Chart of accounts example: A sample chart of accounts with examples

The chart of accounts lets you easily track all the money going out of your business. In your general ledger expense accounts, you’ll see your recurring payments, like rent, utilities, and insurance. It can also help you make better spending decisions by seeing where your money goes and evaluating where cuts can be made.

  1. Your chart of accounts is a living document for your business and because of that, accounts will inevitably need to be added or removed over time.
  2. A chart of accounts offers a clear picture of the overall financial health of your business and gives insights into all of the company’s financial transactions.
  3. Each department will have its own phone expense account, its own salaries expense, etc.
  4. In fact, I suggest that it is the single best and most effective way to raise the financial reporting at your organization to the next level.
  5. Further information on the use of debits and credits can be found in our bookkeeping basics tutorials.

Month-end financial statements (balance sheet and income statement) simply summarize and group the balances that are in the individual accounts at month end. Accordingly, financial statements can be no more detailed or informative than the underlying chart of accounts structure. Although most decent accounting software packages will generate and maintain these identifying numbers for you, it’s still a good idea to have a solid understanding of the underlying system. All of those financial transactions generating operating revenue for your company fall into the P&L (income statement) category. Just remember, this only includes revenues stemming from the core functions of your business, not items falling outside of your main activities. Think of your chart of accounts as a roadmap across your operations, indexing all of your different financial accounts in an organized, consumable way.

This would include your accounts payable, any taxes you owe the government, or loans you have to repay. A chart of accounts lists down all accounts used by an entity in its accounting system. She would then make an adjusting entry to move all of the plaster expenses she already had recorded in the “Lab Supplies” expenses account into the new “Plaster” expenses account. Instead of recording it in the “Lab Supplies” expenses account, Doris might decide to create a new account for the plaster. The chart of accounts is designed to be a map of your business and its various financial parts.

Everyone agrees that direct labor and direct materials are always direct costs. On one hand, keeping the number of accounts to a minimum will make the accounting system more straightforward to use. To learn more about the role of bookkeepers and accountants, visit our topic Accounting Careers. Every company is different so, depending on your operations, industry, and other critical factors, the template is only as good as you make it. Now, that said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t boast a bit and say that Embark’s COA template is a heckuva starting point. To ensure you start out on the right foot, we’re providing you with a COA template to download and customize to your heart’s content.

Owner’s Equity Accounts

But just because it’s important doesn’t mean it’s intuitive or straightforward, at least without true expertise guiding the way. Well, that’s exactly how someone looking through your financials would feel if it wasn’t for the accounting equivalent of that life-saving index – the chart of accounts (COA). Instead of lumping all your income into one account, consider what your various development, fundraising, and marketing profitable activities may be and sort them by income type. When you can see which locations or events bring in the most cash flow, you can manage your business more wisely. If you take a block away from one section of your business, you have to add it back someplace else. Revenue is the amount of money your business brings in by selling its products or services to clients.

For standardization purposes, many industry associations publish recommended charts of accounts for their respective sectors. Instead, each entity has the flexibility to customize its accounts chart to fit the specific individual needs of the business. Yes, we understand we’re venturing into Accounting 101 territory here, stopping just short of a refreshing dip into the magical world of debits, credits, and double-entry bookkeeping. As a matter of fact, this high-level review provides a perfect segue into our next topic. For bigger companies, the accounts may be divided into several sub-accounts.

Improve Your Reporting

For example, if the first digit is a “1” it is an asset, if the first digit is a “3” it is a revenue account, etc. The company decided to include a column to indicate whether a debit or credit will increase the amount in the account. This sample chart of accounts also includes a column containing a description of each account in order to assist in the selection of the most appropriate account. Of the many things to consider during a business transaction and integration, the GL accounting systems and charts of accounts should be near the top of the list.

The accounts in the income statement comprise revenues and expenses, and these accounts are also broken down further into sub-categories. The COA is generally structured to display information in the same sequence it appears on financial statements. This means that balance sheet accounts are listed first, followed by income statement accounts.

What Is a Chart of Accounts?

These are asset accounts, liability accounts, equity accounts, revenue accounts, and expense accounts. If necessary, you may include additional categories that are relevant to your business. The first three are assets, liabilities, and equity, which flow into the balance sheet.

It is generally better to have less detail and keep it accurate than to have inordinate amounts of detail that tend to be inaccurate. Unfortunately, using a pre-fabricated chart of accounts is like trying to build a dream house on a one-size-fits-all concrete foundation. The house would end up very different from the dream, and not be very functional.

Some accountants recommend sticking with a GAAP-oriented chart of accounts and generating management-oriented financials through custom reports. These custom reports cobble together numbers from various sections of the chart of accounts to get the financial statement layout management is looking for. That level is managerial accounting, and it’s where you create financial reports with the information you want to see. Tax and audit CPAs adjust your reports to fit their purposes anyway, so go ahead and make a complete break. The new goal is financial reports that provide the metrics you need to run your operation throughout the year. Most small businesses initially set up their accounting to suit their tax accountant.

It enhances financial control, aids in budgeting and compliance, and facilitates effective communication and strategic decision-making. A chart of accounts usually contains identification codes, names, and brief descriptions for each account to help users easily locate specific accounts. This coding system is crucial because a COA can display a multitude of line items for each transaction in every primary account.

Management Consulting

Therefore, always consult with accounting and tax professionals for assistance with your specific circumstances. Note that each account is assigned a three-digit number followed by the account name. The first digit of the number signifies if it is an asset, liability, etc.