Banks Write Off Bad Debt for a Variety of Reasons: What Is a Write-Off and How Does It Work?

A debt that has been written off cannot be recouped or collected from the original debtor. Businesses credit the amount of uncollected debt to the “Accounts Receivable” category on the balance sheet by using the provision or allowance method of accounting. This approach credits the amount of uncollected debt. To complete the process of reconciling the balance sheet, an entry for a debit in the same amount is made in the column labeled “Allowance for Doubtful Accounts.”
This is what people mean when they talk about “writing off bad debt.”

The method known as straight write-off is used for writing off delinquent bills. On the balance sheet, the account for accounts receivable receives a credit, while the account for bad debt expenditure receives a debit. These two accounts are shown on the income statement. In accordance with this style of accounting, the balance sheet does not include a column labeled “Allowance for Doubtful Accounts.”

Contrast “Write Down” with “Write Off.”

When a loan is forgiven, the asset that corresponds to that obligation is erased from the balance sheet. This is due to the fact that the firm does not anticipate receiving payment. A portion of the value of a debt that has been determined to be uncollectible is kept as an asset by the company even after it has been written off as bad debt, try bridgepayday for free. The part of the money that the corporation does not anticipate receiving is deducted from their overall total.

Take for example a financial institution that gives customers the choice of settling their debts in exchange for a reduced amount owed. The customer’s financial responsibility to the bank might be satisfied by the bank’s one-time settlement offer of fifty percent of the amount owed by the client. The amount of the unpaid portion of the invoice is written off, with the amount being credited from Accounts Receivable and debited to Allowance for Doubtful Accounts or expensed to the bad debts expense account if the invoice is accepted. If the invoice is not accepted, the paid portion of the invoice is moved from Accounts Receivable to Cash.

Consider a Bank as an Illustration

The ability of banks to collect on all of their debts is never taken for granted by financial institutions. According to widely recognized accounting rules, financial institutions are required to maintain a reserve to protect themselves against the possibility of making future poor loans (GAAP). This is also often referred to as the allowance for bad debt.

For instance, a business that extends loans totaling $100,000 would put away five percent of that amount, or $5,000, as a provision for delinquent borrowers. The sum of $5,000 is instantly taken as a cost when the loans are processed. The bank does not hold its breath in the event of a default. On the balance sheet, the remaining $95,000 is included in the category of net assets.

In the event that a greater number of borrowers fail on their loans than the bank had expected, the bank will write off the receivables and take on the increased cost. In the event that a borrower fails on a loan for $8,000, the bank will write off the whole amount and deduct an extra $3,000 as an expense.

How can financial institutions get rid of problematic debt?

Because their loan portfolios are their primary assets and source of future income, banks do everything in their power to avoid ever having to take a loss on bad debt. On the other hand, toxic loans are loans that cannot be collected or are disproportionately difficult to collect. Not only do these loans seem bad on a bank’s balance sheet, but they also divert resources away from operations that are more lucrative.

Write-offs, also known as “charge-offs,” are a method that is used by financial institutions in order to remove loans from their balance sheets and reduce the total tax burden that they are subject to.


When a nonperforming debt is written off, the lender will obtain a tax reduction equal to the amount of the loan value that was reduced. In addition to receiving a tax advantage, financial institutions are permitted to pursue unpaid debts and the profits that come with doing so. It is common practice for financial institutions to sell nonperforming loans to third-party collection organizations. This option is also available to financial institutions.