Current Liabilities

Updated on April 11, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Are Current Liabilities?

Current liabilities are the obligations of the company which are expected to get paid within one year and include liabilities such as accounts payable, short term loans, Interest payable, Bank overdraft and the other such short term liabilities of the company.

Current Liabilities

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The meaning of current liabilities does not include amounts that are yet to be incurred as per the accrual accountingAccrual AccountingAccrual Accounting is an accounting method that instantly records revenues & expenditures after a transaction occurs, irrespective of when the payment is received or made. read more. For example, the salary to be paid to employees for services in the next fiscal yearFiscal YearFiscal Year (FY) is referred to as a period lasting for twelve months and is used for budgeting, account keeping and all the other financial reporting for industries. Some of the most commonly used Fiscal Years by businesses all over the world are: 1st January to 31st December, 1st April to 31st March, 1st July to 30th June and 1st October to 30th Septemberread more is not yet due since the services have not yet been incurred.

Current Liabilities Explained

Current Liabilities on the balance sheet refer to the debts or obligations that a company owes and is required to settle within one fiscal year or its normal operating cycle, whichever is longer. These liabilities are recorded on the Balance Sheet in the order of the shortest term to the longest term.

Most Balance sheets separate current liabilities from long-term liabilities. It gives an idea of the short-term dues and is essential information for lenders, financial analysts, owners, and executives of the firm to analyze liquidity, working capital managementWorking Capital ManagementWorking Capital Management refers to the management of the capital that the company requires for financing its daily business operations. It is important for the company in order to maximize its operational efficiency, manage its short term liabilities and assets properly, avoiding the underutilization of the resources and avoiding the overtrading, etc.read more, and compare across firms in the industry. Being part of the working capital is also significant for calculating free cash flow of a firm.

Current Liabilities Table

Although it is more prudent to maintain the current ratio and a quick ratio of at least 1, the current ratio greater than one provides an additional cushion to deal with unforeseen contingencies. Traditional manufacturing facilities maintain current assetsCurrent AssetsCurrent assets refer to those short-term assets which can be efficiently utilized for business operations, sold for immediate cash or liquidated within a year. It comprises inventory, cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, accounts receivable, etc.read more at levels double that of current liabilities on the balance sheet. However, the increased usage of just-in-time manufacturing techniques in modern manufacturing companies like the automobile sector has reduced the current requirement.

Current Liabilities in Video


The list of current liabilities below shows the components that play a vital role:

Current Liabilities Examples List

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#1 – Accounts Payable

Accounts PayableAccounts PayableAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period.read more is usually the major component representing payment due to suppliers within one year for raw materials bought, as evidenced by supply invoices.

Accounts Payable

Here is the example

We note from above that Accounts Payable of Colgate is $1,124 million in 2016 and $1,110 million in 2015.

#2 – Notes Payable (Short-term)

Notes PayableNotes PayableNotes Payable is a promissory note that records the borrower's written promise to the lender for paying up a certain amount, with interest, by a specified date. read more are short-term financial obligations evidenced by negotiable instrumentsNegotiable InstrumentsA negotiable instrument refers to the transferrable and signed written document whereby the payer guarantees or promises to pay a certain sum on a specific future date or as on-demand to the payee or bearer. It includes bills of exchange, delivery order, promissory note, customer receipt, etc.read more like bank borrowings or obligations for equipment purchases. Maybe interest bearing or non-interest bearing.

Notes Payable

Notes and loans payable for Colgate are $13 million and $4 million in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

#3 – Bank Account Overdrafts

Short term advances made by the banks to offset accountOffset AccountOffset account is an account which is directly or indirectly related to another account. It reduces the balance of the related account to give us a net balance which is used for calculation, valuation, interpretation, and application in financial statements as the requirement may arise in the course of business and statutory requirements.read more overdrafts due to excess funding above the available limit. Also, have a look at the revolving credit facilityRevolving Credit FacilityA revolving credit facility refers to a pre-approved loan facility provided by banks to their corporate clients. It states that the companies are free to borrow funds from these financial institutions to fulfill their cash flow needs by paying off the underlying commitment fees.read more

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#4 – Current portion of long-term debt

Current portion of long-term debtCurrent Portion Of Long-term DebtCurrent Portion of Long-Term Debt (CPLTD) is payable within the next year from the date of the balance sheet, and are separated from the long-term debt as they are to be paid within next year using the company’s cash flows or by utilizing its current assets.read more is a part of the long-term debt due within the next year

Current Portion of long term debt

#5 – Current Lease payable

Lease obligations due to the lessorLessorA lessor is an individual or entity that leases out an asset such as land, house or machinery to another person or organization for a certain period.read more in the short-term

Capital Lease Obligation

Facebook SEC Filings

Facebook’s current portion of the capital lease was $312 million and $279 in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

#6 – Accrued Income Taxes or Current tax payable

Income Tax owed to the government but not yet paid

Accured Income Tax

We note from above that Colgate’s accrued income tax was $441 million and $277 million, respectively.

#7 – Accrued Expenses (Liabilities)

Expenses not yet payable to the third party but already incurred like interest and salary payableSalary PayableSalary payable refers to the liability of the company towards its employees against the amount of salary of a period that became due but has not been paid yet to them by the company and it is shown in the balance of the company under the head liability.read more. These accumulate with time. However, they will get paid when they become due. For example, salaries that the employees have earned but not been paid are reported as accrued salaries.

Accured Expenses

Facebook’s accrued liabilitiesAccrued LiabilitiesAccrued liabilities refer to the obligations against expenses which the company incurs over one accounting period; however, it has not made any monetary payment for such expenses in the same accounting period. These expenses appear as liabilities in the corporate balance sheet.read more are at $441 million and $296 million, respectively.

#8 – Dividend Payable

Dividends payables are Dividend declaredDividend DeclaredDividend declared is that portion of profits earned that the company’s board of directors decides to pay off as dividends to the shareholders of such company in return to the investment done by the shareholders through the purchase of the company’s securities.read more, but yet to be paid to shareholders.

#9 – Unearned Revenue

Unearned revenuesUnearned RevenuesUnearned revenue is the advance payment received by the firm for goods or services that have yet to be delivered. In other words, it comprises the amount received for the goods delivery that will take place at a future date.read more are advance payments made by customers for future work to be completed in the short term like an advance magazine subscription.

The below example details of unearned subscription revenues for a Media (magazine company)

Unearned revenues

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How To Calculate?

Current liabilities on the balance sheet impose restrictions on the cashRestrictions On The CashRestricted cash is the portion of cash that has been set aside for a specific purpose. It is usually held in a special account (for example, an escrow account) so it remains separate from the rest of a business’ cash and equivalents.read more flow of a company and have to be managed prudently to ensure that the company has enough current assets to maintain short-term liquidity. In most cases, companies are required to maintain liabilities for recording payments which are not yet due. Again, companies may want to have liabilities because it lowers their long-term interest obligation.

Some of the essential ways you can analyze them are 1) Working Capital and 2) Current Ratios (& Quick Ratio)

#1 – Working Capital

Working capital is the capital that makes 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 examples.read more work in an organization. Working capital can be calculated as follows:

Working Capital formulaWorking Capital FormulaWorking capital is the amount available to a company for day-to-day expenses. It's a measure of a company's liquidity, efficiency, and financial health, and it's calculated using a simple formula: "current assets (accounts receivables, cash, inventories of unfinished goods and raw materials) MINUS current liabilities (accounts payable, debt due in one year)"read more = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

#2 – Current Ratio & Quick Ratio

Current Liabilities on the balance sheets are also used to calculate liquidity ratios like the current ratio and quick ratio. These ratios are calculated as follows:

Current Ratio= Current Assets (CA) /Current Liabilities (CL) and

Quick Ratio= (CA- Inventories)/CL


Let us consider a current liabilities example here for a retail industry:

In the retail industry, the current ratio is usually less than 1, meaning that current liabilities on the balance sheet are more than current assetsCurrent AssetsCurrent assets refer to those short-term assets which can be efficiently utilized for business operations, sold for immediate cash or liquidated within a year. It comprises inventory, cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, accounts receivable, etc.read more.

current liabilities example

As we note from above, Costco’s Current Ratio is 0.99, Walmart’s Current ratio is 0.76, and that of Tesco is 0.714.

Current Liabilities Vs Non-Current Liabilities

Both current liabilities and non-current liabilities, also known as long-term liabilities, form part of the balance sheet of a company. The difference between the two is as follows:

  • Current liabilities are short-term debts, while the latter includes long-term loans and leases.
  • The former reduces the working capital funds that the businesses have. On the contrary, non-current liabilities help fund capital expenses through bank loans, etc.
  • Examples of the former include utility payments, credits for goods purchased, and other short-term loans. On the other hand, long-term liabilities include bank loans, bonds, debentures, etc.

This article is a guide to what are Current Liabilities. Here we explain it with an example and check how to calculate it, vs non-current liabilities & types. You may also have a look at the following recommended articles on accounting basics –

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