What is Bad Debt Expense in Business?

Finding your way through the ins and outs of owning your own business can be difficult, but extremely rewarding! Along the way, you will not only find new and interesting ways to create profits, but you also learn a lot about business expenses and debt. Bad debt expense in business is one of those things that can hurt your business, but you may not have any idea what it is until it is too late!

So what exactly is bad debt expense? Much like learning how to calculate the cost of debt, or even learning how to file your taxes properly, bad debt expense is a part of doing business. In order to make that clear to you, here is a breakdown of examples, as well as steps you can take as a business owner to avoid it!

Defining Bad Debt Expense

Unless you’re an accountant or have been in business for years, defining bad debt expense can sound intimidating. However, once you understand exactly what it is, and how it can affect your business, then it’s quite simple!

Defining Bad Debt Expenses

Your company’s accounts receivable will be where you should be looking for bad debts expense. It can also be called “doubtful accounts expense”, or even “uncollectable accounts expense”. This means that your business has provided goods or services to a customer on credit. Unfortunately, when the time came to collect on that credit, the customer did not pay what was owed.

However, this doesn’t mean you get to just go after the customer for the amount owed legally. Bad debt expense is basically when the customer is no longer able to pay. This is generally due to things like bankruptcy, going out of business, or other unfortunate issues.

How Do You Account for Bad Debt Expense?

Finding how to both report, file and account for bad debt expense in your business finances doesn’t have to be tricky. They are typically sorted as either general administrative expenses, or even as a sales expense. However, bad debt expense does create an obvious obstacle for your accounts receivable!

In addition to losing goods and/or services, your accounts receivable will also be out of balance. Although businesses can always retain the right to collect the amount due if the customer’s financial situation changes, your business is in the red for that account for now.

Two Main Ways to Recognize Bad Debt Expense

Within your company’s financial records, there are two primary ways to acknowledge bad debt expense:

  • Allowance Method: This means that your company will take steps to predict this type of expense before it happens. The losses can be calculated into expected income for the year. Therefore, a company can avoid an account overstatement. This can be calculated from previous losses of this kind from the company, as well as from other companies in the same field.
  • Direct Write-Off: This is a method of dealing with bad debt expense that is extremely straight forward. Instead of calculating the non-payments into their overall budgets, businesses can write off the expense. All in all, this means that uncollectible funds are written off as a base expense by the business. However, this method can lead to more difficult accounting in the future for many different reasons.

Within your business, how you deal with bad debt expense is completely up to you. Not to mention what is best for the company as a whole.

write-off debt

Avoidance and Modern Business

All things considered, it’s extremely difficult to avoid bad debt expense in the modern business world. When dealing with many different clients, or even different companies, it’s extremely difficult to predict their successes or failures. That being said, there are a few ways to avoid this expense altogether.

As bad debt expense only occurs when dealing with credit for customers, you can simply avoid this expense by not dealing in credit. Simply allow for payments to be made upon receipt of services, or goods.

Because businesses allow customers to receive goods or services on credit, they run the risk of this debt becoming uncollectable! However, this isn’t always a black and white, clear picture kind of decision to make. There are a lot of reasons why you may allow a customer to receive credit from your business, as well as whether or not you aggressively collect those debts.  

Finding Your Way Through Bad Debt Expense

Altogether, owning a business is filled with many ups and downs. From learning how to deal with people one on one, as well as wading your way through corporate takeovers, finding your way through bad debt expense doesn’t have to be a challenge! You can find great ways to collect debts, to deal with clients, but some expenses can’t be avoided.

Overall, how you deal with your bad debt expense is up to you and your business. Whether you prefer the direct write-off method, the allowance method, or trying your hardest to avoid it altogether, there are a variety of paths! However, you can’t predict how well, or how poorly your customers will do. Bad debt expense is simply one of the many, many costs of doing business in the modern, credit-driven world.

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How to Calculate the Cost of Debt

Trying to calculate the cost of debt?

Being in debt is never easy. Whether you’re struggling with student loans or walking a tight rope with credit cards, being in debt can cost you a LOT. In order to help you make your life a little less stressful, here is a breakdown of how to calculate the cost of debt.

What Exactly IS the Cost of Debt?

There is a cost to being in debt! The cost of debt is the rate at which an individual, or even a company, pays down debt. Basically, taking into account after-tax costs of debt, as well as interest paid. After taxes are taken out, you can determine the interest expenses that are deductible, like valuable above the line deductions!

What Exactly IS the Cost of Debt

Basically, this means that the cost of debt is the return someone has for creditors, as well as debt holders. If someone has lent money to another individual, it is essentially the capital compensated for risks. All in all, it is money owed before taxes, after taxes, and after investments.

Why Calculate the Cost of Debt?

Breaking down the cost of debt for anyone is so much easier than finding out your cost of equity. It is a more straightforward approach to finding out an individual’s worth Essentially, it can show the default risk and the level of interest rates for anyone.

Calculating the cost of debt is also a critical component of determining your WACC. For individuals, it can also mean finding where you can afford to save, invest, as well as dramatically decrease your debt.

Calculating the Cost of Debt: Need to Know Information

There are several factors that go into calculating the cost of debt. However, in order to calculate this number you need two important factors. The marginal tax rate and the effective interest rates paid.

Effective Interest Rates

Finding the effective interest rate that you pay on your debt is simple. You divide the annual interest by the total amount of debt owed and then multiply it by one hundred.

Looking over debt

Marginal Tax Rates

Marginal tax rates are the tax rates people pay for both federal and state combined. Here is a break down of the tax brackets in the US:

  • 10% tax rate means a taxable income of $0 to $9,700
  • 12% tax rate means a taxable income of $9,701 to $39,475
  • 22% tax rate means a taxable income of $39,476 to $84,200
  • 24% tax rate means a taxable income of $84,201 to $160,725
  • 32% tax rate means a taxable income of $160,726 to $204,100
  • 35% tax rate means a taxable income of $204,101 to $510,300
  • 37% tax rate means a taxable income of $510,301 or more

There are of course other stipulations. Taxes owed, as well as deductions can make a difference in your federal tax rate.

State income tax rates vary from state to state. However, they are not typically over 12%.

The cost of debt can then be calculated from these two sets of information! All in all, calculating the cost of debt is essentially multiplying the effective interest rate by the one minus the marginal tax rate.

Example of How to Calculate the Cost of Debt for You!

When it comes to calculating the cost of debt, it is best to put it into simple math. Instead of tracking your net worth, sit down and track your own cost of debt!

If you make $100,000 a year and pay 24% federal taxes, then 5% in state taxes, your marginal tax rate is 29%. Your debt is paid at an effective interest rate of 7%. There fore, your cost of debt is as follows:

Cost of debt = 7% x (1-29%). 0.07 x (1-0.29) = 0.049. This means your personal cost of debt would be 4.9%!

Uses for Cost of Debt

Now that you are aware how to calculate the cost of debt for yourself, WHY it is important to do this, as well as what variables you need to know beforehand you’re able to look into your company’s credit situation.

Once it is clear that your debt is at a minimal percentage against the size of your net worth, you can understand where you stand with creditors and your debt more accurately!

Knowing How to Calculate the Cost of Debt

This information is not only vital to the outward success of your personal finances, but also to your personal success! Now that you know how to calculate your cost of debt, you can successfully create a clear financial picture for your future!

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What Happens to Your Debt When You Die

If you’ve ever been in debt, you know how hard it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, even if you DID find a way to start reasonable payments, your debt still follows you no matter where you go. Even past the grave! So, what happens to your debt when you die?

Can Debt Be Collected After You Die?

All in all, it’s hard to say whether or not your estate will have to pay up once you’ve passed on. As a matter of fact, your debt and debt recovery can indeed follow you past the grave! However, there are lots of laws and policies that regulate how debt is collected when you die.

Can Debt Be Collected After You Die?

Once you’re dead, your estate, or the assets that you’ve left behind, has the responsibility of being in charge of your debt. If you leave your estate to one person, or even several people, they are not responsible for paying off what you owe. This process is called probate.

What is Probate?

There are several things that happen once you are deceased. Your last will and testament will allow for your assets to be distributed as you please. Similarly, if you don’t have a will, then your assets will be allocated to all of your closest relatives. As well as distributed to creditors.

Probate is the legal process for dividing up your property, assets, and even accounts. This is a court-supervised process that includes the following:

  • Authenticating a Last Will and Testament
  • Locating assets
  • Valuing all assets
  • Paying final bills, taxes, as well as debts owed
  • Distributing the rest of the assets to beneficiaries

Is Probate Always What Happens to Your Debt When You Die?

Not all deaths end in a probate, however. Probate is only required when estates are valued above a certain level and are not being automatically transferred to a surviving joint owner. Like if a wife died, and the husband was legally the joint owner of all of their property.

What Can I Do to Help My Family If I Die?

In addition to having a will, there are many other things you can do to make sure your family and close friends aren’t struggling with what happens to your debt when you die. It’s not necessarily difficult to put things in order for your loved ones, however it’s not always the foremost thought in people’s minds.

Write A Will

One thing you can easily do is make certain you have a last will and testament set aside for your beneficiaries. This will not only allow for you to set aside certain assets for certain people, but it can also mean not leaving a financial MESS for your executor.

Will and Testament

Finding An Executor of Your Estate

The person primarily responsible for dealing with your will and your estate after you’ve died is called the executor of your estate. While it can be one person or several, it is always a good idea to name someone that you trust to handle writing checks to your creditors. Together with handling your debt, your executor may also see that all of your accounts, or property, are evenly distributed.

The Importance Of Life Insurance

Life insurance is a great way to make certain that your loved ones don’t have to deal with your debts when you die. Finding the right insurance that will not only cover debts but also the cost of your funeral expenses as well, will be extremely helpful.

Times When Others Are Responsible for Your Debt

There are circumstances where other people may hold the task of dealing with your creditors once you’ve passed. Primarily this only occurs when someone has co-signed for a loan, live in community property states, as well as being a joint account holder.

Laws Against Collectors and Collections

In addition to having only specific people who may have to deal with what happens to your debt when you die, there are lots of laws that protect your assets as well.

Debt collectors are not allowed to contact a dead person’s spouse, parents or guardian, or executor of the estate to talk about the debt. They are also not allowed to lie or trick the family members into believing they are not responsible for the debt.

Creditors cannot go after certain things once you’ve passed. They are not allowed to attempt to collect from life insurance policies or retirement benefits passed onto a beneficiary.

Laws Against Collectors and Collections

What Happens to Your Debt When You Die Can Easily Be Controlled!

If you’re looking into finding solutions for your loved ones NOW, while you’re alive, then there are lots of steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t follow your family. You can have a set will, you can take out a life insurance policy, as well as naming a trustworthy executor of your estate to handle all of your debts for you.

 No matter where you go, your debt follows you. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let it follow you beyond the grave!

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