Contra Asset Account

What is Contra Asset Account?

Contra asset account is an asset account having credit balance which is related to one of the assets with debit balance and when we add the balances of two of these assets together, it will show us the net book value or carrying value of the assets having the debit balance.

List of Components of Contra Asset Account


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For eg:
Source: Contra Asset Account (

#1 – Assets

It is prepared when there is a reduction in the value of assets due to wear and tear continuous use, or when we expect that a certain percentage of accounts receivable will not be received. Fixed assetsFixed AssetsFixed assets are assets that are held for the long term and are not expected to be converted into cash in a short period of time. Plant and machinery, land and buildings, furniture, computers, copyright, and vehicles are all more like plant & equipment are depreciated every year, and this balance is transferred to accumulated depreciation account. So, in this case, accumulated depreciationAccumulated DepreciationThe accumulated depreciation of an asset is the amount of cumulative depreciation charged on the asset from its purchase date until the reporting date. It is a contra-account, the difference between the asset's purchase price and its carrying value on the balance more is a contra asset account related to plant & equipment.

#2 – Reduction in Value

We know that assets have a debit balanceDebit BalanceIn a General Ledger, when the total credit entries are less than the total number of debit entries, it refers to a debit balance. A debit balance is a net amount often calculated as debit minus credit in the General Ledger after recording every more; however, the contra assets account has credit balances. It means that this account shows the balance, which is a reduction in the value of assets. Let’s say we expect 2% of our total receivable of $100,000 has gone bad. So we show $2,000 ($100,000*2%) as provision for doubtful debts, which is a reduction from debtorsDebtorsA debtor is a borrower who is liable to pay a certain sum to a credit supplier such as a bank, credit card company or goods supplier. The borrower could be an individual like a home loan seeker or a corporate body borrowing funds for business expansion. read more value and means that only $98,000 is expected to be received from debtors.

#3 – Prudence

It is only prudent to show the reduction or reserve in a separate account, and at any point, it gives us the netbook value explaining what the actual cost was and how much of that has been depreciated. It also helps in creating reserves, and later any change in the expected number can be adjusted through allowances and reserves.

#4 – Accumulated Depreciation

Whenever an organization buys an asset and depreciated it over the useful economic life of the asset, the reduction in value every over accumulates over the year, which is called accumulated depreciation. We get the remaining value of assets by deducting the accumulated depreciation balances from the book value of an asset. The accumulated depreciation balance cannot exceed the book value of the assetBook Value Of The AssetBook Value of Assets is the asset's value in the books of records of a company or an institution at any given instance. Assets Book Value Formula = Total Value of an Asset – Depreciation – Other Expenses Directly Related to it read more.

 #5 – Allowances for Doubtful Debts

When good is sold on credit, the amount receivable from customers is shown under the debtor’s balance in the balance sheet. It is a standard business practice to prepare an estimate for the amount which is likely to go bad. This amount is shown as provision or reserve for doubtful debts. The provision for doubtful debts is a contra asset account which is related to debtors.

#6 – Others

Provision for a discount from creditors and discount on bills receivable are other examples which are widely used.

Example of Contra Asset Account

Let us understand how the accounting entryAccounting EntryAccounting Entry is a summary of all the business transactions in the accounting books, including the debit & credit entry. It has 3 major types, i.e., Transaction Entry, Adjusting Entry, & Closing Entry. read more is posted for the contra asset account and how it is shown in the books. Let us consider that ABC Ltd. recently bought machinery for $100,000, and it plans to depreciate the machinery over five years by using the straight-line method. In this case, the depreciation each year for this machinery will be $100,000/5 = $20,000.

Accounting Entry

Entry 1
Contra Asset Account Entry 2
Entry 3
Contra Asset Account Entry 4
Entry 5

By the end of the first-year machinery, balance will be $100,000, and accumulated depreciation will show $20,000. By the end of 2nd-year, the machinery balance will still be $100,000, and accumulated depreciation will show $40,000. The netbook value of the machinery by the end of the first year will be $80,000 ($100,000-$20,000) and $60,000 ($100,000-$40,000) by the end of the second year. This method helps a third person in identifying what the book value was at the time of purchase and what is the remaining value of an asset. If we just show $60,000 as an asset in the third year, it will be challenging to understand whether $60,000 is all new purchases or the remaining value of an asset. This account helps all the stakeholders in understanding the financial numbers accurately.


Some of the advantages are a follows:


Some of the disadvantages are a follows:

  • It is a time-consuming process.
  • Many organizations find it challenging to implement.
  • Need a robust accounting system; else, operational difficulties may arise.

Points to Note

Nowadays, with the development of a computerized accounting system, it is easy and quick to prepare the contra asset accounts as the system does all the calculations, and hardly anything is pushed manually. However, an accountant or person in charge must ensure that any change in the value of the assets due to revaluationAssets Due To RevaluationAssets revaluation is an adjustment made in the carrying value of the fixed asset, either upwards or downwards, depending upon the fair market value of the fixed asset. Its purpose includes selling the asset to another business unit, merger and more or impairment must be taken into consideration. Accordingly, the value of the contra asset account will change. Also, with IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) asking to report it in a particular way, the accountants must be updated with recent changes as to how the contra assets account should appear in the books of accounts.


With increasing globalizationGlobalizationGlobalization is defined as the extension of trade, commerce and culture of an economy across different more and companies operating in many countries, the books of accounts must be compatible with a global platform. They are also the result of globally accepted accounting principlesGlobally Accepted Accounting PrinciplesGAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) are standardized guidelines for accounting and financial more for accurate reporting of financial numbers. As we have seen in the above discussion, how reporting contra assets account helps in a better understanding of financial statements of any organizationFinancial Statements Of Any OrganizationFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all more. So, an organization looking for a robust accounting process must move to this type of reporting for better understanding.

This article has been a guide to what is contra asset account and its definition. Here we discuss the list and examples of contra asset account along with advantages & disadvantages. You can learn more about accounting from the following articles –

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