Sapna Takia

Is capital an asset or liability?

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  1. This answer was edited.

    The simple meaning of capital, as known by many, is the sum of money invested in the business by the owner/shareholder/partners. It can be in the form of cash or assets. From the accounting perspective, capital is generally of three types, equity capital, debt capital, and working capital.

    Capital as a Liability

    A very common question that strikes us is that even though capital is invested by the owner in the form of cash or assets, why is it recorded on the liabilities side of the balance sheet? From the accounting perspective, Capital is a liability because the business is obliged to repay its owner.

    To make the point clear, I would like to introduce you to the two different accounting perspectives of the same.

    Internal Liability

    Firstly, in the case of equity capital, it refers to ownership and represents the owner’s fund. The company is obliged to repay the owners as it is an internal liability and interest on capital is also paid during the operations of a company. A company is considered as a separate legal entity from its owner. The proprietor/shareholder/partners have invested the amount with an aim and expectation of profits in return.

    However, the owners are repaid only if any amount is left after paying off all the obligations during the winding up of the company. It is not a mandatory liability like in the case of debt capital. It can also be represented as follows:

    Assets = Liabilities + Capital

    I have used the accounting equation to show the shareholder’s equity/capital as a difference and balancing figure between the company’s liabilities and assets. Since the capital invested is used to pay off all the debts, it has a credit balance and is recorded on the liabilities side of the balance sheet.

    External Liability

    Secondly, let us assume that company A has borrowed a certain sum of money from the company B, and holds onto the amount invested for realizing feasible profits in the future. The company is obliged to repay, irrespective of profits or loss.

    In simple words, I can conclude that capital is a liability.

    Capital as shown in the balance sheet

    Balance Sheet as at 31st March,yyyy

    Liabilities Amount  Assets Amount
    Capital 2,40,000 Cash in hand 70,000
    (+) Net Profit 70,000 Accounts receivables 50,000
    (-) Drawings (30,000) Patents 10,000
    (-)Interest on capital (20,000) Equipment 45,000
    Retained Earnings 10,000 Building 90,000
    Sundry Creditors 40,000 Prepaid Expense 35,000
    Outstanding Rent/Salary 5,000 Goodwill 20,000
    General Reserve 10,000 Investments 60,000
    Loan taken from Bank 55,000 Accrued Income 10,000
    3,80,000 3,80,000

    Hope this helps.

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