In essence, as long as Sierra Sports sells the goals or other equipment and provides a warranty, it will need to account for the warranty expenses in a manner similar to the one we demonstrated. Contingent assets are assets that are likely to materialize if certain events arise. These assets are only recorded in financial statements’ footnotes as their value cannot be reasonably estimated. These liabilities can harm the company’s stock price because contingent liabilities can negatively impact the business’s future profitability. The magnitude of the impact depends on the time of occurrence and the amount tied to the liability.

This amount could be a reasonable estimate for the parts repair cost per soccer goal. Since not all warranties may be honored (warranty expired), the company needs to make a reasonable determination for the amount of honored warranties to get a more accurate figure. Assume that a company is facing a lawsuit from a rival firm for patent infringement. The company’s legal department thinks that the rival firm has a strong case, and the business estimates a $2 million loss if the firm loses the case.

You should also describe the liability in the footnotes that accompany the financial statements. (Figure)Roundhouse Tools has several potential warranty claims as a result of damaged tool kits. While a contingency may be positive or negative, we only focus on outcomes that may produce a liability for the company (negative outcome), since these might lead to adjustments in the financial statements in certain cases.


A loss contingency which is possible but not probable will not be recorded in the accounts as a liability and a loss. A potential or contingent liability that is both probable and the amount can be estimated is recorded as 1) an expense or loss on the income statement, and 2) a liability on the balance sheet. An example of determining a warranty liability based on a percentage of sales follows.

Normally, accounting tends to be very conservative (when in doubt, book the liability), but this is not the case for contingent liabilities. Therefore, one should carefully read the notes to the financial statements before investing or loaning money to a company. If the contingent liability is considered remote, it is unlikely to occur and may or may not be estimable.

The business projects a $5 million loss if the firm loses the case, but the legal department of the business believes the rival firm has a strong case. As the name suggests, if there are very slight chances of the liability occurring, the US GAAP considers calling it a remote contingency. Contingent liabilities are classified into three types by the US GAAP based on the probability of their occurrence. So if a company has a strong cash flow position and can experience rapid growth earnings, it can probably avoid the impact being too large. Businesses need to plan for the worst case scenario while proactively hoping for the best in order to properly manage their cash flow. (Figure)Emperor Pool Services provides pool cleaning and maintenance services to residential clients.

A contingent liability is an existing condition or set of circumstances involving uncertainty regarding possible business loss, according to guidelines from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). In the Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 5, it says that a firm must distinguish between losses that are probable, reasonably probable or remote. There are strict and sometimes vague disclosure requirements for companies claiming contingent liabilities. Two classic examples of contingent liabilities include a company warranty and a lawsuit against the company.

He specializes in transitioning traditional bookkeeping into an efficient online platform that makes preparing financial statements and filing tax returns a breeze. In his freetime, you’ll find Grant hiking and sailing in beautiful British Columbia. Considering how the irs knows you didn’t report income and accounting for contingent liabilities requires a broad range of information and the ability to practice sound judgment. They can be a tricky endeavor for both management and investors to navigate since the likelihood of them occurring isn’t guaranteed.

The sales price per soccer goal is $1,200, and Sierra Sports believes 10% of sales will result in honored warranties. The company would record this warranty liability of $120 ($1,200 × 10%) to Warranty Liability and Warranty Expense accounts. Our example only covered the warranty expenses anticipated from the 2019 sales.

Reporting Requirements of Contingent Liabilities and GAAP Compliance

These obligations result from previous transactions or occurrences, and they are contingent on future events and indeterminate in nature. When the probability of such an event is extremely low, it is allowed to omit the entry in the books of accounts, and disclosure is also not required. It can be recorded only if estimation is possible; otherwise, disclosure is necessary.

IFRIC 1 — Changes in Existing Decommissioning, Restoration and Similar Liabilities

It would not be disclosed in a footnote, however, if both conditions are not met. For a contingent liability to become relevant, it depends on its timing, its value can be estimated or is known, and whether or not it will become an actual liability. An example might be a hazardous waste spill that will require a large outlay to clean up. It is probable that funds will be spent and the amount can likely be estimated. If the estimated loss can only be defined as a range of outcomes, the U.S. approach generally results in recording the low end of the range. International accounting standards focus on recording a liability at the midpoint of the estimated unfavorable outcomes.

About the IFRS Foundation

Similarly, the knowledge of a contingent liability can influence the decision of creditors considering lending capital to a company. The contingent liability may arise and negatively impact the ability of the company to repay its debt. Contingent liabilities are shown as liabilities on the balance sheet and as expenses on the income statement. Liabilities are related to the financial obligations or debts that a person or a company has to another entity.

Why Is Contingent Liability Recorded?

The opinions of analysts are divided in relation to modeling contingent liabilities. The business is exempt from disclosing the possible liability if it considers that the risk of it happening is remote. An example of this principle is when a $ 100 invoice to a company with net assets of $ 5 billion would be immaterial, but a $ 50 million invoice to the same company would be materialistic. We undertake various activities to support the consistent application of IFRS Standards, which includes implementation support for recently issued Standards.

A warranty is considered contingent because the number of products that will be returned under a warranty is unknown. Contingent liabilities should be analyzed with a serious and skeptical eye, since, depending on the specific situation, they can sometimes cost a company several millions of dollars. Sometimes contingent liabilities can arise suddenly and be completely unforeseen. The $4.3 billion liability for Volkswagen related to its 2015 emissions scandal is one such contingent liability example. A contingent liability that is expected to be settled in the near future is more likely to impact a company’s share price than one that is not expected to be settled for several years.