other hand, if the income is not on time, or the company can’t meet its duties, the financial condition will be taken into account.

2. Income statement

The income statement recognises the money from deferred revenue contracts when the company supplies goods or services. It is possible that this progressional revenue recognition will level and smoothen income sources, particularly for subscription-based or recurring revenue models. Nevertheless, revenue recognition and adjustment of deferred revenue balances must be watched to correctly measure corporate performance patterns.

3. Cash flow statement

Deferred revenue is important for cash flow statements and especially for the operating activities. Prepaid client cash is in the first place considered as operating activity cash inflows.

While deferred revenue is being amortized or recognized as revenue, the operating activity cash inflows go down. Thus, deferred revenues have an impact on cash flow and liquidity.

4. Regulatory compliance and disclosure

Financial statement notes have to indicate large deferred revenue agreements. Added are specifics of the contracts, revenue recognition date (RRD) and method, and any major assumptions and estimates. Disclosures to this effect are necessary for both investors and analysts to understand how deferred revenue may affect the company’s financial performance and prospects.


Accounting employs deferred revenue concept that stands for a cash flow gained before products or services are delivered or earned. Lags revenue as a liability on the balance sheet but generates different consequences. Correct recognition of deferred revenue is essential for proper financial reporting and analysis, as the events may affect the financial statements and the performance measures of a company.

Management of deferred revenue and accurate revenue recognition can be done by companies following accounting rules and guidelines. Deferred revenue agreements should be transparent for investors and other stakeholders to measure the company’s financial performance.

It is crucial to understand the intricacies of deferred revenue whether you are a professional navigating the complexity of accounting principles or a student taking a finance course Ahmedabad. You will be better able to understand financial accounts and evaluate a company’s success with this knowledge.

Why Startups Fail and The Role of Accounting in Corporate Governance for Startups

Introduction Failures of startups, a recent example being Ahmedabad-based TechTrek have shown the risks…

Read More


Failures of startups, a recent example being Ahmedabad-based TechTrek have shown the risks that entrepreneurs face in the market for example, uncontrolled spending and lack of market research lead to the failure of startups. Awareness of these episodes testifies to the role of accounting and financial education in corporate governance, implying the importance of Finance Courses in Ahmedabad. These programmes will make the dreams of hopeful entrepreneurs come true by giving them the necessary skills and tools to sail through the murky waters of starting a business.

Why Startups Fail: Unveiling the Common Pitfalls

While startup failures are not uncommon phenomena, they happen frequently more than people assume. Studies, dated a few months, reported that around 90% of startups knock it off shortly after inception. The reasons behind these failures are diverse, but certain patterns emerge: The reasons behind these failures are diverse, but certain patterns emerge:

1. Lack of Market Understanding:

Many startups dive right into the market without really trying to understand their customers, market dynamics or any other economy-related factors. Usually this results in off-target marketing that does not connect with buyers.

2. Poor Financial Management:

At the same time, budget crunch in startups is one of the main challenges: financial mistakes and inadequate discipline in the finance sector hurt the startups more and more. It is now that the role of accounting plays in corporate governance becomes evident.

3. Ineffective Leadership:

There is no doubt that the founders and the leaders are the pillars of the startup that inks its course towards success. Although lethargic leadership, missing vision, and lack of adaptability to ever-changing circumstances can turn even the most promising foray into a disaster.

4. Failure to Learn and Adapt:

Startups that lack the ability to accept and learn from their past mistakes and then modify their strategies to prevent future failures are doomed to get stuck in a vicious cycle of going forward and then moving backwards.

5. Market Conditions and Timing:

External variables like the fluctuations of the market’s condition or environments, usually have a great impact on a startup’s success. Coping with disruption or failing to identify or react to the changes in these themes can make the company miss the opportunities among all the new challenges.

The Role of Accounting in Corporate Governance

Accounting entails the systematic maintenance of the records of expression, analysis, and interpretation of financial data. This data is what supports decision making and thus startups are able to check on their financial health, and how the business is performing and they are able to identify areas that need improvement.

The process of accounting in the field of corporate governance is an indispensable part of keeping the financial record updated, making it transparent, and helping to meet legal regulations.

Furthermore, accounting stands supreme in the field of corporate governance as it promotes accountability, integrity, and ethics in institutions. Through the adoption of strong accounting procedures; startups are set to strengthen a culture of transparency and accountability; consequently earning the trust of both shareholders and investor groups.

The reciprocal relationship between accounting and corporate governance is emphatic. Accounting delivers the financial data and insights required for effective governance, and on the other hand, accounting governance frameworks see to it that accounting practices are upheld in an ethical and regulatory way.

Implications for Startups in Ahmedabad:

Ahmedabad has become a vigorous and ambitious city to flourish the opportunities for the start-ups due to which the city can be an ideal place for the start-ups to thrive. In addition, the city is known for many things such as the performance of its business sector, infrastructure robustness, and culture of innovation. These provide promising new entrepreneurs with a good business environment to retain their ideas and convert them into a lucrative venture.

It is in this unstoppable market that startups can appropriately use effective financial management and corporate governance practices for their business to grow into the next stage.

Through practicing rational financial reporting, startup companies in Ahmedabad can manage their resources properly, and alleviate risks and disorder, as a result, leading to more profit. Money-savvy entrepreneurs often know how to balance their cash between paying their employees, their creditors and their savings.

Being able to make educated decisions in this area can boost companies’ development and sustainability. Also, implementing corporate governance principles not only leads to transparency, accountability, and ethics thus making the investors and the stakeholders trust the organization.

Against this stage, the finance courses of Ahmedabad are moving forward rapidly due to the increasing number of entrepreneurs who realise the significance of finance and finance-related skills. The courses usually deliver information, they teach by doing and in ways that adhere to the individualities of startups in the business world.

Finance courses put forth entrepreneurs to accomplish competence and self-confidence and create effective networks for exploiting opportunities as well as overcoming obstacles in complicated financial resources.

Empowering Entrepreneurs through Finance Courses:

Financing courses are the backbone of the startup venture of young entrepreneurs, which gives them practical knowledge and essential skills to push through the complex financial system of startups. In the context of the venture ecosystem of Ahmedabad, these courses are designed in a way to help new entrepreneurs in dealing particular challenges and issues which they may face while initiating a business.

Among the major advantages provided by such courses is the chance to enlarge a network and share experience with successful entrepreneurs whose experience is then used to develop their own ideas. Networking with peers who share similar interests, provides students with an opportunity to discuss different ideas, jointly conduct projects, as well as help create a friendly environment that brings people from all over the university together.

Moreover, many of these courses incorporate case studies, practical exercises, as well as simulations that mimic actual business scenarios explaining how to make rational decisions and test their skills in a secure environment.


Finally, knowing the primary mistakes of venture failures, the greatest place for accounting in corporate governance, and the cruciality of finance modules in Ahmedabad, leave the portals to the existence of startuppers well-armed. Super 20 Training program offers comprehensive courses in accounting and tax for professionals By offering flexible class times and different options like physical and online classes, our course fits individual learning styles. With the acceptance of financial literacy and education, individuals can face challenges, grasp opportunities, and promote growth sustainably of the city’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem.