Equity Accounting

Equity Accounting Definition

Equity Accounting refers to a form of accounting method that is used by various corporations to maintain and record the income and profits which it often accrues and earns through the investments and stake-holding that it buys in another entity.

Examples of Equity Accounting

Example #1

Let us consider an example of Pacman co, which goes on to acquire 25% in company Target Co for a stake of 65000$. At the end of the year, Target co would report a dividend of $2500.

When Pacman co would record the purchase, it would do the same under the head ‘Investments in affiliates by debiting the same by $65000 and crediting the cash account by $65000, and the following journal entry would be passed –

Investment in Associate …….Dr65000
To Cash65000

Pacman would only account for a dividend of $625 owing to its 25% stake. (25% of $65000). It would then be recorded as a reduction in an investment account, which is that they would have received some money from the investee. Hence, cash would be debited by $625, recording a credit in investment in associatesInvestment In AssociatesInvestment in Associate are investments in an entity in which the investor has significant influence but not complete authority, like a parent and a subsidiary relationship. The investor has a significant influence when it has 20% to 50% of shares of another entity.read more.

Cash A/c …….Dr625
To Investment in Associate625

Example #2

Major co acquired Minor co for a 40% stake. Minor co declared a net income of $200000 for the year. Hence the net income can be displayed as a certain amount of increase in the investment account in books of Major Co for an amount of $8000 ($20000*40%) by crediting the investment revenue accountRevenue AccountRevenue accounts are those that report the business's income and thus have credit balances. Revenue from sales, revenue from rental income, revenue from interest income, are it's common examples.read more and debiting the investment in affiliates. The new balance in ‘Investment in minor Co’ will be $208000 ($200000+$8000).

Investment in Associate …….Dr8000
To Investment Revenue8000

Advantages of Equity Accounting

Disadvantages of Equity Accounting

  • Company may not be profitable on a standalone basis: There is an excellent possibility that the company may look good on a consolidated basis, but when an equity accounting method is undertaken to make efforts to understand the income that can be attributed to its subsidiaries, one may get to know that the company is not doing so well on a standalone basis, unlike the rosy picture that was painted by the parent company.
  • Segregation requires additional time and effort: More often than not, when a company attempts to undertake equity accounting, it is often seen that the time undertaken for segregation to understand the value of equity in the subsidiary is often enormous. There are significant time and efforts involved in understanding the financials of the subsidiary on a standalone basis through the method of equity accounting.

Limitations of Equity Accounting

  • Dependence on Subsidiary for Information: Without the relevant information which the subsidiary provides, be it details relating to income/profit for the year or even dividend for that matter, the equity accounting method cannot be undertaken. Hence there is a significant dependence on the subsidiary company to gain the relevant information so that the necessary equity accounting can be undertaken by the parent company. If such information is not provided, the method ceases to exist and thus goes on to be a significant limitation.


Equity accounting, no doubt, stands as an excellent method to gauge and understand the returns and also the income that can be attributed to the subsidiaries that the business owns or runs. The income can be attributed to the different affiliates the business owns, manages, and runs. Such a method facilitates tracking and segregating the various income heads among the subsidiaries, be it dividends or even revenue for the year.

However, owing to additional information required, the firm will have to rely on the income declared by a subsidiary, which otherwise will not be known if the affiliate tends to be a privately held companyPrivately Held CompanyA privately held company refers to the separate legal entity registered with SEC having a limited number of outstanding share capital and shareowners. read more, where the parent has picked up the stake. There tends to be significant reliance on the subsidiary in this regard. Moreover, there is time and effort required in doing additional steps like that of equity accounting, and hence the firm needs to appropriate resources accordingly in this regard.

Nevertheless, equity accounting stands to be an excellent example of having to understand and segregate the income heads that can be attributed to the subsidiaries that the parent company has made an effort to acquire a significant stake.

This article has been a guide to Equity Accounting and its definition. Here we discuss an example of an equity accounting method with journal entries, advantages, disadvantages, and limitations. You can learn more from the following articles –

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