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

Don’t just think about the accounts you need for your small business now. Think of the accounts you may need 5 or 10 years down the line and include those in your chart. You may not have employees now, but in a few years, you may add employees to your business, so plan for that with your chart.

  1. In your liability accounts, you’ll see all your short, medium, and long-term loans, and interest payable on those loans.
  2. Although you are limited to 250 accounts, that should be sufficient for most small businesses.
  3. The first digit of the number signifies if it is an asset, liability, etc.
  4. Yes, we understand we’re venturing into Accounting 101 territory here, stopping just short of a refreshing dip into the magical world of debits, credits, and double-entry bookkeeping.
  5. It also will include your accrual accounts, which include what you owe in payroll taxes and sales taxes.
  6. His month-end income statement could get no more detailed than that one account.

A small business will likely have fewer transactions and accounts than a larger one, meaning a three-digit system of identification codes might suffice. There’s nothing special about the balance sheet accounts you use within your COA since they flow into the balance sheet you already know and love. In the bigger picture, it also makes it difficult to accurately gauge your organization’s financial health. Well, that’s exactly how someone looking through your financials would feel if it wasn’t for the accounting equivalent of that life-saving index – the chart of accounts (COA).

Forensic Accounting: Due Diligence’s Secret Weapon

Small businesses need a chart of accounts to organize their accounting for more simple and accurate financial reporting. Because your chart of accounts places all your financial data in one document, it makes it easy to track all your business information. To make a chart of accounts, you’ll need to first create account categories relevant to your business, and then assign a four-digit numbering system to the accounts you create. While making a chart of accounts can be time-consuming, it’s an important tool for understanding the financial health of your business. A chart of accounts is a list of all of the accounts available for recording transactions in a company’s general ledger or accounting software.

Building the right CoA for your business can set you up for success in terms of reporting and tax filing. So you’ve established your standard chart of accounts, and understand how to add, change, and archive accounts. These sample charts will give you an idea of the different accounts you’ll set up and the system for adding new account numbers. Today, we’re looking at the concept of a chart of accounts in more detail. 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. Doing so ensures that accurate comparisons of the company’s finances can be made over time.

Default CoA Accounts

Expense accounts allow you to keep track of money that you no longer have. Accounting systems, by definition, have a general ledger in which your asset accounts (what you own) match your liability accounts (what you owe). In manufacturing, the production process involves different stages, such as raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods.

Your chart of accounts helps you understand the past and look toward the future. A chart of accounts should keep your business accounting error-free and straightforward. This will allow you to quickly determine your financial health so that you can make intelligent decisions moving forward. As time goes by, you may find yourself wanting to create a new line item for each transaction.

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For example, your business account titled “Equipment” would be labeled as an asset account, and the “Utilities” account would be labeled as an expense account. A simple way to organize the expense accounts is to create an account for each expense listed on IRS Tax Form Schedule C and adding other accounts that are specific to the nature of the business. Each of the expense accounts can be assigned numbers starting from 5000. 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. Each asset account can be numbered in a sequence such as 1000, 1020, 1040, 1060, etc.

Customizing your chart of accounts helps you categorize transactions in a way that makes sense for your business. It allows you to generate precise data about your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and more. From there, you can get even more detailed, further categorizing items by their business function, company divisions, product and service lines, and more. Therefore, while every COA uses the same building blocks – balance sheet and income statement accounts – how deep you delve into each of those blocks is up to you. Think of your chart of accounts as a roadmap across your operations, indexing all of your different financial accounts in an organized, consumable way.

Because the chart of accounts is the backbone of your bookkeeping system, it pays to take time now to make sure your list of accounts is complete and appropriate for your business. We recommend having at least the following accounts included in your chart of accounts. You can make life much easier for your controller when you group EBITDA and non-recurring or one-off items like acquisition expenses, integration expenses, and others. This way, looking at normalized accounts doesn’t feel like a mighty chore when, for example, converting from a GAAP income statement to a management income statement. Thus, an identifier like might signify a COGS transaction (the first digit) from sales division #4 (the second digit) and product line #120 (the final three digits). Think about the chart of accounts as the foundation of a building, in the chart of accounts you decide how your transactions are categorized and reported in your financial statements.

Make the needed changes to the account and then click the green Save and Close button. Next, click the green New button in the upper right corner of the screen to access the account setup window for your new account. Every company is different so, depending on your operations, industry, and other critical factors, the template is only as good as you make it. Now, that said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t boast a bit and say that Embark’s COA template is a heckuva starting point. Going forward, be sure to revisit the document regularly – perhaps quarterly or annually at the latest – just as you would with accounting policies. As new buyers, team members, and systems enter the fold, it’s crucial your COA documentation is always up-to-date for employees, not to mention your auditors.

He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries. He has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a setting up a chart of accounts for a small business degree from Loughborough University. It will be different for each business type, with a manufacturing company using a different chart of accounts than a service business or a nonprofit organization. In accounting, each transaction you record is categorized according to its account and subaccount to help keep your books organized.

Income accounts are instrumental in assessing the profitability and operational efficiency of a business. This coding system is important because the COA can display many line items for each transaction in every primary account. The final screen before importing provides your last opportunity to change any account information or deselect any accounts you don’t wish to import.

Groups of numbers are assigned to each of the five main categories, while blank numbers are left at the end to allow for additional accounts to be added in the future. 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. Sales costs or costs of goods sold is usually the next type of account to consider. You also include accounts for discounts from suppliers, costs of shipping, and miscellaneous sales costs.

The Best Chart of Accounts Structure

So on that note, let’s jump right in because clearer, more organized financials and improved decision-making are just around the corner. Most small businesses initially set up their accounting to suit their tax accountant. As the company grows, GAAP-based financials are needed for the banks, investors, and agencies like bonding companies. “I don’t think I’ve ever looked at that,” he told me as we looked over his accounts.

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