Word of the Week 'Liability'


What is a 'Liability'

A liability is defined as a company's legal financial debts or obligations that arise during the course of business operations. Liabilities are settled over time through the transfer of economic benefits including money, goods or services. Recorded on the right side of the balance sheet, liabilities include loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues and accrued expenses.

BREAKING DOWN 'Liability'

Liabilities are a vital aspect of a company because they are used to finance operations and pay for large expansions. They can also make transactions between businesses more efficient. For example, in most cases, if a wine supplier sells a case of wine to a restaurant, it does not demand payment when it delivers the goods. Rather, it invoices the restaurant for the purchase to streamline the drop off and make paying easier for the restaurant. The outstanding money that the restaurant owes to its wine supplier is considered a liability. In contrast, the wine supplier considers the money it is owed to be an asset.

Other Definitions of Liability

Generally, liability refers to the state of being responsible for something, and this term can refer to any money or service owed to another party. Tax liability, for example, can refer to the property taxes that a homeowner owes to the municipal government or the income tax he owes to the federal government. Liability may also refer to the legal liability of a business or individual. For example, many businesses take out liability insurance in case a customer or employee sues them for negligence.

Current Versus Long-Term Liabilities