Balance sheet is a statement which gives the position of assets and liabilities on a particular date. Assets are the resources owned by the business. Liabilities are the claims against the business. After ascertaining the net profit or net loss of the business enterprise, a business person would like to know the financial position of the business. For this purpose, balance sheet is prepared which contains amounts of all the assets and liabilities of the business enterprise as on a particular date. The statement so prepared is called ‘balance sheet’ because it gives the balances of ledger accounts which are still there, after the closure of all nominal accounts by transferring to the trading and profit and loss account. Balances of all the personal and real accounts are grouped into assets and liabilities. In the balance sheet, liabilities are shown on the left hand side and assets on the right hand side.
According to J.R. Batliboi, “A Balance Sheet is a statement prepared with a view to measure the exact financial position of a business on a certain fixed date.”
The purposes of preparing a balance sheet are as follows:
i. The main purpose of preparing a balance sheet is to ascertain the true financial position of the business at a particular point of time.
ii. It helps in comparing the cost of various assets of the business such as the amount of closing stock, amount due from debtors, amount of fictitious assets, etc. Moreover as assets and liabilities of similar nature are grouped and presented in balance sheet, a comparative study of these assets and liabilities is facilitated. It helps in comparing the various liabilities of the business.
iii. It helps in finding out the solvency position of the firm. The firm’s solvency position is favourable if the assets exceed the external liabilities. The firm’s solvency position is not favourable it the external liabilities exceed the assets.
The following are the characteristics of a balance sheet:
i. A balance sheet is a part of the final accounts. However, the balance sheet is a statement and not an account. It has no debit or credit sides and as such the words ‘To’ and ‘By’ are not used before the names of the accounts shown therein.
ii. A balance sheet is a summary of the personal and real accounts, which have balances. Personal and real accounts having debit balances are shown on the right hand side known as assets side, whereas personal and real accounts having credit balances are shown on the left hand side known as liabilities side.
iii. The totals of the two sides of the balance sheet must be equal. If the totals are not equal, it indicates existence of error. It must satisfy the accounting equation, ie., Assets = Capital + Liabilities, following the dual aspect concept.
iv. Balance sheet is prepared on a particular date and not for a fixed period. It discloses the financial position of a business on a particular date. It gives the balances only for the date on which it is prepared.
v. It shows the financial position of the business according to the going concern concept.
The assets and liabilities shown in the balance sheet are grouped and presented in a particular order. The term ‘grouping’ means showing the items of similar nature under a common heading. For example, the amount due from various customers will be shown under the head ‘Sundry debtors.’ Similarly, under the head ‘Current assets’, the balance of cash, bank, debtors, stock and other current assets will be shown.
‘Marshalling’ is the arrangement of various assets and liabilities in a proper order. Marshalling can be made in one of the following two ways:
According to this method, an asset which is most easily convertible into cash, i.e., cash in hand is shown first and then will follow those assets which are comparatively less easily convertible, so that the least liquid asset i.e., goodwill is shown last. In the same way, the liabilities which are to be paid at the earliest will be shown first. In other words, current liabilities are shown first, then fixed or long-term liabilities and finally the proprietor’s capital.
This method is exactly the reverse of the first method. Asset which is more permanent, i.e., goodwill is shown first followed by assets which are less permanent. Similarly, those liabilities which are to be paid last will be shown first. In other words, the proprietor’s capital is shown first, then fixed or long-term liabilities and lastly the current liabilities. Joint stock companies are required under the Companies Act to prepare their balance sheet in the order of permanence.
The balance sheet of business concern can be presented in the following two forms.
a. Horizontal form
b. Vertical form
In the horizontal form, assets are shown on right hand side of the balance sheet and the liabilities are shown on the left hand side of the balance sheet.
The balance sheet of a sole proprietor can be presented in a vertical statement form as given below:
There is no prescribed format for preparing the balance sheet of sole proprietor and partnership. For Joint Stock Company, the format of preparing balance sheet is given under Schedule III of Indian Companies Act, 2013. After transferring all nominal accounts, the items left out in trial balance are real account and personal accounts. These are grouped under assets (debit balance) and liabilities (credit balance) and presented in a balance sheet.
The resources acquired by the business entity out of funds provided by owners or creditors are called assets. These are the resources owned by the business. Assets of a business include cash, stock, plant and machinery, etc.
According to the nature of assets, they may be classified into the following:
Fixed assets are those assets which are acquired or constructed for continued use in the business and last for many years such as land and building, plant and machinery, motor vehicles, furniture, etc. According to Finney and Miller, “Fixed assets are assets of a relatively permanent nature used in the operations of business and not intended for sale.” As the purpose of keeping such assets is not to sell but to use them, changes in their realisable values are ignored and these are always shown in the balance sheet at cost less depreciation. Fixed assets can be classifed into i) Tangible fixed assets ii) Intangible fixed assets.
Tangible fixed assets are those which have physical existence or which can be seen and felt.
Examples: plant and machinery, building and furniture.
Intangible fixed assets are those which do not have any physical existence or which cannot be seen or touched. Examples: goodwill, trade-marks, copy rights and patents. Intangible assets are as much valuable as tangible assets because they also help the firm in earning profits. For example, goodwill helps in attracting customers and patents represent the know-how which helps in producing the goods.
Current assets are those assets which are either in the form of cash or can be easily converted into cash in the normal course of business or within one year. In the words of Hovard and Upton, “The current assets are usually defined as those assets which are convertible into cash through the normal course of business within a short time, ordinarily in a year.” Current assets include cash in hand, cash at bank, short-term investments, bills receivable, debtors, prepaid expenses, accrued income, closing stock, etc. Among these, closing stock is valued at cost or realisable value whichever is lower and debtors are shown after deducting a reasonable provision for bad and doubtful debts.
Prepaid expenses are treated as current assets. Though cash cannot be realised from prepaid expenses, the service will be available against these without further payment.
Liquid assets are the assets which are either in the form of cash or which can be immediately converted into cash within a very short period of time, such as cash at bank, bills receivable, short-term investments, debtors and accrued incomes. In other words, if prepaid expenses and closing stock are excluded from current assets, the balance is known as liquid assets.
Amount invested outside the business in shares, debentures, bonds and other securities is called investments. If it is invested for a period more than a year they are called long-term investments. If they are invested for a period less than a year they are short term investments and shown under current assets.
These are the assets which get exhausted gradually in the process of excavation. Examples:mines and quarries.
These are assets only in name but not in reality. These assets are not really assets but are shown on the assets side only for the purpose of writing off by transferring them to the profit and loss account gradually over a period of time in future. Such assets include the expenditures, the benefit of which lasts for more than a year, not yet written off, such as advertisement expenses, preliminary expenses, etc.
Liabilities or equities are claims against the business entity. These are the amounts owed by a business entity to the outsiders (outsiders equity) and owners (owners equity).
Liabilities may be classified according to their nature as follows:
The liabilities which are to be repaid after one year or more are termed as long-term liabilities.
Example: Long-term loans.
The liabilities which are expected to be paid within the normal operating cycle or one year are termed as current or short-term liabilities. These include bank overdraft, creditors, bills payable, outstanding expenses, etc.
These are the liabilities which are not certain at the time of preparation of balance sheet. These liabilities may or may not occur. These are the liabilities which will become payable only on the happening of some specific event which itself is not certain, otherwise these need not be paid. Such liabilities are as follows:
Liabilities for bills discounted
In case a bill discounted with the bank is dishonoured by the acceptor on the due date, the firm will become liable to the bank.
Liability in respect of a suit pending in a court of law
This would become an actual liability if the suit is decided against the firm.
Liability in respect of a guarantee given for another person
The firm would be liable to pay the amount if the person for whom the guarantee is given fails to meet his obligation.
· Contingent liabilities are not shown in the balance sheet. They are, however, shown as a foot note just below the balance sheet so that the existence of such liabilities may be revealed.
· Capital: Capital is money or money’s worth contributed by the owner to the business for the purpose of carrying on business. The difference between assets and liabilities is owner’s equity = capital contributed + accumulated profits.