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Accrued Expenses vs Accounts Payable: Difference Between Accounts Payable and Accrued Expenses

By Annapoorna

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Updated on: Oct 17th, 2023

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10 min read

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The accrual method of accounting introduces two types of accounts—accrued expenses and accounts payable. While they might appear to be the same—payments owed and paid, they are not. 

Accrued expense refers to expenses a company incurs but doesn’t pay for within the same accounting period. On the other hand, accounts payable is the amount a firm owes to its supplier. 

Continue reading to know more. 

What Are Accrued Expenses?

Accrued expenses, also known as accrued liabilities, are payments that an organisation owes for goods already delivered. Rentals, salaries, loan payments, and utility bills are examples of accrued expenses. 

These costs are recorded on the balance sheet at the end of the accounting period and adjusted for goods and services received but not billed. They are also recorded in the general ledger as journal entries.

In accounting, the accrual concept suggests that all inflows and outflows must be recorded as they occur, irrespective of making payment, cash is paid.

Example of An Accrued Expense

Here are some examples of accrued expenses:

  • Utilities were used for the month, but no receipt was issued before the end of the period.
  • Compensation overdue to workers
  • Goods and services received but not billed

What Are Accounts Payable?

Accounts payable are current liabilities of a company that must be paid off within 12 months or a normal operating cycle. Even if not paid off within 12 months, they are still classified as current liabilities. Companies that fail to pay their creditors risk defaulting, which is the failure to repay a debt.

Accounts payable are a credit extension from the vendor, meaning that companies can pay their suppliers later. This allows the business to turn its inventory into cash, which can then be used to pay the supplier. 

Example of Accounts Payable

Here are some examples of accounts payable:

  • Raw Materials/Power/Fuel Purchase
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Assembling and Subcontracting Works
  • Equipment Leasing
  • Licensing

Similarities Between Accrued Expenses and Accounts Payable

Sometimes an accrued expense can be converted into an account payable, but not vice versa. Some other similarities between accrued expenses and accounts payable are as follows:

  • They both involve some debt, and accountants consider their business expenses.
  • They are both due within a year and are considered current liabilities.
  • They are both indicators of a business’s financial health.

Differences Between Accrued Expenses And Accounts Payable 

Here are the key differences between accrued expenses and accounts payable in a tabular format to help you understand better: 

 Accrued ExpenseAccounts Payable
MeaningCosts that are recognised in a company's financial records before they are paid.The amount that an organisation owes to its creditors or suppliers for goods or services received on credit and due for payment.
Accounting

Recorded as accrued expenses on the balance sheet under current liabilities.

 

 

Recorded as accounts payable on the balance sheet under current liabilities.

 

 

RealisationDue at the end of the accounting period—monthly, quarterly, or annually—depending on how the company manages its expenses.Payment happens soon and is typically due within a year.
Payable toAccrued expense payments are often made to landlords or property owners, employees, utility companies, etc.Accounts payable are made to anyone who allows your business to purchase something on credit, mostly vendors, suppliers, or contractors.
Occurrence Accrued expenses are typically recurring, such as rent and loan interest obligations.Accounts payable occur when a business buys something on credit.

Conclusion

The whole point of figuring out the differences between accrued expenses and accounts payables is to keep track of your business's expenses and financial obligations. Plus, it also helps with accurate financial recognition and disclosure.

Accrued expenses are debts for which a business has not received an invoice. On the other hand, accounts payable are obligations the company owes and for which it has received an invoice. These are often credit-purchased things; however, it often also includes prepaid expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are accounts payable debit or credit?

Accounts payable is a current liabilities account and should have a credit balance. This indicates the amount that a company owes to its suppliers.

Where do accrued expenses go?

Accrued expenses are included in a company's current liabilities column to indicate future payments that have not yet been invoiced and are unknown. 

What are some accrued expenses vs accounts payable similarities?

Accounts payable and accrued expenses are financial responsibilities listed as liabilities on a company's balance sheet. This means that they both affect financial statements and need to be adjusted. 

What are accrued expenses vs accounts payable examples?

Accrued expenses include monthly payments such as salary, rent, and interest. On the other hand, accounts payable examples include outstanding raw materials, logistics, and licensing bills.

About the Author

I preach the words, “Learning never exhausts the mind.” An aspiring CA and a passionate content writer having 4+ years of hands-on experience in deciphering jargon in Indian GST, Income Tax, off late also into the much larger Indian finance ecosystem, I love curating content in various forms to the interest of tax professionals, and enterprises, both big and small. While not writing, you can catch me singing Shāstriya Sangeetha and tuning my violin ;). Read more

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