5 Steps to Write Off Bad Debts in Accounting and Save Your Business Money

Bad debts can be a major problem for businesses, reducing their profitability and ability to pay creditors. Writing off bad debts is one way of recovering some lost funds while also ensuring that your business’s accounts are accurate. This article will discuss five steps to take when writing off bad debts in accounting.

What Is Accounts Receivable? Why Is It an Asset?

Accounts receivable (A/R) refers to money owed to your business by customers who have purchased goods or services on credit. It is classified as an asset because it represents money expected to be paid into the company’s accounts at some point in the future. Therefore, why is accounts receivable an asset? Because it reflects incoming cash that may be used to pay creditors or other obligations, making them an important part of any company’s financial health.

Step 1: Make Sure You Have Tried All Collection Options

The first step towards writing off bad debts in accounting is to ensure you have exhausted all available collection options. This includes sending out multiple invoices and payment reminders and calling or emailing the customer directly about the outstanding balance. If none of these tactics work, you may need to consider writing off the debt as a loss for your business.

Step 2: Determine Whether It Is Worth Pursuing Legal Action

If a customer refuses to pay despite several attempts to contact them, you need to decide whether it is worth taking legal action, given the size of the debt. A court case could potentially result in a settlement, but it will also cost time and resources that should be considered before taking legal action.

Step 3: Review any existing insurance policies

It’s worth checking if your business has any existing insurance policies that could cover any unpaid invoices or bad debts written off – such policies usually have conditions under which they apply, so it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if this might apply in your case.

Step 4: Record the loss in your accounts

Once you have decided not to pursue collection of a particular invoice, you will need to record this as a loss in your accounts, either as an allowance for doubtful debts or as a direct write-off, depending on, for example, the size of the debt in relation to total sales. This will ensure that reported profits accurately reflect what has actually been received from customers over time, rather than being inflated by incorrect entries relating to unpaid amounts still being included in gross sales figures, etc.

Step 5: Report the loss to the tax authorities

Finally, any losses relating to bad debts must also be correctly reported to the relevant tax authorities so that they do not count against taxable income figures, etc. Doing this correctly will ensure that companies are not taxed inappropriately high amounts based on inflated profit figures caused by the inclusion of non-existent income from unpaid invoices, etc.


Writing off bad debts can help relieve some of the pressure on businesses struggling with persistent customer arrears, whilst also allowing them to produce more accurate financial statements detailing their true performance over time, without incorrect entries relating to unpaid amounts still being included etc. By following the five steps outlined above, businesses can effectively manage their finances by keeping track of how much money they are actually receiving from customers and reporting these details appropriately when dealing with tax authorities etc.