What are Prepaid Expenses? Prepaid Expense on Balance Sheet

What are Prepaid Expenses? Where do prepaid expenses appear on balance sheet? Let’s find the answers for these questions in the following article with Viindoo to best understand this term and manage your cashflow in a more efficient manner.

What are prepaid expenses?

Prepaid expenses refer to expenses that a company pays in advance for goods or services that it will receive in the future. These expenses are considered assets on the company's balance sheet, as they represent an amount that the company has already paid, but for which it has not yet received the corresponding benefit.

At first, prepaid expenses are recognized as assets, but their cost is gradually recognized as an expense on the income statement over time. What sets prepaid expenses apart from regular expenses is that the business will benefit from them over multiple accounting periods, which is why they are expensed over a longer period of time.

What are prepaid expenses?

What are prepaid expenses?

If you are using an accounting software system, once the expenses are recorded onto the system, the system will automatically put the expenses as a current asset on the balance sheet and then expensed over time onto the income statement as the benefits of the prepaid expense are realized.

Prepaid expenses have the following characteristics:

  • They are paid in advance: Prepaid expenses are costs that a company pays in advance for goods or services that will be received in the future.
  • They are recognized as assets: Prepaid expenses are initially recorded as assets on the company's balance sheet because the company has paid for them in advance and has not yet received the corresponding benefit.
  • They are expensed over time: The cost of prepaid expenses is gradually recognized as an expense on the company's income statement over time, as the corresponding benefit is received or consumed.
  • They are related to multiple accounting periods: Prepaid expenses provide a benefit that extends beyond the current accounting period and are therefore allocated to the cost of production or operation over multiple accounting periods.
  • They require regular allocation: To ensure proper expense recognition, prepaid expenses must be regularly allocated to the cost of production or operation of the current period.

For example, if a company rents an office for one year and pays for it at the beginning of the year, the rent paid at the beginning of the year represents a prepaid expense for the remaining 11 months of the year. Each month, the company must allocate this expense to the cost of that month.

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Benefits of Prepaid Expenses

Understanding the benefits of prepaid expenses can help businesses make informed decisions about their cash flow management and financial planning. So What are prepaid expenses benefits? 

What are prepaid expenses?

Improved cash flow management with prepaid expenses

  • Improved cash flow management: Prepaying expenses allows a business to manage its cash flow more effectively by paying for expenses in advance when funds are available.
  • Expense predictability: By prepaying expenses, a business can lock in prices for goods or services, ensuring predictable expenses and avoiding unexpected price increases.
  • Budgeting accuracy: Prepaying expenses can help a business accurately forecast its expenses and budget accordingly, allowing for better financial planning and management.
  • Reduced administrative burden: Paying expenses in advance can reduce the administrative burden of processing frequent payments, saving time and resources.
  • Improved supplier relationships: Prepaying expenses can improve relationships with suppliers, as it demonstrates a commitment to the business relationship and can lead to favorable terms or discounts.
  • Reduced risk of service disruptions: Prepaying expenses for critical services, such as utilities or rent, can reduce the risk of service disruptions or termination due to non-payment.

How are prepaid expenses recorded on balance sheet?

Initially, prepaid expenses are recorded in the prepaid asset account on the balance sheet since they represent a benefit that will be received in the future by the business. These expenses are classified as current assets as they are expected to be consumed, used, or depleted within one year through regular business operations.

As the benefits of the prepaid expense are obtained, they are then recognized on the income statement. This is because, according to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) matching principle, expenses cannot be recorded on the income statement before they are incurred. Prepaid expenses are therefore not initially recorded on the income statement.

What are prepaid expenses?

How are prepaid expenses recorded on balance sheet?

For example, if a company pays for a 12-month insurance policy in advance for $12,000, it would record the $12,000 as a prepaid expense asset on the balance sheet. As each month passes, the company would recognize $1,000 of the prepaid expense as an expense on the income statement, reducing the prepaid expense asset account by $1,000 each month until the end of the 12-month period. 

At that time, the prepaid expense account would be zero, and the full $12,000 expense would have been recognized on the income statement over the 12-month period.

Prepaid Expense examples

Prepaid expenses are a common aspect of business accounting, and there are several examples of expenses that can be prepaid to benefit the financial health of a company.

  • Insurance premiums: Paying an insurance premium in advance is a common example of a prepaid expense. The business pays for coverage for a specified period, such as six months or a year, in advance.
  • Rent: Prepaid rent is a type of prepaid expense where a business pays rent in advance for a specified period, such as several months or a year, in order to secure the rental space and ensure consistent payments.
  • Maintenance agreements: A business may prepay for maintenance agreements or service contracts to ensure ongoing support for equipment or software.
  • Taxes: Some taxes, such as property taxes or income taxes, may be paid in advance, resulting in a prepaid expense.
  • Travel expenses: Prepaying for travel expenses, such as airfare or hotel reservations, is a common practice for businesses.
What are Prepaid Expenses

Insurance premiums as an example for prepaid expense


Yes, prepaid expenses can be classified as either current or long-term assets, depending on when they will be consumed.

Prepaid expenses are recognized as expenses in the income statement when they are consumed or used up.

If a company overpays a prepaid expense, it can adjust the asset amount on the balance sheet and recognize the overpayment as an expense in the income statement.

Yes, prepaid expenses are tax-deductible in the year they are paid, provided they meet certain IRS criteria.

Can prepaid expenses help to improve a company's credit rating? 

Yes, by paying bills in advance, a company can demonstrate its ability to manage its finances effectively, which may help to improve its credit rating.

In the above article, Viindoo has answered the question of “What are Prepaid Expenses”, and given you the examples of prepaid expenses. We hope that through this article, businesses can understand this term and use it in your operations.

What are Prepaid Expenses? Prepaid Expense on Balance Sheet
Viindoo Technology Joint Stock Company, Amber Nguyen April 7, 2023