To understand deferred revenue you have to know its meaning & examples in detail. In simple terms, it is a type of revenue that a company receives, however it is not yet earned as it is the money earned by an organization for goods and services which have not been delivered yet. In account of revenue recognition principle the deferred revenue is regarded as a liability for the firm as it has not full fill its obligation before the customer, hence it is regarded as a liability until the delivery of the goods or services is made then it is converted as revenue.

What is Deferred revenue? 

The deferred revenue is also called as unearned revenue and has to be listed in a balance sheet as a liability because the revenue recognition process is yet not completed under the accrual accounting. Further discussing the deferred revenue in accrual accounting method. The revenue is considered to be earned only when the firm receives money from the buyer in return for the goods and services provided.

But as in case of deferred revenue which the company receives in advance from a customer or buyer for a service or goods to be delivered in some future date. This kind of payment will be regarded as a liability because there is always a chance of uncertainty like the customer or buyer might cancel the order or like the firm fails to provide the goods and services for the decided date.

In either of the cases, the company has to give a full refund to the buyer or the customer. Moving to the positive side if the goods or services are delivered right and in time the deferred revenue account is debited and the money gets credited to the revenue, in simple words the revenue or sale is finally considered and therefore no longer is said to be liability which implies that the payments received from the customers will remain in deferred revenue until and unless the customer gets what was due in accordance with the contract. The general ledger liability account can be termed as Unearned revenues.

Deferred revenues, or even customer deposits. As the service or goods are provided to the customers or buyers the deferred amount is considered as “earned” which moves to the income statement revenue account such as sales revenue/fees earned. As the firm runs and earns revenue over a period of time, the balance available in the deferred revenue account is reduced and increases the revenue account.

 Examples to understand better about deferred revenue

There is a magazine company named XYZ which publishes monthly magazines, but it collects its costs by a yearly subscription made in advance. The complete amount of the yearly subscription is not a part of revenue taken monthly, as the firm earns part of this subscription amount every month and transfers a monthly amount of this subscription for every month for calculating the monthly Pand L account.

For instance, imagine the monthly subscription for the magazine is Rs 200 but the firm collects a complete amount of Rs 2400 from its customers or buyers in advance for the yearly subscription. Every month the company will transfer Rs200 from the Rs2400 to monthly P&L account as the company delivers a monthly publication of its magazine to the buyer and so the rest amount will be declared as deferred revenue in the balance sheet for the next upcoming month, so with every upcoming month as the company delivers the magazine to the customer the company will transfer 1/12 portion of the total amount received from the buyer from the deferred revenue to the monthly revenue. 

The journal entry for the same transaction would be as follows,

Deferred Revenue Example 1

Each month after the delivery of the magazine to the buyer, the accountant will transfer INR 200/- from the deferred revenue account to Subscription Revenue account and in the same way each month, the whole amount from deferred revenue account would be taken care of at the end of the year.

Deferred Revenue Example 1.1jpg

Another example we will take of a Company XYZ , which is a software company and it sells an antivirus program for laptops  and tabs. The company receives advance payments from customers who purchase the software online and expect to download the program on their PCs and tablets once the company receives the payment. However, as the company receives a lot of downloading requests on a daily basis, the manager has decided to check the credibility of the credit cards used in the advance payments and allow the downloading of the software the following day of the prepayment.

The software company receives $50 in advance payments per client per day. The firm’s accountants record each payment as a liability in the balance sheet until the company delivers the software to the customer. Once the customer receives the download link and gets the software, the order is completed, and accountants move the payment from the deferral account to the revenues account. By the end of the fiscal year, the deferred revenue balance will be zero and all of the payments will become revenue on the income statement.

Methods of revenue recognition

The strategies for income acknowledgment in a pay proclamation have been clarified 

1) – Completed Contract Method 

Under this strategy for Principle of income acknowledgment, the income related with an exchange is perceived simply after the consummation of the exchange. This technique is commonly utilized when there if there should arise an occurrence of vulnerability concerning the assortment of assets from the customer. 

2) – Instalment Method 

The dealer represents the exchange by utilizing the portion technique when the client is permitted to pay for the item/administration over various years. 

3) – Cost Recovery Method 

According to the cost recuperation technique, the income acknowledgment is just done after the cost factor of the deal has been paid by the client in real money. 

4) – Percentage of Completion Method 

The merchant can perceive some increase or misfortune identified with the arrangement in each Bookkeeping  period in which the arrangement keeps on being in power. This strategy is normally received while taking care of long-haul ventures.

Read more about Bookkeeping tips

Why is deferred revenue considered a liability?

Until delivery, it is possible that the service may be delivered, or that the customer has canceled their order, for which the fee must be refunded. Because you have been paid for the good or the service you have not delivered, the refund is a liability. And that’s why you’ll find it listed with other current debts on your rating page.

To alleviate confusion, many SaaS companies use a collection method for their financial account. Accrual accounting only recognizes income when the work is completed, not when the payment is received. Cash recognition comes only when your company receives that money.

How deferred revenue causes problems for subscription companies

Attempts to renew your  financial statement at the expense of a fixed amount, but there are a few reasons why this approach may be difficult for a subscribing company.

1. Cancellations

Never assume that the money in your financial account can be used to repatriate or pay higher costs; if the customer cancels the subscription, you will need to refund the amount equal to the downtime in the subscription (i.e. payment for nine months), if that is too late for the subscription.

2. Faulty financial predictions

Companies often invest in deferred income, as well as real money, in their estimates of future revenue growth. However, this can lead to “growth fraud:” a fixed income balance that remains much higher than real income.

This can mislead investors into believing that growth is faster than it is. And the longer you invoice, the greater the risk of exposing your growth potential.

3. Multiple deliverables

If your company provides instant access services (online learning courses, for example) using a subscription model, you will have to contend with “multiple submissions.” This means that some offers are considered fulfillment in purchase, but other features will be provided in due course. Therefore, your income is gradually reduced and set aside.

This can lead to problems with your company’s accounting: different delivery categories, whether you are delivering goods or services, must be carefully downloaded.

Misuse of accounts can be the difference between the life and death of SaS companies. Proving personal error and building your understanding of the SaaS financial model is very important.

How to make your deferred revenue accounting audit-proof

There are ways to reduce the chances of mistakes around the combined revenue of wrapping your business registration. Most rely on clever methods of financial reporting and reporting. We have said before: members of the financial team and accounting heroes are unregistered subscribers and the world of SaaS. Help them keep your company out of trouble with these solutions.

Reduce human errors with deferred revenue.

Recognition of money can mean managing thousands of lines in a spreadsheet, as well as ensuring that your recognition system stays compliant.

Human error – which is inevitable in this model – can be mitigated by a solution determined by ProfitWell AI on revenue.

Get financial reports on deferred, recognized, and recurring revenue.

Our ProfWWell solution is also able to generate reports on a variety of earnings, allowing you to keep tabs on what is being received and what is to come.

Income calculations are a test-resistant task – not using the current spike in subscribing to soften over the recent downturn, not investing as uneducated in that new way you know your company needs.

So, for little to medium size businesses and new businesses, Bookkeeping services are available with Autofilings. A perfect platform that offers all the accounting and bookkeeping services online worldwide.