Accounts Payable: Liability or Asset?

4 min read


Accounts Payable (AP) is a critical component of any company’s financial system. It represents the money a company owes to its suppliers or vendors for goods or services received. However, there is often confusion around whether Accounts Payable is considered a liability or asset. In this article, we will explore the nature of Accounts Payable and its classification as a liability or asset.

What are Accounts Payable?

Accounts Payable (AP) is the amount owed by a company to its suppliers or vendors for goods or services received. It is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet, representing the company’s obligation to pay the amount due. The amount of Accounts Payable is typically recorded in a sub-ledger, which keeps track of each invoice received from vendors or suppliers.

What’s the difference between Payables and Receivables?

The main difference between payables and receivables is the direction of the cash flow. Payables represent money that a business owes to others, while receivables represent money that others owe to the business. Payables are liabilities for a business, while receivables are assets. Check out all of the key differences between payables and receivables to help you maintain a healthy cash flow.

Is Accounts Payable a Liability or an Asset?

Accounts Payable is considered a liability and not an asset. Here’s why:

Definition of Liability
A liability is defined as an obligation that a company owes to others, which results from past transactions or events. Since Accounts Payable represents the money owed by a company to its suppliers or vendors, it falls under this definition and is considered a liability.

Accounting Standards
Accounting standards also dictate that Accounts Payable should be classified as a liability. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) require that Accounts Payable be classified as a current liability.

Balance Sheet Presentation
Accounts Payable is presented on the balance sheet as a current liability, reflecting the company’s obligation to pay the amount due within a year. Assets, on the other hand, represent the company’s economic resources that are expected to provide future benefits. Since Accounts Payable represents a company’s obligation to pay money, it cannot be considered an asset.

Why is Understanding Accounts Payable Important?

Understanding Accounts Payable is crucial for effective financial management. Here are some reasons why:

Cash Flow Management
When a business has a large amount of Accounts Payable, it can negatively impact cash flow, as it will have less cash on hand to pay for other expenses. Delayed or missed payments may also result in late fees and interest charges, which can further impact cash flow. To avoid late payments, Veem offers services like payment scheduling or recurring payments, as this helps ensure that payments are made on time and in full.

Financial Reporting
Financial reporting of payables and receivables can help you identify if you have more money going out than coming in. By monitoring the amount of money you owe (payables) and the amount of money owed to you (receivables), you can see if there are any upcoming cash flow shortfalls and take steps to address them. Veem makes it easy to download payment or invoice records that you may need. You can access and download these filterable reports in your Veem account at any time.

Business Relationships
By managing payables, you can ensure that you pay your bills on time, which can help build trust and strengthen your relationships with your vendors and suppliers. Timely payments can also help you avoid late fees and penalties, which can impact your cash flow. To learn more about building relationships with vendors, take a look at our guide on Relationship-Based Payments: A New Standard for Global Commerce.

Veem can help businesses streamline their payables and receivables by providing an easy-to-use, secure, and efficient platform for domestic and international payments. With faster payment processing, lower transaction fees, and automated payment management tools, businesses can improve their cash flow and focus on growing their business.


Accounts Payable is a liability and not an asset. It represents the money a company owes to its suppliers or vendors for goods or services received. Proper management of Accounts Payable is essential for effective financial management, including cash flow management, accurate financial reporting, and strong business relationships. Understanding the nature of Accounts Payable and its classification as a liability is crucial for informed decision-making and ensuring a company’s financial health and success. Check out how Veem works to simplify your Accounts Payable process.



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