A balance sheet is one of the financial statements that will be distributed outside of the accounting department and is often distributed outside of the company. The balance sheet is organized into sections or classifications such as current assets, long-term investments, property, plant and equipment, other assets, current liabilities, long-term liabilities, and stockholders’ equity. Only the asset, liability, and stockholders’ equity account balances from the general ledger or from the trial balance are then presented in the appropriate section of the balance sheet. Totals are also provided for each section to assist the reader of the balance sheet. The balance sheet is also referred to as the statement of financial position or the statement of financial condition.
The accounting balance sheet is one of the major financial statements used by accountants and business owners. (The other major financial statements are the income statement, statement of cash flows, and statement of stockholders’ equity. The balance sheet is also referred to as the statement of financial position.
The balance sheet presents a company’s financial position at the end of a specified date. Some describe the balance sheet as a “snapshot” of the company’s financial position at a point (a moment or an instant) in time. For example, the amounts reported on a balance sheet dated December 31, 2011 reflect that instant when all the transactions through December 31 have been recorded.
Because the balance sheet informs the reader of a company’s financial position as of one moment in time, it allows someone—like a creditor—to see what a company owns as well as what it owes to other parties as of the date indicated in the heading. This is valuable information to the banker who wants to determine whether or not a company qualifies for additional credit or loans. Others who would be interested in the balance sheet include current investors, potential investors, company management, suppliers, some customers, competitors, government agencies, and labor unions.
Most accounting balance sheets classify a company’s assets and liabilities into distinctive groupings such as Current Assets; Property, Plant, and Equipment; Current Liabilities; etc. These classifications make the balance sheet more useful. The following balance sheet example is a classified balance sheet.
Sample Balance Sheet:
The notes to the sample balance sheet have been omitted.