Understanding the Chart of Accounts: A Fundamental Guide

chart of accounts example

The main accounts within your COA help organize transactions into coherent groups that you can use to analyze your business’s financial position. In fact, some of the most important financial reports — the balance sheet and income statement — are generated based on data from the COA’s main accounts. Add an account statement column to your COA to record which statement you’ll be using for each account–cash flow, balance sheet, or income statement. The chart of accounts is a tool that lists all the financial accounts included in the financial statements of a company.

Can a chart of accounts be customized to fit specific business needs?

A chart of accounts is a catalog of account names used to categorize transactions and keep your business’s financial history organized. The list typically displays account names, details, codes and balances. There’s often an option to view all the transactions within a particular account, too.

chart of accounts example

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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. As you can see, each account is listed numerically in financial statement order with the number in the first column and the name or description in the second column.

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The account names will depend on your type of business, but the classification and grouping should be similar to the sample chart of accounts. The chart of accounts is a very useful tool for the access it provides accounting services for startups to detailed financial information for individuals within companies and others, including investors and shareholders. But the final structure and look will depend on the type of business and its size.

  • Keeping an updated COA on hand will provide a good overview of your business’s financial health in a sharable format you can send to potential investors and shareholders.
  • Small businesses commonly use three-digit numbers, while large businesses use four-digit numbers to allow room for additional numbers as the business grows.
  • He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries.
  • Also, it’s important to periodically look through the chart and consolidate duplicate accounts.
  • The contents depend upon the needs and preferences of the company using it.

The general rule for adding or removing accounts is to add accounts as they come in, but wait until the end of the year or quarter to remove any old accounts. Changes – It’s inevitable that you will need to add accounts to your chart in the future, but don’t drastically change the numbering structure and total number of accounts in the future. A big change will make it difficult to compare accounting record between these years. The group refers to the categorization of the account into one of the headings shown below. It generally helps to keep the most used accounts towards the top of each group as this helps speed up locating the account and the posting of double entry transactions.

chart of accounts example

Thus, a five-digit numbering system – rather than three or four-digits – gives a large company more room to break out detailed accounts. These could include accounts like COGS, depreciation on fixed assets, sales returns, common stock, and others that small business owners might not need, at least in such detail. Now that we have the high-level information behind us, let’s https://theillinois.news/navigating-financial-growth-leveraging-bookkeeping-and-accounting-services-for-startups/ roll up our sleeves a bit and zero in on building the ideal chart of accounts for your company. As we said before, an effective COA begins with two essential building blocks – balance sheet accounts and income statement accounts. Current assets are a company’s possessions it plans to convert into cash or use up within a year, like cash, inventory, and accounts receivable.

chart of accounts example