What is Accounting Equation?

The accounting equation is the base of “Double Entry Book Keeping System”. The equation indicates the relation between the means owned and resources owned by the business. The definition of accounting equation with the principle of “equality” duly finds its effect on the balance sheet with the “Asset Side” being a sum total of “Liabilities and Shareholder’s Equity. This is a clear indication of “two-fold effect” as in the double entry system stating that “For every debit, there is an equal amount of credit”. The accounting equation is the primary concept for a preparation of all financial statements based on journal entries.

The accounting equation formula is expressed in the algebraic form as:

A – L = C
A – L = S


A = Assets of the Entity (What the business owns)

L = Liabilities of the entity (Outsider’s Claims i.e. what the business owes to outsiders)

C or S = Capital of the Entity (Owner’s/Shareholder’s Claims i.e. Capital + Net Profit/Loss – Dividends)

The accounting equation indicates that total assets of the business are being financed from either borrowed money (liabilities) or from owner’s funds/shareholder’s money (Capital + Retained Earnings) or by reduction of existing assets.

This basic accounting equation can also be expressed as:

Liabilities = Assets – Shareholder Equity
Shareholder Equity = Assets – Liabilities

Accounting Equation Example

The accounting equation shows that “Asset” can be purchased from “assets” or from “Liabilities” i.e. outside borrowing or from “Owner’s Equity / Shareholder’s Equity” i.e. For purchasing a machine of $3000, one can use cash (Asset) or buy it from borrowing the money from someone (Liability) or from owner’s funds (Capital/Shareholder’s Equity).

Similarly, to pay liability of $2000, one can use some other debt (Liability) or can use some Asset (Cash or Stock) or pay it off from retained profits (Owner’s Equity).

The below table would help in explaining the basic accounting equation clearly:

Explanation Assets Liabilities Shareholder’s Equity
Bringing Capital $800 to a newly started business in the form of cash/machine/assets + 800 + 800
Buying Stock/goods of $500 from market on credit + 500 + 500
Selling stock of $300 and using this income to pay off a the market credit to that extent ? 300 ? 300
Buying a machine of $400 by making cash payment 50% and borrowing 50% of the amount. (Asset entry shows machine addition of $400 and cash reduction of $200) + 200 + 200
Earning income say interest income of $50 + 50 + 50
Paying expenses of $100 ? 100 ? 100
Recording expenses, but not paying them at the moment + 100 ? 100
Paying off the borrowed amount of $200 by cash or cheque ? 200 ? 200
Receiving cash $1000 for sale of an car 0 0 0

The above examples highlight that the accounting equation holds and remains true for every transaction. Here, we have used plus sign for indication addition and minus sign for showing the reduction, however, in double entry system of book-keeping, the reduction and increase is shown by recording debits and credits.


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Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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