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Accounting Equation Definition: Formula & Examples

What Is the Accounting Equation?

The accounting equation states that an organization’s whole belongings are equal to the sum of its liabilities and its shareholders’ fairness.

This easy quantity on an organization stability sheet is taken into account to be the inspiration of the double-entry accounting system. The accounting equation ensures that the stability sheet stays balanced. That’s, every entry made on the debit aspect has a corresponding entry (or protection) on the credit score aspect.

The accounting equation can be known as the fundamental accounting equation or the stability sheet equation.

Key Takeaways

  • The accounting equation is taken into account to be the inspiration of the double-entry accounting system.
  • The accounting equation exhibits on an organization’s stability that an organization’s whole belongings are equal to the sum of the corporate’s liabilities and shareholders’ fairness.
  • Belongings symbolize the precious assets managed by the corporate. The liabilities symbolize their obligations.
  • Each liabilities and shareholders’ fairness symbolize how the belongings of an organization are financed.
  • Financing by way of debt exhibits as a legal responsibility, whereas financing by way of issuing fairness shares seems in shareholders’ fairness.

Understanding the Accounting Equation

The monetary place of any enterprise, massive or small, is predicated on two key elements of the balance sheet: belongings and liabilities. House owners’ fairness, or shareholders’ fairness, is the third part of the stability sheet.

The accounting equation is a illustration of how these three essential elements are related to one another.

Belongings symbolize the precious assets managed by the corporate, whereas liabilities symbolize its obligations. Each liabilities and shareholders’ fairness symbolize how the belongings of an organization are financed. If it is financed by way of debt, it’s going to present as a legal responsibility, but when it is financed by way of issuing equity shares to traders, it’s going to present in shareholders’ fairness.

The accounting equation helps to evaluate whether or not the enterprise transactions carried out by the corporate are being precisely mirrored in its books and accounts. Beneath are examples of things listed on the stability sheet.


Belongings embrace cash and cash equivalents or liquid belongings, which can embrace Treasury payments and certificates of deposit.

Accounts receivables checklist the quantities of cash owed to the corporate by its clients for the sale of its merchandise.

Stock can be thought-about an asset.


Liabilities are money owed that an organization owes and prices that it must pay in an effort to maintain the corporate operating.

Debt is a legal responsibility, whether or not it’s a long-term mortgage or a invoice that is because of be paid.

Prices embrace lease, taxes, utilities, salaries, wages, and dividends payable.

Shareholders’ Fairness

The shareholders’ fairness quantity is an organization’s whole belongings minus its whole liabilities. 

It may be outlined as the entire variety of {dollars} that an organization would have left if it liquidated all of its belongings and paid off all of its liabilities. This may then be distributed to the shareholders.

Retained earnings are a part of shareholders’ fairness. This quantity is the sum of whole earnings that weren’t paid to shareholders as dividends.

Consider retained earnings as financial savings, because it represents the entire income which have been saved and put apart (or “retained”) for future use.

Accounting Equation Method and Calculation






Proprietor’s Fairness


textAssets=(textLiabilities+textOwner’s Fairness)

Belongings=(Liabilities+Proprietor’s Fairness)

The stability sheet holds the weather that contribute to the accounting equation:

  1. Find the corporate’s whole belongings on the stability sheet for the interval.
  2. Whole all liabilities, which ought to be a separate itemizing on the stability sheet.
  3. Find whole shareholder’s fairness and add the quantity to whole liabilities.
  4. Whole belongings will equal the sum of liabilities and whole fairness.

For instance, say the main retailer XYZ Company reported the next on its stability sheet for its newest full fiscal yr:

  • Whole belongings: $170 billion
  • Whole liabilities: $120 billion
  • Whole shareholders’ fairness: $50 billion

If we calculate the right-hand aspect of the accounting equation (fairness + liabilities), we arrive at ($50 billion + $120 billion) = $170 billion, which matches the worth of the belongings reported by the corporate.

Concerning the Double-Entry System

The accounting equation is a concise expression of the advanced, expanded, and multi-item show of a stability sheet. 

Primarily, the illustration equates all makes use of of capital (belongings) to all sources of capital, the place debt capital results in liabilities and fairness capital results in shareholders’ fairness.

For an organization preserving correct accounts, each enterprise transaction might be represented in no less than two of its accounts. For example, if a enterprise takes a mortgage from a financial institution, the borrowed cash might be mirrored in its stability sheet as each a rise within the firm’s belongings and a rise in its mortgage legal responsibility.

If a enterprise buys raw materials and pays in money, it is going to end in a rise within the firm’s inventory (an asset) whereas decreasing money capital (one other asset). As a result of there are two or extra accounts affected by each transaction carried out by an organization, the accounting system is known as double-entry accounting.

The double-entry apply ensures that the accounting equation all the time stays balanced, which means that the left aspect worth of the equation will all the time match the suitable aspect worth.

In different phrases, the entire quantity of all belongings will all the time equal the sum of liabilities and shareholders’ fairness.

The worldwide adherence to the double-entry accounting system makes the account preserving and tallying processes extra standardized and extra fool-proof.

The accounting equation ensures that every one entries within the books and information are vetted, and a verifiable relationship exists between every legal responsibility (or expense) and its corresponding supply; or between every merchandise of revenue (or asset) and its supply.

Limits of the Accounting Equation

Though the stability sheet all the time balances out, the accounting equation cannot inform traders how nicely an organization is performing. Traders should interpret the numbers and determine for themselves whether or not the corporate has too many or too few liabilities, not sufficient belongings, or maybe too many belongings, or whether or not its financing is enough to make sure its long-term development.

Actual World Instance

Beneath is a portion of Exxon Mobil Company’s (XOM) stability sheet in hundreds of thousands as of Dec. 31, 2019:

  • Whole belongings had been $362,597
  • Whole liabilities had been $163,659
  • Whole fairness was $198,938

The accounting equation is calculated as follows:

  • Accounting equation = $163,659 (whole liabilities) + $198,938 (fairness) equals $362,597, (which equals the entire belongings for the interval)
Picture by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2020

Why Is the Accounting Equation Vital?

The accounting equation captures the connection between the three elements of a stability sheet: belongings, liabilities, and fairness.

All else being equal, an organization’s fairness will enhance when its belongings enhance, and vice-versa. Including liabilities will lower fairness whereas decreasing liabilities—comparable to by paying off debt—will enhance fairness.

These primary ideas are important to fashionable accounting strategies.

What Are the three Components of the Accounting Equation?

The three components of the accounting equation are belongings, liabilities, and shareholders’ fairness.

The system is simple: An organization’s whole belongings are equal to its liabilities plus its shareholders’ fairness.

The double-entry bookkeeping system, which has been adopted globally, is designed to precisely replicate an organization’s whole belongings.

What Is an Asset within the Accounting Equation?

An asset is something with financial worth that an organization controls that can be utilized to learn the enterprise now or sooner or later.

They embrace fastened belongings comparable to buildings and crops. They could embrace monetary belongings, comparable to investments in shares and bonds. In addition they could also be intangible belongings like patents, logos, and goodwill.

What Is a Legal responsibility within the Accounting Equation?

An organization’s liabilities embrace each debt it has incurred. These might embrace loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, bond points, warranties, and accrued bills.

What Is Shareholders’ Fairness within the Accounting Equation?

Shareholders’ equity is the entire worth of the corporate expressed in {dollars}.

Put one other approach, it’s the quantity that might stay if the corporate liquidated all of its belongings and paid off all of its money owed. The rest is the shareholders’ fairness, which might be returned to them.

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