Current liabilities are defined as: “Debts due to be paid with cash or with goods and services within one year, or within the entity’s operating cycle if the cycle is longer than a year.” (Hongren, Harrison & Oliver, 2012) These liabilities fit into three categories: Current liabilities of known amount; current liabilities that must be estimated; and contingent liabilities. According to the matching principle of accounting, expenses and revenues need to be reported during the same period that they are earned. This can be difficult if the exact amounts are not known. This is the purpose behind estimated and contingent liabilities. In order to provide accurate financial reports companies must record revenues and…show more content…
All of these liabilities are of known amounts and must be recorded as liabilities until the point in time when they are paid. Some liabilities, however, have amounts that are not known and must be estimated.
One liability that the amount must be estimated is associated with warranties. Many companies offer warranty coverage of their products. It is important for the potential warranty expenses to be calculated in the same period as the products are sold. This expense is usually estimated as a percentage of sales revenue based on historical data relating to warranty claims. In accordance with the matching principle and GAAP standards, the revenue and warranty expense must be recorded within the same reporting period. This is the only way to ensure that revenues are not overstated and liabilities are not overstated. In this way the financial health of a company can be accurately assessed. Contingent liabilities are another type of liability that must be estimated. Contingent liabilities are potential liabilities that are contingent upon certain circumstances. They are only potentially liabilities, however, they must still be recorded as such in accordance with the matching principle. One example of a contingent liability is a pending lawsuit. If the lawsuit is lost then the company will need to pay, therefore the money must be thought of as already spent until the lawsuit is final. Another example of a contingent liability occurs when one company cosigns