How should you account for cash overdrafts (also called negative cash balances) on a balance sheet and in a cash flow statement? There are different ways to do so. I explain those accounting methods below.
It is year-end and your audit client has three bank accounts at the same bank. Two of the accounts have positive balances (the first with $50,000 and the second with $200,000). The third account has a negative cash balance of $400,000. Since a net overdraft of $150,000 exists, how should we present cash in the financial statements?
In the balance sheet, show the negative cash balance as Cash Overdraft in the current liabilities. Or you can also include the amount in accounts payable.
If you are netting the three bank accounts, consider using the Cash Overdraft option. If you bury the overdraft in accounts payable, the financial statement reader may think, “there is a mistake, where is cash?” Using Cash Overdraft communicates more clearly. (The right of offset must exist in order to net bank accounts. The right of offset commonly exists for multiple bank accounts with one bank.)
Some companies have multiple bank accounts with multiple banking institutions. In such cases, the net balance of one bank might be positive and the net balance of the second bank might be negative. Then the company would reflect the positive balance as cash and the negative cash balance (of the second bank) as an overdraft.
Suppose a company has bank accounts with two different banks and the net balance of the first bank is $1,350,000 and the net balance of the second bank is an overdraft of $5,000. Then show cash as one amount on the balance sheet ($1,345,000). The $5,000 is not material.
Some companies do not include overdrafts in the definition of cash; instead, they include it in accounts payable. Consequently, the company treats the overdraft as an operating activity (change in accounts payable). So, the company includes the negative cash as a change in a liability in the operating section of the cash flow statement. (Some accountants treat overdrafts as a financing activity, but they clear quickly. Therefore, an operating activity classification is more appropriate.)
Alternatively, include the negative cash in the definition of cash (rather than in accounts payable). In doing so, you combine the cash overdraft with other cash (that with positive balances) in the cash flow statement. The beginning and ending cash–in the cash flow statement–should include the negative cash amounts.
FASB ASC 230-10-45-4 requires that the total amounts of cash and cash equivalents in the cash flow statement agree with similarly titled line items or subtotals in the balance sheet. If negative cash is included in the definition of cash, the cash captions in the statement of cash flows should be revised accordingly (e.g., Cash (Cash Overdraft) at end of year).
If the balance sheet contains a positive cash balance in assets and a cash overdraft in liabilities, provide a reconciliation at the bottom of the cash flow statement (or in a disclosure). In the reconciliation, show the composition of the balance–one line titled Cash, one line titled Cash Overdraft, and a total line titled Total Cash (Cash Overdraft).
If checks are created but not released by year-end, reverse the payment. Merely printing checks does not relieve payables. Payables are relieved when payment is made (checks are printed and mailed, or electronic payments are processed).
See my post about auditing cash.
Charles Hall is a practicing CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. For the last thirty-five years, he has primarily audited governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. He is the author of The Little Book of Local Government Fraud Prevention, The Why and How of Auditing, Audit Risk Assessment Made Easy, and Preparation of Financial Statements & Compilation Engagements. He frequently speaks at continuing education events. Charles consults with other CPA firms, assisting them with auditing and accounting issues.