Direct Write Off Method

Businesses can record bad debt using the direct write-off technique. When utilizing this accounting method, a company will hold off on classifying a transaction as a bad debt until a debt is determined to be uncollectible.

The direct write-off approach credits the same amount to accounts receivable and debits a bad debt account for the uncollectible amount in order to maintain the accuracy of the company's books. It eliminates any anticipation of getting the money.

How To Use The Direct Write-Off Method

Businesses can utilize the direct write-off approach to guarantee that records are accurate after deciding that a debt is uncollectible.

Use the illustration of a machine business that accepts credit card payments from clients. Assume that the company provides parts for a $1,000 order. It appears the customer doesn't intend to pay for the merchandise despite numerous attempts to reach the customer. The business records the uncollectible amount as a bad debt by transferring it from accounts receivables to a bad debt account

Limitations Of The Direct Write-Off Method

Due to the drawbacks of the direct write-off approach, the allowance method is more frequently used.

The direct write-off method denotes an amount in the books as bad debt only once it is found to be uncollectible. It can be challenging to match sales and expenses, and assets and net income can be inflated, when revenue and expenses are reported in various periods.

Direct Write-Off vs. Allowance Method

As an alternative to the direct write-off technique, you might make a provision for bad debts based on an estimation of future bad debts in the same period that you recognise revenue. This system aligns income and expenses, making it the more palatable accounting technique.


The direct write-off approach might be less complicated if you run a small business and don't frequently deal with bad debt. But larger organizations and those that deal with receivables typically prefer and routinely employ the allowance system. The allowance approach follows GAAP. If you're unsure of which approach is ideal for your small business, go to a specialist for advice on your particular circumstances.

Key Takeaways

  • The direct write-off method is a procedure used in accounting to report bad debt.
  • When using this method, businesses wait until it has been determined that a debt is uncollectible before marking it in their records. Uncollectible amounts are subtracted from bad debt accounts and the corresponding sums are added to accounts receivable.
  • The allowance approach, a different accounting technique that firms can employ to deal with bad debt, is typically seen as the more acceptable practice, however there are some situations in which the immediate write-off method makes more sense.
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