Chart of accounts example: A sample chart of accounts with examples

By analyzing the nature of the transaction or instrument, consulting accounting standards, and possibly creating new accounts or sub-accounts to accurately reflect them. Importantly, the COA is designed to be adaptable, evolving with the business to include new accounts as necessary, ensuring its continued relevance. Thus, the COA is more than just an organizational tool; it is a fundamental component that underpins the entire financial management process, essential for maintaining financial integrity and enabling strategic growth.

Each account in a general ledger chart of accounts is allocated a code depending on the chart of accounts numbering system used by a business. The purpose of the chart of accounts numbering system is simply to group similar accounts together and to provide an easy method of remembering and referring to an account when preparing journal entries. The difference is that while IFRS is judgmental, national GAAP is legalistic. While IFRS focuses on disclosure and reporting, national GAAP concentrates
on accounting procedure. While IFRS does not prescribe (or even discuss) a chart of accounts, national GAAP prescribes one, making unauthorized deviations from this COA punishable by law.

Income accounts are instrumental in assessing the profitability and operational efficiency of a business. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. No, but it’s considered necessary by all kinds of companies seeking to categorize all of their transactions so that they can be referenced quickly and easily. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us.

Current liabilities are classified as any outstanding payments that are due within the year, while non-current or long-term liabilities are payments due more than a year from the date of the report. Doing so ensures that accurate comparisons of the company’s finances can be made over time. For example, Sales-Hardware could be further broken out to Sales-Hardware-Computers and Sales-Hardware-Printers.

Run a series of transactions through your COA to test its functionality and practicality. The chart of accounts is a very useful tool for the access it provides to detailed financial information for individuals within companies and others, including investors and shareholders. quickbooks customer service It’s not always fun seeing a straightforward list of everything you spend your hard-earned money on, but the chart of accounts can give you an important view of your spending habits. You can get a handle on your necessary recurring expenses, like rent, utilities, and internet.

  1. It is a very important financial tool that organizes a lot of financial transactions in a way that is easy to access.
  2. As time goes by, you may find yourself wanting to create a new line item for each transaction.
  3. While IFRS focuses on disclosure and reporting, national GAAP concentrates
    on accounting procedure.
  4. Also, the numbering should be consistent to make it easier for management to roll up information of the company from one period to the next.

While it sounds great in theory, in practice financial statements are what get faithfully generated and reviewed by management each month. Detailed reporting from the various modules often requires some effort to make sure it ties to the financials, and because of that (and other reasons), it doesn’t consistently get done. Building some level of detail into the chart of accounts is a practical way to ensure key information is always in the face of the management team. Liability accounts also follow the traditional balance sheet format by starting with the current liabilities, followed by long-term liabilities. The number system for each liability account can start from 2000 and use a sequence that is easy to follow and compare in different accounting periods. At this point, the chart of accounts is like a backbone of the overall accounting system, helping organize and classify financial information and providing a better, more digestible overview of a company’s financial position.

Chart of Accounts (Explanation)

Examples of current assets are cash, marketable securities, inventory, and accounts receivable, all of which play a critical role in managing the day-to-day financial operations of a business. The general ledger serves as the central repository for all of a company’s financial transactions. Each account listed in the chart of accounts (COA) has a corresponding ledger account in the general ledger. Financial transactions are recorded in the appropriate ledger account, as dictated by the COA’s categorization, ensuring that transactions are organized and tracked systematically. Many organizations structure their COAs so that expense information is separately compiled by department. Thus, the sales department, engineering department, and accounting department all have the same set of expense accounts.

Why Is the Chart of Accounts Important?

Though most accounting software products set you up with a standard COA or let you import your own, it’s a good idea to have an accountant scan it and add any other accounts that are specific to your business. A standard COA will be a numbered list of the accounts that fill out a company’s general ledger, acting as a filing system that categorizes a company’s accounts. It also helps with recording transactions and organizing them by the accounts they affect to help keep the finances organized. An added bonus of having a properly organized chart of accounts is that it simplifies tax season. The COA tracks your business income and expenses, which you’ll need to report on your income tax return every year.

Strategies to Overcome Delays in Your Month-End Close Process

Non-operating expenses are costs not directly tied to a company’s core business activities. Understanding these expenses is crucial for assessing the broader financial impact on the organization. The advent of computers in the latter half of the 20th century changed accounting practices. Computerized accounting systems facilitated the creation and management of extensive charts of accounts. Accounting software allowed for greater flexibility, customization, and efficiency in managing financial data.

How often should a chart of accounts be updated, and what triggers these updates?

By categorizing every transaction a business undertakes, the COA ensures that financial statements accurately reflect the company’s true financial position. A chart of accounts is a document that numbers and lists all the financial transactions that a company conducts in an accounting period. The information is usually arranged in categories that match those on the balance sheet and income statement. It is a good idea to customize your COA to suit your business needs in a way that makes sense to you.Incorporating accounting software into your everyday business operations can only make organizing your accounts easier. FreshBooks will help you stay organized with a user-friendly interface that keeps things simple. Suppose the business has two departments, a production department and a marketing department, and wants to be able to identify its expenses between the two.


In the end, the chart of accounts, the budget, and management preferences all must align in an effective accounting system. Indirect costing applies to project-oriented companies, particularly manufacturers and construction contractors. Companies that are not project-oriented, such as retailers and restaurants, typically would not incorporate indirect costing into their accounting structure. The concept makes sense, but it gets confusing when this entry hits the financials. Unlike true wage expense, the $3,000 is a project costing entry that is not paid out in cash.

For example, in the U.S. the IRS requires that travel, entertainment, advertising, and several other expenses be tracked in individual accounts. One should check the appropriate tax regulations and generate a complete list of such required accounts. The purpose of OCI is to provide a more comprehensive view of a company’s financial health, considering factors beyond immediate profits. It offers a broader perspective on how various elements impact the overall financial picture over time. To understand the chart of accounts, you might want tot figure out what are accounts in your books.

But if you are starting from scratch, then the following is great place to start. Later on, regularly review and update your COA to reflect changes in your business operations, industry standards, or regulatory requirements. This may involve adding new accounts, removing obsolete ones, or reclassifying existing accounts to better suit your business’s evolving needs.

For example, asset accounts for larger businesses are generally numbered 1000 to 1999 (or 100 to 199), and liabilities are generally numbered 2000 to 2999 (or 200 to 299). Small businesses with fewer than 250 accounts might have a different numbering system. If you’re using accounting software and want to set up a customized chart of accounts, you can add or edit parent and sub-accounts to the existing default chart of accounts. Doing this will help you stay organized and better understand how your business is doing financially.

These are asset accounts, liability accounts, equity accounts, revenue accounts, and expense accounts. If necessary, you may include additional categories that are relevant to your business. To create a COA for your own business, you will want to begin with the assets, labeling them with their own unique number, starting with a 1 and putting all entries in list form. The balance sheet accounts (asset, liability, and equity) come first, followed by the income statement accounts (revenue and expense accounts). Balance sheet accounts like assets, liabilities, and shareholder’s equity are shown first, and then come income statement accounts like revenue and expenses, in the order they appear on your financial statements. You may also wish to break down your business’ COA according to product line, company division, or business function, depending on your unique needs.

IFRS does not recognizes operating leases for lessees, while US GAAP
does. While neither IFRS nor US GAAP provide any guidance as to the chart of accounts that must be used, to be usable for IFRS and/or US GAAP purposes,
the COA must be consistent with the guidance IFRS and/or US GAAP do provide. In this respect, the management of a company operating in a country that prescribes a national GAAP has it easy. Then again, no ever said creating a COA for usable with two different reporting standards and two (generally incompatible) XBRL taxonomies was going to be a stroll in the park. The following is an example of some of the accounts that might be included in a chart of accounts.

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