Asset and liability: What are they and where to find them on a balance sheet?

Authored by
Team Espresso
November 14 2022
6 min read

Assets are items listed in a balance sheet that can be converted into cash or produce income for the business. In other words, an asset means any good or resource that may be used to produce cash flow, cut costs, or bring about future economic gains for a person, a government, or a company. It is beneficial for settling debts or business entity fees. Assets have economic value and can improve corporate operations, boost a company's value, or increase a person's net worth. Physical or intangible assets that can be sold now or in the future, as well as those that are used in the day-to-day operations of a firm, can all be classified as assets.

On the other hand, liabilities are debts an organisation owes that it can pay off with the assets it owns as a result of earlier transactions. In other words, a liability means anything that a person or business owes, typically a monetary amount. Through the transmission of economic benefits like money, products, or services, liabilities are eventually extinguished. Total liabilities are the sum of a company's short-term and long-term obligations that must be paid over a specified period of time. There are also contingent obligations that are only due in specific situations.

Difference between Assets and Liabilities

The Accounting Formula used is:

Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders’ Equity       

Liabilities = Assets – Shareholders’ Equity

● Liabilities represent a future obligation, but assets offer a potential financial reward.

● Unlike liabilities, which cannot be depreciated, assets could depreciate over time.

● A business's ability to generate cash flow is determined by its assets, while its ability to expend cash is determined by its liabilities.

● There are four classifications of assets: tangible, intangible, current, and non-current, and two types of non-current liabilities: long-term (non-current) and current liabilities.

● Cash, receivables, goodwill, investments, buildings, etc., are a few examples of assets, while accounts payable and interest due are some types of liabilities.

Analysis of Assets and Liabilities

Balance sheet analysis examines a company's assets, liabilities, and owner's capital by various stakeholders to determine an organisation's correct financial situation at a given point in time.

The ratios that aid in the analyses of Assets and Liabilities are as follows:

Current Ratio

It is a liquidity ratio that assesses a company's ability to repay its short-term debts.

Quick Ratio

It is a liquidity ratio that calculates the company's ability to pay down current liabilities using its most liquid assets. It helps gauge the company's short-term liquidity position.

Fixed Assets Turnover Ratio

This ratio is more important in the manufacturing industry than in other industries since manufacturing concerns require a significant investment in property, plant, and equipment to provide the requisite output.

Working Capital Ratio

Working capital should always be positive. Lenders use it to assess a company's ability to weather adversity. Loan agreements frequently require minimum working capital that the borrower must maintain. A company's liquidity is measured by the current ratio, quick ratio, and working capital. In general, the higher the ratios, the better for the business and the greater the degree of liquidity.

Assets and liabilities in stock trading

In accounting, an organisation's assets are its resources, and its liabilities are its debts.

The term "assets" is commonly used to refer to tangible or intangible resources like cash, property, and machinery that help contribute to a company's bottom line. They are helpful in the present and the future for any company that manufactures products or offers services.

An organisation's liabilities include any debts it owes or services it has promised but has yet to deliver.

If it has more assets than debts, that means it has cash on hand, or other liquid assets, to cover its obligations. A company can have serious financial problems if it has more debts than assets and can't pay them all.

However, liabilities are not always bad because they can be used to fund development. A line of credit, for instance, can be used to fund the acquisition of new equipment for a company of any size. It's great that the company has access to resources that will help it run smoothly and expand. The trick is to prevent the growth of liabilities from outpacing that of assets.

Assets are needed to run a business, and this costs money, which might come from shareholders or loans from banks. These loans constitute debts that must be repaid at a future date.

Examples of assets and liabilities 

To have a complete picture of a company's financial health, a small business owner must know what constitutes an asset and a liability.

The assets and liabilities that several small enterprises typically hold are detailed below.

For a Freelance Copywriter

Assets: Laptop, printer, money in the company’s bank account, and payments due from two clients.

Liabilities: Cell phone and internet bill, sales tax collected but yet to remit to the state, and a charge on the company credit card for purchasing a new laptop.

For a House Painting Business

Assets: A company truck, painting equipment, three painting contracts, savings, a computer, and a printer for a house painting business.

Liabilities: Business liability insurance premiums, employee wages, taxes, credit card interest, paint, and a business loan used to purchase the company van.


One of your top priorities as a small company owner will be to control your books. This means that you need a thorough understanding of assets and liabilities to make wise decisions and assess your company's health. Understanding assets and debts are pretty simple once the terms are clarified, and the quarterly accounts you've been producing will start to make more sense.

Additionally, liabilities are divided into two groups: short-term liabilities and long-term liabilities. Long-term liabilities are not due for at least a year; current liabilities are due within the following year. Fixed assets are tangible items that typically require a sizable cash investment and last for a considerable time. 

Accounts payable, wages and taxes are current liabilities, which are debts owed for ongoing costs. Current liabilities will also include payments on long-term debt due in the following year. For instance, if your building is subject to a 30-year mortgage, the following year's worth of payments will be listed under current liabilities, and the outstanding balance will be displayed under long-term liabilities.


Q. What are the examples of liabilities?

Liabilities on the balance sheet include loans, accounts payable, mortgages, bonds, warranties, and accumulated expenses.

Q. Is rent an asset or a liability?

Rent payable is a liability account in the tenant's general ledger that reports the amount of rent owed as of the balance sheet date.

Q. Do credit cards count as assets?

Since the funds on your credit card are not actually yours, and this credit line does not raise your net worth, credit cards are a liability rather than an asset.

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